“A journey of a thousand miles
must begin with a single step” (Lao Tsu 604 -531 B.C.). So with
a single step the journey to my long ago world of research
papers resumed. A five hundred-word research paper was an
intimidating prospect. Perusing the topics that were available
for use as a research paper I narrowed my subject list to three,
Deaf Smith, Artistic Signing and the Miss Deaf America pageant.
The words I read captured my attention and imagination, “Deaf
Smith”, Texas Spy, died November 30, 1837. My topic Deaf Smith
He was born Erastus Smith in New
York on April 19,1787. The Smith family moved to Mississippi
when Erastus was eleven years of age. A childhood disease that
is not clearly identified caused his loss of hearing. As a man
his life was encumbered by fragile health caused by “Consumption”, now known as
tuberculosis. At the age of thirty-four he decided to leave
Mississippi and move to Texas. The move to Texas was intended to
improve his health and that it did. Enjoying the environment,
roaming the vast land of Texas and attending to the things he
loved brought him a new level of vigor. “Deaf” spent his days
honing his tracking and hunting skills with his beloved dog
“Rattler” by his side. (Harper, 1996)
It was in Texas that Deaf met the
woman that would become his bride, a Mexican citizen, Guadalupe
Ruiz Duran. Together they had four children and settled into
family life on a four thousand acre land grant in San Antonio.
Deaf Smith seems to have been an amiable guy. Trying to be
nonpolitical he stayed out of the tensions between Texas and
Mexico. However, in 1835 the Mexican army’s occupation of San
Antonio and his inability to reach his family moved Deaf Smith
to the side of the Texas militia and the struggle for
independence. (Moore & Panara, 1996)
Deaf Smith excelled at many things
in spite of an ailing body. His contributions to the Texas army
were enormous and at great personal cost. It was Deaf Smith that
confirmed the news of the demise of the Alamo for General Sam
Houston. There remain recorded accounts that Deaf Smith planned
the destruction of Vince’s Bridge. That event helped General
Houston’s military to a successful end in the eighteen-minute
battle of San Jacinto. The perseverance of Deaf Smith led to the
capture of General Martin Cos and assisted the capture of Santa
Anna, “El Presidente” after the battle of San Jacinto. The
victory of this battle is believed to be the winning mark of the
Texas Revolution. Deaf Smith was the most trusted tracker, scout
and spy in the command of Sam Houston. Those that served with
Deaf Smith found him to be a most honorable and courageous man.
It was in 1837 at the home of a
friend in Richmond, Texas that Deaf Smith succumbed to the
disease he had taken with him into battle, “Consumption”. This
remarkable man lived quite a life in fifty short years.
The three research topics that I
originally reviewed for consideration, Deaf Smith, Artistic Signing and the Miss Deaf
America pageant were brought together for me in one moment. Reading an article on the
Miss Deaf America pageant, I found Laney Fox. The 2001 Miss Deaf
San Antonio, Laney competed in the Miss Deaf Texas pageant. She
won the talent competition with an artistic signing, portraying
the wife of Deaf Smith. It all came together for me as pure serendipity.
Harper, J. (1996). Deaf Smith
Scout, Spy and Texas Hero. Austin, Texas: Eakin Press.
Moore, M. and Panara, R. (1996).
Great Deaf Americans (2nd ed.). Rochester, New
York: Deaf Life Press.
Moore, S. (2004). Eighteen
Minutes the Battle of San Jacinto and the Texas Independence
Campaign. Lanham, Maryland:
Republic of Texas Press.
Also see: Erastus Smith