Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

That Ain’t No Open Records Request

Today being Texas Independence Day, it seems fitting to take a look back at a bit of Texas history.

I saw this statue last week when I was on Congress. I hadn’t seen it before, but it commemorates one of my favorite episodes in Texas history: The Texas Archive War. It’s one of those things that makes you proud to be an Austinite.

In 1839, the Republic of Texas’ capitol was moved from the festering swamplands of Houston to Austin, a move that former president Sam Houston did not like. When Houston became president again in 1841, he ordered the capitol moved back to Houston and sent some men to retrieve the nation’s archives from the dirty commie hippies in Austin.

When his goons arrived and began loading up the archives, which were stored in the General Land Office, Austinites were asleep, but Angelina Eberly heard noise, ran outside and fired a canon to alert the locals. Even though she blew a hole in the General Land Office building, Houston’s men escaped with the archives.

A posse of angry Austinites took the canon and chased Houston’s men to Round Rock where they surrendered without a fight (Houston had ordered that no one get hurt), thus ending the Texas Archive War.

The statue honors Angelina Eberly without whose heroism and prowess with a canon, the capitol might still be in Houston and Texas’ conservative politicians would never have been able to enjoy their biennial Austin bashing.

9 Comments

  1. Great story! I haven’t seen that statute. I’ll have to head back downtown to find it.

  2. That is also one of my favorite stories and I believe her statue captures the lore of her fiery demeanor perfectly.

  3. I guess I don’t understand why President Houston’s men ended up in Round Rock if they were trying to go back to the festering swamplands to the southeast.

  4. I’d never heard that story. I guess my Texas history education was lacking. Thanks for sharing it!

  5. Although I’d heard the Houstonites-Austinites struggling-for-the-records part of the story, Angelina’s cannon and statue were news to me – thanks, James!

    Annie the Austin Garden Blogger

  6. Great story. A local brewery – Independence Brewing – features Angelina Eberly on the label of their delicious Independence Pale Ale.

  7. Jeff, Now that you mention it, I remember the label on their beer. I’ve even blogged about that beer. Silly me for missing that.

    I guess a lot of us had missed that statue. It was built in 2004 (according to wikipedia) so it’s a fairly recent arrival. I guess that’s why I hadn’t seen it.

    Anyways, thanks y’all for your comments.

  8. As someone who has never been, but always thought attending SXSW some year might be fun, I’m glad to hear that Austinites were “dirty commie hippies” from the very start.

  9. Austinites took over from the Comanches who were also viewed as dirty commie hippies. I think it’s something in the water at Barton Creek.

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