Mistaken list still brought honor to soldiers
On Feb. 2 at Presidio La Bahia in Goliad, we announced what we thought was the missing donativo list naming Presidio La Bahia soldiers and the amount of money donated by each to the American Revolution war effort by royal decree from King Carlos III in a letter dated 1784.
My husband, Lorenzo, discovered the list in the Bexar Archives after extensive searching at my constant insistence that the list "had to be there." No doubt he grew weary of my obsession with "the list" and yearned for a different topic of discussion.
The donativo list was dated Dec. 31 1798, but we operated under the premise that the list had been misfiled or misdated in the Bexar Archives. We had failed to anticipate that this donativo list was for the war between France and England and that our La Bahia soldiers again donated money in 1798 at the request of the king when Spain formed an alliance with France against the British. We felt that we had adequately vetted the donativo list prior to making the announcement that it had been found and had no reservations about the discovery. In retrospect, had we conducted further research in the time frame of 1798, we may have learned that France and England were in conflict, Spain sided with France, and La Bahia soldiers again were asked to contribute.
We were elated to have discovered the list, but that elation was short lived as we were informed within a few days after the Feb. 2 event that the list actually represented the later conflict and would not satisfy Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) requirements for membership, one of our goals. While we were extremely disappointed to learn that the time frame for the donativo list would fail to satisfy DAR requirements, when we stopped to consider the events of Feb. 2, we had accomplished our main goal in taking the list home to Goliad and recognizing the soldiers by name at the very presidio where they served. DAR membership would have to wait a little longer for the deserving descendants.
Many of the soldiers' descendants sat in Our Lady of Loreto Chapel at the Presidio on Feb. 2 and excitedly listened as the names of the soldiers were recited for the first time in more than 200 years. I wondered, had the soldiers' names been forgotten? Would their descendants recognize them? I was elated when many attendees approached me after the event wanting to know how they could conduct the necessary research to prove their soldiers.
Upon learning that the list we found was for the later conflict, we set out to compare the names of the soldiers from the American Revolutionary period rosters and the donativo list of 1798. Upward of 30 soldiers from the 1798 list were a match and appear in earlier La Bahia rosters during the American Revolution (1776-1783) effort.
Part of the presentation Feb. 2 included the displaying of a letter from Domingo Cabello, the governor of the province and captain of the presidio, to Phelipe DeNeve, the lord commandant general reporting contributions from the Presidio La Bahia in the amount of 198 pesos and another 232 pesos from the cavalry company of Presidio La Bahia dated Jan. 20, 1784-March 9, 1784 and filed in the Bexar Archives under the date Jan. 19, 1784. These archived records are proof that La Bahia soldiers contributed at least once. We know the donativo list exists for the American Revolution period - we just have to keep searching until it can be found.
I know that many will continue to hunt for the list that will prove La Bahia soldiers are American Revolutionary patriots and not only bring them the recognition they deserve but change the history of Texas to include the monetary contributions of the soldiers, the soldiers and ranchers who tended and drove the cattle to feed Bernardo de Galvez's troops and others who have not yet been recognized for their contributions.
Similar lists exist for San Antonio de Bexar, Nacogdoches and other settlements and presidios in Texas - we just have to find them. While I deeply regret that the found list will not facilitate DAR membership, I hope that the events of the last few weeks will draw individuals out to look for these donativo lists in the Bexar Archives online or in person at the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin and also to research their own family lines.
Julia Lopez is a native of Victoria and a graduate of Victoria High School. Julia and her husband Lorenzo, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, live in Austin. Julia is a State of Texas certified purchaser and is employed by The University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of Canary Islander Descendants Association, Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Texas First Families.