Deaf Smith is famous for the important role he played in the Texas Revolution.
Erastus “Deaf” Smith was born April 19, 1787 in Dutchess County, New York and lost most of his hearing due to a childhood illness. Smith first moved to Texas in 1821 where he married a Hispanic-Texan (Tejana) named Guadalupe Ruiz Duran. Because he was knowledgeable about both the Hispanic and Anglo cultures and the Texas territory, he became a revered scout, spy, and guide. Smith was known as a man of few words and for being extremely loyal.
When Texans arranged an army then advanced into San Antonio de Bexar, Smith wanted to stay neutral. However, he chose the side of the Texans when Mexican troops sieged Bexar and would not let Smith and his son-in-law enter to return home.
Here are some of Smith’s notable accomplishments:
- Smith was part of the scouting party at the Battle of Concepcion and was the one who found the supply train that started the Grass Fight in October of 1835.
- In December of 1835, Smith guided Texan army troops to the Battle of Bexar.
- On February 15, 1836, Smith carried the letter from the Alamo from William Barrett Travis.
- General Sam Houston dispatched Smith back to San Antonio and trusted him to confirm the fall of the Alamo.
- Smith destroyed Vince’s bridge at the Battle of San Jacinto to block escape routes.
- After the revolution, Smith went on to command Texas Rangers to protect Texas from Indian and Mexican raids.
Erastus “Deaf” Smith is so famous that Deaf Smith County, Texas is named after him and his character has been portrayed in several movies and television shows (The Alamo (2004), Two for Texas (1998), Houston: The Legend of Texas (1986), The Adventures of Jim Bowie (1958), The First Texan (1956), Man of Conquest (1939)).
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In November of 1837, Smith died. Smith was laid to rest in the Episcopal Churchyard and his grave marker reads, “Deaf Smith, the Texas Spy.” Smith was a true American hero and I’m glad that he’s recognized as such.