October 29, 2019

Olwyn J. Trask (?-1836)

Trask was born in Essex County, Massachusetts circa 1818 and arrived in Texas sometime between May 2, 1835 and March 2, 1836. He enlisted in the Texas Army and was attached to Captain William H. Smith's Cavalry Company. On the morning of April 20th, the day before the main battle, Colonel Sherman made an attempt to capture the Mexican's twelve-pounder long brass cannon; several horses were killed and wounded, and Trask had his thigh-bone broken, probably by a bullet. The wound was ministered to on the battlefield by Dr. Nicholas Labadie before he was conveyed with ad interim President Burnet to the hospital at Galveston, where he died three weeks later. On a joint monument erected in 1881 on the battlefield at the graves of those who fell in the battle, Mr. Trask's name is included among those buried there.

Note: This is a cenotaph. In 1881, a decision was made to place permanent memorials at the graves of those men who had been killed in the Battle of San Jacinto and buried on the battlefield. It was discovered, however, that all of the original wooden grave markers, except for Benjamin Brigham's, had rotted away and no one could remember exactly where the others rested. As a compromise, since the soldiers had been buried closely together, it was decided to place a cenotaph over Brigham's grave as a memorial to all of them.

29° 45.232
-095° 05.363

San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
La Porte

October 15, 2019

Archibald S. Lewis (?-1839)

Nothing is known of Lewis' life prior to his enlistment in the Texian Army on March 31, 1836. Assigned to Captain Benjamin F. Bryant's Company as a 2nd lieutenant for a period of thirty days, Lewis and his company fought at the Battle of San Jacinto only twenty-one days later. On May 26, 1836, he received his donation certificate for 640 acres of land for having participated in the battle. He re-enlisted in the army July 27, 1836 and served until January 6, 1838, for which he was granted another 1280 acres. It is assumed that Lewis made his home in Houston, as he died there on December 3, 1839.

Note: This is a cenotaph. Founders Memorial Park, originally founded in 1836 as Houston's first city cemetery, was rapidly filled due to a yellow fever epidemic and closed to further burials around 1840. The cemetery became neglected over a period of time, often vandalized and was heavily damaged by the 1900 hurricane. In 1936, despite a massive clean up effort, a century of neglect had taken its toll. The vast majority of grave markers were either destroyed or missing and poor record keeping prevented locating individual graves. Several cenotaphs were placed in random areas throughout the park in honor of the more high-profile citizens buried there, but a great number of graves go unmarked to this day. 

30° 15.912, -097° 43.632

Founders Memorial Park

October 8, 2019

Joseph Leslie "Joe" Sample (1939-2014)

Joseph Leslie Sample was born on Feb. 1, 1939, in Houston, the fourth of five siblings, and began playing piano when he was 5. In the mid-1950s, he saw Ray Charles playing an electric piano on television and bought one for himself in 1963. While at Texas Southern University, Sample, trombonist Wayne Henderson, bassist Henry Wilson and flutist Hubert Laws to the hard bop group, which named itself the Modern Jazz Sextet. Adding tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder and drummer Nesbert Hooper, the band worked in the Houston area for several years but did not have much success until most of the group moved to Los Angeles and changed their name to the Jazz Crusaders, a reference to the drummer Art Blakey’s seminal hard-bop ensemble, the Jazz Messengers. Their first album, Freedom Sound, released on the Pacific Jazz label in 1961, sold well, and they recorded prolifically for the rest of the decade, with all four members contributing compositions, while performing to enthusiastic audiences and critical praise. 

 In the 70s, as the audience for jazz declined, the band underwent yet another name change, this one signifying a change in musical direction. Augmenting their sound with electric guitar and electric bass, with Sample playing mostly electric keyboards, the Jazz Crusaders became the Crusaders. Their first album under that name, Crusaders 1, featuring four compositions by Sample, was released on the Blue Thumb label in 1972. The group had numerous hit albums and one Top 40 single, Street Life, which reached No. 36 on the Billboard pop chart in 1979. Sample wrote the music and Will Jennings wrote the lyrics, which were sung by Randy Crawford. 

 By the late 1980s Mr. Sample was focusing on his solo career, which had begun with the 1969 trio album Fancy Dance and included mellow pop-jazz records like Carmel (1979). He also maintained a busy career as a studio musician. Among the albums on which his keyboard work can be heard are Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark and The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Tina Turner’s Private Dancer, Steely Dan’s Aja and Gaucho, and several recordings by B. B. King. His music has been sampled on numerous hip-hop records, most notably Tupac Shakur’s Dear Mama. His later albums included the unaccompanied Soul Shadows (2004) and his last album, Children of the Sun, released in 2014 posthumously. In his last years, he worked with a reunited version of the Crusaders and led an ensemble called the Creole Joe Band, whose music was steeped in zydeco. At his death he had been collaborating with Jonathan Brooke and Marc Mantell on a musical, Quadroon, which had a reading in July at the Ensemble Theater in Houston. Source
29° 53.330
-095° 27.681

Paradise North Cemetery

October 1, 2019

John R. Johnson (?-1852)

John R. Johnson, soldier of the Republic of Texas, was born in Virginia and immigrated to Texas in 1834. He served at the siege of Bexar and on March 31, 1836, enlisted in Sam Houston's army at Jared Groce's plantation on the Brazos River. At the battle of San Jacinto he served as a private in Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers. In 1838 Sam Houston used Johnson as a trusted courier for army dispatches; it was during this time Johnson began working as the deputy surveyor for Liberty County. In August 1842 Johnson was a major in the Texas militia at Swartwout. During the Mexican War a John R. Johnson served as a private in Capt. Robert A. Gillespie's Company I of Col. John Coffee Hays's First Regiment, Texas Mounted Riflemen, and later in Capt. Walter P. Lane's Company A of Maj. Michael H. Chevallie's battalion of Texas Mounted Volunteers. In the latter company Johnson was elected second sergeant, promoted to first sergeant on September 1, 1847, and reduced to private on March 1, 1848. He served a third enlistment in Capt. Mirabeau B. Lamar's company of Col. Peter H. Bell's regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers. On October 14, 1845, Johnson received his Donation Certificate No. 1211 for 640 acres of land for having participated in the Battle of San Jacinto. He was living near Coldspring in San Jacinto Country when he died in 1852. His grave is unmarked.


Oakwood Cemetery