Tuesday, August 26, 2014


This is a tale of how a man with a rough start can accomplish great things.

Felipe Enrique Neri, colonizer, legislator, and self-styled Baron de Bastrop, was born Philip Hendrik Nering Bögel in Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana, on November 23, 1759, the son of Conraed Laurens Nering and Maria Jacoba (Kraayvanger) Bögel. He moved to Holland with his parents in 1764, and in 1779 enlisted in the cavalry of Holland and Upper Issel. Bögel married Georgine Wolffeline Françoise Lijcklama à Nyeholt in Oldeboorn, Holland, on April 28, 1782 and they had five children. The family settled in Leeuwarden, where Bögel served as collector general of taxes for the province of Friesland.

Baron de Bastrop

His military service, marriage, and appointment as tax collector suggest that he was a staunch supporter of the aristocracy during the late-eighteenth-century revolutionary period. He always gave the French invasion of Holland as his reason for leaving the country, but he actually left for different reasons. In 1793 he was accused of embezzlement of tax funds and fled the country before he could be brought to trial. After the Court of Justice of Leeuwarden offered a reward of 1,000 gold ducats to anyone who brought him back, Bögel adopted the title Baron de Bastrop.

By April 1795 he had arrived in Spanish Louisiana, where he represented himself as a Dutch nobleman. During the next decade he received permission from the Spanish government to establish a colony in the Ouachita valley and engaged in several business ventures in Louisiana and Kentucky. After Louisiana was sold to the United States in 1803, Bastrop moved to Spanish Texas and was permitted to establish a colony between Bexar and the Trinity River. In 1806 he settled in San Antonio, where he had a freighting business and gained influence with the inhabitants and officials. In 1810 he was appointed second alcalde in the ayuntamiento at Bexar.

Moses Austin benefitted
from Baron de Bastrop's intercession

One of his most significant contributions to Texas was his intercession with Governor Antonio María Martínez on behalf of Moses Austin in 1820. Because of Bastrop, Martínez reconsidered and approved Austin's project to establish an Anglo-American colony in Texas. After Austin's death, Bastrop served as intermediary with the Mexican government for Stephen F. Austin, who would have encountered many more obstacles but for Bastrop's assistance and advice.

Stephen F. Austin,"The Father of Texas,"
interviewing prospective Texas settlers
for his Old 300 colonists

In July 1823 Luciano García appointed Bastrop commissioner of colonization for the Austin colony with authority to issue land titles. On September 24, 1823, the settlers elected Bastrop to the provincial deputation at Bexar, which in turn chose him as representative to the legislature of the new state of Coahuila and Texas in May 1824.

Old rendition of Galveston, the port
due in part to Baron de Bastrop

During his tenure as representative of Texas at the capital, Saltillo, Bastrop sought legislation favorable to the cause of immigration and to the interests of settlers; he secured passage of the colonization act of 1825; and he was instrumental in the passage of an act establishing a port at Galveston. His salary, according to the Mexican system, was paid by contributions from his constituents. The contributions were not generous.

Bastrop did not leave enough money to pay his burial expenses when he died, on February 23, 1827. His fellow legislators donated the funds to reimburse Juan Antonio Padilla for the expenses of the funeral. Bastrop was buried in Saltillo.

Today Galveston's Port hosts Cruise Ships

Even in his last will and testament, Bastrop continued to claim noble background, giving his parents' names as Conrado Lorenzo Neri, Baron de Bastrop, and Susana Maria Bray Banguin. Some of his contemporaries believed him to be an American adventurer; historians have thought him to be a French nobleman or a Prussian soldier of fortune.

Only within the last half-century have records from the Netherlands been found to shed light on Bastrop's mysterious origins. Although his pretensions to nobility were not universally accepted at face value even in his own lifetime, he earned respect as a diplomat and legislator. Bastrop, Texas, and Bastrop, Louisiana, as well as Bastrop County, Texas, were named in his honor.

Rolling uplands and broken hills
leading of Bastrop County TX

Bastrop County consists of coastal plains just below the Balcones Escarpment and encompasses 895 square miles of southeast central Texas. Its seat of government, Bastrop, is situated in the center of the county about thirty miles southeast of downtown Austin. The terrain throughout most of the county is characterized by rolling uplands and broken hills with surface layers of primarily sandy, loamy soils, and woods where post oaks predominate but where cedar, hickory, elm, and walnut also occur. In the northwestern corner of the county and along the central southeastern border, the topography changes to blackland prairie with waxy clay soil and tall grass cover.

The Colorado River crosses Bastrop County

The Colorado River bisects the county from northwest to southeast; along this waterway and its tributaries can be found rich alluvial silts and clays. Near the river, the Lost Pine Forest extends through an east central section of the county. Elevations range from 400 to 600 feet above sea level. The county's climate has been described as subtropical humid, with a low average January temperature of 40° F, a high average July temperature of 96° F, and an average annual rainfall of 36.82 inches; the growing season is 270 days long. Mineral resources include clay, oil, gas, lignite, sand, gravel, and surface and underground water.

The McCormick site near McDade has produced archeological evidence of human life in the area during the Neo-American period, a thousand years ago. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Tonkawa Indians inhabited the area, and Comanche Indians came to hunt along the river each autumn. With an early road between Nacogdoches and San Antonio running through the region, in 1804 Spanish governor Manuel Antonio Cordero y Bustamante established a fort at the Colorado River crossing where the town of Bastrop now stands.

Bastrop State Park also known
as the Lost Pines State Park

In 1838 another significant industry began when the Bastrop Steam Mill Company started operation. It initiated Lost Pines lumbering activity that reached a peak in the early 1840s, as Bastrop mills supplied lumber to Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and other settlements. Lumber production continued for decades until available timber declined, but agriculture remained the predominant means of making a living.

Spring in Bastrop County TX
Between 1850 and 1860 the population of Bastrop County more than tripled, reaching 7,006, with 2,248 slaves making up almost a third of the total and foreign-born residents totaling 700. The county had 596 farms in 1860, and livestock raising was growing; the number of cattle increased from about 12,000 in 1850 to over 40,000 in 1860. Six churches were reported in an 1860 survey: two Methodist, two Lutheran, one Christian, and one Baptist.

Bastrop, Texas

In 1870 Bastrop County's population topped 11,000, and it had thirty-four manufacturing establishments. The following year brought a further stimulus to growth in the form of the Houston and Texas Central Railway, completed through the northern part of the county to connect Austin and Brenham. Towns soon sprang up along the railroad, the most substantial being Elgin. Now many farmers had a freight outlet for their harvests of corn and cotton.

Monument to Baron de Bastrop
in the town of Bastrop TX

Where does this lead? 

So glad you asked. 

Bastrop is only ten miles from the fictional town of Valdesta, setting for the first book in a new duet boxed set titled MAIL-ORDER TANGLE. Jacquie Rogers' book is MAIL-ORDER RUCKUS  and mine is MAIL-ORDER PROMISE. This boxed duet goes on sale September12th, but is available for preorder on Amazon.


by Caroline Clemmons

Ellie Dickerson and her sister are in desperate straits when she contracts to become a mail-order bride to a Texas rancher on the condition her sister can accompany her. After her arduous trip from Virginia, she learns her fiancé has died.  His brother has sworn to take care of her. He's handsome. He's single. And he doesn't want her. What will happen to her and her sister?

Kage Johanssen, co-owner of a ranch in Idaho with his cousin Matt, is forced to take over his family’s Central Texas ranch on the death of his older brother. Kage is in no hurry to get married, and when his brother’s bride shows up, she’s everything he doesn’t want in a wife—except she’s a stunningly beautiful redhead. Despite his deathbed promise to his brother and his attraction to Ellie, he’s convinced she doesn’t have the grit to be a rancher’s wife.

When a greedy, sadistic villain attempts to take over the ranch and kill Kage, can Ellie save her true love? What will it take to prove that she’s the only woman for Kage?

by Jacquie Rogers

Matt Johanssen returned to the ranch he and his cousin Kage started in Owyhee County, Idaho Territory, not knowing he took Laura Dickerson's heart with him.  Now that her sister no longer needs her, Laura wants a home of her own and a family to put in it.  No other man would fill the bill as well as Matt, but he’s not interested.  Not wanting to live as a spinster aunt the rest of her life, Laura signs a contract with a marriage broker, choosing to go to Silver City, near Matt’s ranch, in hopes that he might come around.  But he’s not on the roster of eligible grooms!

When Matt sees Laura among the brides on display on the balcony of the Idaho Hotel, he feels gutshot. He’s in no position to take a wife, not with a ranch eating up every spare moment and dollar. But if he doesn't step forward, the one woman he wants will be wed at the end of the week—and not to him.

Will Matt walk away from the woman who stole his heart or let go of everything he's worked so hard to build go in exchange for love?

MAIL-ORDER TANGLE will be released September 12th, but is available for preorder now on Amazon. Two books for only $3.99. What a deal, right?

Preorder Link: http://www.amazon.com/Mail-Order-Tangle-Caroline-Clemmons-ebook/dp/B00MZ6ZRXC/ref=sr_1_11?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1408978547&sr=1-11&keywords=caroline+clemmons

Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas online
Photos: Wikipedia
Google commons
Texas State Historical Association


  1. Caroline, this is so cool. My writing partner, J. Morgan, lives in Bastrop, LA. How fun to learn why so many town in the south are named after the man. Thanks for sharing. Your book sounds very interesting. Best of luck with it.

  2. Fascinating post, Caroline, about a historical figure I've never heard of. Thanks for sharing!

    Best of luck on your new book! The stories sound fun!

  3. That's quite a life change for a tax collector in Holland, to embezzler, to an adventurer and colonizer in America. I guess it just goes to show ya, Americans are a very mixed bag of people.
    I enjoyed reading this history of a man and his new roots in Texas history, Caroline.
    I love the cover of your and Jacquie's dual stories.
    I wish you all the best.

  4. Very interesting information, Caroline! I wanted to know, however, did he leave his wife and children behind, or did they accompany him to America? They aren't mentioned again, so I imagine they stayed behind.
    Looking forward to the Mail Order Tangle!

  5. Wow, what a great tie in to San Antonio. Another fascinating yet little known historical figure. Thanks, Caroline!

  6. Very interesting info about the Baron and the county named after him. Thanks for sharing your research, Caroline.

    Mail Order Tangle sounds like a great combo. Best wishes with the upcoming release.


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