December 29, 2009

Roy Perez Benavidez


Medal of Honor recipient Roy Benavidez was born Raul Perez Benavidez at Cuero, Texas, August 5, 1935. His father was Salvador Benavidez, a Mexican American, and his mother was Teresa Perez, an American Yaqui Indian. Raul's parents died when he was a child, and he and his younger brother were then raised by their Uncle Nicholas and Aunt Alexandria at El Campo, Texas. He dropped out of school during the seventh grade and enlisted in the Texas National Guard at age seventeen. At nineteen he joined the Regular Army as Roy Perez Benavidez and got his infantry training at Fort Ord, California. By 1958 he had served in South Korea and Germany. Returning to the United States he married a childhood sweetheart, Lala Coy on June 7, 1959. They had three children. In 1959 he attended military police school at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division and in 1965 was in Vietnam as a military adviser to the Vietnamese Army. While on patrol he was badly wounded after stepping on a land mine and was evacuated to Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, with serious bone and cartilage damage to his spine. After a long period of treatment and rehabilitation he volunteered for a second tour in Vietnam, this time in the Special Forces as a Green Beret. On the morning of May 2, 1968, Sergeant Benavidez was in the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh, when rescue helicopters returned from Cambodia after an unsuccessful attempt to extract a Special Forces team. Benavidez volunteered for another rescue attempt, an event that would become "six hours in hell" in his own words.

Reaching the pick-up zone, Sergeant Benavidez jumped from the helicopter and ran about eighty yards through withering fire to the embattled team. He was wounded in the right leg, face, and head. In spite of his injuries he directed the landing of the extraction helicopter and assisted in the loading of dead and wounded team members, and he then proceeded to collect classified papers and a radio from the dead team leader. During this action he continued to receive wounds from small arms fire and shrapnel. When the chopper pilot was shot and the rescue helicopter crashed Benavidez assisted the wounded and dazed men out of the overturned machine, and facing increasing enemy opposition, he called in tactical air strikes and directed supporting gunfire to attempt another rescue. He then began assisting the wounded aboard another helicopter. He sustained more injuries during hand-to-hand combat with an enemy soldier and also killed two others during the frantic rush to secure all the wounded. Benavidez received a total of seven bullet wounds to his legs and torso as well as numerous other bayonet and shrapnel cuts. His brave and decisive actions during the rescue attempt resulted in saving at least eight soldiers. He received four Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Service Cross. He was released from the hospital in 1969 after a year of intensive medical treatment and therapy and was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. In 1972 he was transferred to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where he served out the duration of his military career until his retirement on September 10, 1976.

The unselfish devotion of Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez to his comrades, and to his country, was deserving of the Medal of Honor. Many of his comrades thought the recommendation for the MOH was submitted, but the award was not made at that time. Efforts were made on his behalf, sufficient witnesses were finally located, and the award was presented on February 24, 1981, by President Reagan, in the White House. Because this action, for which the award was made, took place in Cambodia, there has been some speculation that political embarrassment may have contributed to the delay. Benavidez retired with total disability from the United States Army in 1976 and moved to El Campo, Texas. After being notified in 1983 that his disability was being questioned by the Social Security Administration, he became a spokesperson for others who were being denied benefits. He was called to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Aging. His testimony contributed to the restoration of benefits to many recipients. Master Sergeant Benavidez died at the age of sixty-three on November 29, 1998, at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He was buried with full military honors in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. On July 21, 2001, the U. S. Navy christened the USNS Benavidez, a roll-on/roll-off cargo ship in honor of the military hero.

Citation
Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team's position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team's position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy's fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader's body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy's fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez' gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.

GPS Coordinates
29° 28.586, -098° 25.976

Section AI
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio

December 25, 2009

Woodward Maurice "Tex" Ritter

Tex Ritter, country singer and movie star, son of James Everett and Elizabeth (Matthews) Ritter, was born Woodward Maurice Ritter on January 12, 1905, in Murvaul, Panola County. Ritter's signature as a student at the University of Texas shows that he spelled his first name Woodard (not Woodward), and a delayed birth certificate filed in Panola County in 1942 also shows the spelling Woodard; however, all printed sources use the spelling Woodward. He moved to Nederland in Jefferson County, to live with a sister, and graduated from South Park High School in nearby Beaumont. He attended the University of Texas from 1922 to 1927, spending one year in the law school there, 1925-26. As a student he was influenced by J. Frank Dobie, Oscar J. Fox, and John A. Lomax - who encouraged his study of authentic cowboy songs. Ritter, more interested in music, did not take a degree; for a time he was president of the Men's Glee Club at the university. He also attended Northwestern University for one year in 1929 before he began singing western and mountain songs on radio station KPRC in Houston in 1929.

The following year he was with a musical troupe touring the South and the Midwest; by 1931 he was in New York and had joined the Theatre Guild. His role in Green Grow the Lilacs (predecessor to the musical Oklahoma) drew attention to the young "cowboy," and he became the featured singer with the Madison Square Garden Rodeo in 1932. Further recognition led to his starring in one of the first western radio programs to be featured in New York, The Lone Star Rangers. His early appeal to New Yorkers as the embodiment of a Texas cowboy, in spite of his roots in the rural southern music tradition, undoubtedly led to his first movie contract in 1936.

Tex appeared in eighty-five movies, including seventy-eight Westerns, and was ranked among the top ten money-making stars in Hollywood for six years. Although his movies owed much to the genre begun by other singing cowboys such as Gene Autry, Ritter used traditional folk songs in his movies rather than the modern "western" ditties. Films such as Arizona Frontier (1940), The Utah Trail (1938), and Roll Wagons Roll (1939) earned him a reputation for ambitious plots and vigorous action not always found in low-budget Westerns. Tex Ritter's successful recordings, which began with Rye Whiskey in 1931, included over the years High Noon (1952), Boll Weevil (1945), Wayward Wind, Hillbilly Heaven, and You Are My Sunshine (1946). Ranch Party, a television series featuring Ritter, ran from 1959 to 1962. His version of High Noon from the highly-acclaimed movie High Noon won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1953.


He was married to Dorothy Fay Southworth on June 14, 1941; they were the parents of two sons. His younger son, John, became well-known through his television shows, Three's Company and Hearts Afire. In 1964 Tex Ritter was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, only the fifth person to be so honored; he also served as president of the Country Music Association from 1963 to 1965 and joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1965. In 1970 he made an unsuccessful bid for the United States Senate seat from Tennessee. He died in Nashville, Tennessee, on January 2, 1974; funeral services were held in Nederland, Texas, near Port Neches, and he was buried at Oak Bluff Memorial Park in nearby Port Neches.

In 1980 he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The Texas Ritter Museum opened on October 18, 1992, in Carthage, Texas, (in Panola County) and contained memorabilia from his career. In 1998 he was an inaugural inductee into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, also located in Carthage, and in 2003 both the Texas Ritter Museum and Texas Country Music Hall of Fame were housed together. Ritter has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is also honored in the Museum of the Gulf Coast’s Music Hall of Fame in Port Arthur.)

GPS Coordinates
30° 00.096, -093° 57.759

Section 8
Oak Bluff Memorial Park
Port Neches

December 22, 2009

William Joseph Stafford

William Stafford, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was a native of Tennessee. His first wife, Martha Donnelle, died in 1818; they had four children. He soon married Martha Cartwright, with whom he had four children. He had operated plantations in both Mississippi and Louisiana before moving to Texas in 1822 as an original member of the first Austin colony. On August 16, 1824, he received title to 1½ leagues and a labor now in Fort Bend and Waller counties. The census of March 1826 listed him as a farmer and stock raiser aged between forty and fifty. That year his family consisted of his wife, a son, a daughter, two servants, and eight slaves. Two of his sons by his first marriage, Harvey and Adam Stafford, were grown by that time, and their sisters had married Clement C. Dyer and William Neal. The Fort Bend County plantation called Stafford's Point had a cane mill and a horse-powered gin. Because the Staffords feared that the Mexican government would free their slaves, the second Mrs. Stafford spent much of her time moving them back and forth across the Sabine River.

In June 1835 Stafford killed a man named Moore and fled to the United States. On April 15, 1836, while the family was away, a detachment of Mexican soldiers led by Antonio López de Santa Anna halted at Stafford's plantation. Upon resuming their march, the soldiers burned the Stafford residence and the gin houses. In October 1836 Stafford appointed his wife his agent and attorney in Texas and gave much of his Texas property to his four grown children. In December 1838 fifty citizens of Fort Bend County petitioned Congress to permit Stafford to return home and be exempt from judicial prosecution on the grounds that Moore, the man he had killed, had been "destitute of character" and was "much addicted to brawls." Stafford, the petitioners argued, was ordinarily a peace-loving and enterprising citizen and had killed Moore only after much provocation. On December 27, 1838, the House recommended executive clemency. Stafford returned to live at Stafford's Point until his death, sometime before September 25, 1840, when Clement Dyer was appointed administrator of his estate.

Note
Unmarked. Originally this small piece of land was part of William Joseph Stafford's plantation grounds, which was known to have had a small family cemetery. The specific location of this cemetery has been lost, but in the 1960s local historians deemed this spot as the most likely area for the graveyard and several historical markers have been erected here denoting it so. The GPS coordinates given below are taken from the Texas-shaped memorial shown in the photo.

GPS Coordinates
29° 36.349, -095° 35.158


William J. Stafford Cemetery
Stafford



December 18, 2009

Frederick Deetline

Frederick Deetline was born in 1846 at Offenheim, Germany and enlisted in the U.S. Army from Baltimore, MD in the 1870s. He was one of twenty-four soldiers of the 7th Cavalry to earn the Medal of Honor during the Battle of the Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876, often called "Custer's Last Stand." Four brave troopers exposed themselves to the enemy for four hours from a position ahead of the line while Private Deetline and fourteen of his comrades slipped out of the right wing of Captain Benteen's line to cross eighty yards of fire-swept ground to reach a deep ravine. With camp kettles, the fifteen men made repeated trips to the river while under protective fire from the four troopers in the front of the line. Despite the great danger, and Indian warriors who concealed themselves in bushes along the river in order to ambush the party, only one of these men was wounded. Had not the critical supply of water been obtained, many more of the wounded would have died. He attained the rank of Quartermaster Sergeant before leaving the Army and died in Bexar County on December 13, 1910. He was buried in San Antonio National Cemetery, Section F, Grave 921.

Citation
Voluntarily brought water to the wounded under fire.

GPS Coordinates
29° 25.281, -098° 28.031

Section F
San Antonio National Cemetery
San Antonio

December 15, 2009

James Jarrell Pickle

Pickle was born on October 11, 1913, in the small West Texas ranching community of Roscoe. He was one of five children of Joseph Binford Pickle, who was born in Tennessee, and Mary Theresa Duke Pickle, who was born in Lampasas County. Both parents taught school, and his father engaged in numerous, often unsuccessful business ventures. Jake, as he was nicknamed at age four, spent most of his youth in Big Spring where his father owned the White House grocery store and served as mayor in the 1930s. Jake graduated from Big Spring High School and enrolled at the University of Texas in 1932. Pickle lived at the university's Little Campus, held a part-time job at the Capitol, and joined the university swimming and wrestling teams. He won election as student body president, befriended future Texas governor John Connally, and graduated in 1938. During his campaign at the university, Pickle first used his "Pickle Pins," small lapel pins in the shape of a pickle. These became a trademark of all his future campaigns.

After graduation Pickle worked for the National Youth Administration (NYA) as an area supervisor and NYA district director in Austin and corresponded with newly elected congressman and former NYA director Lyndon Johnson. The two finally met when Johnson summoned Pickle to Washington, D.C., to discuss a proposed highway project from the Highland Lakes to Austin. From this point on, Pickle became one of Johnson's closest associates. Later in life Pickle considered Johnson and Connally the two men who had had the greatest impact on his political career.

In 1942 Pickle married Ella "Sugar" Nora Critz, daughter of Judge Richard Critz, and then enlisted in the navy for three and a half years of service during World War II. He served in the South Pacific as a gunnery officer on the USS St. Louis, which was torpedoed, and the USS Miami. The navy discharged him as a lieutenant senior grade in September 1945. When he returned to Austin, he joined radio station KTBC, which was owned by Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. Pickle joined other Johnson supporters at the station, including Connally, Ed Syers, Edward Aubrey Clark, Walter Jenkins, J.C. Kellam, Sherman Birdwell, and others with whom he would forge lifetime friendships and working relationships. He went on to co-found radio station KVET. In 1949 Pickle became a partner in the Syers-Pickle and Winn advertising firm in Austin.

During the 1950s Pickle became embroiled in the struggle between the liberal and conservative wings of the Texas Democratic party. Pickle sided with conservative governor Allen Shivers against his more liberal challenger Ralph Yarborough. Working for Shivers's reelection in 1954, Pickle's advertising firm produced one of the first negative television advertisements in American history, The Port Arthur Story, which was a turning point in the closely contested election. Pickle later denied his direct involvement, saying the ad "left a bad taste in my mouth," and once elected to public office said that "I never ran another negative, misleading campaign ad." Pickle worked with Johnson and Sam Rayburn to maintain control over the party during the tumultuous 1950s. Governor Price Daniel appointed Pickle as a board member of the Texas Employment Commission. In 1952 Pickle lost his wife Sugar to breast cancer. He married Beryl Bolton McCarroll in 1960.

In 1963 Tenth District Congressman Homer Thornberry resigned to accept an appointment by President John Kennedy to the Federal bench. With Vice President Lyndon Johnson's support, Pickle won the special election only days after President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. In the aftermath of the Kennedy Assassination, Pickle was sworn in on Christmas Eve 1963. Congressman Pickle cast his first vote that same day for the sale of wheat to Russia. When Congress convened in 1964 it faced a volatile issue in the Civil Rights Act. Pickle was one of five southern Democrats in Congress to vote for the historic legislation, and President Johnson called after the vote to congratulate his protégé. Pickle later described the vote as the most difficult one he ever made. Throughout the next few years, Pickle consistently voted for Johnson's Great Society programs.

Pickle became a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee in 1975. As his seniority and knowledge increased, Pickle worked long hours on tax reform, health care, welfare, and Social Security legislation. He worked to broaden the student loan program to ensure more citizens could obtain financial support for higher education. He became a leading advocate for federal funding for scientific and energy research, especially at the University of Texas. He also worked to establish federal support for rural water systems. In 1979 he became chairman of the Social Security subcommittee. As chairman, he became an outspoken leader in the fight to preserve the solvency of the nation's largest federal program. "We raised the rates, we cut out some of the welfare, we extended the benefits. We did a lot of things," Pickle remarked after passage of the landmark Social Security Reform Bill of 1983. He also preserved Social Security benefits for people with disabilities after thousands had lost their disability benefits during the Reagan administration.

As a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, Pickle challenged many of the nation's largest corporations and religious organizations and fought for more scrutiny of tax-exempt organizations. He confronted American businesses for under funding pension funds. The Pension Reform Act of 1994 provided for more disclosure and more stringent requirements for privately funded programs that disallowed excessive bonuses, equipment, and other provisions to protect employee-funded programs.

During his more than thirty years in the Congress, Pickle's popularity increased steadily. His special chili, served on Independence Day or San Jacinto Day, became a favorite of his Congressional colleagues. He seldom faced serious opposition, and in the few elections in which he was challenged he handily defeated both Democratic and Republican opponents. He continued his support for research and development and assistance to technology companies who found a home in his Central Texas district. In 1994 the University of Texas System Board of Regents renamed the Balcones Research Center in Austin the J.J. Pickle Research Campus for his longtime support of the university and scientific research. A major scholarship fund in Pickle's name was established at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and a chair in the UT government department was named in his honor. The J.J. "Jake" Pickle Federal Building was named in his honor in Austin. Pickle ended his long career in public office when he announced that he would not seek reelection in 1994.

Pickle and his wife retired to Austin where he remained active in civic and university affairs. He frequently ate lunch at Luby's Cafeteria and participated in the Founders Lions Club of Austin. In 1997 he and his daughter Peggy Pickle published Jake, an autobiography. He died at his Austin home on June 18, 2005, of lymphoma and prostate cancer. Pickle is buried in the State Cemetery in Austin.

GPS Coordinates
30° 15.933, -097° 43.637

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

December 11, 2009

Warren DeWitt Clinton Hall

Warren D. C. Hall, early settler, was born in Union County, South Carolina, in 1794, the son of Warren and Mary Sims Hall. As a youth, he moved with his family to Louisiana. He studied law in Natchitoches and in 1812 joined the Mexican Republican Army of the North, under José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara and Augustus W. Magee. He was elected a captain in the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition and participated in the opening engagements, including the battle of Rosillo in 1813. He resigned his command and returned to Louisiana in protest against the butchery of royalist prisoners, reportedly ordered by Gutiérrez, at Alazán Heights. In November 1814, Hall volunteered to serve six months with a company of Louisiana volunteers and participated in the defense of New Orleans against the British as the War of 1812 ended. He received a bounty land warrant for 160 acres for his service.

In 1816-1817 Hall participated in filibustering expeditions, including one led by Francisco Xavier Mina and Gen. Louis Michel Aury that occupied Galveston Island. He also supported the revolutionary movement headed by Gen. James Long in 1819-1820. Though he allegedly befriended Jean Laffite on Galveston Island, Hall took no part in the buccaneer’s sometimes questionable activities.

In November 1828 Hall and his wife, Julietta, a native of New York, settled near Columbia in Brazoria County. After taking an oath of allegiance to the Mexican government on December 21, 1829, Hall quickly became active in colonial affairs. In 1832 he was second in command of the Texans at Anahuac in the protest against John Davis Bradburn and participated in the battle of Velasco. In October he attended the Convention of 1832 at San Felipe as a delegate from Liberty Municipality. Affairs were for a time quiet, and Hall retired to his farm. He was among the charter members of the first Masonic lodge in Texas, organized at Brazoria by John A. Wharton in 1834, and helped train William T. Austin for a duel with Wharton that year.

In 1835 Hall was made a member of the committee of safety at Columbia, and in November represented Columbia at the Consultation. After the revolution broke out he was able to advance Stephen F. Austin $500 in an 1835 campaign for "expresses, spies, corn, beeves, etc." Hall was appointed adjutant general by David G. Burnet early in 1836 and later acted as secretary of war of the Republic of Texas while Thomas J. Rusk was with the army. Hall held the rank of colonel and commanded the post at Velasco until May 26, after independence had been won at San Jacinto. He again served the republic in September 1842, when he joined the forces that expelled Adrián Woll.

After 1836 Hall practiced law in Brazoria County for several years and served three years (1843-46) as justice of the peace. He established China Grove Plantation, fourteen miles south of Houston, and raised sugar. Tax rolls for 1840 showed that he owned more than 17,000 acres of land and ninety slaves. In 1843, however, financial difficulties, which plagued him throughout his years in Texas, forced him to sell China Grove to Albert Sidney Johnston. He continued to reside in Brazoria County during the early 1850s when he surveyed and speculated in choice bottomland in Harris County and helped finance the building of the Columbus Tap Railroad.

By January 1853, Hall moved to west Galveston Island where is resided at a home called “Three Trees” and maintained a ferry to Velasco. He died of a stroke in Galveston in April 1867 and was buried in the Trinity Episcopal Cemetery there. Hall County, which was created in 1876 and organized in 1890, was named in honor of Warren D.C. Hall.

GPS Coordinates
29° 17.617, -094° 48.728


Trinity Episcopal Cemetery
Galveston


December 8, 2009

Frederick W. Ogden

Frederick W. Ogden, lawyer and political figure, was born in Kentucky about 1808. He had arrived in Texas by 1839, and ultimately settled in San Augustine, where he became the district attorney of the First Judicial District. He later moved to Jefferson County; there he secured a land certificate in 1842. Voters from that county elected him to the House of the Eighth Congress of the Republic of Texas, 1843-44. During that assembly Ogden was known as an advocate of annexation. He returned to Jefferson County and was appointed a notary public on February 1, 1850. Although trained in both medicine and law, he practiced only the latter while in Texas. He and his wife, Mary, a native of New York, had at least five children. According to the 1850 census Ogden's real estate was valued at just over $1,500. A brother, James Ogden, was killed on the Mier expedition after drawing a black bean. Frederick Ogden died in Beaumont about 1859.


GPS Coordinates
30° 06.104, -094° 06.043


Magnolia Cemetery
Beaumont

December 4, 2009

Lost Burial Place of the Alamo Defenders

About a mile from the site of the Alamo and Pompeo Coppini’s grand cenotaph, is a modest plot in one of the old San Antonio city cemeteries. Only a thick chain and a recently erected historical marker delineates the plot from nearby civilian tombstones.

There are several accounts of what happened immediately after the Alamo fell. Since victors usually write the history, Mexican historians have their take (the official but widely-believed-to-be-inflated report sent to Mexico City by Santa Anna). Historians in the United States seem a little more concerned with what happened to the men who were taken prisoner that morning, or indeed, if there were any prisoners. All accounts say that the bodies were burned and the site of Coppini’s cenotaph is a logical place for the pyre to have been. In Lone Star, historian T.R. Fehrenbach stated: “The charred remains of the Alamo dead were dumped in a common grave. Its location went unrecorded and was never found.” The story of this tiny 10 X 10 plot, surely the least-frequented site in the whole Alamo epic, is best told by the text on the historical marker:

San Antonio Express
July 6, 1906
"August Beisenbach, city clerk of San Antonio states that when he was an 8 year old boy playing on the Alameda (Commerce St.) he witnessed the exhuming of bodies or remains consisting of bones and fragments of bones, of victims of the seige of The Alamo that had been interred near the place where the bodies had been burned and originally buried, and saw their transfers from that place to the old cemetery, on Powder House Hill (Oddfellows Cemetery) this, he states happened in 1856. The fragments of the bodies had first been buried in 1836 and some in 1837. Mr. Beisenbach states that these bodies are buried midway between the monuments of Capt. R.A. Gillespe and Capt. Samuel H. Walker."

GPS Coordinates
29° 25.277, -098° 28.182


Odd Fellows Cemetery
San Antonio

December 1, 2009

Cameron Hill

Maurice Cameron Hill was born on February 7, 1919, in Rusk, Texas, to Annie V. and Henry T. Hill. Both parents were music lovers and encouraged their son to sing and play the guitar. The eldest of seven children, Hill began playing when he was nine. By 1930 he was playing guitar and singing on KLUF radio in Galveston; his father accompanied him on mandolin. While still a teenager, Hill joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the mid-1930s and helped build roads and parks in East Texas. His cousin Truman Welch, also a guitarist, also joined the CCC, and together they played music at any venue where they could earn money. Hill and Welch performed with the Vance Brothers in Palestine, and in 1939 they joined Moon Mullican's outfit, the Night Riders. Later, Hill and fiddle player Leo “Micky” Lane moved to Illinois for several months, then returned to Texas and played beer joints with Shelly Lee Alley in Houston.

In December 1939, Hill joined the Texas Wanderers who were being heard on Houston’s KXYZ radio. His first recordings were with the Texas Wanderers for Decca in April 1940. The band included pianist and singer Moon Mullican. When Mullican left the Texas Wanderers, most of the band, including Hill, left with him and they headed for Beaumont, where they played on KFDM radio as Moon Mullican's Texas Wanderers. When this band broke up in 1941, Hill went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and joined his cousin Truman Welch to work with Pee Wee Roberts & His Skyliners on KTHS radio. In 1942, Hill joined the Village Boys, broadcasting on Houston’s KTRH radio during the day and playing at clubs in the evenings. While in Houston, he met fellow guitarist Jimmy Wyble, and the two became firm friends and headed for the West Coast in 1943. They were strongly influenced by the newly-emerging swing jazz form which gave a voice to the electric guitar, particularly that of Charlie Christian. Hill and Wyble recreated Charlie Christian’s solos, which Hill could play note for note.

Hill, Wyble, and noted steel guitarist Noel Boggs were playing in a small Los Angeles club where they met pianist Millard Kelso, who was playing with Bob Wills. Kelso suggested that they audition for Wills and set up the meeting. The three played with Wills at the Santa Monica Ballroom. Hill and Wyble made such an impression that they were hired on the spot; Boggs joined shortly after. At the time, Hill and Wyble set the standard for electric twin guitar leads and solos in western swing. From 1944 until 1945, Cameron Hill played and recorded with the Texas Playboys and can be heard on Armed Forces Radio transcriptions. He also worked in movies with Wills, including Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys (1944), Rhythm Round-Up (1945), Blazing the Western Trail (1945), and The Lawless Empire (1945).


In spring 1944 Wills organized his largest band to date, with seventeen instrumentalists and two vocalists. Hill and Wyble were the guitarists, but this version of the Playboys only lasted about six months. While with the Playboys, Hill met and married Wills' first female vocalist, twenty-four-year-old Laura Lee Owens. In December 1945 Hill and Owens left the Playboys and returned to Houston. Cameron joined the military, and Laura joined Dickie McBride's band. In 1946 they were divorced. Hill worked and recorded with Dickie Jones and the Skyliners in Houston, but by 1947 he had moved back to Los Angeles, where he played on Roy Rogers’s recordings of With A Sweep of My Sombrero, Old-Fashioned Cowboy, and Betsy. Hill was then hired by Spade Cooley and reunited with Jimmy Wyble, who was also in the Cooley band. While playing with Cooley in 1948, Hill met vocalist Becky Barfield, who had performed at the Grand Ole Opry and reportedly taught Eddy Arnold how to yodel. Hill and Barfield were married in 1949.

Bob Wills’ vocalist Tommy Duncan left the Texas Playboys in 1948 and joined forces with his brother, bassist-vocalist Glynn Duncan. They recruited Cameron Hill, Jimmy Wyble, Millard Kelso, Noel Boggs, Joe Holley, and Ocie Stockard to form the Western All Stars. Hill, Wyble and Boggs left the All Stars in July 1949. Hill then worked with his wife in the Wade Ray Band, before moving on to lead his own band, the Texas Sundowners. The Texas Sundowners worked in Los Angeles and made regular trips back to Houston, where Hill, between 1951 and 1954, played recording sessions and worked with local bands. He moved back to Houston in 1954. In May 1955 at ACA Studios in Houston, Hill played on a session with Slim Whitman, which produced the hit, I'll Never Stop Loving You. In 1955 he played on Floyd Tillman’s recording, Baby, I Just Want You, which Hill co-wrote with Tillman. Returning to California in 1956, Hill rejoined Wade Ray’s western swing band and played on radio and television and worked in clubs. Becky Hill joined the band some time later. In 1958, Cameron Hill played on what were to be his last recording sessions, with piano player Merrill Moore. These tracks were a mix of light jazz and popular music, recorded for Capitol, and included Music, Music, Music and Back Home in Indiana.

Becky Hill passed away in 1958 in California. Hill left the West Coast, returned to Texas, and then went to Las Vegas to work in the Golden Nugget’s house band. He returned to Houston in 1961. In 1962, Hill, dogged by illness, moved in with his sister and brother in-law, Colleen and E.B. Wheeler, in Pasadena. His children, Rebecca and Cameron, went to live with family members in Pearland. Cameron Hill died in Houston, on June 22, 1962.

GPS Coordinates
29° 57.526, -095° 16.110

Section 19
Rosewood Funeral Home and Cemetery
Humble

November 27, 2009

John Avery Lomax

John Avery Lomax, folklorist, the son of James Avery and Susan Frances (Cooper) Lomax, was born on September 23, 1867, in Goodman, Mississippi. In August 1869 the Lomaxes set out for Texas in two covered wagons. They arrived in Bosque County before Christmas and settled on a farm north of Meridian. Young Lomax learned to do farm work and attended short terms of school between crops. As his home was located on a branch of the Chisholm Trail, he heard many cowboy ballads and other folk songs; before he was twenty, he began to write some of them down. In 1887 he had a year at Granbury College. With that training he taught for a year at Clifton and for six years at Weatherford College; he spent a summer in study at Eastman Business College at Poughkeepsie, New York, and three summers at Chautauqua. In 1895 he enrolled at the University of Texas, from which he graduated in 1897. He remained at the university as secretary to the president, as registrar, and as steward of the men's dormitory. In 1903-04 he taught English at Texas A&M. On June 9, 1904, he married Bess B. Brown; they had two sons and two daughters.

In 1906 Lomax received a scholarship at Harvard University, where Barrett Wendell and George Lyman Kittredge encouraged him to take up seriously the collection of western ballads he had begun as a youth. He collected by means of an appeal published in western newspapers and through his own vacation travel, supported by private funds from the two Harvard professors. In the back room of the White Elephant Saloon in Fort Worth he found cowhands who knew many stanzas of "The Old Chisholm Trail." A Gypsy woman living in a truck near Fort Worth sang "Git Along, Little Dogies." At Abilene an old buffalo hunter gave him the words and tune of "Buffalo Skinners." In San Antonio in 1908 a black saloonkeeper who had been a trail cook sang "Home on the Range." Lomax's first collection, Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, was published in 1910.

From 1910 to 1925 Lomax was secretary of the Alumni Association, which became the Ex-Students Association of the University of Texas, except for two years, 1917–19, when he was a bond salesman in Chicago. He was active in the fight to save the university from political domination by James E. Ferguson. From 1925 until 1931 he was vice president of Republic National Company in Dallas. His first wife died on May 8, 1931, and on July 21, 1934, he married Ruby R. Terrill. Lomax was one of the founders of the Texas Folklore Society and was president of the American Folklore Society.

In his collecting of folk songs, he traveled 200,000 miles and visited all but one of the forty-eight states. Often accompanied by his son, Alan, he visited prisons to record on phonograph disks the work songs and spirituals of black inmates. At the Angola prison farm in Louisiana, he encountered a talented black minstrel, Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. Upon Lead Belly's release from prison, Lomax took him on a tour in the north and recorded many of his songs. In 1919 he published Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp; it was republished in 1927 and in 1931. With his son, Lomax edited other collections: American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934), Negro Songs as Sung by Lead Belly (1936), Our Singing Country (1941), and Folk Song: U.S.A. (1947). In 1947 his autobiographical Adventures of a Ballad Hunter (1947) was awarded the Carr P. Collins prize as the best Texas book of the year by the Texas Institute of Letters. Beginning in 1933 Lomax was honorary curator of the Archive of Folksong at the Library of Congress, which he helped establish as the primary agency for preservation of American folksongs and culture. He died at Greenville, Mississippi, on January 26, 1948. He was inducted into the Western Music Hall of Fame in 2010.

GPS Coordinates
30° 16.514, -097° 43.502

Section 2
Oakwood Cemetery
Austin

November 24, 2009

Robert James Calder

Robert James Calder, soldier and public official, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 17, 1810, the son of James H. and Jane E. (Caldwell) Calder. He was raised by his mother's brother, James Peckham Caldwell, after his father's death and moved to Texas from Kentucky in 1832. He joined Stephen F. Austin's army in 1835, took part as a second lieutenant in the battle of Concepción, was made third lieutenant of artillery in December, and accompanied James W. Fannin, Jr., on a recruiting expedition. In 1836 Calder joined the army at Gonzales and was elected captain of K Company, First Regiment of Texas Volunteers, which he commanded at the battle of San Jacinto. He was among those who delivered news of the battle to President David G. Burnet on Galveston Island. Calder received 640 acres of land for his service and was appointed marshal of Texas by Burnet in 1836.

In 1837 he was elected sheriff of Brazoria County, a position he held for six years. One source states that "he was Brazoria sheriff during the famous Monroe Edwards contests with Dart and was swindled by Edwards out of about five thousand dollars, fees and responsibilities undertaken, while in charge of imported Africans." He was elected mayor of Brazoria in 1838 and chief justice of Brazoria County in 1844 and 1846. After moving to Fort Bend County, Calder became mayor of Richmond in 1859 and from 1866 to 1869 served as county chief justice. He later practiced law with the firm of Mitchell, Nolan, and Calder. In 1881 he officially unveiled the monument to the memory of those killed at San Jacinto. Calder married Mary Walker Douglass of Brazoria on January 3, 1837; they had six children. He died at Richmond on August 28, 1885. In 1929 the state of Texas erected a joint monument over the graves of Calder and his wife in the Richmond Masonic Cemetery.

GPS Coordinates
29° 35.140, -095° 45.807

Masonic West Section
Morton Cemetery
Richmond

November 20, 2009

William Sparks

William Sparks was born on April 3, 1761 in Rowan County, North Carolina. During the American Revolution, he served in the North Carolina Militia under Capt. John Cleveland and later under Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, fighting Cherokee Indians and Tories when he was just 17 years old. At the close of the war, he moved to Franklin County, then Jackson and later Clark County in the state of Georgia, where Sparks married Mary Polly Fielder. The two had five children, Richard, John, James, Sarah and Edith, before moving to Lawrence County, Mississippi, in 1811 and then to Holmes County, Mississippi, where they lived until March 1834. There they had three more children, Levi, Nathan and William Matthew.

Old North Church
Sometime in 1834-36, the Sparks family migrated to the Old North Church Community in Nacogdoches County, Texas where he obtained 2,200 acres of land. William served as a deacon in the church for about four years before asking to be relieved of his duties due to the infirmities of old age. He died in 1848 and was buried in the Old North Church Cemetery.


GPS Coordinates
31° 40.053, -094° 39.468


Old North Church Cemetery
Nacogdoches

November 17, 2009

Lera Thomas

Born Lera Millard on August 3, 1900 in Nacogdoches, Texas, she attended Brenau College in Gainesville, Georgia, and the University of Alabama. She married Albert Thomas in 1922 and would have two daughters, Ann and Lera. When Albert Thomas was elected to Congress in 1936, they moved to Washington, DC where they stayed for the rest of his life.

On February 15, 1966, her husband died and a special election was called on March 26, 1966 to elect another Representative. Lera Millard Thomas was the first woman elected to Congress from the State of Texas, when she was elected as a Democrat in the special election to succeed her deceased husband. She received over 74% of the vote against Republican Louis Leman who urged voters to vote for the widow Thomas. She served on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee where she supported funds to expand the Houston Ship Channel. Because he died after filing for office in 1966, Albert Thomas's name remained on the Democratic Primary ballot for the 8th District and his widow determined that she would not seek a full term for 1967. State Representative Bob Eckhardt won the primary for a full term.

After serving the remainder of her husband's term, Thomas left Congress on January 3, 1967 and served as special liaison for the Houston Chronicle to members of the armed services in Vietnam. When she returned from Vietnam, Thomas founded Millard's Crossing Historic Village in Nacogdoches. She resided in Nacogdoches until her death there on July 23, 1993 and was interred in Oak Grove Cemetery.

GPS Coordinates
31° 36.265, -094° 38.909


Oak Grove Cemetery
Nacogdoches

November 13, 2009

Wilson Carl Whitley

Wilson Whitley was a consensus All-American defensive tackle at the University of Houston from 1972-1976 under defensive coordinator Don Todd. He led the Cougars to the Southwest Conference championship in football during Houston's first season as a conference member and won the 1976 Lombardi Award as the nation's top lineman. Former President Gerald Ford presented him the award at a ceremony in Houston.

He was drafted in the first round by the Cincinnati Bengals and started alongside another Lombardi Award winner, Ross Browner, for six seasons (1977-1982) before being traded to the Houston Oilers for one season (1982). He was later named to the Southwest Conference "All Decade Team" for the 70's. Whitley died on October 27, 1992 in Marietta, Georgia, at the age of thirty-seven due to a heart condition. In 1988, he was inducted into University of Houston's Hall of Honor and was a perennial candidate for the National College Football Hall of Fame until his selection in 2007.

Note
The year of death on his stone is incorrect.

GPS Coordinates
30° 19.594, -096° 10.058


Washington Cemetery
Washington

November 10, 2009

Cecil Hamilton Bolton

Cecil Hamilton Bolton, WWII Medal of Honor recipient, was born on October 7, 1908 in Crawfordville, Florida. He joined the Army from Huntsville, Alabama in July 1942, and by November 2, 1944 was serving as a first lieutenant in Company E, 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division. On that day, near the Mark river in North Brabant, the Netherlands, he was seriously wounded in the legs by a German artillery shell. Despite these wounds, he took two men and led them in a successful assault against three German positions which were firing on his company. Wounded a second time, he ordered his two companions to leave him behind and head for the safety of the American lines. He then crawled the rest of the way back to his company. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor ten months later, on September 1, 1945. Bolton reached the rank of colonel before leaving the Army. He died at age 56 and was buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio.

Citation
As leader of the weapons platoon of Company E, 413th Infantry, on the night of 2 November 1944, he fought gallantly in a pitched battle which followed the crossing of the Mark River in Holland. When 2 machineguns pinned down his company, he tried to eliminate, with mortar fire, their grazing fire which was inflicting serious casualties and preventing the company's advance from an area rocked by artillery shelling. In the moonlight it was impossible for him to locate accurately the enemy's camouflaged positions; but he continued to direct fire until wounded severely in the legs and rendered unconscious by a German shell. When he recovered consciousness he instructed his unit and then crawled to the forward rifle platoon positions. Taking a two-man bazooka team on his voluntary mission, he advanced chest deep in chilling water along a canal toward 1 enemy machinegun. While the bazooka team covered him, he approached alone to within 15 yards of the hostile emplacement in a house. He charged the remaining distance and killed the 2 gunners with hand grenades. Returning to his men he led them through intense fire over open ground to assault the second German machinegun. An enemy sniper who tried to block the way was dispatched, and the trio pressed on. When discovered by the machinegun crew and subjected to direct fire, 1st Lt. Bolton killed 1 of the 3 gunners with carbine fire, and his 2 comrades shot the others. Continuing to disregard his wounds, he led the bazooka team toward an 88-mm. artillery piece which was having telling effect on the American ranks, and approached once more through icy canal water until he could dimly make out the gun's silhouette. Under his fire direction, the two soldiers knocked out the enemy weapon with rockets. On the way back to his own lines he was again wounded. To prevent his men being longer subjected to deadly fire, he refused aid and ordered them back to safety, painfully crawling after them until he reached his lines, where he collapsed. 1st Lt. Bolton's heroic assaults in the face of vicious fire, his inspiring leadership, and continued aggressiveness even through suffering from serious wounds, contributed in large measure to overcoming strong enemy resistance and made it possible for his battalion to reach its objective.

GPS Coordinates
29° 28.697, -098° 25.960

Section PC
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio

November 6, 2009

Christopher Columbus Slaughter

Christopher Columbus (Lum) Slaughter, ranching pioneer, banker, and philanthropist, was born on February 9, 1837, in Sabine County, Texas, one of five children of George Webb and Sarah (Mason) Slaughter; he claimed to be the first male child born of a marriage contracted under the Republic of Texas. He was educated at home and at Larissa College in Cherokee County. As a boy he worked cattle with his father and at age twelve helped drive the family's ninety-two-head herd to a ranch on the Trinity River in Freestone County, where the family moved in 1852. There, because of his expertise in herding cattle across the often swollen river, he was regularly employed by drovers bound for Shreveport with Brazos-country livestock. At age seventeen he made a trading expedition hauling timber from Anderson County to Dallas County for sale and processing Collin County wheat into flour for sale in Magnolia, Anderson County, a trip that yielded him a $520 profit. With this money he bought his uncle's interest in the Slaughter herd. Having observed the better quality of the Brazos stock, he persuaded his father to move farther west. They selected a site in Palo Pinto County, well positioned to provide beef to Fort Belknap and the nearby Indian reservations, and in 1856 the younger Slaughter drove 1,500 cattle to the new ranch. In 1859, with the outbreak of open war with Indians, he volunteered his service and was in the expedition that unexpectedly liberated Cynthia Ann Parker from a Comanche camp. With the withdrawal of federal protection during the Civil War, Slaughter continued to fight Indians as a lieutenant in the Texas Rangers; he also served under Capt. William Peveler in Young County in the Frontier Regiment, part of the effort to maintain frontier protection during the war.

With the loss of the war and continued Indian harassment, Slaughter and other ranchers started for Mexico in search of new ranch land. During the expedition Slaughter suffered an accidental gunshot wound that incapacitated him for a year, causing a nearly ruinous decline in his cattle business. After his recovery he started a cattle drive to New Orleans in late 1867, but en route contracted with a buyer for a Jefferson packery to sell his 300 steers there for thirty-five dollars a head in gold, a large sum. With his new stake he began regular drives to Kansas City in 1868, selling his herds for as much as forty-two dollars a head. He sold his Texas ranching interests in 1871 and in 1873 organized C. C. Slaughter and Company, a cattle-breeding venture, which later pioneered the replacement of the poor-bred longhorn with Kentucky-bred blooded shorthorn stock. By 1882 a herd shipped to St. Louis received seven dollars per hundred pounds.

In 1873 Slaughter moved his family to Dallas and a few years later dissolved his partnership with his father. About 1877 he established one of the largest ranches in West Texas, the Long S, on the headwaters of the Colorado River and there grazed his cattle on the public domain. Desirous of becoming a "gentleman breeder," he purchased in 1897 the Goodnight Hereford herd and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair grand champion bull, Ancient Briton. In 1899 he acquired the famous Hereford bull Sir Bredwell for a record $5,000. Through these purchases Slaughter's purebred Hereford herd became one of the finest in the business. Around 1898 Slaughter undertook a major land purchase in Cochran and Hockley counties. He bought 246,699 acres, leased more, and established the Lazy S Ranch, which he stocked with his Hereford herd and mixed breed cattle from the Long S and consigned to the management of his eldest son.

In 1877 Slaughter helped organize the Northwest Texas Cattle Raisers' Association (later the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association), for which he also served a term as president (1885). He was the first president of the National Beef Producers and Butchers Association (1888), an organization formed to combat market domination by the meat-packing industry. Frequently titled the "Cattle King of Texas," Slaughter became one of the country's largest individual owners of cattle and land (over a million acres and 40,000 cattle by 1906) and was the largest individual taxpayer in Texas for years. For a time "Slaughter Country" extended from a few miles north of Big Spring 200 miles to the New Mexico border west of Lubbock. By 1908-09, however, he opened his Running Water and Long S Ranches to colonization and sale. Yet by 1911, much of the land reverted to his ownership upon the failure of the land company promoting colonization there, and under the management of Jack Alley, it was restored to profitability by 1915. Slaughter maintained strict control over his operations until 1910, when he suffered a broken hip that crippled him for the remainder of his life, compounding problems caused by his failing eyesight. He consequently turned the business over to his eldest son, George.

In addition to ranching, Slaughter participated in banking in Dallas where he helped organize City Bank in 1873 and invested in the bank's reorganization as City National Bank in 1881; at that time he became its vice president. In 1884 he helped establish the American National Bank, which evolved by 1905 into the American Exchange National Bank (later First National Bank). He was vice president from its organization until his death. On December 5, 1861 (possibly 1860), Slaughter married Cynthia Jowell of Palo Pinto, Texas; they had five children. After being widowed in 1876, he married Carrie A. Averill (Aberill) in Emporia, Kansas, on January 17, 1877; they had four children. Slaughter was a Democrat and Baptist; he contributed two-thirds of the cost for the construction of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and served as vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, as president of the state Mission Board (1897-1903), and as an executive board member of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (1898-1911). His support of a plan to retire the consolidated debt of seven Texas Baptist schools and coordinate their activities into a system capped by Baylor University assured its acceptance by the general convention in 1897. Slaughter also contributed generously to the establishment of the Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium (later Baylor Hospital) in Dallas. He died at his home in Dallas on January 25, 1919.

GPS Coordinates
32° 48.038, -096° 47.834

Block 22
Greenwood Cemetery
Dallas

November 3, 2009

Abner Smith Lipscomb

Abner Smith Lipscomb, lawyer, justice, and secretary of state during the Mirabeau B. Lamar administration, the son of Joel and Elizabeth (Chiles) Lipscomb, was born on February 10, 1789, in Abbeville District, South Carolina. He studied law in the office of John C. Calhoun, was admitted to the bar in 1810, and began practice at St. Stephens, Alabama. In 1819 he was appointed a circuit judge of Alabama and from 1823 to 1835 was chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He was a member of the Alabama legislature in 1838.

In 1839 he moved to Texas and established a law practice. He was secretary of state under Lamar from January 31 to December 13, 1840. Lipscomb was a member of the Convention of 1845 and served that year on the select committee that drew up a report on the General Land Office. He was appointed an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1846 by Governor James Pinckney Henderson and was elected to the same position in 1851 and 1856. Lipscomb married Elizabeth Gains in 1813. She died in 1841, and he married Mary P. Bullock of Austin in 1843. Lipscomb died in Austin on December 8, 1856, and was buried in the State Cemetery. Lipscomb County, established in 1876, was named in his honor.

GPS Coordinates
30° 15.926, -097° 43.639

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

October 30, 2009

Ernest Anyz "Chief" Koy

Ernie Koy was born in Sealy, Texas on September 17, 1909. While attending the University of Texas he was a fullback on the football team from 1930 to 1932. He played as an outfielder on the baseball team from 1931 to 1933 and served as captain in 1933. After signing with the New York Yankees, his contract was sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1938. He hit a home run in his first at bat with the Dodgers on April 19, and played 142 games that season as an outfielder and one game as a third baseman. He finished the year ranking second in the NL with 15 stolen bases, and ninth with a .468 slugging average. He appeared in 125 games during the 1939 season, and 24 during the 1940 season as an outfielder. In 1940 he batted .301 for the Dodgers.

He was traded on June 12, 1940 to the St. Louis Cardinals with Bert Haas, Sam Nahem and Carl Doyle and $125,000 for Curt "Coonskin" Davis and Joe "Ducky" Medwick. He played 91 games as an outfielder with the Cardinals in 1940, and 12 games of the 1941 season with the Cardinals. He was traded from the Cardinals to the Cincinnati Reds on May 14, 1941. He played 49 games of the remaining 1941 season in a Reds uniform. He was sold by the Reds to the Philadelphia Phillies on May 2, 1942. He appeared in 78 games with the Phillies, and was eventually released from his contract May 27, 1946 after serving in the Navy during World War II. He ended his career with a .279 batting average, 36 home runs, 260 runs batted in, 238 runs, 515 hits and 40 stolen bases in 558 games. In 1960, he was inducted into the University of Texas Longhorn Hall of Fame. Koy died on January 1, 2007 at age 97 at his home in Bellville, Texas, one month after breaking his hip. He is buried at Oak Knoll Cemetery in Bellville.

GPS Coordinates
29° 56.744    -096° 14.997


Oak Knoll Cemetery
Bellville

October 27, 2009

Julissa D'anne Gomez

Julissa D'anne Gomez was born in San Antonio, Texas, the younger of two daughters born to a pair of former migrant farm workers from Laredo. Her parents, Otilia and Ramiro, worked their way up from their farm working days to become a teacher and a welder, respectively, and struggled to keep their family together while giving 10-year-old budding gymnast Julissa a chance to train with renowned gymnastics coach Béla Károlyi in Houston. At the 1986 U.S. Championships, she placed fourth in the all-around in the junior division and won a place on the U.S. National Team. By 1987 she was representing the United States in international meets. Especially strong on the uneven bars and balance beam, Gomez was considered a legitimate contender for the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.

In mid-1987, Gomez, wanting to move further up the rankings and reportedly frustrated with Károlyi's sometimes abusive training methods, decided to leave the Károlyis. After briefly training at US Acrosports in Webster, Texas, Gomez's search for a new coach led her to select Al Fong, who was the trainer of another up-and-coming gymnast eager to make the 1988 Olympic team, Christy Henrich. Though her parents had vowed to keep the family together no matter where Julissa's career took her, they decided that Ramiro would move with Julissa to Blue Springs, Missouri, where Fong's gymnastics club, Great American Gymnastics Express, was located, while Otilla would remain behind until Julissa's older sister Kristy finished school for the year.

In May 1988, several months before the Olympics, she traveled with her coach to Tokyo, Japan, to compete in the World Sports Fair. During the all-around competition, Gomez qualified for the vault finals. However, observers had noticed her struggle with the apparatus over the months leading up to the competition, including her former coach Béla Károlyi, past and present teammates, and even her present coach Al Fong. Gomez's technique on the extremely difficult Yurchenko vault had been described as shaky at best, and Gomez was unable to perform the vault with any consistency during practices, sometimes missing her feet on the springboard. However, Julissa's coaches insisted that she needed to continue training and competing the Yurchenko vault in order to achieve high scores.

During warmups for the final, held on May 5, 1988, Gomez continued to practice the Yurchenko. As she raced toward the vault on one of her practice runs, her foot slipped off the springboard and her head hit the vaulting horse at high speed. The resulting impact instantly paralyzed her from the neck down. A subsequent accident at a Japanese hospital, in which she became disconnected from her ventilator, resulted in severe brain damage and left her in a catatonic state. Her family cared for her for three years before she succumbed to an infection and died in August 1991 in Houston, just three months shy of her nineteenth birthday.

The tragedy stands as one of the most serious accidents ever to occur in artistic gymnastics, and helped prompt changes in the sport. In 1989, the International Gymnastics Federation decided to increase vaulting safety by allowing U-shaped springboard mats, traditionally utilized in practice to give all gymnasts a greater margin of error in preflight, to be used during competitions. The mat is now mandatory: as of the 2006 Code of Points, performing a Yurchenko-style vault without the safety mat results in an automatic score of zero. In 2001, the traditional horse was completely phased out and replaced by a larger, more stable vaulting table to provide gymnasts with additional safety.

GPS Coordinates
29° 47.283, -095° 28.755

Block 1
Woodlawn Garden of Memories
Houston

October 23, 2009

Robert Rankin

Robert Rankin, Revolutionary War veteran, was born in the colony of Virginia in 1753. He entered the service of the Continental Army in 1776 with the Third Regiment of the Virginia line and participated in the battles of Germantown, Brandywine, and Stony Point, as well as the siege of Charleston, where he was captured; he remained a prisoner of war until exchanged, at which time he received a promotion to lieutenant. On October 1, 1781, during a furlough, he married Margaret (Peggy) Berry in Frederick County, Virginia. He returned to active duty on October 15 and served until the war's end.

Robert and Margaret Rankin had three daughters and seven sons, one of whom was Frederick Harrison Rankin. The family moved to Kentucky in 1784. In 1786 Rankin was named by the Virginia legislature as one of nine trustees for the newly established town of Washington, in Bourbon County (later Mason County), Kentucky. In 1792 he served as a delegate from Mason County to the Danville Convention, which drafted the first constitution of Kentucky. He also became an elector of the Kentucky Senate of 1792. The last mention of Rankin in Mason County, Kentucky, is in the 1800 census. The Rankins moved to Logan County, Kentucky, in 1802 and to the Tombigbee River in Mississippi Territory in 1811; the area of their home eventually became Washington County, Alabama. Four of the Rankin sons fought in the War of 1812. The family suffered a severe financial reversal around 1819-20, probably in conjunction with land speculation and the panic of 1819. In July 1828 Rankin first made an application for a pension for his Revolutionary War service.

Rankin's original gravesite in Butler Cemetery, Coldspring
In 1832 the Rankins moved to Joseph Vehlein's colony in Texas, along with the William Butler and Peter Cartwright families. Rankin was issued a certificate of character by Jesse Grimes on November 3, 1834, as required by the Mexican government. He applied for a land grant in Vehlein's colony on November 13 of the same year and received a league and labor in October 1835. The town of Coldspring, San Jacinto County, is located on Rankin's original grant. Rankin had the reputation of being a just and diplomatic man. He was a friend of Sam Houston, and his influence with the Indians in the region was well known. Houston reputedly called upon him in the spring of 1836 to encourage neutrality among the Indians during the crucial Texan retreat toward San Jacinto. Toward the end of 1836 Rankin became ill, and he and his wife moved to St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, where he died on November 13, 1837. His body was brought back to the family home near Coldspring, in the new Republic of Texas, and buried in the old Butler Cemetery. In 1936 he was reinterred at the State Cemetery in Austin. His widow lived in Texas with her sons, William and Frederick, in Polk, Montgomery, and Liberty counties until her death sometime after December 1852.

Note
His stone is incorrect on his place of death. He was originally buried in Coldspring, but he died in Louisiana.

GPS Coordinates
30° 15.921, -097° 43.649

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

October 20, 2009

Benjamin Cromwell Franklin

Benjamin Cromwell Franklin, judge and legislator, the eldest son of Abednego (?) and Mary Graves (Cleveland) Franklin, was born in Georgia on April 25, 1805. He was educated at Franklin College in Athens, Georgia, and admitted to the bar in 1827. In 1835 he traveled to Velasco, Texas, and shortly afterward joined an expedition against Indians. In December 1835 at a public meeting at Columbia he was among those who favored immediate declaration of war against Mexico. On April 7, 1836, he was commissioned a captain in the Texas army by ad interim President David G. Burnet, but since he was not assigned to the command of a company at San Jacinto, he fought there as a private in Capt. Robert J. Calder's company. On April 23, 1836, Secretary of War Thomas J. Rusk directed Franklin to proceed to Galveston Island and inform President Burnet and his cabinet of the victory at San Jacinto. Franklin later received a bounty warrant for 320 acres for his service and was among the first to purchase land at the future site of Houston.

He was the first man to hold a judicial position in the Republic of Texas. The Pocket, a brig owned by a citizen of the United States, was captured in March 1836 by the Invincible, a Texas armed schooner. Realizing that the affair might alienate the United States, the government of Texas took immediate steps to have the matter thoroughly investigated. The judiciary not having been organized, the government established the judicial district of Brazoria in which to try the case, and Burnet appointed Franklin district judge. The exact date of his appointment has not been ascertained, but it was before June 15, 1836. The position had been tendered to James Collinsworth on April 12, but he declined.

On December 20, 1836, Franklin was appointed judge of the Second or Brazoria Judicial District by President Sam Houston. The appointment automatically made Franklin a member of the Supreme Court of the republic, of which James Collinsworth was chief justice. Franklin held his first court at Brazoria on March 27, 1837. He resigned from his judgeship on November 29, 1839, and moved to Galveston to practice law. He was elected to represent Galveston County in the House of Representatives of the Third, Fifth, and Eighth state legislatures. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was too old for military service and was suffering from rheumatism. He retired to a small farm near Livingston, Polk County, and remained until 1870, when he returned to Galveston. Governor E.J. Davis appointed him commissioner to revise the laws of Texas, but he declined the appointment.

Franklin's first wife was Eliza Carter Brantly, whom he married on October 31, 1837; they had two children. After her death on September 24, 1844, Judge Franklin married Estelle B. Maxwell of Illinois, on November 3, 1847. He died unexpectedly on December 25, 1873, after several weeks of illness and was buried in Galveston. The act establishing Franklin County does not state for whom the county was named, but it is generally accepted as having been named for Judge Benjamin C. Franklin.

GPS Coordinates
29° 17.550, -094° 48.819


New City Cemetery
Galveston

October 16, 2009

Benjamin Watson Hardin

Benjamin Watson Hardin, early settler and political figure, the first son of Swan and Jerusha (Blackburn) Hardin, was born in Franklin County, Georgia, on March 25, 1796. By 1807 he was living in Maury County, Tennessee, with other family members and managing the family farm. Because of an affair between his brother's wife, Mrs. A.B. Hardin, and Isaac Newton Porter, of which Porter bragged about publicly, Benjamin accompanied his brothers to a meeting with Porter and William Williamson in Columbia, Tennessee, on October 1, 1825. During the ensuing confrontation Hardin's brothers Augustine and Benjamin Franklin Hardin fatally shot Porter and Williamson. After being indicted with his brothers, including William Hardin, in December 1825, Hardin fled to what is now Liberty County, Texas, in 1827 in order to avoid a possible conviction for murder and to join other family members who had similarly made themselves scarce in Tennessee.

On January 8, 1828, Hardin married Adelia Coleman in Liberty County; they had four children, two of whom lived beyond childhood. Hardin received a league of land in 1831 and served as sheriff of the Liberty District. He was elected Liberty county sheriff in 1839 and served until 1845. On December 2, 1844, he began his term as Liberty County representative in the Ninth Congress (1844-45) of the Republic of Texas. He was a prominent rancher and farmer in Liberty County and a founding member of the Liberty Masonic Lodge in 1849. He died on January 2, 1850, at his homestead and was buried in the Hardin family cemetery, on his original land grant north of Liberty. Hardin County and Hardin, Texas (Liberty County), were named in honor of the Hardin family. The Texas Centennial Commission erected a monument at Benjamin W. Hardin's grave in 1936.

GPS Coordinates
30° 06.076, -094° 45.971


Hardin Family Cemetery
Liberty

October 13, 2009

Paul Prichard Haney

Paul Prichard Haney was born in Akron, Ohio in 1928. He put himself through Kent State University by working nights for the Associated Press, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 1945. After working for newspapers in Erie, Pennsylvania and Memphis, Tennessee, he joined the staff at the Washington, D.C. Evening Star newspaper in 1954.

Three months after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was formed in 1958, Haney joined the organization as an information officer, and from 1960 to 1962, served as NASA's first News Director. In that position, he managed the Cape Canaveral and Project Mercury information programs. His work in the Mercury program set the standard for all subsequent NASA information efforts.

From 1962 to 1963, Paul Haney was the Public Affairs Officer for the Office of Manned Space Flight. In September 1963, he moved to Houston, Texas, and as Public Affairs Officer for the Manned Spaceflight Center (now the Johnson Space Center), directed the information flowing out of the Gemini and Apollo manned spaceflight programs. In this position he became well known as the "Voice of NASA's Mission Control," and the "Voice of Apollo." He also established the first NASA open-door museum at the Johnson Space Center (formally known as the Manned Spacecraft Center) in Houston. Paul Haney served with distinction throughout the Gemini program and the early phases of the Apollo program. He retired from NASA on April 25, 1969, after the successful Apollo 9 mission. Paul Haney passed away on May 28, 2009, in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

GPS Coordinates
29° 30.802, -095° 07.397

Lakeview Mausoleum
Forest Park East Cemetery
Webster