The Bellville Historical Society recently hosted its May meeting at “The Offices at 404” in Bellville, Texas. The event attracted a large and friendly crowd, eager to delve into the rich history of Texas. The meeting not only provided a wonderful opportunity for like-minded history enthusiasts to come together but also offered valuable insights into the critical role played by the First Texas Navy in the Texas Revolution.

The highlight of the evening was the presence of the distinguished guest speaker Admiral Dallam Masterson, who is a direct descendant to the historical figure and events discussed. Admiral Masterson took center stage and delivered a captivating presentation that shed light on the pivotal role of his ancestor, Samuel Rhoads Fisher, the First Secretary of the Navy for the Republic of Texas.

To set the context, Admiral Masterson provided a brief historical background. Samuel Rhoads Fisher’s association with Texas began in 1819 when he met Moses and Stephen F. Austin in Missouri. Inspired by the potential of Austin’s colony, Fisher decided to relocate his shipping business from Philadelphia to the newly founded town of Matagorda in 1830. This strategic move would later prove instrumental in the formation of the Texas Navy.

Fisher played a crucial role in the creation of the Texas Navy in November 1835, starting with the acquisition of the first Navy schooner, William Robbins, which was renamed Liberty. Under Fisher’s guidance, the Texas Navy disrupted Mexican supply lines and diverted crucial resources to the Texian army, significantly bolstering their chances of victory at the decisive Battle of San Jacinto in April 1836.

As a signatory of the Texas Declaration of Independence, Samuel Rhoads Fisher was appointed as the Republic of Texas’ first Secretary of the Navy by President Sam Houston. When Mexico threatened the young Republic’s survival with a naval blockade of the Texas coast in 1837, Secretary Fisher took bold action. He ordered the Texas Navy on a daring diversionary cruise to Yucatán, effectively breaking the blockade and ensuring Texas’s continued independence.

Following the presentation, a lively Q&A session allowed attendees to engage directly with Admiral Masterson and deepen their understanding of the Texas Navy’s history and Samuel Rhoads Fisher’s remarkable contributions. The exchange of questions and answers further highlighted the enduring interest in local history and the commitment of the Bellville community to preserving and celebrating their heritage.

At the meetings beginning attendees were treated to a delightful array of food and refreshments, fostering a convivial atmosphere for informal discussions and connections. The newly remodeled “The Offices at 404” provided an ideal setting for the event, with its historical charm and convenient location on Bellville’s Main Street.

The Bellville Historical Society’s May meeting served as a reminder of the profound impact of individuals like Samuel Rhoads Fisher and the First Texas Navy on the outcome of the Texas Revolution. By honoring their contributions, the society continues to inspire a love for history and a deep appreciation for the brave individuals who shaped the destiny of our state.

The success of this gathering underscores the importance of such community events in preserving and sharing our history and heritage. The Bellville Historical Society and its dedicated members deserve commendation for organizing an insightful and engaging meeting that captured the spirit of the Texas Revolution and celebrated the legacy of those who fought for freedom.


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