Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Memory

Thomas Jefferson Gazley should also be remembered as an active Mason, serving as Senior Warden of Holland Lodge No. 36, before it became No.1, and he was a Charter Member of the Grand Lodge of Texas when it was organized on December 20, 1837. During the opening meeting of the Grand Lodge on April 16, 1838, Gazley served as Grand Senior Warden pro tempore. During his later years, he maintained a membership with Bastrop Lodge No. 58.

Gazley was known by many of his associates as: a man of impeccable integrity; a man’s truest friend; a man of noble character; a man lofty in ideals; a true and loyal patriot; a man of culture and refinement; a thorough gentleman; a man of even temper; a good neighbor; and a confiding friend.

“I have come to know Thomas Jefferson Gazley as a True Texas Hero.”

Thank you, Dr. Gazley, for all that you have done for Smithville, Bastrop County, Texas, and Texans.”

The Expiration

His final contribution to history, the remote Gazley Cemetery, overlooks his creek and prairie, as one of the oldest cemeteries in Texas. Initially buried there following his death on October 31, 1853, Dr. Gazley’s remains rested peacefully until October 1936 when they were exhumed by the Texas Centennial Commission and honorably re-interred in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin during a formal 1937 ceremony. They rest there today on Republic Hill in Section C-1, Row T, Grave Number Four.

The Return

Following his governmental service, Dr. Gazley returned to his frontier home of Gazley Prairie to continue his existing business pursuits and to live out the remainder of his life. Going beyond his earlier ventures, Thomas Gazley saw his creek-prairie property become Dr. Gazley’s Landing, a stopover location for the riverboat Kate Ward and other shallow water craft as they plied the waters of the Colorado River between Matagorda and Austin carrying cotton and other commodities. Additionally, Gazley used his varied skills as a Surveyor to perform land grant locating services for new settlers.

The New Beginning

The Texas frontier was largely left in shambles by the struggles of the war for independence. San Felipe, Stephen F. Austin’s principal city, was burned by Sam Houston’s army during his regrouping retreat to San Jacinto. Houston wanted to keep it from falling into the hands of Santa Anna and his army who had looted and burned Harrisburg and many other small cities as they chased the remnants of the Texas Army eastward across the frontier.
Harrisburg was never rebuilt and San Felipe’s place in history had passed from relative importance. The new city of Houston was born as the center of government and the principal place for business and commerce. Accordingly, as the new government of the Republic of Texas developed, many of Austin’s stalwart types again came to the forefront as representatives of the people in Texas governmental activities. Concurrently, business and personal endeavors began to blossom as life in Texas achieved a new level of normalcy and stability.

Having been appointed to the Texas Naval Affairs Committee during the closing days of the war, Dr. Gazley soon retired from his military activities. He took up residency in Houston and entered the developing professional world as an Attorney in partnership with John Birdsall. On September 4, 1837, Gazley was elected to the House of the Second Congress of the Republic of Texas representing Harrisburg County.