A glimpse into the U.S.–Mexican War: Barbra Brown

HARLINGEN — Tip O’ Texas Genealogical Society member Barbra Brown, a Harlingen resident, was recently recognized for her efforts in indexing research information about the U.S.–Mexican War documents shared with the Palo Alto Battlefield National Park.

For her efforts, Brown was given gifts for her work that will allow for people to research their ancestors’ participation in the only international war fought on American land.

We caught up with her to ask her some questions about her work.

VMS: Can you talk about your work indexing the Battle of Palo Alto research?

BB: I’m a newcomer to genealogy. After my husband died, I needed a new interest and I responded to a newspaper announcement about free genealogy lessons.

So I came and I got involved indexing just about a year ago. There was another notice in the Tip O’ Texas website that there was a need for volunteers for the Palo Alto Project. I had already been doing indexing for families and Palo Alto was just right here. Little did I know nine months later I would still be working on the project.

VMS: You mentioned genealogy indexing is a lot of fun?

BB: Well yes, and it becomes an addictive I guess. I did old library indexing.

VMS: Can you recall a story you liked from indexing information about the war?

BB: There was a group of American soldiers. They were immigrants, mostly from Ireland and other countries. They were in the U.S. Army and they deserted during the American–Mexican War. It never said what there problem was. But Mexico was recruiting and offering all kinds of bonuses. They deserted to the Mexican Army.

When they were captured back by the American forces they hung about 50 of them.

VMS: Can you describe the documents you researched?

BB: I had a bunch of papers. Some were 50 pages long. Then I was emailed more. I went through so many documents, papers, reports, books, emails and discs full of information about the war.

VMS: Do you ever go to Palo Alto Battle Field?

BB: I have been there several times, but not really in conjunction with the project. I never had to pick any of the information up. It was always delivered to me because I was a volunteer.

VMS: Was there any mention of the president or the generals in the research?

BB: The only generals that were mentioned were Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. There was no mention of Robert E. Lee’s participation in the war. This was the first war America fought with officers who were West Point graduates.