One of the enduring legacies bequeathed to the City of Gonzales is the story of the Immortal 32, the 32 brave men who voluntarily went to fight Santa Ana and his army. They answered Colonel William Travis’ resolute call to defend the Alamo and to fight for victory or death. There would be no surrender.
One of those men who died as a member of the Immortal 32 was James George. I met with his fourth great grandson Dr. Clay Hanks in College Station, Texas a few weeks ago to learn about his esteemed ancestor, and he had quite a story to tell.
James George was born in Xenia, Ohio on Feb. 29, 1821. He journeyed to the DeWitt colony having arrived in Gonzales in either 1829 or 1830. James had acquired a league of land, and was determined to make a life for himself and his wife Elizabeth Dearduff. Together they had three daughters. Elizabeth’s brother was named William Dearduff, and he was a bachelor. He too went to the Alamo with Gonzales Mounted Rangers and died there as well.
“I was related to two of the Gonzales men who died in the Alamo,” Dr. Hanks said. “My grandfather and uncle were members of the Gonzales’ Mounted Rangers outfit, and they both answered the call to defend the honor of their fellow countrymen and their country.
“Regretfully, I didn’t pay much attention to the family history when I was growing up. I heard stories, but unfortunately, they never really sunk in.
“My mother, Laura Ann Quicksall Hanks, was passionate about genealogy. She pursued finding out all she could about my great grandfather James George and uncle William Dearduff. I can’t remember the times we would spend hours in libraries or cemeteries looking for documentation and documents. She was a great stickler for detail, and she had to be 100 percent sure she was right in looking up our family history.”
Unfortunately, Dr. Hanks’ mother passed away from cancer at the early age of 49. One of the things she left behind were all her documents and records she had uncovered over the years.
Sometime in the 1990s, the need to find out about his family history started to wrap itself around Dr. Hanks. He was employed by Texas A&M, and as he got older he wanted to know more about his bloodline. He inherited a treasure trove of documents, photos and other memorabilia from his mother and other lovers of the Immortal 32 and the Alamo.
When he started looking through the documents, he was amazed to see all the startling information.
In a document originally dated Dec. 10, 1835, the acting judge of Gonzales Andrew Ponton accepted an invoice as valid on Feb. 24, 1836 that the state of Texas owed James George $59.50. The invoice said George had delivered 3 pounds of powder, 12 pounds of lead, 1 ¾ bushels of peas, caught and delivered two public horses, 2 ox bows, and had 14 days of service with two yoke of oxen delivering supplies to LaBahia and San Antonio. There is another document that states that George delivered the Gonzales cannon to the Alamo with these oxen, but the oxen and geering were in a bad state of repair. The Feb. 24, 1836 date was just days before the Immortal 32 marched off to destiny.
“I am not sure which cannon he had, but there is official documentation from the captain and other witnesses,” Dr. Hanks said.
There is another twist to the Hanks family trail that no one has found proof of.
“There are stories that my great uncle William had a younger brother who came to visit in Gonzales,” Hanks said. “There is no record that he went off to the Alamo with him, but I think it’s hard to believe that he would abandon my great grandfather and his own brother at a time like that. No has ever been able to find out what happened to him.”
Dr. Hanks has said he will be in Gonzales this weekend to experience Come and Take It for the very first time.