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Refugio dedicates statue after 74 year hiatus

By JR Ortega
March 21, 2011 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated March 20, 2011 at 10:21 p.m.

This statue was officially dedicated to Capt. Amon B. King and his men in Refugio on March 13. The statue, created by Raoul Josset, was commissioned to commemorate the sacrifice of King and his soldiersbut was never dedicated because  citizens at the time objected to the style. The official dedication occurred in conjunction with the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Refugio and the Texas Revolution.

REFUGIO - Rustling leaves give a voice to the hush that has towered at the center of King's Park in Refugio for 74 years.

There, a muscularly-defined man squats on fallen knee, clutching a laurel leaf in front of him and broken sword from behind.

The statue was never fully understood and was thought of as unappealing in the 1930s, so it never received its fitting dedication.

But the statue has towered quietly long enough.

The Refugio County Historical Commission dedicated the statue March 13, adding a stone plaque at the two-sidewalk entrance of the west side of the park as part of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Refugio. State Sen. Glenn Hegar sent a signed proclamation of the dedication.

Bill Kennedy stood 10 feet from the statue and stared at the man squatting on a granite column as someone from the commission talked about the monument's historical significance.

"I knew so little about my home county all these years," whispered the 85-year-old who now lives in Portland, south of Refugio.

The unnamed young man in the statue is a monument to Captain Amon B. King and his men who were captured and then executed by General Jose Urrea during the Goliad Campaign in 1836.

Col. James Fannin sent King and 28 men to Refugio to help families who were being raided by one of Gen. Urrea's advance cavalries, Carlos de la Garza and his 80 rancheros.

King and his men were overtaken and forced to seek refuge in the Nuestra Senora del Refugio Mission and Lt. Col. William Ward was sent by Fannin to relieve them.

Ward and King argued and their armies were split and eventually both commanders were taken over and tried leaving toward Victoria, but King, his men and some of Ward's battalion were executed, while Ward and the rest of his battalion reached Victoria and eventually surrendered to Urrea, all this according to the Texas State Historical Commission.

Acknowledging the battle and the statue sends a powerful message, said Bart Wales, the commission's secretary and co-director of the Refugio County Museum.

"It's inspiring. I guess that's the best word," Wales said just before the unveiling of the plaque dedication. "We're remembering the men who fought for our freedoms."

Refugio County Judge Rene Mascorro was happy to see the at least 50 people who attended the dedication ceremony.

The statue may have had to wait 74 years, but it's better late than never, Mascorro said.

"I'm very proud today to say that I'm from Refugio," he said.

The city and commission had been planning to dedicating the statue for the past several months to two years, said Rosemary Kelley, commission chairwoman.

Kelley, who directs the museum with Wales, had seen some old articles that stated the statue had never been dedicated because Refugio citizens did not think the monument was a fitting tribute.

Prior to that discovery, the city had reconstructed the star the statue sits on and beautified the park itself.

To the commission, the sculpture showed a man weary and losing a battle, but endlessly swinging his sword while clutching the laurel leaf, which is a symbol of freedom.

The entire dedication was eye-opening for Kennedy, who continued to listen to the story of the battle that was fought in the city he once lived in.

"This is the first time I have really looked up there," he said. "I'm not alone. Not 10 percent of the county knows there was a battle here."



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