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The Marriage of Charles Bellinger Stewart

or

So, Mr. Stewart Where Did You Go for Your Honeymoon?

 

By Kameron K. Searle

 

Montgomery County is very proud to have been the home of Charles Bellinger Stewart and the birthplace of the Lone Star Flag.  As we will see in the coming weeks, Charles B. Stewart would play an active role in the early history of Montgomery County and in the establishment of the Town of Montgomery as the first county seat.  Later, historians would credit him with designing the Lone Star Flag and the Seal of Texas in the Town of Montgomery in 1839. 

            On March 1, 1836, at Washington (Washington-on-the Brazos), the Texian independence convention began.  The convention lasted from March 1 to March 17, 1836.  The delegates to the convention declared Texas independent from Mexico on March 2, 1836.  One of these delegates was Charles B. Stewart.  Stewart, who had already served as the first Secretary of State of Texas, was an active member of the convention where he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and was a member of the committee that drafted the Constitution of the Republic of Texas.  

             On March 6, 1836, the Alamo fell.  As the Texas Revolution raged on, an interesting and little known fact about C. B. Stewart occurred.  C. B. Stewart, one of the most active members of the Convention at Washington, left the convention for several days and got married!  On March 8, 1836, James Hall, Judge of the Municipality of Washington, authorized “W.W. Shepperd of Lake Creek to celebrate a contract of marriage between C B Stewart & Julia Shepperd.”  Stewart left Washington and traveled to the house of W. W. Shepperd in Lake Creek where he married Julia Shepperd (W.W. Shepperd's daughter) on March 11, 1836.   Stewart then returned to the Convention at Washington by March 16 where he signed the Constitution of the Republic of Texas on March 17, 1836.

For some reason, probably a photograph taken later in his life, Texas founding father, Charles B. Stewart, is always thought of and portrayed as an older man.  According to a number of sources, Charles B. Stewart was born on February 6, 1806. Other sources provide a date of February 18, 1806.  So, Stewart would have just turned 30 the month before he signed the Declaration of Independence and married his first wife, Julia Shepperd. 

The witnesses to the marriage of Charles B. Stewart and Julia Shepperd were John Marshal Wade, Charles Garrett and William C. Clark.  Just over a month after witnessing the Stewart/Shepperd wedding in Lake Creek, John Marshal Wade would be detailed to fire one of the cannons known as the “Twin Sisters” during the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. Wade would later found the Montgomery Patriot newspaper.  Charles Garrett was one of Stephen F. Austin’s original “Old Three Hundred.”  Garrett was the son-in-law of Owen Shannon and Margaret Shannon.  William C. Clark was one of the original settlers of the Lake Creek Settlement.  He received his Mexican land grant from Empresario Stephen F. Austin in 1831.  Each of these gentlemen will appear regularly in many of the records that will be featured in future articles regarding the Lake Creek Settlement.

Where was the house of W. W. Shepperd located in Lake Creek?  In March 1836, W.W. Shepperd lived on the land that would later become the Town of Montgomery in July of 1837.  This marriage record is the earliest known record of someone getting married on the lands that would become Montgomery, Texas.  This wedding was also held during the Texas Revolution just nine days after Texas declared its independence from Mexico and five days after the Alamo fell.  Most men were either fighting in the Texas army or assisting in the “Runaway Scrape.”  As such, C. B. Stewart’s wedding has to be one of the earliest recorded weddings in Republic of Texas history. 

Before Montgomery County was created on December 14, 1837, the Lake Creek Settlement was part of Washington County.  Note that the Stewart/Shepperd marriage record was filed following the Texas Revolution.  It was filed in the deed records of Washington County, Texas (Washington County Clerk) in Deed Book A-1, pages 240-243. 

Kameron K. Searle is an attorney in Houston, Texas who has thoroughly researched the history of the Lake Creek Settlement and the early history of Montgomery County for the last eight years.  For more information about the Lake Creek Settlement, go to the TexasHistoryPage.Com .

 

This article originally appeared in the December 31, 2008 edition of the Montgomery County News.