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Erasmo Seguin (1782-1857)

Juan José Maria Erasmo de Jesus Seguin,
the son of José Santiago Seguin and of Guadalupe Fuentes y Fernandez, was born on May 26, 1782 at Béxar (today San Antonio, TX) and baptized seven days later in the church of the San Fernando mission.

He was the great-grandson of Guillaume "Guillermo" Seguin, a frenchman from Gevaudan (Lozère) in France who emigrated to Mexico during the 17th century.

The first Seguin in the Texan part of Mexico was his grandfather, Bartolomé Seguin, who had settled in the region in 1722, only four years after the founding of the presidio of San Antonio de Valero.

Erasmo Seguin married Josefa Augustina Becerra and the couple had four children including Juan N. Seguin, a hero of the Texan independence. When his father, Santiago Seguin, returned to Mexico, he decided to return to Béxar and in 1810, he was the owner of a ranch La Mora; 2,000 acres, 500 head of cattle, 20 horses and many mules.

 In 1807, Erasmo became postmaster of Béxar, a post that he occupied for nearly 30 years with a few interruptions.

On October 1835, he was mistreated by the Mexican General Martin Perfecto de Cos (brother-in-law of President Santa Anna) because his son, Juan N. Seguin, had participated in the Texan revolution. He had to leave Béxar immediately and had to walk 33 miles back to his ranch.

A revolution of the residents of Bexar took place in 1811, Erasmo negotiated with them to bring back the peace To his town. The next year, he was considered as a traitor to the King because he had written a recommendation letter in favour of a revolutionary when he was on a business trip to Louisiana. Arrested on his return to Bexar, he is Aquitted but obliged to moved to Saltillo. He refuse the decision and decided to prove his innocence before the court.

Many years later, on June 24, 1819, he obtained justice and is declared innocent and a part of his belongings seized are returned including a property in Bexar and his ranch.

 In 1812, he participated in Establishing the rules for the first school in Béxar, a few years later that school would be moved to one of his properties.

Don Erasmo first showed his friendship to the United States in 1813 when he intervened with the Spanish authorities to save the lives of the fleeing Americans following the Battle of the Medina River. His efforts on behalf of the Americans led to his arrest and trial on a charge of treason, of which he was acquitted.

Don Erasmo added to his ranch holding a nine thousand acre tract near present-day Floresville, 33 miles south of Béxar. There he built a house called "Casa Blanca) because he had a big white house on a hill overlooking the San Antonio River. This stone house was a symbol of civilization in the wilderness of the region. For more than a century, the Casa Blanca was a landmark on the coast. Over the years literally thousands, ranging from grimy teamsters to Stephen F. Austin, enjoyed the hospitality of Don Erasmo. Stephen F. Austin send him a good gin because. "That Don Erasmo always refused to be paid when I stay on his ranch". The Casa Blanca stood until 1942 when a windstorm finally toppled the crumbling landmark.

A Texas centennial marker, erected in 1936, stands along the business route of U.S. Hwy 181, about three miles north of Floresville, briefly tells the story of Casa Blanca.

The inscription read as follow: "Home of Don Erasmo Seguin who died here in 1857. By appointment of the Spanish Governor he inducted Stephen F. Austin into Texas, 1821. Texas deputy to the Mexican congress, 1824. On October 13, 1834, in a convention in Bexar he made the first effort to organize a provisional government in Texas."

In summer of 1820, he was elected Alcalde (mayor) of Bexar, one of the many municipal offices he was to hold over the course of the next two decades.

Don Erasmo was instrumental in securing from the Spanish government the empresario grant for Moses F. Austin who had plan to bring three hundred Anglo-American families into Texas. In the spring of 1821, he went to Natchitoches to meet Moses Austin and his settlers to escort them back to Béxar. On his arrival at Natchitoches, he found that Moses Austin had died and that his son, Stephen F. Austin, wanted to fulfill the contract. On their way back to Béxar a firm friendship was cemented between the two men. It was Erasmo who saved many of the colonists from economic ruin by finding a loophole in the Mexican antislavery laws that allowed the colonists to keep their slaves.

After the independence of Mexico from Spain, Don Erasmo served in 1823 as the Texas Deputy in the national Mexican Congress, dividing his time between the colonies in East Texas, his home and business interests, his ranch and his trips to Mexico City for sessions of congress. He participated in the writing in 1824 of the "Acta Constitutiva de la Federation Mexicana". Later he tried to get the status of province for the Texas but it had neither the population nor the economic resources to form a province, he had to accept that it be part of the province of Coahuila, the poorest province in the Mexican Union.

He came back convinced to continue the American immigration to increase the population of Texas. A longtime political foe of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Don Erasmo used his influence in Mexico to secure the release of Austin, and returned to Texas convinced that the colonists must declare their independence from Mexico.

In October 1835, when Santa Anna sent his brother-in-law General Martin Perfecto de Cos to take control of Texas, Don Erasmo, back at Casa Blanca, freely gave the cattle and crops from his ranch to supply the gathering Texas army and encouraged the other ranchers along the river also to help the Texans. When the Texans retreated eastward in 1836 in front of Santa Anna's legions, Don Erasmo was along with a herd of sheep so that the Texas Army would not go hungry.

In 1840, the Texan Congress voted him a payment of $3,004. for his contribution during the independence war. After the war, Don Erasmo helped to form a civil Government, he gave time and money for the reconstruction of his town and played an important role to bring closer the old Spanish families and the new American families. He then returned to Casa Blanca and spent the next few years trying to recoup the fortune.

He happily lived the life of a country gentlemen running his ranch and being host to the travellers in the region. He is described as a loyal servant of the Americans. Don Erasmo died November 7, 1857 on his ranch and he was buried in the family plot near his Casa Blanca.

 His wife, Dona Josefa Augustina Bercerra. and who died September 24, 1849, was also buried there. Not only were there other family members buried in that family cemetery, there were also numerous servants and their families buried there as well.

Many streets of San Antonio are named Seguin. In Dallas, we find a school, "Erasmo Seguin Community Learning Center", named in his honor.

Raymond Séguin #002 Boucherville, QC
Bibliography: Seguin's mansion now only rubble by Fane Burt.
The Béxar Archives (1717-1836) by Adan Benavides,
University of Texas Press, Ausxtin, 1989.
A Revolution Remembered: The memoirs and selected correspondence of Juan N. Seguin by Jesus F. de la Teja, State House Press, Austin, 1991.

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