A dramatic chapter in administration (1838-1841) of Republic of Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar. Aware of United State - Mexico commerce crossing Texas by the Santa Fe Trail near the Canadian River, President Lamar sought similar trade advantages for Texas.
He initiated the Texan Santa Fe Expedition early in 1841, with Dr. Richard F. Brenham, Col. Wm. G. Cooke and Jose Antonio Navarro as commissioners. Cooke began recruiting in April, forming an artillery and five infantry companies. Remainder of 321 members included merchants (with $200,000 worth of goods), teamsters, guides and others. George W. Kendall, of the New Orleans "Picayune", joined to write classic book on the venture. Travel was by 21 slow ox-wagons.
First day's march, June 19, 1841, ended on the San Gabriel, and expedition's campsite is near here.
Before reaching the Santa Fe Trail some 600 miles north, the men were to have torturing experiences with drought and unknown terrain. Ill from hardships, the group was betrayed into the hands of Mexican authorities and sent as prisoners to Mexico City. However, this penetration of upper Texas gave the republic stronger claims to her northern lands.