Along with everything else, Hurricane Harvey took with it decades worth of files, maps, notes, coordinates, names and research I had on my external hard drive; so for the time being, this site will be on hiatus until I finish republishing. I will upload as I go, so each post will reappear on its original date and can be found in the Archive section in the right sidebar. If you need to contact me for any reason in the duration, my contact info is found in my profile. Wish me luck, guys. - JES

May 26, 2009

John Kirby Allen

   John Kirby Allen, founder of Houston, legislator, and backer of the Texas Revolution, fourth son of Roland and Sarah (Chapman) Allen, was born at Orrville, near Syracuse, New York, in 1810. He took his first job - that of callboy in a hotel at Orrville - when he was seven. Three years later he became a clerk in a store. At sixteen he went into partnership with a young friend named Kittredge in a hat store at Chittenango, New York, where his brother, Augustus C. Allen, was professor of mathematics until 1827. John Allen sold his interest in the hat store and followed his brother to New York City, where they were stockholders in H. and H. Canfield Company until 1832, when they moved to Texas. They settled in Nacogdoches around 1833 and engaged in land speculation.

   At the beginning of the Texas Revolution the Allen brothers did not join the armed forces but rendered more valuable, and equally dangerous, service in other ways. At their own expense they fitted out the Brutus for the purpose of protecting the Texas coast and for assisting troops and supplies from the United States to land safely in Texas. When some of the members of the Texas provisional government objected to the activities of privateers under letters of marque, the Allens, in January 1836, sold the Brutus to the Texas Navy at cost. The brothers also served on committees to raise loans on Texas lands and became receivers and dispensers of supplies and funds without charge to the republic. In spite of these services there was considerable gossip and censure concerning the Allens because they were not in the armed services.

   In August 1836 the Allen brothers purchased more than 6,600 acres of land around Buffalo Bayou and founded the city of Houston. In September 1836 John Allen was elected a representative from Nacogdoches to the Texas Congress. He served as congressman from Nacogdoches and was on the president's staff with the rank of major. In partnership with James Pinckney Henderson he operated a shipping business. Allen was never married. He contracted a “bilious fever” (possibly yellow fever or malaria) and died at his brother’s home in Houston on August 15, 1838. He was buried in Founders Memorial Cemetery, Houston. A Centennial marker was erected in his honor in 1936, and a Texas Historical Marker was erected in 1968. Allen Parkway in Houston is named for Allen and his family. Source

COORDINATES
29° 45.468, -095° 22.760


Founders Memorial Cemetery
Houston

May 19, 2009

Leon Jaworski

   Leon Jaworski, lawyer, was born in Waco, Texas, on September 19, 1905, the son of Polish and Austrian immigrant parents Rev. Joseph and Marie (Mira) Jaworski. The family lived for several years in Geronimo, Guadalupe County, where Reverend Jaworski pastored an evangelical church, before returning to Waco, where Leon finished high school. He graduated from Baylor University law school in 1925, then attended George Washington University and received the LL.M. degree in 1926 before returning to Waco to practice law. Jaworski moved to Houston in 1930 and practiced in the firm of Dyess, Jaworski, and Strong until April 1931, when he joined the firm of Fulbright, Crooker, Freeman, and Bates. He became a partner in 1935 and managing partner in 1948; his name was added to the firm's in 1954. Twenty years later, the firm name was shortened to Fulbright and Jaworski. By the time Jaworski retired in 1981 the firm ranked among the largest in the nation; it maintained offices in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Washington, and London. Jaworski was a leader in the legal profession and had held the presidencies of the American College of Trial Lawyers (1961-62), the State Bar of Texas (1962-63), and the American Bar Association (1971-72).

   In addition to private practice, he served in the United States Army judge advocate general's department during World War II and was made chief of the trial section of the war crimes branch in the late stages of the war in Europe. In this office he directed investigations of several hundred cases concerning German crimes against persons living and fighting in the American zone of occupation. He also personally tried two cases - the first having to do with the murder of American aviators shot down over Germany in 1944 and the second involving the doctors and staff of a German sanatorium where Polish and Russian prisoners were put to death. Jaworski had risen to the rank of colonel by the time he returned to civilian life in October 1945. He later wrote about his wartime experiences in After Fifteen Years (1961).

   Jaworski successfully represented Lyndon B. Johnson in the case that allowed Johnson to run for both the Senate and the vice presidency in 1960. After Johnson became president in 1963 he appointed Jaworski to important positions on the President's Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, and the Permanent International Court of Arbitration. Jaworski's most widely remembered public service occurred in 1973 and 1974 when he headed the Watergate special prosecution force charged with uncovering the facts surrounding the Republican break-in at the national Democratic party headquarters during the presidential campaign of 1972. In July 1974 he argued the case of United States v. Nixon before the United States Supreme Court and won a unanimous decision ordering President Richard Nixon to turn over to the district court magnetic audio tapes that implicated him and members of his staff in a conspiracy to obstruct justice. Shortly thereafter, President Nixon resigned from office. Jaworski published his account of the Watergate prosecution as The Right and the Power (1976). In 1977 Jaworski was called back to Washington to serve as special counsel to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. In what the press referred to as "Koreagate," he developed cases of misconduct in an influence-buying scandal that resulted in disciplinary action against six members of Congress and two private citizens.

   Jaworski became a trustee of the M. D. Anderson Foundation in 1957 and was later on the boards of the Texas Medical Center and the Baylor College of Medicine. He was the president of the Houston Chamber of Commerce in 1960 and a director of the Bank of the Southwest; Anderson, Clayton, and Company; Southwest Bancshares; and Coastal States Gas Producing Corporation. Among his many other activities, Jaworski promoted the building of the Astrodome, belonged to the Philosophical Society of Texas, and received many honorary degrees, including an LL.D. from Baylor in 1960. He coauthored two autobiographical volumes, Confession and Avoidance: A Memoir (1979) and Crossroads (1981). On May 23, 1931, Jaworski married Jeannette Adam of Waco; they had three children. Jaworski was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Houston. He died of a heart attack at his ranch near Wimberley on December 9, 1982, and is buried in Houston. Source

COORDINATES
29° 46.941, -095° 36.903

Section 3A
Memorial Oaks Cemetery
Houston

May 12, 2009

Seger Pillot Ellis

   Seger P. Ellis was born on July 4, 1904, in Houston. His father was a prominent banker and hoped that Seger would join him in that business. Seger Ellis became interested in playing piano from watching Houston pianists Peck Kelley, Charlie Dixon, and Jack Sharpe, but he had no formal training in the instrument. Following high school, in 1921 he began playing solo piano for an hour and a half each week on local radio - what was later called station KPRC. In 1925 he auditioned for Victor Records in Houston and was brought in to perform as a member of the Lloyd Finlay Orchestra on field recordings. Impressed by Ellis’s playing, Victor representatives invited him to their studio in Camden, New Jersey, to record more songs using a new invention, the electric microphone. Two of his compositions, Prairie Blues and Sentimental Blues, became hits. His first royalties from Victor for Prairie Blues totaled $3,500. After the session Ellis returned to Houston and resumed work in vaudeville and radio. He also began singing to his piano playing.

   Ellis quickly became one of the most popular keyboard artists during the 1920s. He also had the distinction of helping introduce Victor Talking Machine Company’s innovative Orthophonic Victrola. He toured England in 1928 and headlined at Café de Paris in London. During the late 1920s he recorded for the Columbia and OKeh labels and was the third ranked recording artist in record sales in the United States. His recordings included legendary jazz accompanists such as Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Joe Venuti, Pee Wee Russell, and Louis Armstrong.

   In 1930 he had a nightly national radio program on WLW, Cincinnati. He discovered the Mills Brothers there and became the group’s manager. During the 1930s he also appeared with the Paul Whiteman orchestra. In 1936 he sang in the film One Rainy Afternoon. By that same year he had organized his band, the Choir of Brass, which featured four trumpets and four trombones. His first wife, vocalist Irene Taylor, who had performed with the Paul Whiteman outfit, eventually performed as vocalist with the Choir of Brass. He played at large hotels in New York that had airtime. In 1941 the group disbanded, and Ellis moved back to Texas. In 1942 he joined the United States Army Air Corps.

   During the 1940s and 1950s he continued to find success with his songwriting. Some of his most popular pieces included No Baby, Nobody But You, Shivery Stomp, Gene’s Boogie recorded by Gene Krupa, You Be You But Let Me Be Me, and the standard You’re All I Want For Christmas recorded by Bing Crosby. He also wrote Oilers - the official song of the Houston Oilers professional football team. Ellis lived out his life in Houston and went into the nightclub business for several years. He died in Houston on September 29, 1995, at the age of ninety-one and was buried in that city in Hollywood Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Pamela and a stepson. Source

COORDINATES
29° 47.426, -095° 21.986

Everglade Meadow
Hollywood Cemetery
Houston

May 8, 2009

José Antonio Navarro

   José Antonio Navarro, a leading Mexican participant in the Texas Revolution, son of María Josefa (Ruiz) and Ángel Navarro, was born at San Antonio de Béxar on February 27, 1795. His father was a native of Corsica, and his mother was descended from a noble Spanish family. Navarro's early education was rudimentary, though he later read law in San Antonio and was licensed to practice. He was compelled to flee to the United States because of his support of the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition in 1813 but returned to Texas in 1816. A developing friendship with Stephen F. Austin served to deepen his interest in Texas colonization. Before Texas independence Navarro was elected to both the Coahuila and Texas state legislature and to the federal congress at Mexico City. He supported Texas statehood in 1835 and embraced the idea of independence the following year. Along with his uncle, José Francisco Ruiz, and Lorenzo de Zavala, he became one of the three Mexican signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Upon his election to the Texas Congress as a representative from Bexar, Navarro sought to advance the rights of Tejanos, whom many Anglo-Texans held in contempt after the Texas Revolution. He also generally endorsed the policies of President Mirabeau B. Lamar while opposing those of Sam Houston. As a supporter of Lamar, Navarro was selected as a commissioner to accompany the foolishly conceived Santa Fe expedition. Decimated by Indian attacks and suffering from hunger and thirst, those who survived the march from Austin tamely capitulated outside the gates of Santa Fe. After imprisonment under brutal conditions at Veracruz for fourteen months, Navarro escaped and returned to Texas.

   He had for a long time favored the annexation of Texas to the United States. He was the sole Hispanic delegate to the Convention of 1845, which was assembled to accept or reject the American proposal; after voting in the affirmative, he remained to help write the first state constitution, the Constitution of 1845. He was subsequently twice elected to the state Senate, though in 1849 he refused to run again. In 1846, in recognition of his contributions to Texas over the years, the legislature named the newly established Navarro County in his honor. The county seat was then designated Corsicana, in honor of his father's Corsican birth. As a devout Catholic, Navarro strongly condemned Sam Houston's association with the nativist and anti-Catholic American (Know-Nothing) party. He was equally critical of Houston's pro-Union vote on the Kansas-Nebraska issue. Always a strong advocate of states' rights, in 1861 he defended the right of Texas to secede from the Union. Although he was too advanced in years to participate in the Civil War, his four sons served in the Confederate military. In 1825 Navarro married Margarita de la Garza; they had seven children. He died on January 13, 1871. Source

COORDINATES
29° 24.932, -098° 30.631

Section 16
San Fernando Cemetery #1
San Antonio

May 5, 2009

William Fairfax Gray

   William Fairfax Gray, soldier, lawyer, and author, was born in Fairfax County, Virginia, on November 3, 1787, the son of William and Catherine (Dick) Gray. On March 21, 1811, he was commissioned a captain in the Sixteenth Regiment of the Virginia Militia and, as such, served during the War of 1812. Gray was commissioned a lieutenant colonel on May 26, 1821, and for the remainder of his life was known as Colonel Gray, although he was generally engaged in the practice of law. He and his wife, the former Milly Richards Stone, had twelve children.

   In 1835 as land agent for Thomas Green and Albert T. Burnley of Washington, D.C., Gray visited Mississippi and Texas. Upon arriving in Texas he attended the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and attempted to obtain the position of secretary. He failed in this, but in his diary (published in 1909 under the title of From Virginia to Texas, 1835) he kept a faithful record of the convention's proceedings, in some cases more complete than the official journal. During the Runaway Scrape he obtained a passport and returned to Virginia. In 1837 he moved his family to Texas and settled in Houston. In addition to practicing law, he served as clerk of the Texas House of Representatives from May 2 to September 26, 1837, and as secretary of the Senate from April 9 to May 24, 1838. On May 13, 1840, Gray was appointed district attorney. Upon the establishment of the Texas Supreme Court, he was named clerk.

   He was a Mason and a devout Episcopalian, a charter member of Christ Church, Houston, and of the Philosophical Society of Texas, of which he became secretary. Gray died in Houston on April 16, 1841, and was buried in the Old City Cemetery, now Founders Memorial Park. Upon the death of his wife, his remains were removed to the Episcopal Cemetery. In 1872, when Glenwood Cemetery in Houston was opened, his sons moved their parents' remains there. Source

COORDINATES
29° 45.877, -095° 23.218

Section E2
Glenwood Cemetery
Houston

May 1, 2009

James Smith

   James Smith, soldier, planter, and politician, was born in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, on September 10, 1792, the son of David and Bersheba (Harrington) Smith. He volunteered in the War of 1812 and fought in the Creek Indian wars and as a lieutenant under Andrew Jackson at the battle of New Orleans. After the war he returned to South Carolina, where in 1816 he married Hannah Parker. The couple became the parents of eleven children. In 1819 the Smiths moved to Lincoln County, Tennessee, where Smith led a vigilance committee against the Indians. He and Sam Houston were both colonels in the Tennessee militia in 1835. Smith came to Texas in March 1835, settled in Nacogdoches, and established an extensive plantation. On April 9, 1835, Gen. Sam Houston introduced him, by letter, to business associates in New York as Colonel Smith. He wrote from New York to Sam Houston on November 28, 1835, that he was shipping 100 first-rate rifles to Natchitoches, Louisiana, and planning to bring well-equipped troops to Texas from Tennessee to fight against Mexico. Smith's wife and children arrived in Nacogdoches on January 1, 1836, along with his sister and brother-in-law, Andrew Hamilton. Smith arrived with his troops and entered the service of the revolutionary army as captain of cavalry of the Nacogdoches Mounted Volunteers on April 11. After the victory at San Jacinto, he went immediately to army headquarters there and, on May 4, 1836, was appointed inspector general with the rank of colonel by Gen. Thomas J. Rusk. He served with Rusk from headquarters at Victoria until September 5, 1836. On September 8, 1836, he was appointed by Sam Houston to raise companies to build forts and protect settlers west of Nacogdoches. During 1837-38, when relationships with Indians were particularly troublesome, the Smith plantation at Nacogdoches became a refuge for the harried settlers of the surrounding counties.

   Smith commanded the second battalion of Rusk's regiments at the battle of the Neches, in which Chief Bowl was slain, in July 1839. On March 7, 1840, he was elected a brigadier general and took command of the Third Brigade on the northwest frontier with Mexico. He remained there until August 19, 1844, when he was ordered by President Sam Houston to command the troops detached to suppress the Regulator-Moderator War in Shelby County. Smith represented Rusk County in the Texas House of Representatives from February 16, 1846, until December 13, 1847. Smith County, organized in April 1846, was named in his honor. The city of Henderson, named for his friend James Pinckney Henderson, was built on land given to Smith for his services to the Republic of Texas. He died on December 25, 1855, and was buried with military honors in a brick vault in Smith Park at Henderson. In an address of 1873 Guy M. Bryan attributed the Lone Star emblem to Smith: "A half century since, overcoats were ornamented with large brass buttons. It happened that the buttons on the coat of General Smith had the impress of a five pointed star. For want of a seal, one of these buttons was cut off and used." Source

COORDINATES
32° 08.494, -094° 47.964


James Smith Memorial Park
Henderson