Just a stone's throw from Groce's Ferry, where the Texas Army spent two anxious weeks a mere 150 years ago, Ranches of Clear Creek gazes respectfully at the past while looking confidently toward the future.
Texas history is as fascinating as it is inspiring. While life in Ranches of Clear Creek will be shaped by those who live there, the land is historic — as close to the origins of the Lone Star state as one can imagine.
After the fall of the Alamo on March 6, 1836, General Sam Houston and his small, ill-equipped army retreated, with General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and the Mexican army in hot pursuit, to San Felipe on the Brazos River, capital of Stephen F. Austin's Brazos Colony.
Houston ordered the capital burned and left two of his captains to guard the river crossings at San Felipe and Fort Bend, then marched his troops upriver to camp at Groce's Ferry. New recruits and Houston's efforts to drill and train his inexperienced army were aided by plantation owner Leonard Waller Groce, who generously offered his Bernardo Plantation as an army hospital and supplied the army with shelter and provisions, even melting his lead pipes for bullets. It was here that the Texas army received the Twin Sisters, two small cannons instrumental in defeating the Mexican army at San Jacinto.
Leonard Groce was the son of Jared Ellison Groce, the wealthiest settler in Stephen F. Austin's colony. In 1822, he cultivated what may have been the first cotton crop in the Austin colony. Leonard Groce, in fact, brought the first cotton gin to Texas and produced the first bales of cotton in the state. Jared Groce built Bernardo Plantation, and later, Groce's Retreat, where the Texas Declaration of Independence was drafted before ratification at Washington-on-the-Brazos. From March 18-21, 1836, Groce's Retreat served as the temporary capital of the Republic of Texas.
Meanwhile, Santa Anna and the Mexican army arrived in San Felipe to find it in ashes and all boats removed to prevent a river crossing. Instead of pursuing the Texian army, only 15 miles away at Groce's Ferry, Santa Anna set out to capture Texas' newly elected officials, who managed to elude him at Harrisburg and Galveston.
Commandeering the steamboat Yellow Stone at Groce's Ferry to transport his men across the Brazos River, Houston began marching eastward, camping four or five miles from Hempstead at Donoho Plantation on April 14 and 15, then moving on to San Jacinto, where, on April 21, he and his troops heroically defeated the Mexican army. Although the fate of the Yellow Stone remains a mystery, Sam Houston said, "Had it not been for its service, the enemy could never have been overtaken...," and it "enabled me to cross the Brazos and save Texas."
Source: The Handbook of Texas