May 26, 1836…
After the tears and shouts, the celebration and heartbreak of Levi not returning home but being alive, Rebecca Ruth Baylor Buckmeyer snuggled her two oldest little sisters up close. Instead of a bedtime story though, she unfolded her brother’s letter Daddy brought home to her.
May 8, 1836
My dearest little sisters, Bitty Beck, Mary Rachael, and Gwendolyn Claire…I’m sure Baby Ce Ce could care less only eight weeks old. Or has it been nine now?
The four-year-old popped up. “That’s me! It said Mary Rachael.”
“That’s right. It’s from Levi. He didn’t come home from the war with Daddy, so he sent us a letter.” She turned to the two –year-old on her left. “You remember Levi, don’t you Gwen?”
The little one shook her head against Rebecca’s chest. “No!”
She didn’t chide her baby sister for the bad attitude in her tone. Mama never should have let her start sleeping with her and Baby Cecelia while Daddy was away.
Well, we did it! We’re all Texians now! Don’t know rightly what I expected, but it was unbelievable. Everyone charged shouting, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” It was like one huge roar, and before I could imagine, the battle ended. The Mexicans fired a few shots, but they all turned tail and ran.
You’d never guess it, but you are the real hero of the Battle of San Jacinto. Well,
Her? What in the world could he be talking about?
Yes, you. Remember that morning we left and Blue Dog was torn between staying home with you and going? You convinced him to go. Remember?
“Do you, Becca? I don’t remember.” Mary Rachael stopped twirling Rebecca’s hair and looked up. She loved her little sisters, and the little girl’s beauty almost took her breath away looking so much like her Daddy.
“I do as a matter of fact. I told Old Blue that he needed to go help win Texas’ independence and make sure Daddy and Levi got home safe.”
Gwen sat up, pulled her thumb out of her mouth, then wrinkled her nose and stuck out her tongue at her slightly older sister.
“Now, that wasn’t very nice, was it? You two shush and be good, let me read the letter. I want to see how I was the hero, don’t you?” She started the new sentence over.
Well, Blue is the very one who tracked Santa Anna and found him the next day! No telling what might have happened if the general got away. We might still be fighting. But the defeated cockroach signed the treaty, and Texas is now a Republic! Independent, free from Mexico’s rule! Isn’t it wonderful?
President Lamar is forming a rangering company. Wallace Rusk and I joined up, so now I’m a ranger. How about that, Bitty Beck? Don’t be upset with me for not coming home. I’m sure I’ll be back before you know it, and bring my new friend with me.
Did Uncle Henry tell you about Wallace yet? We found him walking along just outside of Nacogdoches. First said he was eighteen, but I found out he’s only big for a sixteen year old. He had to lie again to get in the rangers with me. He’s had a sad life. Never knew his father like me, but his mother left him an orphan last February. Said she was a sporting lady.
Rebecca gasped. “Oh my.”
“What’s a sporting lady, Becca?”
“Oh, uh, you know. Like marbles… Or racing horses.” How brilliant, Levi Baylor! A little warning might have been nice. Hadn’t the thought entered his mind that she may be reading his letter aloud? Well, at least it wasn’t in front of Mama or Daddy. Surely the little sisters wouldn’t say anything. “Be quiet, now, and let me read the rest.” She read silently until she got past the part about his friend’s mother. Just like him to put the keep it quiet after the bad part. What a clown.
Don’t say anything about that, it should be just between you and me – or about his real age, either.
I know Uncle Henry and Aunt Sue planted all that extra cotton and hate it that I won’t be there to help. This is something I feel I must do. As a man. Lamar is sending all the rangers to Comanche Springs so we can teach the Comanche and Kiowa a lesson for joining up with the Mexicans to fight against us. It’s pretty far west, not far from the Rio Grande is what I heard. Some of the older rangers think we’ll be done by Thanksgiving, maybe sooner.
Can you believe Wallace has never even had a proper Turkey Dinner with all the fixin’s before? Or even celebrated the holiday at all. Maybe I can bring him with me in the fall. I can’t wait for you to meet him. He’s like a brother to me already.
Kiss all my little Buckmeyer ladies for me and give Aunt Sue a real big hug. May be a chance we can come late September and help with the pickin’. I’ll write again next chance I get.
I love you, your brother-cousin,
Levi Bartholomew Baylor
“Long live the Republic, Bitty Beck!”