Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Today I was asked to tell the story of James Coryell as part of the Marlin, Texas Memoral Day ceromony. If the name sounds fimular, it should.

At the age of 18 James Coryell left his home in Ohio and made his way to Texas. The year was 1821. Coryell's name appears all through the story of Texas for the next 16 years.

He traveled with Jim Bowie to look for the San Saba silver mines. During this expedition it is believed he was wounded by Indains in what is known as The 13 Hour Fight.

After the fall of the Alamo Coryell helped evacuate settlers from the path of the Mexican Army during the heartbreaking episode known as the Runaway Scrape. You won't read many accounts written by American settlers that Santa Anna's troops caught up with.

Coryell was a member of Capt. Sterling C. Robertson's ranging company in the spring and summer of 1836. In the fall of the same year he transfered to Capt. Thomas H. Barron's company. These early Texas Rangers traveled where they were needed and spent most of their time in the field rather than barracks.

While camped at Sarahville, near present day Marlin, Texas, Coryell and three companions located and raided a bee tree. They had cut it down and were in the process removing the honey when they were attacked by a band of Indians. Coryell was killed by the first shot.
James Coryell's body was recovered by his companions and buried near where he fell. In time the area was taken over by the James Plantation. The location of the grave was lost in time, but the slave cemetery was in the same general area and they knew he was there.
It was almost 173 years exactly from the day Coryell was killed that a grave matching the description (and in the right area) was discovered while brush was being cleared for a new fence around the old slave cemetery. Is it the long lost grave of James Coryell? It's too soon to tell. But whoever rest there, they are now found and can be remembered.

At the Marlin Courthouse we have a tradition of ringing the bell to honor fallen heroes. This year I started off by ringing the bell for James Coryell. Then I rang the bell for Richard Penny, a United States Marine who fell in Afghanistan early in May of this year. It is a sad truth that the bill for the freedoms we enjoy is paid by men like Coryell and Penny.

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