March 2 is recognized state-wide as Texas Independence Day, marking the anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1836, which established the Republic of Texas.
For many proud, native Texans — like myself — every day is Texas Independence Day, but this year will be spent “con más ganas” as my family recently discovered that we’re related to an important Texas Revolution war hero.
My distant relative is Captain Salvador Flores de Abrego, a Tejano — a Mexican either born or settled in present-day Texas while it was still ruled by Mexico — from a prominent ranching family in the San Antonio area.
When news of the impending revolution broke in San Antonio, Flores and his good friend Juan Seguín immediately took action and began to recruit troops for the first battle that began the Texas Revolution, the Battle of Gonzales in October 1835. As the Mexican Army, commanded by Presidente Antonio López de Santa Anna, threatened to take over artillery, Flores, his brothers, Seguín and the rest of the troops proudly defended their right to bear arms against the tyrannical government.
After the initial battle, the Texan army grew to incorporate all kinds of people who were settling in Texas at the time, but the two main groups were the Tejanos and Texians — Americans who immigrated to Texas. One of the army’s first headquarters was located at a Flores family ranch.
The Flores brothers would then go on to help Seguín gather supplies, recruit troops and fight for Texan independence. Together, they fought in the Battle of the Alamo, the Siege of Béxar, the Battle of Concepción and the Battle of San Jacinto.
At the Battle of the Alamo, the Texan Army eventually fell, but Seguín’s troops managed to survive by participating in the Runaway Scrape — ordered by commander-in-chief Sam Houston to take refuge in Gonzales — including Captain Flores and his brothers.
Regrouping in Gonzales, the group decided to split up. As Captain Flores volunteered to stay with the families and troops fleeing from the violence, Seguín and the rest of the Flores brothers headed towards San Jacinto where Texans would defeat the Mexican Army in a battle that lasted only 18 minutes.
After winning independence and establishing the Republic of Texas, Flores went on to serve as 1st Lieutenant in Seguín’s Company and married Concepción Rojo, Seguín’s sister. Before this marriage, Seguín married María Gertrudis Flores de Abrego — the sister of Salvador Flores. Essentially, they were double brothers-in-law, making my family also related to Seguín by marriage and to his children by blood.
After the death of Salvador Flores in 1855, one of his nieces donated 200 acres of land in Wilson County, aptly named Floresville, and a historical marker was added to the town in 1986.
It is every Texan’s dream to find out that someone in their family was involved in the Texas Revolution. For my family, and especially for me, it was oddly healing. The relationship between Mexico and Texas goes way back, and since this freshman class is 32% Hispanic, it felt appropriate to highlight this aspect of Hispanic heritage on Texas Independence Day.
Growing up, my experience as a Hispanic was very different from those of my classmates and friends. Many of the people I was around were first or second-generation Americans and had deep ties to Mexico. I always felt so separated from my culture and community because I didn’t know much about what part of Mexico my family originated from or what they did.
Discovering that my ancestors had lived in Texas for so long and cared enough to fight for its independence made my heart swell “con orgullo” as I finally understood who I am in relation to my ancestry: a Tejana, through and through.
Tejano culture is one that doesn’t get as much press as it should, when in reality Tejanos have been established in Texas and have been important players in its history since the 1700s.
Texas is its own melting pot of cultures that unified in the name of independence and freedom largely due to the brave Tejanos that resisted their own government and risked their lives in order to create a new life for their families, including me.
So fly those American and Texan flags high today — yes, at the same level — and Remember the Alamo! ¡Viva Tejas!