Setting in Central Texas Sank In over Time:
You can’t visit the French Legation in Austin, Texas without wondering what inhabitants of the dusty, cabin-lined street below thought in 1840, about the elegant embassy being built on a hill at the edge of their frontier capital.
One of the oldest buildings in central Texas took hold of my imagination in this way. But another structure just over one hundred miles to the southeast, possessed me with even greater urgency. A stark granite monument by Goliad’s presidio lists hundreds of men surrendered under the command of Colonel James Fannin during the Texas Revolution–hundreds executed by orders of Mexico’s notorious Santa Anna.
I was standing next to my grandfather when I first saw those names, among them his own “Papa’s uncle” and that uncle’s first cousin. My grandpa’s expression has not faded in my memory. What it must have meant to him, to come all the way from Georgia in 1961 and pay tribute, I begin to understand only recently.
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