Baton Rouge Tri-Weekly Gazette and Comet, July 3, 1859, Page 2
The death of Mr. Eli Harris a prominent citizen of Carroll parish, is announced in the Lake Providence Herald.
Such an innocuous obituary. You may be wondering what Eli had to do with Ouachita Parish. For that matter, what did he have to do with Texas’ War for Independence? Lets see if I can explain.
According to Dr. Williams’ Founding Families of the Ouachita Valley book, Eli was born circa 1786 in Virginia and died June 26, 1859 in East Carroll Parish. He married Felicity Larche in Ouachita Parish July 23, 1823. They had many kids together. Eli served as Ouachita Parish Deputy Clerk of Court and when Carroll Parish was established in 1832, he became it’s first Clerk of Court. He then was the parish Notary and eventually, a parish Judge. Ok, so there is the Ouachita parish connection. Lets go back further:
Weekly Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, AR) November 27, 1819, Page 3
DEFEAT OF THE PATRIOTS IN TEXAS.
Extract of a letter from a gentleman at Ouachita, to his friend in this place, da Nov. 14, 1819.
“On approach of the Spanish army towards Nacogdoches about the 1st of this month, the Republican army fled, mostly to Natchitoches, the balance to Galveztown, so that the Royal Spaniards had nothing to fight, until a detachment of 3 or 400 horsemen arrived near to Sabine river, where a Republican Captain,* alone, with sword in hand, met and fought the army of Royal Spanish horsemen, and wounded 5 or 6 before they made him prisoner. After the battle, and the captain being much wounded, they liberally gave him 6 days to die in – if not, they would hang him. Capt. Beard, of the U.S. army, stopped their (the Spaniards’) march, at the margin of the Sabine river ; they claiming the country, and having intended to march to a bayou within a few miles of Natchitoches, which capt. B. had ascertained, as well as the place they intended crossing the Sabine at, where he met them with his cannon. After an exchange of flags capt. Beard crossed the river, to make some temporary arrangements with the Spanish officer, who took capt. B.’s advice not to attempt crossing, and agreed to release a few of the prisoners, (men of families) ; none, however, but those who capt. Beard knew, and pledged himself, were innocent, inoffensive persons, and not concerned in the Republican war of Texas.”
*Believed to be capt. ELI HARRIS, editor of the Texas Republican.
Wow. I did some digging, and found that Eli’s newspaper, the Texas Republican was one of the first newspapers in Texas! to read more about Eli, go to the Handbook of Texas online entry about him here: https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/harris-eli .
The expedition he was a part of was known as the Long expedition. It was the first time Americans tried to fight Spain for Texas independence. You can also read about it on the Handbook of Texas site here: https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/long-expedition . Before this I had never heard of the Long expedition!
Think about it. Over fifteen years before the defeat at the Alamo Texans were trying to get Independence. There is a connection to that event that goes all the way back to Monroe and Northeast Louisiana. Amazing!