Part of an old map of the San Jacinto area from the Texas Revolution

Veteran Bio

Texian Location:  Participant

The Kemp Sketch

(What is this?) | Download the original typescript

KELSO, ALFRED -- Born in Fayetteville, Tennessee, April 21, 1808. In applying for land in Austin's Colonies, Mr. Kelso stated that he had arrived in Texas from Alabama in February 1835. In Service Record No. 661 it is certified that he served in the army from February 29 to May 30, 1836. He was a member of Captain William J. E. Heard's Company of Citizen Soldiers at San Jacinto and received a Donation Certificate No. 382 dated September 16, 1851 for having participated in the battle. He received a Headright certificate for a league and labor of land from the Colorado County Board, January 20, 1838.

Mr. Kelso was twice married. His first wife, Mrs. Ophelia Kelso, died August 23, 1835 and he was on March 20, 1840 married to Loueze Jane Barton at Gonzales. Mrs. Kelso, born in Missouri, October 15, 1821, died May 51 1898 and Mr. Kelso died May 12, 1898. They are buried in the Brite Cemetery near Pleasanton Atascosa County. Mr. Kelso was a member of the Texas Veterans Association.

Children of Mr. and Mrs. Kelso by his second marriage were William, who died in childhood; Henry, who never married; Barton, who married Mary Jane Winn; Margaret, who died in childhood; Sarah, who married Benjamin Franklin Neill; Mary, who married R. V. Bell; and Martha Ann Kelso, who married Benjamin Franklin Winn.

The following letter was written in the camp of the Texas army nine days after the battle of San Jacinto. It was written by Alfred Kelso to his brother in law, John H. Martin, at Fayetteville, Tennessee. The original is now in the possession of the Clerk of the District Court of Colorado County, it being a file paper in suit No. 2714 of R. J. Jeffrieys et al vs. George W. Smith, et al, in which the title to the Alfred Kelso league of land, situated in this county, was involved. It was filed in said suit June 10, 1875, as appears from the endorsement thereon, by Charles Riely, then Clerk of the District Court.

"State of Coahuila and Texas Department, April 30, 1836, - Dear Brother - a favorable opportunity presents itself at present to me to let you know that I am well. Your sister, Martha, was well some six or eight days since I heard from her. Martha is at the Sulphur Springs at this time, on the River Trinity. We live on the River Colorado when we are at home. I have been in the army ever since the latter part of the winter. The citizens marches from Colorado to Gonzales, the place of rendezvous, on the River Guadalupe. The army retreated from Guadalupe to Colorado.

"The families remained on the Colorado until the army retreated from Colorado to the River Brazos. Your sister, with a great many other families, was on the river fourteen miles below our army. The river only divided the Mexican army and the army of the Americans. The army took up the line of march before the families got the news. The families were liable to be cut off by the enemy and were compelled to leave everything behind and get off as speedily as possible. We retreated from the River Brazos to San Jacinto, there we fought the great battle. The proposition made by our officers was that every man that wished to stay at the camps could do so - that they wanted no man to go into the battle that could not stand up to the point of the bayonet. Out of our army there were 667 men that turned out against l,400 Mexicans. They had strong breastworks. We were marched up right in front of their breastworks, their cannoning playing on us. We were marched in forty years of their breastworks before we were allowed to fire our cannons.

"Our cannoning soon knocked their breastworks to pieces, and we were ordered to charge. We charged, and they broke immediately. They overshot us with their muskets, both. We killed five or six hundred of the enemy; took 500 prisoners. Our losses were five killed and eighteen wounded; three of the wounded have died since the battle. We took every officer that belonged to the Mexican army - even Santa Ann himself was taken a prisoner. The Americans have made a treaty with Santa Anna. There is one more Mexican army in Texas. Santa Anna sent for the General to come in to our camp. He is in camp at this time. Santa Anna sent by express by our men to Larbadee for them to march west for the Rio Grande.

"The articles of the treaty are: Santa Anna is to have all his troops marched west of the Rio Grande. That is to be the line. He is to pay two million of dollars for damage and is to be kept a prisoner until the money is paid and the treaty is ratified by the Mexican Government. Our battle was fought on the 21st of April 1836.

"John, it is not worth while to write you about the beauty of our country and the richness of the soil for you have heard them both spoken of so often and never heard the beauty nor the soil more spoken of than it naturally is. Land will be very valuable in Texas in a short time. I have 6,000 acres of land in Texas.

"John, I must say to you that Ophelia died on 23d of August last. We have had one son since we came to Texas and called his name Martin Henry, and he is dead also.

"You must write to me. Direct your letters to Columbus, Texas. We live sixty miles above Matagorda, on Colorado.

"Nothing more at present, more than if you see any of my people, give them my compliments, and also receive them to yourself.

Alfred Kelso

To John H. Martin.

John, Martha and myself will be to the State in the fall and will come to see you.

A. K.

Mr. J. Martin, you must pay postage on all letters coming this way or they will remain in the office at New Orleans.

Alfred Kelso."

Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.

Battle Statistics

  • Died in Battle: No
  • Rank: First Corporal
  • Company: Capt. William J. E. Heard
  • Battle Account: Letter dated April 30, 1836, transcribed in Kemp biography

Personal Statistics

  • Date of Birth: 1808 Apr 21
  • Birthplace: Tennessee, Fayetteville
  • Origin: Alabama
  • Came to Texas: 1835 Feb
  • Date of Death: 1898 May 12
  • Burial Place: Brite Cemetery, Pleasanton, Atascosa County, Texas
  • Donation Certificate: 382
  • Wife: 1. Ophelia Kelso; 2. Loueze Jane Barton
  • Children: Martin Kelso; William Kelso; Henry Kelso; Barton Kelso; Margaret Kelso; Sarah Kelso Neill; Mary Kelso Bell; Martha Ann Kelso Winn