Entry in progress—B.P.
Wikipedia: Mount Bonnell
Mount Bonnell (pronounced /bəˈnɛl/), also known as Covert Park, is a prominent point alongside Lake Austin in Austin, Texas. It has been a popular tourist destination since the 1850s. The mount provides a vista for viewing the city of Austin, Lake Austin, and the surrounding hills.
Mount Bonnell is located at 30.3210°N, 97.7736°W (WGS 84 datum). Although the mount is often described as the highest point in Austin, the elevation at its peak (about 780 feet above mean sea level (AMSL)) is less than that of the Jollyville Plateau (max. elevation about 1100 feet AMSL).
Origin of the name
Mount Bonnell was named after early Texas newspaper publisher George W. Bonnell, who moved to Texas in 1836. George W. Bonnell was publisher of the local paper The Texas Sentinel and was prominent in early Texas and Travis County (Austin) affairs.
Legend has it that Mount Bonnell was once called Antoinette’s Leap, after a young woman who leaped to her death to avoid capture from Native Americans that killed her fiancé.
Handbook of Texas Online
MOUNT BONNELL. Mount Bonnell is a summit within the western city limits of Austin in central Travis County (at 30°19’ N, 97°46’ W). In the early 1830s the peak supposedly acquired the name “Antonette’s Leap,” in memory of a woman who jumped to her death to escape Indians who had just killed her fiancé. Later, it became known as Mount Bonnell, in honor of George W. Bonnell, who moved to Texas in 1836. Overlooking Lake Austin, Mount Bonnell stands at an elevation of 780 feet above sea level, nearly 200 feet higher than the surrounding area, and is a popular picnic area.
18 March 1840, Austin (TX) City Gazette, pg. 2:
ANTONETTE’S LEAP, AND THE DEATH OF LEGRAND,
A LEGEND OF THE COLORADO.
As the eye of the spectator wanders in rapturous admiration over the wildly beautiful scenery that adorns the varied landscapes which encircle the city of Austin—when he retraced the rude habits and wil sports of the savages who have, with the mustang and the buffalo, so recently departed from the verdant banks of the Colorado, and fled across the mountains to find another home and to rear their temporary wigwams amongst the still wilder beauties of nature that are to be found to the westward, in the enchanting “Valle de las Flores,’ “or the Canyon de Ubaldi,” and when he contemplates with pleasing certainty the luxury and splendor with which its future enterprising and intelligent population are to be blessed, he little dreams of the fatal and soul-startling catastrophe which distinguishes a small romantic spot that lies within its environs, and which may be seen, bleak and treeless, like a dreary monument, looming high above every surrounding object. Indeed the facts relative to, and the incidents connected with the melancholy event alluded to, and which I shall attempt very briefly to delineate, being somewhat traditionary, are known perhaps to no living soul, except to the individual who is attempting to describe them, and are almost too strangely tragical to be accredited, even by the most accommodating and credulous mind. That, however, is a matter which so little concerns him, that he is willing to leave it entirely to the choice of the reader, with only his requisition, that his story shall be carefully read, or at least attentively heard, so as to be able to judge failry of its possibilities and probabilities, before a verdict of final condemnation is made up against it.
At an early period of the eighteenth century, when the despotic government of Mexico was perhaps in a more prosperous condition than it had been since the climacterie of its glory, previous to its conquest by Cortez, when the ancient Tenoxticlan still retained many monumental evidences of the luxurious magnificence which so peculiarly distinguished the reign of the ill-fated Montezuma, the ambitious priesthood, with the aid and protection of the wek, corrupt and bigotted Vice-roy, to whom Spain had entrusted the royal sceptre, having conceived the absurd idea, actually attempted to extend the religion of the Roman Catholics, over the whole American continent.
THe first step towards the consummation of this grand project was an increase of their churches, and the second was the subjugation of the savage, who, free as the antelopes they follow in the chase, roamed the pathless wilds, and to make them, if not pious worshippers of God, at least unwilling contributors to those holy ecclesiastical Padras who undertook this vile system of religious conquest. Cathedrals were accordingly extended from California, on the west, to the Rio Grande, on the east, while on the Nueces, the Lavaca, the San Antonio, and even so far into the land of the Comanches, as the neautiful valley of the San Saba, a tributary which enters the COlorado from the west, at about sixty miles above the mountains, at the foot of which the city of Austin has been so recently founded, commodious stone edifices were erected, in a style so truly grand and Gothic as to elicit to this day, even in their deserted, deliapidated and ruined condition, the spontaneous admiration of all who hav beheld them. Around each of the last mentioned churches, better known as Missions, to which were attached a few acres of ground, and domicilis, suitable for the accommodation of the Priest and his retinue, high impregnable stone walls, like that which enclosed the far-famed Alamo previous to the Texian revolution, were reared as a protection against the Indians, who ultimately took advantage of the confidence which from necessity they obtained, and true to their fiendish character, left not one voice to mourn over the cruelty of their deeds.
To Padra Rodriguez, a man of extraordinary abilities, with very extensive acquirements—great simplicity of manners, and a heart much better than the balance of his fraternity—who was of royal descent, and had been attached to one of those ancient monasteries for which spain is so much celebrated, was assigned the Mission of San Saba.
I will not be so tedious as to enter into a detail of the dangers and diifficulties encountered by Padra Roderigues in the establishment and organization of his clerical post, nor the many interesting circumstances which occurred immediately after he became its occupant, but will resume my story at the period when Don Pinto Viestoro sought the secluded station of his brother, as an asylum for Antonette, his only child, and to shield himself from the persecution of his royal enemies, without giving a narrative of the numerous political and matrimonial difficulties and embarrassments which induced him to abandon his native land.
Don Pinto Viestoro was a Castilian nobelman, and had long been a favorite as well as a glittering ornament of the splendid court of the Ferdinands. He of course enjoyed all of those prerogatives which high birth and a princely fortune could bestow, and with his no less royal lady, who was the celebrated niece of one of the first monarchs of Europe, he eclipsed every noble Don in Spain.
But a cloud obscured the sunshine of his happiness—he became wretched, and forsook the land of his childhood. THe beautiful and affectionate Antonette, was the sole companion of his pilgrimage,—who forgot the haughty privileges of her birth, in endeavoring by a thousand tender attentions to soothe the troubled bosom of her miserable father. THen about sixteen years of age, she was tall, elegant and graceful—with a brunette tinge, which gave a soft richness to her purely Castilian complexion—eyes dark, full and brilliant, that flashed with modest sentiment and beamed with hallowed love—hair that seemed even darker than the lustre of her eyes, and a face that glowed with animating innocence, blended with native pride; Donna Antonette apepared the true personification of every chaste, noble, captivating and dignifying quality that belongs to her sex.—She reminds me of a certain conspicuous character in “the Young Duke.” I do not mean the sweet and delectable little May Dacre with her smiles and her blushes, and her piquant sprightliness, but it is to the omnipotent “Lady Afy,” that I allude. She had the same commanding style of…
History of Texas, from its discovery and settlement, with a description of its principal cities and counties, and the agricultural, mineral, and material resources of the state.
By J. M. Morphis
New York, NY: United States Publishing Company
It (The city of Austin—ed.) has more hills than the Eternal City, and hence its cognomen City of Hills, high above all of which Mount Bonnell rears its lofty head, looking down with complacent grandeur and dignity upon the sparkling waters of the river at its base.
The following legend of the Colorado Valley was related to me years ago by that reliable gentleman, good citizen, and gallant soldier, George L. Robertson:
“Mount Bonnell was called by the early settlers of Colorado Valley Antonette’s Leap, which was given to it in consequence of the self-immolation on that picturesque spot, at an early day, of a most lovely and accomplished young senorita, who came over from Spain at the first settlement of the Missions of San Jose, San Juan, Espada, and the Alamo.
“The fame of Antonette’s beauty and intellectual charms was spread to the hunting-ground and camp-fires of the red men of the forest, till it came to the ears and inflamed the passions of Cibolo, the chief of the Comanches, who selected a band of his favorite warriors, made a raid upon the settlements, captured (Pg. 511—ed.) the beautiful Antonette, and carried her far away to his camp in the wilderness, on the head-waters of the Colorado.
‘The parents and friends of the unfortunate senorita mourned her as lost forever, except Don Leal Navarro Rodriquez, her betrothed lover, a brave and elegantly educated young Spanish caballero, of fine personal appearance and honorable, as well as brave to a fault, who determined to follow the murderous Indians to their home and rescue his beloved Antonette, or perish in the attempt.
“Don Leal mounted his favorite steed, and, well armed, started from the Alamo alone in pursuit of the Indians, and after many hair-breadth escapes, undiscovered, descried the camp of the savages, and selecting a dark night, he entered it, and by imitating the mocking-bird, of which Antonette was very fond, and whose singing they could both imitate to perfection, he soon discovered what spot inside the encampment she was, then came into the very tent which she occupied, and found her tied securely to prevent her escape.
“In an instant the lover severed the bonds which confined the dear idol of his heart and with her cautiously returned to where he had left his horse when he entered the Comanche camp; then quickly mounting and taking Antonette up behind him, he started to regain the Mission of the Alamo.
The fury of Cibolo in the morning, when he discovered the escape of his fascinating captive, knew no bounds. He raved and blasphemed terribly; then sounding the alarm, with an hundred chosen warriors, he hastily started in pursuit, leaving the main body of his tribe to await his return.
“For several days Don Leal and his beloved Antonette made good speed towards the settlements, subsisting most bountifully upon game, which was easily obtained through Don Leal’s rifle, and at night sleeping under the forest trees; but on the seventh day, leaving the prairie land, they became entangled in the mountains bordering the Colorado, and early in the morning of the eighth day the lovers discovered themselves surrounded upon all sides by the cruel savages and all atempts at further flight entirely hopeless.
“The wrathful Cibolo, with cow horns on his head and a face horribly painted, advanced in all the pride of power to where they had fled as a last refuge, but when about fifty yards off, Don Leal, who had firmly resolved to fight and die rather than surrender, raised his rifle to his shoulder, and taking deliberate aim, fired! In an instant the savage chief bounded into the air and then fell to the ground a corpse; but in another instant at least twenty arrows pierced his own body, and he too fell to the earth and expired without a groan.
“After surveying the situation, and revolving in her mond hte miserable fate awaiting her from the merciless Comanches, the emptiness and vanity of human life compared with the ineffable joys of Paradise, the poor, unfortunate girl bent over the prostrate and lifeless form of her lover, kissed his dear lips, and then rising, with her eyes toward heaven and murmuring her last prayer to God, she plunged headlong down the precipice and struck the rocks beneath, mangled, bleeding, and dead!
“For a long time the place where these rare, devoted but most unfortunate lovers met their sad and untimely fate was called ‘Antonette’s Leap,’ but years ago a wandering Bohemian, who happened to pass a few days in AUstin, ambitious of fame or notoriety as Herostratus, or emulating the example of Americus Vespucius, whose presumptuous vanity cheated Columbus out of his just glory, blotted it out and substituted his own, and now Antonette’s Leap is Mount Bonnell just as certainly as Columbia is America.”
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Thursday, August 06, 2009 • Permalink
Some more recent research is showing that Mount Bonnell may be named for a different Bonnell…
Joseph Bonnell, a US Army officer, West Point Class of 1825, who was actually in Texas during the Texas Revolution.
Joseph was involved with Sam Houston and the Texan Army prior to and during the Texas War for Independence - he was General Sam Houston’s Aide-de-Camp in November 1835 - the First Aide-de-Camp of the Texan Army. This was during the time of The Alamo and The Battle of San Jacinto when the Texas Revolution ended in April 1836. George did not show up until August, 1836.
More details at http://www.kbsb.com/reward