Confederate Solider Honored

THE VICTORIA ADVOCATE

SUNDAY MARCH 15, 1998

BY BECKY COOPER


The Rev. Ralph Baidoo holds a memorial ceremony for the Confederate soldier Juan Elias Lozano Saturday at La Bahia Cemetery in Goliad to dedicate a tombstone at the foot of his grave. Standing to the left of Baidoo is Lozano's great-granddaughter Estella Zermeno, who along with her brother Benny Martinez, have researched for the last two years the role their great-grandfather played in the Civil War.

GOLIAD - In a solemn ceremony fit for any war hero, the family of Juan Elias Lozano on Saturday dedicated a tombstone at the foot of his grave marking his years of service to his country as a Confederate soldier.

The ceremony was held in the rain-soaked La Bahia Cemetery nestled in the shadows of the Presidio La Bahia and the monument to Col. Fannin and the men killed in the Goliad Massacre.

His descendants, Estella Zermeno and her brother Benny Martinez, have worked for about two years researching the role their great-grandfather played in the Civil War. Once they completed the work, it took about four months to get the grave marker - a flat white marble slab with an inscription to his service information.

"I went to the veterans service officer here and he helped me get it", Zermeno said. "I had to send to Washington (D. C.) to get his service records."

She and Martinez began researching the family history in the 1960s. Then in the 1970s, their cousin Abel Rubio joined in on the research.

Before joining the Confederacy at age 19, Lozano volunteered in 1860 Home Guard in Refugio. The following year, he mustered in San Antonio, served in Company C, 4th Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers, Sibley's Brigade.

"He kept a diary of where they traveled. It's hard to read, but I have been able to make out some of the places where they went," Zermeno said. They traveled throughout Texas and Louisiana with a final stop in Jackson, Mississippi.

Lozano returned home and in 1867 married Trinidad de La Garza at the Presidio La Bahia. She was the granddaughter of Manuel Becerra, the alcalde of the ayuntamiento of Goliad, Presidio La Bahia land grantee, and guide of Steven F. Austin, according to family history. They the moved to Refugio and lived and worked for 10 years on de La Garza family land. They had one daughter Paula. Lozano was killed on august 28, 1877, at the age of 36 by land grabbers trying to farce the family off the land.

"My grandmother (Paula) used to tell us a stories about her father and mother. She said after her father's death, her mother would sit at the door of their home every night holding the gun he used in the in the war because they were harassing her to get off the land. She could hear cries coming from the cemetery made by people trying to scare her away, Zermeno said."

"We grew up hearing these stories. I remember her telling us how he would ride the horses across Copano Bay when the water swelled up. Even the current was too rough, he would make it across."

Trinidad and Paula then six, stayed on the land another year before taking everything they owned moving to Goliad - just across the modern highway across the cemetery. Zermeno believes Trinidad had her husband's grave moved when she moved. A tall white tombstone black from years of exposure to the elements marks the grave. A heavy wrought iron fence surrounds the grave setting it off from the other graves.

Using the tools and animals she brought with her, Trinidad made a home for two of them. Martinez said on his way in from Houston Saturday morning he was thinking they had picked a bad day to have the ceremony because of the rain, "but the I realized it was a good day. We are only 100 years late in doing this, but it is a good day. We may get wet, but it is a small price to pay today compared to what (Lozano) did to defend this land."

Martinez read a poem written by his daughter Loretta Martinez Williams that told the saga of the Lozano - de La Garza family.

It ended by saying, "Saint Peter is there standing at the gate, Come Juan Elias, do not hesitate, come her take my hand. Now all of this is your land."

The Rev. Ralph Baidoo held a memorial ceremony and blessed the grave before a color guard made up of Zermeno's brother Eloy Martinez and his daughter Delia Martinez, both veterans of the Army, brought the flags forward.

A 21 - gun salute by the Bee County Veterans Honor guard was followed by a duet "Taps".

Most of the approximately 50 people in attendance were descendants of Lozano.