Jacob's Clock is in the disputed territory of Tejas also known as Texas. Alonso Álvarez de Pineda made the first documented European sighting of Texas in 1519. On 6 November 1528, shipwrecked Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca became the first known European in Texas. In 1685 La Salle established the first European community in Texas, the French colony of Fort Saint Louis. The colony, located along Matagorda Bay, lasted only four years before succumbing to harsh conditions and hostile natives.
Due to the perceived French encroachment, Spain established its first presence in Texas in 1691 constructing of missions in East Texas. The missions failed quickly, and Spain did not resettle Texas until two decades had passed. Spain returned to East Texas in 1716, establishing missions and a presidio to maintain a buffer between New Spain and the territory of Louisiana. Two years later, the first European civilian settlement in Texas, San Antonio, was established.
Hostile native tribes and remoteness from New Spain discouraged settlers from moving to Texas and it remained one of New Spain's least populated provinces. San Antonio was a target for raids by the Lipan Apache. In 1749, the Spanish signed a peace treaty with the Apache, which resulted in raids by the enemies of the Apache, the Comanche, Tonkawa, and Hasinai tribes. The Comanche signed a treaty with Spain in 1785 and later assisted in defeating the Lipan Apache and Karankawa tribes. An increased number of missions in the province allowed for a peaceful conversion of other tribes, and by the end of the 1700s only a few nomadic tribes had not been "Christianized".
The founding of Jacob's Clock is a tale of a simple accident gone wrong, where one man's folly wrecked a ship and marooned a crew on a hostile shore. Jacob "Big Jake" Mulroon was the bosun on the brig Caroline, a pirate vessel raiding the coast of the Spanish Main north of Veracruz. After having escaped a Spanish frigate by running into a squall she lost her foretop due to carrying too much sail into the storm. Limping north well out of patrolled waters she took shelter in a Texas bay to make repairs. While anchored the captain, Henry Davenport, ordered Big Jake to take a party ashore to refill their depleted water casks. Taking forty men in the brig's boats Jacob had them row up the river that fed into the bay. All was going well until one of the men jostled Big Jake as he was heaving an empty cask over the side of the longboat. Not only the cask went into the drink but also Jacob. What made matters worse was that Jacob lost his prize possession, a gold watch he had taken from a Dutch captain on their last voyage.
Naturally Big Jake was angry, what made it worse was that the sailor who jostled him did not want to come into the river to help him find his watch. The man couldn't swim and was afraid to dive to the bottom to look for the watch. The bosun climbed back aboard the boat, grabbed the offending sailor by his pigtail and his rope belt and heaved him overboard. Despite the fact that the river was shallow enough for Big Jake to stand in the much shorter man proved his fears were well founded by nearly drowning. Unconcerned about the floundering man Jacob directed, no bellowed, for everyone in the boat to go over the side and find his watch. Most did but the few that did not got thrown overboard.
For the men in the other two boats this was great entertainment. At least until they realized that some of their friends were indeed drowning. Shouting out warnings and directions to help those in need only added to the confusion. That is when one of the pirates spied wht he first took to be a log floating towards the men in the water. His eyes got big as he realized it was an alligator. Taking up a musket he fired at the beast, missing it by a country mile. That got Big Jake's attention, he thought he was getting shot at. When the pirate grabbed another musket to shoot at the alligator Big Jake snatched an abandoned musket in the longboat and shot the pirate dead.
Now the fight was on, men in the water were struggling for the shore or grabbing onto each other dragging those who could swim down with those who couldn't. Men in the second boat were firing at Big Jake thinking he had gone murderously mad. Big Jake returned the favor, turning one of the longboat's swivel guns on the second boat. He fired a load of grapeshot across their gunwales slaying most of that boat's crew in one grisly blast. Now the third boat got into the fight, firing off their own swivels at Jacob in a pre-emptive strike. Here Big Jake's size worked against him and he went down felled by half a dozen balls. Meanwhile the gator dragged under the first sailor who had started it all.
Captain Davenport, upon hearing the distant gunfire thought his men had been attacked by natives. He ordered the anchor cable slipped and what sails they had hoisted so he could move near the shore to provide covering fire from the brig. Being they were in uncharted waters he had no idea of the shoals at the mouth of the river and the Caroline went aground fast. Over a simple pocketwatch eighteen men died and a vessel was lost.
It was months before any contact with a friendly ship could be made. Captain Davenport used the time to make a settlement repleat with farms and a small fort. It proved wise as Jacob's Clock as the crew derisively called the place, was scouted by the Spanish on two occassions but easily driven off. For smugglers and pirates the settlement has proven to be a boon, a place where fresh water and food can be gotten on an otherwise hostile shore.