Sunday, November 29, 2015

Dan's Third Great-Grandfather - John Short

Dan's maternal grandmother was born Pearl Princess Short. She married Charles Monroe Baker in 1907. This photo shows proud grandma, Pearl, holding Dan when he was an infant.

The Short family has given me more to research than any other line of either of our families. They played their parts in the history of our country and the history of Texas. Some were heroes, others were scoundrels. In this post I will tell about one of the heroes, John Short, who was born in Georgia in 1790. (A blog about the scoundrels yet to come!)

John married Dicy (sometimes spelled Dicey) Stinson on March 15, 1813, in Alabama. John was 23 years old, and Dicy was only 14. The Shorts were farmers and ranchers, and John was a "natural genius in wood, iron and farming," according to a family Bible account, recorded by John's nephew, John Sansom. The Short farm on Basset's Creek was near Fort Sinquefield, which was used by the locals as a shelter during frequent attacks by hostile Indians. On September 2, 1813 Fort Sinquefield was attacked by the Creek Indians. The Short family was at the fort at this time and they were involved in the ensuing battle. The company bravely defended the fort and went on to engage the Creeks in many of the famous battles of the Creek War of 1813 and 1814. John Short was involved in these battles and was soon promoted to corporal and, eventually, sergeant under Captain Dale.

Simultaneous with the Creek War, the United States was taking on the greatest naval power in the world, Great Britain, in the War of 1812. The reasons for the war included British attempts to restrict US trade, the British Navy's impressment of American seamen, and America's desire to expand its territory. It was a costly war, which included the capture and burning of the nation's capital, in August 1814.

On the heels of his involvement with the Creeks, John enlisted in the U.S. Army on July 26, 1814 to fight in the War of 1812. In December of that same year, Great Britain and the US had actually signed the treaty that was to end the war, but news was slow to cross the Atlantic, and the conflict continued, ending in one of the biggest and most decisive battles of the war - the Battle of New Orleans. John Short secured his spot in history by fighting in that battle, under Major General Andrew Jackson. John short was said to have been a "warm personal friend" of Jackson, and Jackson was known to have stayed at the Short residence on occasions.

In the years following the War of 1812, John Short's life was focused on family. All nine of John and Dicy's children were born in Alabama in the 22 years between his involvement in that war and the year 1836, when John and his younger brother, Michael, left their families in Alabama and joined up with the Texians in their war for independence from Mexico.

The Short brothers arrived in Texas on February 12, 1836, just days before the Battle of the Alamo. After that great defeat, a panic, known as "The Runaway Scrape," ensued. John and Michael were caught up in this mass exodus by Texas residents, fleeing eastward, ahead of the Mexican forces.  During this time of terror and confusion, Sam Houston began training soldiers to create a provisional army that could go up against Santa Ana's larger forces. New militia began arriving to join up with Houston, and among those volunteers were John and Michael Short.

Houston's army reached the Brazos River on March 29 and camped there until mid April. At the Brazos River, many of his men became sick with measles, one of them being John Short. He and the other sick men were left at the river, in the care of a doctor, but his brother, Michael, proceeded on under Major Leander Smith and was in Captain Wiley's company when the army met and defeated Santa Ana and the Mexican Army at the famous Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836.

Shortly thereafter John Short, wishing to bring his family from Alabama to the new independent Republic of Texas, was issued a hand-written "passport" which allowed him to travel from the Texas republic to the U.S. and back. It is said that this may be the only such document from this period which exists today. [It reads:  Where as John Short a citizen of Texas, removed into this country on the 12th February last & being made a citizen by the constitution & as from very bad health is unable to perform military duty & being desirous to proceed, if able, to the United States to bring his family to Texas. Now this instrument authorizes the said John Short to leave this republic for the term of six months for the above reasons.  Given under my hand  seal Harrisburg Texas, State Department April 3rd 1836, Bailey Hardiman, Actg. Secy. of State]

John and Michael traveled to Alabama and brought their families to Texas in 1838, and settled in Fayette County, near La Grange. In 1842 John bought 400 acres on the east bank of the Colorado River, 4 miles below La Grange, and built the family home. John and Dicy are buried on these 400 acres, although the exact location has not been identified. Dicy died in 1846, at the young age of 47, and John on February 17, 1847, at 57 years old.

John Short, Dan's third great-grandfatherr - a veteran of the Creek War, the Battle of New Orleans, and the Mexican War; his son, Michael; and grandson, John Henry, all direct ancestors having lived in Texas while it was an independent republic (between 1836 and 1846), qualify Dan to be a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas. I am working at collecting and submitting the required documentation.

[This brief bio of John Short was compiled through multiple sources, but a major source of information was The Short Family by Jack Short, written in 1988.]

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