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BIOGRAPHY: Col. William Barrett Travis August 9, 1809 – Hero of the Alamo

This biography is included in the book Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable  Alabama Pioneers Volume I



(Hero of the Alamo)



Claiborne and Conecuh County, Alabama & Texas


William Barrett Travis was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, (near Old Fort Ninety -Six,) on August 9, 1809. He was the son of Mark Travis, Sr. and Jemima Stallworth. Mark Travis and Jemima Stallworth were married Jan 1, 1808 in South Carolina. Mark and Jemima moved to Conecuh County, Alabama in 1815 and were among the earliest pioneers of Conecuh County, Alabama. William Barrett was the oldest of eleven children.

Travis was educated in the small schools in the rough frontier of Alabama and then later at an academy in Sparta. Finally, his uncle Alexander, a renowned Baptist minister enrolled him in an academy at Claiborne. After he finished, he taught school in Conecuh County, for some time,  then studied for the bar in Claiborne, Alabama under the leading attorney Hon. James Dellett and later became his partner for a brief time. It is generally concluded that he lived in Gospin and commuted back and forth every day to Claiborne for the meetings of the court.

The Alamo
The Alamo

Travis married Rosanna Cato on Oct 26, 1828, and they had their first son Charles Edward Travis, born August 8, 1829. He began publishing a newspaper, the Claiborne Herald, was a member of Alabama Masonic Lodge No. 3. and was in the 26th Alabama Militia. There is a rumor that in 1831, after returning from a business he discovered his wife had been unfaithful. Of course, actual evidence is lacking but the story persists that he killed the man implicated with his wife, renounced the paternity of his yet unborn child Susanna Isabella and left for Texas, abandoning his family. Rosanna and William Travis were divorced on January 9, 1836, and Rosanna married Samuel Grandin Cloud Feb. 14, 1836.

William Barrett Travis became a lawyer in Texas and was one of the first to join the Texas force when friction developed between Mexico and Texas. On orders from the Provisional Governor in January of 1836, Travis entered the Alamo with about 30 men and commanded the Texas defenders during the Siege and Battle of the Alamo.

His appeal for reinforcements has become an American symbol of unyielding courage and heroism. Although a few reinforcements arrived before the Alamo fell, Travis and over 180 defenders gave their lives for Texas independence on 6 March 1836.

Alamo 1860

In his last message out he stated “Take care of my little boy. If the country should be saved, I may make him a splendid fortune; but if the country should be lost, and I should perish, he will have nothing but the proud recollection that he is the son of a man who died for his country.” Travis was only twenty-six years of age at the time of his death.

His son, Charles Edward Travis was living with his married sister Susan Isabella (Travis) Grissett in the 1850 census of Monroe Co., Alabama and had the occupation of a teacher. Susan Isabella had two children, William Barrett Grissett and Mary Jane Grissett.

Charles Edward Travis won a seat in the Texas Legislature in 1853. The brother and sister were still together in Chapel Hill, Washington County, Texas in 1860 census. Charles Edward Travis was single, and a lawyer with considerable property. He had obtained a law degree from Baylor University in 1859 but died within a year of consumption.

Susan’s husband John D also had a good deal of property in the 1860 census. Only Mary Jane, their daughter was listed, their son William Barrett died in 1855. Though William Barrett Travis questioned the paternity of Susan Isabella, he named her in his will.



  2. The Handbook of Texas online
  3. Find A Grave Memorial# 87059333 # 55435879
  4. The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 02, Summer Issue 1957

See all books by Donna-R-Causey

This biography is included in the book Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable  Alabama Pioneers Volume I


Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable  Alabama Pioneers Volume I

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. […] settlers included three future Alabama governors: John Gayle, John Murphy, and Arthur P. Bagby. William B. Travis, a hero of the Alamo, lived in Claiborne for many years before leaving for Texas in 1831. Other […]

  2. […] Alexander Travis erected a church In 1831, which later became famous as Old Beulah Baptist Church. A school was established by Mr. Scruggs. […]

  3. Travis wasn’t a hero! He disobeyed orders! If he had obeyed orders things would have turned out just fine!

  4. never knew he was from Bama

  5. I will never forget his letter written from the Alamo – a passionate plea for reinforcements.

  6. In the bio of Williams Barrett Travis, you say “it is assumed that he lived in GOSPIN ….” the correct place name is GOSPORT and it is still in existence. And he did live there. His cabin is restored and stands near the structure where the Marquee de Lafayette was received.

  7. Travis was a third great grandson of Col James Matthew Smallwood and Hester Evans two ways. One set of grandparents were double first cousins. Through these grandparents, James and Hester, he has claim to the first families of Maryland. James born in 1639 in England and arrived in Maryland in 1664. James paid his own passage to the new world. James has many accomplishments. Maryland Genealogies V.2 has information on James and his descendants.

  8. This is the first time that I’ve heard any question of his first wife’s fidelity. I have heard the rumors that he abandoned his first wife after being accused of being associated with a group of horse thieves.
    That inspired him to flee to Texas.

    I grew up in Evergreen, Alabama, the Seat of Conecuh County and Barret Travis’ Uncle Alexander is buried in the abandoned cemetery that adjoined the Baptist Church at Sparta. Sparta was abandoned during the 1870s and it is now impossible to find any indications that it ever existed. The cemetery named Beulah is difficult to find now but, I can remember visiting the grave of the Rev. Alexander Travis when I was a child. History is a fascinating subject to me and I find that human nature hasn’t changed since biblical times.

    1. This is also my first hearing that his wife had been unfaithful. The tale I heard was that he had some poor business deals and big debts and hightailed it from everyone to Texas. Who knows what trails we leave. lol

      1. “Rosanna and William Travis were divorced January 9, 1836 and Rosanna married Samuel Grandin Cloud Feb. 14, 1836. “- One month and 5 days. Mighty quick turn around time, Just saying.

  9. […] by the Warrens, believed to be the great-grandparents of the late President Warren G. Harding. William B. Travis, hero of the Alamo, also lived in the same area in the […]

  10. […] John S. Hunter, Asa Johnston, Caleb Johnston, John McCloud, Murdock McPherson, George Stoneham, Rev. Alexander Travis, Thomas Watts, Rev. David Wood. The last named was a blind Baptist minister, who preached the […]

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