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Deaf Smith:

Also see: Erastus Smith

 Judith Rice
October 30, 2005

DEAF SMITH

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step” (Lao Tsu 604 -531 B.C.). So with a single step the journey to my long ago world of research papers resumed. A five hundred-word research paper was an intimidating prospect. Perusing the topics that were available for use as a research paper I narrowed my subject list to three, Deaf Smith, Artistic Signing and the Miss Deaf America pageant. The words I read captured my attention and imagination, “Deaf Smith”, Texas Spy, died November 30, 1837. My topic Deaf Smith was chosen.

He was born Erastus Smith in New York on April 19,1787. The Smith family moved to Mississippi when Erastus was eleven years of age. A childhood disease that is not clearly identified caused his loss of hearing. As a man his life was encumbered by fragile health caused by “Consumption”, now known as tuberculosis.  At the age of thirty-four he decided to leave Mississippi and move to Texas. The move to Texas was intended to improve his health and that it did. Enjoying the environment, roaming the vast land of Texas and attending to the things he loved brought him a new level of vigor. “Deaf” spent his days honing his tracking and hunting skills with his beloved dog “Rattler” by his side. (Harper, 1996)

It was in Texas that Deaf met the woman that would become his bride, a Mexican citizen, Guadalupe Ruiz Duran. Together they had four children and settled into family life on a four thousand acre land grant in San Antonio. Deaf Smith seems to have been an amiable guy. Trying to be nonpolitical he stayed out of the tensions between Texas and Mexico. However, in 1835 the Mexican army’s occupation of San Antonio and his inability to reach his family moved Deaf Smith to the side of the Texas militia and the struggle for independence. (Moore & Panara, 1996)

Deaf Smith excelled at many things in spite of an ailing body. His contributions to the Texas army were enormous and at great personal cost. It was Deaf Smith that confirmed the news of the demise of the Alamo for General Sam Houston. There remain recorded accounts that Deaf Smith planned the destruction of Vince’s Bridge. That event helped General Houston’s military to a successful end in the eighteen-minute battle of San Jacinto. The perseverance of Deaf Smith led to the capture of General Martin Cos and assisted the capture of Santa Anna, “El Presidente” after the battle of San Jacinto. The victory of this battle is believed to be the winning mark of the Texas Revolution. Deaf Smith was the most trusted tracker, scout and spy in the command of Sam Houston. Those that served with Deaf Smith found him to be a most honorable and courageous man. (Moore, 2004)

It was in 1837 at the home of a friend in Richmond, Texas that Deaf Smith succumbed to the disease he had taken with him into battle, “Consumption”. This remarkable man lived quite a life in fifty short years.

The three research topics that I originally reviewed for consideration, Deaf Smith, Artistic Signing and the Miss Deaf America pageant were brought together for me in one moment. Reading an article on the Miss Deaf America pageant, I found Laney Fox. The 2001 Miss Deaf San Antonio, Laney competed in the Miss Deaf Texas pageant. She won the talent competition with an artistic signing, portraying the wife of Deaf Smith. It all came together for me as pure serendipity.

References:

Harper, J. (1996). Deaf Smith Scout, Spy and Texas Hero. Austin, Texas: Eakin Press.

Moore, M. and Panara, R. (1996). Great Deaf Americans (2nd ed.). Rochester, New York: Deaf Life Press.

Moore, S. (2004). Eighteen Minutes the Battle of San Jacinto and the Texas Independence

Campaign. Lanham, Maryland: Republic of Texas Press.

 


Also see: Erastus Smith



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