Erastus “Deaf” Smith

Soldier and spy

A native of New York, Erastus “Deaf” Smith settled in San Antonio de Béxar, raising livestock and working as a scout, guide, and surveyor. In 1821, Mexico won independence from Spain, putting Texas under Mexican jurisdiction. Accepted as a member of the Tejano (Latino-Texan) community, Smith was known as “el Sordo” (the deaf man). After war broke out between the Tejanos and Texians (Anglo-Texans), he enlisted in Stephen Austin’s militia, was wounded, and while recuperating, learned about the fall of the Alamo and Goliad. Sam Houston, who commanded the ragtag Texas Regular Army, appointed Smith his personal scout and spy. Smith captured important dispatches, and distinguished himself in the decisive Battle of San Jacinto. Shortly after retiring from military life, he died—and became a folk hero in Texas.

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