Power-Hewetson Colony: Interpreting the Irish's Importance in Refugio and Aransas Counties and the Texas Revolution

Irish Colony

    This page discusses James Power and James Hewetson’s empresario contract and the journey of the Irish families that came from Ireland to settle in the Power-Hewetson Colony.

Power-Hewetson Empresario Contract

    In September of 1826, James Power and James Hewetson, two Irishmen, applied for an empresario contract from the Mexican government.  Power and Hewetson wanted to set up an Irish colony in southeastern Coahuila y Texas and settle the colony with 400 Irish families.  The Mexican government approved the contract in April 1828, however, the government changed a few of the articles of the contract.  For instance the government changed the original request of 400 Irish families to 200 Irish and 200 Mexican families.  After the government approved the contract Power and Hewetson faced land disputes with fellow empresarios, which kept Power and Hewetson from finding Irish families until 1833.

The Irish Families’ Journey

    In April 1833 Power left Coahuila y Texas to travel to Ireland.  Power went to County Wexford and began finding Irish families that were willing to travel to Coahuila y Texas.  Once he found enough families they journeyed to the new colony leaving from Liverpool, England to New Orleans, Louisiana.  In New Orleans some of the Irish colonists became ill and died of cholera.  Still, Power and the Irish colonists kept traveling to El Copano Bay and arrived in the summer of 1834.  Power and the Irish colonists moved inland and started the Power-Hewetson Colony.

Colonist Biography: Rosalie B. Hart Priour
    Rosalie B. Hart Priour was born in Ireland.  In 1833, Priour, a young girl, journeyed to Coahuila y Texas with her father, mother, and siblings.  Priour remembers arriving in the El Copano Bay in the summer of 1834 and her father's death from cholera shortly after their arrival.  In  "Memoirs of Rosalie B. Hart Priour," she recounts the "Runaway Scrape," a time period when many of the Irish families left the colony and traveled to larger cities such as Victoria, Texas for protection.  She also discusses some of the events of the Texas Revolution such as Amon B. King and other colonists defending the Refugio Mission, Mission of Nuestra Senora del Refugio.  Priour and her remaining family left the colony and later moved to Corpus Christi, Texas in the 1840s. 


1.   What do you think it was like to travel from Ireland to Coahuila y Texas on a ship with at least 100 families?

2.   Do you think the experience of the Irish families on their journey was similar or different to the experience of the Irish immigrants of the 1850s and 1860s?

3.   Can you visualize the coastal region that the Irish families arrived at? Hot, humid, and no towns for hundreds of miles.

    The Texas soldiers need to be remembered as individuals to understand the reasons Irish immigrants moved to Mexico and fought for independence from Mexico. 

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Primary Sources

Power-Hewetson Contract and Letters. In Record of Translations of Empresario Contracts, 139-150. Spanish
     Collection. Texas General Land Office.

Secondary Sources

Davis, Graham. Land! Irish Pioneers in Mexican and Revolutionary Texas. College Station: Texas A&M
     University Press, 2002. 

Flannery, John Brendan. The Irish Texans. San Antonio: The University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures
     at San Antonio, 1980. 

Huson, Hobart Huson. "HEWETSON, JAMES," Handbook of Texas Online. Published by the Texas State 
    Historical Association. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/
(accessed May 25, 

Huson, Hobart. Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to1953, Vol. I
     Aboriginal to 1861
. Woodsboro, Texas: The Rooke Foundation, Inc., 1956. 

Oberste, William H. Texas Irish Empresarios and Their Colonies: Power, Hewetson, McMullen, and McGloin,
     Refugio—San Patricio.
Austin, Texas: Von Boeckmann-Jones Co., 1953.

O’Connor, Louise S. “False Claims and Sacred Rights: Irish Colonists in Mexican Texas.” Journal of South        
22, no. 2 (Fall 2009): 155-171.

Welder, Mrs. Patrick H. "POWER, JAMES." Handbook of Texas Online. Published by the Texas State Historical
http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpo36 (accessed May 25, 2011).

Created By: Kaitlin E. Wieseman
August 2011