John Leander Smith was born in 1809 in Buncombe County, North Carolina. His parents were Warren Davidson and Sarah (Carson) Smith, both born in Burke County, North Carolina. Like so many families the soon moved west and in this case, to Georgia. John married Ann Cleveland in1831, the younger sister to Mary Frances Cleveland who had married Thomas Jefferson Rusk. Rusk visited Texas in late 1834 and sent for his family. Mary Frances bought along several brothers and sisters from both sides of the family. John and Ann arrived by January 1836.
The Smith/Rusk men quickly threw their support to the drive for independence from Mexico. John's father and Rusk participated in the siege of Bexar. John raised a small volunteer company and joined General Sam Houston army at the Colorado River. On April 1, 1836 "Capitan" John was promoted to Major of Artillery and was dispatched to Brazoria to escort the now famous "Twin Sisters" cannon to the Texian army. In transit he learned that the cannon were being diverted to Harrisburg and on April 9th he took possession and transported them back to the Texas army camp on the Brazos River. At the Battle of San Jacinto the Twin Sisters were the only artillery that the Texian army had and they were put to good use. In 18 minutes the decisive battle was over and Texas was guaranteed its independence from Mexico. Assigned to the artillery company, John fought in the battle and was granted 640 acres. He received an additional 1,280 acres for continuing to serve in the army until his death on September 18, 1836 at his home in Nacogdoches, Texas.
John's brother-in-law, Thomas J. Rusk had severed as the Secretary of War during the rebellion and fought at San Jacinto. Thomas' brother David also fought in the battle. After John's death Rusk declined the presidential nomination in 1838, citing the necessity to support of his extended family. Meanwhile John's father, William rejoined the army and afterwards in the local militia. John left a wife, a daughter and an unborn son when he died of a bad cold.
The following pictures is of the replica Twin Sister cannon used in the Battle of San Jacinto re-enactment each year.
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