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 Portis, attorney and public official, was born around 1813 in North Carolina and probably moved to Texas after the Texas Revolution. He practiced law with John W. Portis in Houston in 1839 and in 1840 or 1841 moved to Austin County. He replaced James H. Kuykendall, who had resigned, as representative from Austin County in the House of the called session of the Sixth Congress in 1842 and was reelected to the Seventh Congress. On December 28, 1843, he married Rebecca Cumings, daughter of the Rebekah Cumings who was one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists. In January 1845 Portis was chairman of an annexation meeting at San Felipe. He represented the Seventeenth District, comprising Austin, Colorado, Fort Bend, Lavaca, and Wharton counties, in the Senate of the Third Legislature, 1849-50, and in 1853 served as a delegate to the state Democratic party convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos. The United States Census of 1860 listed Portis as owning seventeen slaves and over 35,000 acres with real property valued at $100,000 and personal property valued at $20,000. He represented Austin County in the Secession Convention of 1861. Portis seems to have lived the remainder of his life in Austin County and to have died there in February 1883. Source
Frank Everson Vandiver, noted military historian, professor, and university president, was born on December 9, 1925, in Austin, Texas. He was the son of Harry S. Vandiver, a mathematics professor who taught at the University of Texas, Princeton, and Cornell. Initially Frank Vandiver attended public schools but was eventually pulled out of the school system for private tutorship. At an early age he displayed a great interest in Confederate history, and while still a teenager, he published an article on the subject in a scholarly journal. Vandiver did not receive a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree, but through examinations he was admitted to graduate school at the University of Texas and received a Master of Arts in 1949. He received his Ph. D. from Tulane University in 1951 and an M.A. by decree from Oxford University.
Vandiver received recognition as a prominent young scholar when, at the age of twenty-four, his biography was included in Who’s Who in America. His early accolades included two Rockefeller Fellowships in 1946 and 1948 and a Fulbright Fellowship in 1951. His first book, Ploughshares into Swords: Josiah Gorgas and Confederate Ordnance, was published in 1952. Vandiver taught at Louisiana State University and Washington University before joining the history faculty at Rice University in 1955. He filled many positions at Rice University including chairman of the history and political science department, provost and vice president, and acting president from 1969 to 1970. From 1979 to 1981 Vandiver served as president of North Texas State University (now University of North Texas), and he was president of Texas A&M University from 1981 to 1988. After stepping down as president, he became founder and director of the Mosher Institute for International Policy Studies, a defense think tank at Texas A&M.
Vandiver was active in numerous organizations and served as president of the Southern Historical Association, the Texas Institute of Letters, the Philosophical Society of Texas, Association of American Colleges, White House Historical Society, and the American Council on Education. He taught at Oxford as the Harmsworth Professor of American History from 1963 to 1964. One of his main focuses was on the papers of Jefferson Davis for which he was chief advisory editor from 1963 until his death.
His many works include Mighty Stonewall (1957), Their Tattered Flags: The Epic of the Confederacy (1970), Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing (1977), Blood Brothers: A Short History of the Civil War (1992), Shadows of Vietnam: Lyndon Johnson's Wars (1997), 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the Civil War (2000), and 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About World War II (2002). He contributed to numerous other books about American military history.
Frank Vandiver married Susie Smith on April 19, 1952. They had three children. After her death in 1979, he married Renee Carmody in 1980. He died on January 7, 2005, in College Station, Texas. He was buried at Memorial Oaks Cemetery in Houston. Source
Junius William Mottley, physician and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in Virginia about 1812. In 1833 he matriculated in the medical college of Transylvania University, giving his home as Greensburg, Kentucky. Since the college has no record of his receiving a degree, he probably left for Texas before March 18, 1835, the date it would have been conferred. On January 24, 1836, Dr. Mottley was appointed surgeon for the post of Goliad, which he furnished with surgical instruments worth at least $125. He was a delegate from Goliad to the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and there signed the Declaration of Independence. When the convention was dissolved he hastened to rejoin the military forces. While serving as aide-de-camp to Thomas J. Rusk, Mottley was mortally wounded in the battle of San Jacinto; he died on the night of April 21, 1836, and was buried on the battlefield. His heirs could not be located, and his donation certificate for military service was sold at auction. Motley County was named in his honor. Source
Note: This is a cenotaph. His name is incorrectly inscribed on the monument as William Junius Mottley. In 1881, a decision was made to place permanent memorials at the graves of those men who had been killed in the Battle of San Jacinto and buried on the battlefield. It was discovered, however, that all of the original wooden grave markers, except for Benjamin Brigham's, had rotted away and no one could remember exactly where the others rested. As a compromise, since the soldiers had been buried closely together, it was decided to place a cenotaph at Brigham's grave as a memorial to all of them.
29° 45.232, -095° 05.363
San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
Samuel H. Walker, Texas Ranger and Mexican War veteran, son of Nathan and Elizabeth (Thomas) Walker, was born at Toaping Castle, Prince George County, Maryland, on February 24, 1817, the fifth of seven children. He attended the common country school and afterward worked as a carpenter's apprentice. In May 1836 Walker enlisted in the Washington City Volunteers for the Creek Indian campaign in Alabama. He was stationed in Florida and apparently saw no combat. After his enlistment ended in 1837, Walker remained in Florida as a scout until 1841. He may also have been a railroad superintendent. He traveled to Galveston in January 1842, where he served in Capt. Jesse Billingsley's company during the Adrián Woll invasion. He then enlisted in the Somervell expedition and took part in the actions around Laredo and Guerrero. He also joined William S. Fisher's Mier expedition. Walker escaped at Salado, was recaptured, and survived the Black Bean Episode. In 1844 Walker joined John C. Hays's company of Texas Rangers and participated in the battle of Walker's Creek near the junction of Walker's Creek and West Sister Creek northwest of present-day Sisterdale in Kendall County. During the engagement the rangers, using new Colt revolvers, successfully defeated about eighty Comanches. When Gen. Zachary Taylor requested volunteers to act as scouts and spies for his regular army, Walker enlisted as a private and was mustered into federal service in September 1845. In April 1846 he formed his own company for duty under Taylor. On April 28 Walker was ambushed with his company en route to join Taylor at Port Isabel. He reached Taylor's camp on April 29; his reports caused Taylor to move his encampment. Walker performed exemplary duty as a scout and courier on numerous other occasions. His company was the only Texas unit at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. He was presented a horse by the grateful citizens of New Orleans in the spring of 1846 for his numerous exploits with Taylor's army.
Walker served as captain of the inactive Company C of the United States Mounted Rifles until the outbreak of the Mexican War. When the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Riflemen, was organized in June 1846, Walker was elected lieutenant colonel. He fought in the battle of Monterrey in September and on October 2, 1846, mustered out of federal service, activated his commission as captain of the mounted rifles, and proceeded to Washington, D.C., to begin recruiting for his company. During his recruitment excursion Walker visited Samuel Colt. Colt credited Walker with proposed improvements, including a stationary trigger and guard, to the existing revolver. The new six-shooter was named the Walker Colt. After arriving with his new company at Vera Cruz, Mexico, Walker was detailed on May 27, 1847, to the First Pennsylvania Volunteers, stationed at Castle San Carlos de Perote to counter Mexican guerrilla activities between Perote and Jalapa. On October 5, 1847, Walker left Perote with Gen. Joseph P. Lane to escort a supply train to Mexico City. According to J. J. Oswandel, author of Notes on the Mexican War, who wrote about the incident, Walker grew increasingly embittered against the enemy: "Should Captain Walker come across guerillas, God help them, for he seldom brings in prisoners. The captain and most all of his men are very prejudiced and embittered against every guerilla in the country." En route Lane was informed of a sizable enemy force at Huamantla and ordered an attack. With Walker's mounted rifles in the lead, the assault force reached Huamantla on October 9. During the spirited contest that followed Walker was either shot in the back or killed by a man on foot carrying a lance. Following his death his unit took revenge on the community of Huamantla. Walker was buried at Hacienda Tamaris. In 1848 his remains were moved to San Antonio. On April 21, 1856, as part of a battle of San Jacinto celebration, he was reburied in the Odd Fellows' Cemetery in San Antonio. Source
Edward Mandell House was born in Houston on July 26, 1858, the last of seven children of Mary Elizabeth (Shearn) and Thomas William House. His father was one of the leading citizens of Texas, a wealthy merchant, banker, and landowner. Edward had a privileged youth: he spent six months in England in 1866, met many prominent people who visited the large family homes in Galveston and Houston, and enjoyed the colorful life of his father's sugar plantation near Arcola Junction. As a boy he rode and hunted, admired the gunfighters of the era, and roamed the flat, vast coastal plain near Houston. Initially House attended Houston Academy, but after the death of his mother on January 28, 1870, his father sent him to boarding school, first in Virginia and then in New Haven, Connecticut. House was not a serious student, and he and his closest friend, Oliver T. Morton (the son of Senator Oliver Perry Morton of Indiana), became absorbed in the Hayes-Tilden election of 1876 and the long crisis following it; they frequently traveled to New York and Washington.
In the autumn of 1877 House entered Cornell University, where he remained until the beginning of his third year, when his father became ill and the younger House left school to care for him. When T. W. House died, on January 17, 1880, his son decided to stay in Texas and help manage the estate, which was to be divided among the five surviving children. On August 4, 1881, House married Loulie Hunter of Hunter, Texas. After a year in Europe the couple returned to Houston, and House supervised the family's extensive landholdings scattered throughout Texas. In the autumn of 1885 he moved to Austin in order to escape the heat of Houston and to be closer to his cotton plantations. He became a prominent member of Austin society and, in the late 1880s and early 1890s, pursued a variety of business activities, including farming and land speculation. In June 1892 he completed a great mansion at 1704 West Avenue, designed by the New York architect Frank Freeman. The house was one of the finest examples in Texas of the Shingle style of residential architecture. With a minimum of decorative detail, it made innovative use of red sandstone, sweeping shingled roofs, and an open-plan interior in a style that suggested future architectural trends. It was razed in 1967.
House was drawn into state politics through his friendship with James Stephen Hogg, who in 1892 faced a formidable challenge for renomination and reelection from conservative Democrats and Populists. House directed Hogg's campaign, established a network of contacts with influential local Democratic leaders, manipulated the electoral machinery, and bargained for the votes of African and Mexican Americans. Hogg triumphed in a bitter, three-way race and rewarded House on July 20, 1893, with the honorary title of lieutenant colonel. The press soon shortened the title to colonel.
Fascinated more with the process of politics than with the substance, House proceeded to build his own faction - "our crowd," as he called it - which became a powerful force in Texas politics. He was an ambitious political operator, skilled in organizing and inspiring others. He worked largely behind the scenes, developing ties of loyalty and affection with his close associates and using patronage to rally party workers behind his candidates. From 1894 to 1906 House's protégés served as governors of Texas. He and his associates managed the gubernatorial campaigns of Charles Allen Culberson, Joseph D. Sayers, and Samuel W. T. Lanham. House was especially close to Culberson, whose elevation to the United States Senate in 1898 the colonel directed. House served as a political counselor, often dispensing advice and controlling patronage for all three governors.
By the turn of the century he was bored with his role in Texas politics and was restlessly searching for broader horizons. He sought further wealth, first by attempting to profit from the discovery of oil at the Spindletop oilfield in 1901 and 1902. With the backing of eastern financiers, he formed the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway Company. He also felt the pull of the East. For years he had spent the summers on Boston's North Shore, and gradually he began to winter in New York, severing most of his ties with Texas and only occasionally visiting the state. After 1904 he was never again involved in a gubernatorial campaign.
As a youth House had dreamed great dreams, yearning for a place on the national political stage. A conservative, sound-money Democrat, he disliked William Jennings Bryan and in 1904 supported Alton B. Parker. Discouraged by the prospects of the Democratic party after Parker's defeat in 1904 and Bryan's in 1908, House found solace in leisurely tours of Europe and in spiritualism. He continued his search for a Democratic presidential candidate, and on November 25, 1911, met Woodrow Wilson; the two formed a close friendship that lasted for years. House participated in Wilson's campaign for the presidential nomination by using his influence to secure the forty votes of the Texas delegation and the approval of William Jennings Bryan for Wilson's candidacy. After Wilson's victory House refused any official appointment, but was responsible for the appointment of several Texans to cabinet positions. He quickly established himself as the president's trusted adviser and confidant, especially on foreign affairs.
After the outbreak of World War I, House undertook several important European missions for the president. When the United States became involved in the war, he won British and French acceptance of Wilson's Fourteen Points as the basis for the peace. House was appointed one of the five American commissioners at the peace conference and served as Wilson's second in command. When the president temporarily returned to the United States during the negotiations, House took his place at the head of the American delegation. After signing the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, Wilson appointed House to represent him at London in the drafting of provisions for operation of the mandate system set up by the treaty.
The relationship between the two men deteriorated after Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke in the fall of 1919, and during the Republican party's ascendancy in the 1920s House ceased to exercise direct influence on public affairs. Until his death, however, he maintained close contact with important national and international figures. He took an interest in Franklin D. Roosevelt's nomination in 1932, but made no effort to resume the political influence he enjoyed under Wilson. House died on March 28, 1938, in New York City and was buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston. Source
Rienzi Melville Johnston, newspaper editor, son of Freeman W. and Mary J. (Russell) Johnston, was born at Sandersville, Georgia, on September 9, 1849 (some sources say 1850). Early in his life he began work in a print shop, and at the age of twelve he became a drummer in the Confederate Army (1862-63). After discharge he reenlisted in 1864 and served until the end of the war, when he returned to newspaper work. In the early 1870s he was city editor of the Savannah Morning News. He traveled to Texas in 1878 to edit the Crockett Patron. After a year he edited the Corsicana Observer and established the Independent there. In 1880 he moved to Austin, where he was associated with the Austin Statesman. The Houston Post secured his service as correspondent to cover the state capital. Johnston was chosen editor-in-chief of the reorganized Houston paper in 1885, and later he became president of the Houston Printing Company. As an editorial writer he was quoted by the press throughout many states. For two years he was first vice president of the Associated Press. Johnston was one of the leaders of the Democratic party in the South. He declined the nomination for lieutenant governor of Texas in 1898. From 1900 to 1912 he was a member of the Democratic National Committee. Early in 1913 Governor Oscar B. Colquitt appointed him United States senator to fill the unexpired term of Joseph W. Bailey. Johnston served from January 4 to February 2, 1913, when he returned to Houston and resumed his duties as active head of the Post. He retired in 1919 and served as state senator from the Houston district; he resigned when he was appointed chairman of the state prison commission by Governor William P. Hobby on January 12, 1920. Johnston married Mary E. Parsons in 1875, and they had three children. He died on February 28, 1926, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Houston. Source
Joseph Lindley, son of Simon and Anna (Stanley) Lindley, was born on January 7, 1793, in Orange County, North Carolina. Early in 1808 he moved with his family to Christian County, Kentucky, and afterward to what is now Bond County, Illinois. Late in 1811, when Lindley was eighteen years old, conflicts with Indians motivated settlers to build a fort near Greenville. During the War of 1812 the family lived in the fort, but after four years of Indian attacks and military protection, they moved to Edwardsville, Illinois. Lindley fought in the War of 1812 as a United States Ranger. He married Nancy Ann Hicks on June 17, 1817, in Bond County, Illinois, and they moved to Humphreys County, Tennessee. Ten years later they arrived in Texas with four children. Lindley was unable to get clear title to his 2,592 acres of land because he was involved in the Fredonian Rebellion at Nacogdoches. He received title to 4,428 acres in Montgomery County on April 6, 1835. He participated in the siege of Bexar in 1835, signed the letter of endorsement required by the Mexicans for the entry into Texas of Alamo defender Jonathan Lindley, and fought at the battle of San Jacinto. Mirabeau B. Lamar, president of the Republic of Texas, appointed Lindley an Indian agent with a charge to keep the peace. He was an elected civil officer for Montgomery County in 1839 and laid out the first road from Austin to the "springs at the headwaters of the San Marcos" (Aquarena Springs), so that a military post could be established there in 1840. He was appointed by the Congress of the Republic of Texas to survey a road from Washington to the Sabine in 1844. About 1846 the Lindleys moved to Limestone County, where they settled four miles north of the site of present-day Mexia. Lindley was elected county commissioner in 1854 and served one term. On January 20, 1874, he died. He was buried in Limestone County and later reinterred at the State Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 26, 1986, during the Texas Sesquicentennial. Source
Note: The spelling of his name on his stone is incorrect. Although some early records exist where his surname was spelled Lindly, even by Joseph himself on one occasion, it is actually Lindley.