Researchers say Presidio La Bahia linked to American Revolution
By Caty Hirst - CHIRST@VICAD.COM
Feb. 2, 2013 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 2, 2013 at 8:03 p.m.
GOLIAD - Her ancestors helped win the American Revolution; she knew they did.
All Julia Lopez had to do was prove it.
Originally from Victoria, Lopez is a direct descendant of soldiers at the Presidio La Bahia from as early as the 1730s.
When she found out many of the soldiers at the fort voluntarily donated pesos to the American Revolution, she applied to be a Daughter of the American Revolution and was shocked when she received a rejection letter from the society.
"We need a list of which soldiers actually contributed two pesos ... unless you can find the list of soldiers from Presidio La Bahia who actually donated a peso, it does not appear you will find acceptable service for your ancestor," Lopez read from her rejection letter Saturday at the Presidio La Bahia.
So she and her husband, Lorenzo Lopez, joined a group of experienced historians and genealogists, including Robert H. Thonhoff, in its quest to find the document that would list the patriotic soldiers.
Four years and thousands of wrong documents later, Lorenzo Lopez located the document in the collections at the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.
"For the first few days we just stared at the list like, 'What do we do?'" Julia Lopez said about when they found the list Dec. 12, 2012.
"What made the most sense to Lorenzo and I was to bring the list home to Goliad. How many years had it been since the names of these soldiers were called out at the Presidio La Bahia? About 230. Had they been forgotten? Would their descendants know them by name?" Julia Lopez wondered aloud.
And many of the people in Saturday's crowd for the presentation of the document at the Presidio La Bahia did recognize names of their ancestors, such as Estella Zermeno, a historian in Goliad.
"What is important to me is to recognize the contribution these people made," Zermeno said. "Our men were patriots, and they have been left out of history, out of the schools."
The list shows the soldiers at the Presidio La Bahia donated between two and 100 pesos, for a total of 900 pesos. Since one cow at that time cost two pesos, Lorenzo Lopez said the contributions were significant.
"As a Navy veteran of over 20 years, I understand how the small pieces of a battle plan must be executed successfully or else the overall plan will fail. Each contribution of mankind, no matter how small, is critical. This list ... is one of those small pieces ... just as important in the successful conclusion of the American Revolution," Lorenzo Lopez said.
Julia Lopez and many others in the crowd said they plan to apply to the Daughters of the American Revolution and other societies based on their ancestors at the Presidio La Bahia in Goliad.