DESOTO PARISH, LA (WVUE) - At one time, Louisiana was the western boundary of the United States, and as Texans were battling for their independence from Mexico, they were joined by a few fighters from Louisiana. But one of those men refused to cross "the line in the sand."
The town of Logansport is about as far to the west as you can get in Louisiana. A bucking bronco still hangs above a closed hardware store on Main Street in a town that had a reputation for lawlessness and gunfights a century ago. When you cross the downtown bridge, you enter Texas. And this town has a couple of strong ties to the former Republic of Texas, starting with the Alamo.
A ride down a blacktop road a few miles north of town takes you to a cemetery, the final resting place of Alamo survivor Moses Rose.
"He was part of Napoleon's army, fought at the battle of the Waterloo," said Desoto Parish historian Raymond Powell. "And then, for further adventure he came to America."
Powell has traced the story of Rose, who started his American journey in Louisiana, and then joined the fight for Texas independence - and ended up inside the stone walls of the Alamo. But the veteran of Waterloo decided that a group of barely 200 men was no match for a Mexican army that 7,000. And when Texas commander William Travis drew a line in the sand, all but one defender stepped across.
"Moses Rose did not go across the line, and he said, 'I see you're not crossing the line,' he said, 'No I came to America to live, not to die.'"
Rose escaped and lived to tell his story.
"But I say he was a coward," Powell said. "He left his cohorts there to die. And he deserted the Alamo."
The Alamo deserter ended up in Logansport working on the farm of Aaron Ferguson. When Rose died, he was buried in the Ferguson family cemetery. But for decades, the cemetery's location was unknown, because a new landowner changed the name a century ago. It was a chance conversation in a barber shop that led to its rediscovery. And a marker was placed at the most likely spot of Rose's burial.
"There was no headstone, of course," said Powell. "So we have chosen that site as the actual site that he was buried because of the Texas yucca plant which is still growing even today after more than 100 years."
"There is another site near Logansport with a connection to the Republic of Texas: an international boundary marker - the only one known to exist within the U.S.
"I'm standing in the United States. I take one step, and I am in the Republic of Texas," Powell said.
This marker, placed here in 1840, ended a long-standing boundary dispute. Before the governments of the United States and Texas marked a boundary through these woods, all of western Louisiana was considered a no man's land.
"We had no law in there prior to this," Powell said. "That's why Logansport got its bad name - it was right in the midst of a non-law-abiding area at one time."
Logansport still calls itself the western gateway to Louisiana, and it has some history to backup that claim.