The Mighty Wedding Oak

The day I visited, it was very overcast and raining
Down in the heart of Texas, near the state's geographical center, stands a huge and very old live oak tree known as the “Matrimonial Oak” or the “Wedding Oak.” Legend says that even before the Spanish came here, Indian braves and maidens met and were united in wedlock beneath this oak's sheltering boughs. Later, from pioneer days into the 1900's, the tree was a popular spot for residents of the area to visit and exchange pledges and marriage vows.

Historical records tell of the tree also being a place for Indian council meetings, but that's about it. No ghosts, hangings, or treasure tales are connected to it, Bonnie and Clyde didn't temporarily stop fleeing from the law to have a picnic beside it and Elvis never slept under it. It's just a beautiful, very large and very old tree that has seen a lot of history and survived many cold winters and hot summers since it was just a stick.

The Matrimonial Oak lives in the quiet countryside just outside the city limits of San Saba, on the east side of China Creek Road, about half a mile south of the San Saba River. From US Hwy. 190 in San Saba. turn right on 9th Street, then left on China Creek Road (CR 200) and go one mile to the Matrimonial Oak.

Texas Historical Marker next to the Wedding Oak

Son of an Alamo Hero

The Alamo, a revered historic shrine for Texans and where
hundreds of men died for the cause of freedom, is today
a major tourist attraction.
A lot of people, especially Texans, know of William Barrett Travis, commander and hero of the Alamo who, along with Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and about 185 other men, valiantly gave his life in the cause of freedom. Few know he had a son who fell from grace.

When William was only 18 years old, he had already finished his schooling and was working as an assistant teacher. When he was 19, he married 16-year-old Rosanna Cato, one of his former students. In 1829, less than a year later, they had a son, Charles Edward. Leaving for Texas in early 1831, William left his pregnant wife and young son behind. Although neither publicly commented as to the cause of the breakup and no proof ever came forth, rumors swirled for years that it was due to Rosanna's unfaithfulness and that the daughter she birthed after he left, Susan Isabella, was not William's. Whether the rumors were true or not are still disputed, but in his will, William named Susan as his daughter. What is undisputed was his devotion to his son.

Rosanna went on to marry twice more before dying of Yellow Fever in 1848. She raised her daughter until Susan's wedding shortly before Rosanna's illness. In 1834, William brought his 3-year-old son Charles back to Texas to be near him. By this time, William was in the Texas Army so he arranged for Charles to live with his good friend, David Ayres, who, along with his wife, ran one of the first Anglo-American schools in Texas out of their home in Montville, Washington County.

Historical picture of William Barrett Travis
On February 12, 1836, William became the official commander of the enlisted forces in the Alamo alongside Jim Bowie, commander of the volunteers. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his 6,000 Mexican Army forces laid siege to the former mission on February 23 and declared their intention to kill every defender. Over the next week, William sent out couriers with his letters asking for more men to come to their aid. In his last letter, sent March 3rd to his friend David Ayres, he wrote, "Take care of my little boy. If the country should be saved, I may make him a splendid fortune; but if the country should be lost and I should perish, he will have nothing but the proud recollection that he is the son of a man who died for his country." On March 6, before the sun rose, Charles Travis lost his father when the Mexican Army overran the Alamo and killed every defender.

After his father's death, young Charles was sent to live in New Orleans with his mother and her 3rd husband, Dr. Samuel Cloud. When they both died of Yellow Fever in 1848, he moved in with his sister Susan and her husband back in Texas.

Historical photo of Charles Travis

After becoming a member of the Texas bar, he was elected to the legislature to represent Caldwell and Hays counties in 1853-54. He then briefly served as captain of Company E of the Texas Rangers until his appointment to the command of Company H, Second United States Cavalry.

Things began to go wrong for Charles soon afterwards. While stationed at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, Second Lt. Robert Wood, Jr. brought charges against him for slander. Travis was quickly assigned to lead a company of soldiers to be stationed in Texas, but during the march south, additional charges of cheating at cards and unauthorized absence from camp were brought against him. In a telling entry in her diary, Eliza Johnston, wife of Col. Albert Sidney Johnston (Charles' commander), said of him, "Travis is a mean fellow. No one respects him or believes a word he says."

On December 10, 1855, Johnson relieved him of command and placed him under arrest in quarters. He was charged with "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." Travis pleaded not guilty.

Courthouse in Mason, Texas where over 40 battles were
fought in the area by Fort Mason soldiers against the Indians.
The court-martial was convened on March 15, 1856 (almost exactly 20 years after the fall of the Alamo and his father's death) at Fort Mason in Mason, Texas. With his father being regarded as a hero, it proved to be one of the most sensational trials in Texas history. After almost a month of testimony and deliberation, with Colonel Johnston and nearly every one of Travis's fellow officers testifying against him, he was found guilty of all charges and summarily dismissed from service on May 1, 1856.

Town square, Mason, Texas. Fort Mason was the last
command of Robert E. Lee before being called to Washington
and asked to command all Union forces during the Civil War.
Charles refused to accept the findings and publicly claimed the graduates of West Point had discriminated against him as an appointee to the regiment from civilian life. He tried to enlist the help of the Texas legislature in clearing his name, but even with their political assistance, President Franklin Pierce declined to reopen the case. Travis then took the misguided effort of trying to force several of the officers who testified against him to reverse their testimony. The tactic led to a severe backlash of public sentiment against him.

Giving up the fight, Charles Edward Travis went back to live with his sister on the land grant given to them by the state of Texas for their father's sacrifice. He never married and had no children. William Barrett Travis' "little boy" died of consumption in 1860.