Sam Pryor: Sharing A Swig From General Santa Anna’s Bottle

General Santa Anna c 1853

A Pryor researcher brought up an old newspaper article that mentioned a Ketucky Pryor and General Santa Anna. I admit I have a very limited knowledge of Santa Anna – mostly that he led the Mexican troops against the Texans at The Alamo. When I turned to Wikipedia for more information I was surprised to see him in a photo 20 years post-Alamo looking like quite an affable fellow. Guess if you involved in the death of Davy Crockett you’re going down in the American history books as the villain!

The article they referred to was found in Newspapers.com: Bourbon News, Paris, Kentucy on 19 October 1883:

John Mooreland visited Sam Pryor last week, and both drank out of the same bottle that Henry Clay and Gen. Santa Anna once drank from, while guests of Mr. Mooreland’s father at the old stage stand at Mooreland’s on the pike near Houston’s.  Henry Clay and Santa Anna were en route for Washington City, by stage.

When would this drink have happened? The battle at the Alamo was in 1836 and Santa Anna was returned to Mexico in 1837, so we have a time range.

This is a pretty interesting tid bit! Wikipedia tells that after Santa Anna was eventually defeated he was sent into exile in the US and in 1837 was transported by ship back o Veracruz, Mexico. There are some chunks of information missing– How did he get from Texas to Washington, DC? Did the USS Pioneer take him all the way from Washington, DC to Veracruz? Some time ago I read how during the Mexican War (10 years later) ships from New Orleans took troops to embark on the east coast of Mexico (Veracruz is on the same coast). So, perhaps Santa Anna passed through Kentucky on his way to or on his way back from Washington, DC.

Texas A&M University’s website (TAMU.edu) provides an explanation that fits in with this article, filling-in answers to these questions. It describes Santa Anna’s trek included a steamboat up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River and on to Louisville (reached on Christmas Day 1836). He was treated well

…when the party stopped at Lexington, they were accorded marked attention, and many members of the Kentucky legislature came over from Frankfort to pay their respects.

Senator Henry Clay

In 1836 Henry Clay was a US Senator and a Lexington native.  It’s interesting to note that the Pike is the road connecting Paris, KY with Lexington, KY, so stopping along this road may have been possible as well as the possibility that Clay and Santa Anna met over a bottle.

“The Lexington (Kentucky) Gazette of the 5th inst. speaks of the departure of Santa Anna from that city. He was well treated there, and the editor thinks, that as a “distinguished” stranger in  a neutral country, he is entitled to the hospitality of every citizen.”
— North-Carolina Standard, 25 January 1837

Was it just a passing comment in the 1883 article that Santa Anna stopped on the pike near Houston’s? Was it a stab at irony? Santa Anna had surrendered to General Sam Houston, the same Houston who had been made President of the Republic of Texas, and had agreed to send Santa Anna off to Washington, DC. I’m not the only one wondering about a Houston connection between the families in Bourbon county and the man in Texas. A 1998 post asks, “Is anyone researching the HOUSTON family of Bourbon County? We are trying to find a connection between Sam HOUSTON, of Texas fame…” (see post)

I’m just impressed that someone held onto a bottle of hooch for almost 50 years. It must have been an honored meeting between Mooreland and Sam Pryor!