A large group of descendants of Manuel Esparza crowded into the small city meeting room to witness Pleasanton Mayor Travis Hall proclaim July 13 as Manuel Esparza Heritage Day. Manuel’s father, Gregorio, was a fallen hero of the Alamo.
Every three years a Gregorio & Anna Esparza Family Reunion is held.
Anna, whose first husband had passed away, had a daughter. After she and Gregorio married, they had three sons—Enrique, Manuel and Francisco.
Anna, her daughter and their three sons all survived the Battle of the
Alamo. Instead of fleeing to Nacogdoches in East Texas, she chose to stay.
She and her children entered the Alamo, which was already boarded up, through a window on the south side of the church.
Gregorio manned one of the canons on the south side, facing east toward where the Crockett Hotel now stands. Sadly, he died there defending the Alamo with Davy Crockett when struck in the chest by a canon ball.
After the battle, the women and children who survived met with Santa
Anna. He gave them two silver dollars and a blanket and sent them on their way.
Gregorio’s brother, Francisco, asked to retrieve the body. Gregorio was the only Alamo defender to receive a Christian Burial, family members said.
He was buried at Campo Santo where Santa Rosa Hospital is now.
Anna and the children stayed in San Antonio. Enrique, who was only eight years old, went to work. Anna sold tamales and other items to support the family. Some family members believe that Gregorio’s brothers helped raise the children.
Francisco and Gregorio’s eldest son Enrique, came to Atascosa County and applied for pre-emptive claims for land. These claims were used to help populate the county. Manuel and Francisco also applied and received 160 acres each in Atascosa County when they reached the proper age. Under the Homestead Act of 1854, the grants had been reduced to 160 acres.
Manuel settled in Atascosa County and had eleven children. Both Enrique and Francisco settled in Atascosa County but eventually the families moved away. The whole group, including San Antonio relatives, settled in the area, founding the community known as San Augustine in Atascosa County.
Enrique donated some land to build a church. The community pitched in to build a church and school. Eight of Manuel’s eleven children had married here locally.
The family now celebrates a reunion for descendants of all three brothers – Enrique, Manuel and Francisco – as most of the relatives live in this area.
Some of Enrique’s and Francisco’s family members moved to San Antonio.
At this year’s reunion on July 13, they expect about 750 to 1,000 family members to attend. In 2010, they had 1,038 in attendance.