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
David Rusk, soldier and law-enforcement officer, was the son of John and Mary (Sterritt) Rusk. He and his brother Thomas Jefferson Rusk immigrated to Texas in 1836 from Clarksville, Georgia, and settled in Nacogdoches. He enlisted on April 6, 1836, as a private in Capt. Hayden Arnold's First Company of Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers, and fought in the battle of San Jacinto. Rusk was five times elected sheriff of Nacogdoches County, first in 1837 and last on March 2, 1845. In 1859-60 he succeeded William R. Scurry as acting commissioner of the boundary survey. Rusk was married to Elizabeth Reid. He died in Orange County on September 11, 1877. Source
Augustine Blackburn Hardin, early settler and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, second son of Swan and Jerusha (Blackburn) Hardin, was born in Franklin County, Georgia, on July 18, 1797. By 1807 the family moved to Maury County, Tennessee, where Augustine married Mary Elizabeth Garner in 1819; they had a son. Hardin was deputy sheriff and constable while his father served as justice of the peace in 1825. Augustine Hardin's wife had an affair with Isaac Newton Porter, of which Porter bragged publicly. Augustine and his brothers met Porter and William Williamson in Columbia on October 1, 1825; during the confrontation that followed, Augustine fatally shot Porter, and his brother Benjamin Franklin Hardin killed Williamson. In order to avoid arrest and possible conviction, Augustine, after returning his unfaithful wife and son to her family, left for Texas. He arrived at Nacogdoches in the fall of 1825 and settled on the Trinity River in what is now Liberty County before being indicted for murder on December 21, 1825. Other Hardin family members arrived in Texas by the end of 1828, and no extradition occurred, despite requests from the United States. Augustine Hardin received his land grant in 1831.
On January 16, 1827, he enlisted in a volunteer company organized by Hugh Blair Johnston. The unit marched to Nacogdoches to help quell the Fredonian Rebellion. Hardin represented the Liberty District at the Consultation in 1835 at Columbia and San Felipe de Austin, and again at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos, where he signed the Declaration of Independence. After the convention, Augustine was in charge of escorting the Hardin family members to Louisiana during the Runaway Scrape. After returning to Texas, he served in the Army of the Republic of Texas from July 7 to October 7, 1836.
Hardin married Maria Dever, on February 9, 1828, in Liberty. They had seven children, five of whom survived childhood. Maria died in Liberty County in 1844, and Augustine did not remarry. His son by his first marriage, Augustine B. Hardin, Jr., moved to Texas in 1839 and lived with his father before moving to Leon County, Texas. The elder Augustine was a Catholic, the only Hardin to practice the faith after the Texas Revolution. From 1836 until 1871 he spent the majority of his time in Liberty County with his ranching and agricultural operations. In 1849 he was one of the founders of the Liberty Masonic Lodge. He died in Liberty County at his daughter's house on July 22, 1871, and was buried in the Hardin family cemetery north of Liberty. In 1936 the Texas Centennial Commission placed monuments in his honor at his grave and on the Liberty County Courthouse square. Source
Note: The family cemetery is private and kept locked, but it lies on the shoulder of FM 1011 and can be viewed in its entirety from outside the gate.
Homer Hill Norton, athlete and football coach, was born on December 30, 1896, in Carrollton, Alabama, the son of Rev. and Mrs. John W. Norton. He grew up and was educated in Birmingham, where his father served as a Methodist minister. Norton excelled in athletics at Birmingham Southern College, where he lettered in four sports. After graduation in 1916 he played with professional baseball teams in Alabama, North Carolina, and Florida. On December 2, 1917, he married Mabel Telton; they had four daughters. Norton ended his baseball career in 1920, when he took a football coaching position at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. There he served with Alvin Nugent (Bo) McMillin and Earl Davis before taking over as head coach in 1926 and compiling a record of sixty wins, nineteen losses, and nine ties. Norton moved to Texas A&M in 1934 and by 1939 had brought football glory to the Texas Aggies. With All-Americans Joe Boyd and John Kimbrough, he led the Aggies in 1939 to an unbeaten season, a national championship, and victory over Tulane in the Sugar Bowl. Defeat by the University of Texas in 1940 prevented a second unbeaten season and an invitation to the Rose Bowl. Trips to the Cotton Bowl in 1941 and 1942 and to the Orange Bowl in 1944 highlighted Norton's later years at A&M. When his tenure ended in 1947, he had served longer than any other Aggieland coach at that time. His overall record there was eighty-two wins, fifty-two losses, nine ties, and three Southwest Conference championships. His coaching career spanned three decades (1920-47). He developed four All-Americans: guard Joe Eugene Routt, 1936 and 1937; tackle Joe Boyd, 1939; back "Jarrin'" John Kimbrough, 1939 and 1940; and guard Marshall Robnet, 1940. Norton was elected to the Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame, the A&M Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. After he retired, Norton became a sports columnist for the Houston Post and owned and operated several restaurants and a motel. In 1953, after his wife's death, he married Christine Sheppard, and they had one daughter. Norton died on May 26, 1965, and was buried in Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery, Houston. Source
Mollie Bailey, "Circus Queen of the Southwest," the daughter of William and Mary Arline Kirkland, was born on a plantation near Mobile, Alabama. Sources differ regarding her birth date. Bailey's headstone lists her birth as 1841, the year also given by her daughter-in-law Olga Bailey. Other sources state that she was born in the autumn of 1844, while her obituary stated her age as eighty-two at the time of death, which would put her birth in the mid-1830s. As a young woman she eloped with James A. (Gus) Bailey, who played the cornet in his father's circus band, and was married in March 1858. With Mollie's sister Fanny and Gus's brother Alfred, the young couple formed the Bailey Family Troupe, which traveled through Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas acting, dancing, and singing.
In the Civil War Gus first enlisted in the Forty-fourth Infantry Regiment at Selma, Alabama, but was later transferred to a company of Hood's Texas Brigade, where he served as bandmaster. Leaving their child Dixie, the first of nine children, with friends in Richmond, Virginia, Mollie traveled with the brigade as a nurse and, according to some sources, as a spy for Gen. John Bell Hood and Gen. Jubal A. Early. Mrs. Bailey disguised herself as an elderly woman, passed through Federal camps, and pretended to be a cookie seller. She claimed to have taken quinine through enemy lines by hiding packets of it in her hair. She joined her husband and brother-in-law in Hood's Minstrels and on April 5, 1864, performed a "musical and dancing program" with them near Zillicoffer. During this period Gus wrote the words for The Old Gray Mare, based on a horse that almost died after eating green corn but revived when given medicine. A friend set it to music, and it was played as a regimental marching song. It was later used as the official song of the Democratic National Convention of 1928; the West Texas Chamber of Commerce named its Old Gray Mare Band after the song. When the war was over, the couple traveled throughout the South and then toured by riverboat with the Bailey Concert Company.
Their career in Texas began in 1879 when the troupe traded the showboat for a small circus that enjoyed immediate success as the Bailey Circus, "A Texas Show for Texas People." The show became the Mollie A. Bailey Show after Gus's health forced him to retire to winter quarters in Blum, Texas. Mollie came to be known as "Aunt Mollie." Her circus was distinguished by the United States, Lone Star, and Confederate flags that flew over the big top and Mollie's practice of giving war veterans, Union or Confederate, free tickets. At its height, the one-ring tent circus had thirty-one wagons and about 200 animals; it added elephant and camel acts in 1902.
After her husband's death on November 10, 1900, Mollie Bailey continued in the business and bought lots in many places where the circus performed to eliminate the high "occupation" taxes levied on shows by most towns. When the circus moved on, she allowed these lots to be used for ball games and camp meetings and later let many of them revert to the towns. She is also credited for her generosity to various churches and for allowing poor children to attend the circus free. In 1906, when the circus began traveling by railroad, Bailey entertained such distinguished guests as governors James Stephen Hogg and Oscar Branch Colquitt and senators Joseph Weldon Bailey and Morris Sheppard, along with members of Hood's Brigade, in a finely-appointed parlor car. She was also said to be a friend of Comanche chief Quanah Parker.
On April 16, 1906, she married A. H. (Blackie) Hardesty, a much younger man, who managed the circus gas lights and who was subsequently known as Blackie Bailey. According to some sources, Mollie Bailey showed the first motion pictures in Texas in a separate circus tent, including a one-reel film of the sinking of the USS Maine. After her youngest child, Birda, died in 1917, Mollie ran the circus from home and communicated with the road by telegram and letter. She died on October 2, 1918, at Houston, and was buried there in Hollywood Cemetery. She was survived for nineteen years by her husband, who became a jitney driver between Houston and Goose Creek and resided in Baytown. Source
Note: Except for the Texas historical marker at her feet, Mollie Bailey's grave is unmarked. She lies between James and Brad Bailey.
Dillon Anderson, statesman and writer, son of Joseph Addison and Besnie (Dillon) Anderson, was born in McKinney, Texas, on July 14, 1906. He enrolled at Texas Christian University before transferring to the University of Oklahoma, where he received a B.S. degree in 1927. He graduated from the Yale law school in 1929; that same year he was admitted to the Texas bar and began practicing with the Houston firm of Baker, Botts, Andrews, and Shepherd. He was made a partner of the firm in 1940.
Anderson served as a colonel in the United States Army from 1942 to 1945. He won the Army Commendation Ribbon and the Legion of Merit. He was appointed consultant to the National Security Council in 1953, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower chose Anderson to be his special assistant for national security in 1955. In that capacity, Anderson presided over the National Security Council and accompanied Eisenhower to the summit conference in Geneva in 1955. He resigned in 1956.
In 1948 Anderson met Edward Weeks, editor of Atlantic, who complained that J. Frank Dobie, Tom Lea, and John Lomax were the only Texans who ever sent contributions to his magazine. When Weeks asked Anderson if he knew of other Texas writers, Anderson volunteered to contribute, even though none of his fiction had been published. Anderson's first submission was The Revival, a story that Weeks returned several times for revision. It was finally published in 1949 and won the Doubleday company's O. Henry prize for short fiction. Anderson then began publishing other stories in Atlantic, Saturday Evening Post, and Collier's.
In 1951 Little, Brown, and Company brought out I and Claudie, which won the Texas Institute of Letters award that year. Little, Brown also published Anderson's second book, Claudie's Kinfolks, in 1954. Both books are accounts of the picaresque adventures of two fun-loving rogues who philosophize in homespun, practical fashion about life and the world. Though published as novels, both I and Claudie and Claudie's Kinfolks had been written as series of short stories. The same was true of The Billingsley Papers (1961), published by Simon and Schuster, although Anderson did develop a logical sequence for the stories. The "papers" make up a report in which attorney Gaylord Boswell Peterkin reveals the true character of fellow attorney Richard K. Billingsley to the university faculty committee conferring an honorary doctorate of laws degree on Billingsley. Despite their loose structure, all three books won praise for their picture of life among the folk and the exuberant, if not always tasteful, pursuits of the Texan.
Anderson was a director of Westinghouse Electric Corporation, a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters. He married Lena Carter Carroll on May 30, 1931. The Andersons and their three daughters made their permanent home in Houston. Dillon Anderson died in Houston in 1974 and is buried there. Source