Tejano stories and impact on Battle of Alamo largely unknown, local historian says

Local historian aiming to shed light on impact Tejanos had on Alamo and Texas Revolution

SAN ANTONIO – Wednesday marked Texas Independence Day, and while there have been generations of stories told of the people who fought at the Alamo, the impact of Tejanos during and before the battle has largely been unknown.

Local historian Rudi Rodriguez said Tejano families settled in this area and built communities nearly 150 years before the historic battle.

“Tejanos built the first roads, the first cities, communities, developed the first ranches and began the first society and culture,” Rodriguez said. “That was the foundation of Texas for seven generations.”

Rodriguez said many stories of Tejanos’ contributions during this period have been left out of the history books. He said that omission leads many to believe that this area was the wild frontier, but that was not the case.

“Most stories for 150 years are about how the men from the American East came and liberated Texas from Mexico and do not assert the premise that, right across from the Alamo, there was a vibrant community and culture,” Rodriguez said.

The Texians have received credit for igniting the revolution, but Rodriguez said Tejanos were fighting for land they owned for generations along with their culture and heritage.

“Tejanos as a whole were committed for the simple reason that it was their land. It was their families. It was their children,” Rodriguez said.

Before the Battle of the Alamo and the revolution, Tejanos had already suffered significant losses in previous engagements, such as the Battle of Medina in 1813. Despite the loss of many lives and families, they still laid their lives on the line for Texas freedom.

“We know from research that of the approximately 2,000 in the Texas army -- that one in six -- was a Tejano,” Rodriguez said.

Many of these Tejano heroes fought under the command of men like Col. Juan Seguin. Others were selected as couriers who would leave the Alamo to seek reinforcements.

Tejanas played a role as well, protecting their families and communities. They provided the defenders with meals and bandaged injured soldiers. Rodriguez said many also survived the battle to carry on their families’ legacies.

“We’ve been told it was only three survivors, but the fact is there was almost two dozen Tejanas that survived the battle, along with another dozen or so children,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez founded TexasTejano.com to bring these Tejano stories to light. He believes we are all better served by knowing the legacy these men and women left behind.

“We are all served by knowing these identities and this heritage and this legacy,” said Rodriguez. “We all seek a pride in our history and our families. It’s basic. We’ve never had it before. Now we can have it.”

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About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.