The little town of Banquete, Texas, was the ancestral home of my Ashton ancestors, horse breeders who migrated there from Kentucky. My daughter Mary drove me through Banquete, a wide spot in the road at a Tex-Mex railroad crossing. “Let’s see if we can find Fort Lipantitlan,” I said.
Lipantitlan, “Lipan town,” supposedly was a State Park but it doesn’t show up on Texas maps. It sits on the site of an old Lipan Apache village north of Banquete and near the Nueces River (the “River of Nuts.”). Springtime floods forced the Nueces through a set of sloughs that became fertile ground for the Lipan vegetable patches of bean, corn and pumpkins.
In 1829 Irish immigrants formed the town of San Patricio on the north side of the river, with permission from the Mexican Government. Nervous over the growing number of immigrants, a Mexican army occupied Lipantitlan and created a fort of wood pilings held in place by a border of earthen mounds. That’s all that remains of the fort today, the earth perimeter.
Mary and I found it from USGS maps. There’s not much to see. We found a Texas historic marker there, and the mounded walls remain. The fort isn’t maintained at all. A few concrete slaps appear to be the remains of picnic tables.
During the Texas Revolution a Mexican Army under General Jose de Urrea routed a small Texican force across the Nueces in San Patricio. Urrea went onward to become the “Butcher of Goliad.”
And the Lipans? Peaceful farmers here and a contrast with the vicious Karankawas of the Texas Coast. Some melted into the local population, converted by missionaries. Some drifted down to Mexico. “Apache” was, after all, a name to be feared.
And Banquete? The site of a four-day shindig (a banquete) celebrating the completion of a road from San Patricio to Tamaulipas, Mexico, it sits lonely today.
Fort Lipantitlan? Vanishing from Texas soil. A little bit of history fades away.
January 11, 2018
“The real problem of humanity is the following: We have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology.” – Edward O. Wilson.