Saturday, July 29, 2006

Texas by the turn signal light: Day 10

It’s a family affair
This vacation trip has been a little unusual from prior excursions. We’ve remained within the confines of Texas in order to save money, although hotel rates with just one chain have averaged higher than the most expensive hotel room we had last year in either California, Arizona, Oregon or New Mexico, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Who knew Corpus Christi was more expensive than San Diego?
I have seen minor league baseball and a few old friends from the newspaper industry. My wife, Jodie, has immersed herself into genealogical research for a possible book publication about her Texas roots. She has given up fun stuff, such as antique window shopping, gift purchases and seeing other sites in order to sit in libraries and living rooms to exhume long-lost photos, documents and memories about the Zoeller clan, which goes back to the earliest days of Texas.
Later today (Saturday), we will venture to the Hill Country city of Boerne (pronounced BURN-nee), home of the fighting Greyhounds and the headquarters of the Zoeller Family Reunion, since Boerne is the ancestral home for the descendants.
Jodie will see her cousins and other relatives, as well as the surviving members of her family’s side of the family, which sadly will be minus three uncles – all of whom died within two months’ time earlier this year (two within 48 hours of each other). That means there are no living males left fathered by Mary and Albert Zoeller.
Still the barbecue will flow, the stories will fly and everyone will state, in unison, “You look marvelous for someone your age.” As is often said, a good time should be had by all.
One of the major discoveries of this trip has been to learn that Jodie is a direct descendant of someone who fought in the Texas Revolution, thus making her eligible (I guess) for membership to the very “prestigious” the Daughters of the Texas Revolution – the organization that oversees the Alamo shrine (which STILL should be part of the U.S. National Parks system). She would certainly cause a raucus at meetings which is probably just what the doctor would order.
It seems her mother, Dorothy’s great-great-grandfather, was one Dr. John Turner Tinsley (1809-1878). Although born in Sumner County, Tennessee and married in Kentucky, he brought his wife and five children to Gonzales, Texas in September of 1835 to practice medicine. He bought 25 acres of land for the whopping total of “two pesos and 25 centavos.”
Just a week later, Tinsley took part in the famous “Come and Take It” incident, in which Texian colonists refused to return as captured Mexican Army cannon (yelling “come and take it” to the generals) – the prelude to the Battle of the Alamo.
Later, Dr. Tinsley helped deliver ammunition to Gen. Sam Houston’s troops and tended to the wounded as Houston moved eastward toward the eventual victorious showdown at San Jacinto. While in Gonzales, Houston used Tinsley’s house at his headquarters.
Dr. Tinsley would later serve as a city alderman, mayor and justice of the peace.
Sam Houston’s name literally reappeared during a visit with Jodie’s first cousin, Dorothy Kneupper, on the Texas Heritage Ranch in Kendalia. On the wall of the ranch house is the original land grant deed for the 1,400-acre Zoeller ranch (long since having left the family during the Great Depression) – signed by Houston himself. A second land grant was inked by former Texas Governor Oran Roberts.
It stops you in your tracks to see actual history before your eyes and to know that the man, not the statue on Interstate-45, had direct connection with the family to which I joined five years ago.
Jodie has examined and researched my family tree, even though I could not be of assistance since I had no clue as to the maiden names of either of my grandmothers (all my grandfathers died before my parents were married). She almost giggled with delight when she was able to go back three generations of Blooms, because the search is more important than the catch.
As for reunions, mine could be held in a phone booth and not be crowded. It’s just that way, but I will enjoy watching the members of the Zoeller clan thoroughly enjoy theirs later today.
All the while, I will secretly plan on how to aid Jodie in giving the DRT hell in later sessions. “Love, peace and free the Alamo!”

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