Whitney White-Ashley

Just over 173 years ago, 54 delegates signed the Texas Declaration of Independence in a small village called Washington on the Brazos.

The men came together at the Convention of 1836, amid a civil war with Mexico. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his troops were relentlessly pounding a makeshift regiment of Texian soldiers defending a small mission call the Alamo, just miles away in San Antonio.

The delegates drafted the document, similar in concept to the United States Constitution, in less than a day and signed it on March 2, 1836. The Alamo fell just four days later.

My retention of Texas history would probably shame my seventh grade history teacher. But I can trace my roots to the beginnings of the Friendship State.

On my fatherís side, my ancestors came over from Ireland for the promise of land. They first settled in Tennessee before making it to Texas more than 150 years ago.

The Cowans, my ancestors, settled on a stretch of land that now straddles Hood and Erath County. Their homestead cabin now sits at the Erath County Historical Museum in Stephenville.

My dad still owns a chunk of the original ranch out on FM 205. He runs a herd of Brangus cattle and coastal hay and the occasional catfish. Nothing fancy - just enough to break even most of the time.

On my motherís side, things get a little trickier. Her dad was the first generation born in the United States. His parents immigrated here from Germany during the Great War (or World War I). He went on to serve in the US Army and married my grandmother - a stubborn farm girl from Democrat, Texas.

Actually, my grandmother was one of 13 children - and was in her 30s when she met and married my grandfather who had already been divorced once.

My grandmother told me stories of sending her husband off to two different wars and painfully listening to the radio each night for the war reports. She opened and ran her own restaurant near Brownwood to keep herself and her only child (my mother) busy.

And although I have never been able to find out why - my grandfather was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the Korean War.

All I knew was that he served in a MASH unit, so I grew up watching episodes of the TV show MASH - hoping to catch some off-hand mention on him.

I never did, of course, but I have learned that my stubbornness is not unique and is probably inherently Texan as well as genetic.

If it has been a long time since youíve looked at the Texan Constitution, take a few moments to do so at http://www.lsjunction.com/docs/tdoi.htm.