October 27, 2009

Martin Dies (1870-1922)

Martin Dies, congressman, son of David Warren and Sarah Jane (Pyburn) Dies, was born in Jackson Parish, Louisiana, on March 13, 1870. The family moved to Freestone County, Texas, in 1876. Dies attended public school in Texas, and some sources indicate that he graduated from law school at the University of Texas, although others claim that at the time in question he was working at various occupations in East Texas, including blacksmithing, railroading, teaching, and sawmilling. He was admitted to the of Texas bar about 1892 and practiced law at Woodville, Beaumont, Colorado City, and Kountze. He edited a newspaper in Freestone County and served as county marshal. He was elected county judge of Tyler County in 1894. Dies used his legal offices to secure land titles in the East Texas timber region until he moved south to Beaumont in 1897. During the Spanish-American War he joined the Beaumont Light Guards, which became Company D, Third Regiment, of the Texas Volunteers. After his return he was elected district attorney of the First Judicial District in 1898. Dies suffered a financial setback when he could not repay a debt to his friend John Henry Kirby. As a result he moved his family to the West Texas town of Colorado City in 1899. In 1908 he defeated the incumbent, Samuel Bronson Cooper, in his campaign for Congress. He represented the Second Texas Congressional District in the Sixty-first through Sixty-fifth United States Congresses (1909-19). During his tenure he opposed large military expenditures, American "imperialism," and high tariffs and supported an income tax. He was an outspoken nativist. Dies was opposed to woman suffrage and in 1916 opposed Woodrow Wilson's preparedness program. He chose not to run for reelection in 1918. He married Mrs. Olive Cline Blackshear on May 15, 1892, and they had two daughters and one son, Martin Dies. The marriage ended in divorce. Dies was a Democrat and a Methodist. He died in Kerrville on July 13, 1922, and is buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Houston. Source

COORDINATES
29° 45.919
-095° 23.196

Section F1
Glenwood Cemetery
Houston

October 20, 2009

Lloyd Millard Bentsen (1921-2006)

Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Jr., businessman, United States representative and senator, and secretary of the treasury, was born on February 11, 1921, in Mission, Texas. He was the son of Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Sr. (informally known as Big Lloyd), and Edna Ruth Colbath (informally known as Dolly). Bentsen grew up on the Arrowhead Ranch, one of the largest ranches in the Rio Grande Valley, where his father was in the ranching, oil, and banking businesses. The younger Bentsen graduated from Sharyland High School and later earned a law degree in 1942 at the University of Texas at Austin. He married Beryl Ann Longino (informally known as B. A.) of Lufkin in 1943. Bentsen served as a B-24 pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces and flew combat missions over Europe during World War II. He earned the rank of colonel and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. A Democrat, Bentsen was elected Hildago county judge and served in that role from 1946 to 1948. In 1948 Bentsen was elected to serve in the U. S. House of Representatives, where he was a protégé of Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn. (Rayburn would autograph a photo of himself to Bentsen with the inscription, "For Lloyd Bentsen, who likes ugly things." The keepsake photo was eventually given to the Sam Rayburn Library in Rayburn's hometown of Bonham.)

In 1955 Bentsen stood down from elective politics and moved his family to Houston, where he worked in the financial industry and solidified his financial position. During this time he founded Consolidated American Life Insurance Company. By the late 1960s he was chairman of Lincoln Consolidated Inc., a financial holdings company. While Bentsen was not seeking office during these years, he remained in touch with Democratic Party politics. In 1970 Bentsen decided to reenter politics, this time as a candidate for the United States Senate. He won an upset victory over incumbent U.S. Sen. Ralph Yarborough in the Democratic primary and then went on to win the general election over the Republican nominee, U. S. Rep. George H.W. Bush. Bentsen was reelected to the Senate in 1976, 1982, and 1988, eventually serving as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976 but lost. In the Senate, he was known for his pro-business stance and was a supporter of the oil and gas industry, free trade, and the real estate industry. In 1988 Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis won the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency. Dukakis chose Bentsen to be his vice presidential running mate in the general election. Thanks to Texas election law, Bentsen was able to seek both the vice presidency and his Senate seat, which was up for reelection, that year. Bentsen was easily reelected to his Senate seat. However, the Republican ticket of Vice President George H.W. Bush and U.S. Sen. Dan Quayle of Indiana won the presidential election. Despite the loss of the Dukakis-Bentsen ticket, Bentsen received notoriety for his performance in the nationally-broadcast vice presidential debate. When Quayle compared his political experience to that of President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, Bentsen replied, "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy."

In 1992 Bentsen was urged to seek the presidency but chose not to make the race. The Democratic nominee, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, won the election. Clinton asked Bentsen to serve as secretary of the treasury. The Senate confirmed Bentsen to that post, and he resigned his Senate seat. As secretary, Bentsen played an important role in the formation of the Clinton Administration's early fiscal policies. Bentsen served as secretary from 1993 to 1994, and left, he said, because he had planned to retire from politics in 1994, upon the conclusion of what would have been his fourth Senate term. Clinton recalled Bentsen as a "conservative Democrat, a fiscal conservative who thought more prosperous people like him should pay taxes so that those who were less fortunate should be able to get a good education and have some opportunities in life." In 1999 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bentsen, who had suffered a stroke in 1998, died in Houston on May 23, 2006, at the age of eighty-five. He was survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter, two brothers, a sister, and seven grandchildren. He was a Presbyterian. Bentsen was buried at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery in Houston. Source

COORDINATES
29° 42.946
-095° 18.261

Section 30
Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery
Houston

October 13, 2009

Mary Smith Jones (1819-1907)

Mary Smith Jones, wife of Republic of Texas president Anson Jones and first president of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, was born in Lawrence County, Arkansas Territory, on July 24, 1819, to John McCutcheon and Sarah (Pevehouse) Smith. After Smith died in 1833, his wife and her five children moved to Texas and settled in January 1834 in Brazoria. There Sarah Smith married John Woodruff, a widower with six children. In April 1836 the Woodruff family and other Brazorians lost their homes when a division of Santa Anna's army forced them to flee toward the Sabine River. The Woodruffs found shelter in the timber of Clear Creek, eight miles from the battlefield of San Jacinto. After December 1836 the family resided in Houston. On July 23, 1837, Mary Smith was married in Houston to Hugh McCrory, a soldier in the Army of the Republic of Texas. McCrory died suddenly seven weeks later.

In Austin on May 17, 1840, Mary married Anson Jones, a prominent doctor and politician from Brazoria. Jones's political career eventually included a two-year term as senator from Brazoria, service as secretary of state under President Sam Houston, and election as president of the Republic of Texas in 1844. That year the Joneses built their plantation house at their estate, Barrington, four miles from Washington-on-the-Brazos. The estate was later sold at a loss, and after Jones's suicide in January 1858 Mary and the children were destitute. They moved to Galveston, where Ashbel Smith helped Mrs. Jones to buy his brother's 460-acre farm on Goose Creek, near the site of present Baytown. She moved to San Jacinto in 1871 and to Willis in 1874. In 1879 she returned to Houston, home of her son Cromwell, chief justice of Harris County. After his death, she lived with her daughter. One of her driving ambitions in later years was to rectify what she considered gross misrepresentations of her husband's role during the annexation controversy. To that end she repeatedly contacted authors and publishers in an unsuccessful attempt to produce a favorable biography of Anson Jones and to publish his book, Republic of Texas. Her major means of support during these years was the sale of family land in Matagorda, Bastrop, Bexar, and Goliad counties. Mrs. Jones served, largely in a symbolic role, as the first president of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas from 1891 through 1907. She was a Democrat and Episcopalian and was influential in establishing a church in Washington and St. Paul's College in Anderson. The Joneses had four children. Mary Jones died on December 31, 1907, at the residence of her daughter in Houston. Source

COORDINATES
29° 45.940
-095° 23.123

Section F1
Glenwood Cemetery
Houston

October 6, 2009

Jesse Holman Jones (1874-1956)

Jesse H. Jones, businessman and New Deal official, son of William Hasque and Laura Anna (Holman) Jones, was born in Robertson County, Tennessee, on April 5, 1874. Jesse's mother died when he was six years old, and his father's widowed sister, Nancy Hurt, became the Jones children's surrogate mother. When Jesse was nine, the family moved to Dallas, Texas, where William Jones managed his brother's lumberyard in Terrell. Two years later they moved back to a farm on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. After completing the ninth grade, young Jesse was placed in charge of one of his father's tobacco factories. In 1891 the family returned to Dallas where Jesse entered Hill's Business College. In 1895 he went to work in his uncle's firm, the M. T. Jones Lumber Company, in Hillsboro, Texas, and later became manager of the company's Dallas lumberyard, then the largest in town. In 1898, after his uncle's death, Jones went to Houston as general manager where he remained with the company for another seven years. During this period he established his own business, the South Texas Lumber Company. He then began to expand into real estate, commercial buildings, and banking. In a few years he was the largest developer in the area and was responsible for most of Houston's major prewar construction. Besides owning nearly 100 buildings in Houston, Jones also built structures in Fort Worth, Dallas, and New York City. Gradually he sold his lumber interest, except for one yard in Houston, and began to concentrate on real estate and banking.

In 1908 he bought part of the Houston Chronicle. Between 1908 and 1918 he organized and became chairman of the Texas Trust Company and was active in most of the banking and real estate activities of the city. In 1909 he switched his religious affiliation from Baptist to Methodist. By 1912 he was president of the National Bank of Commerce (later Texas Commerce Bank, and by 2008, part of JPMorgan Chase & Co.) During this period he made one of his few ventures into oil as an original stockholder in Humble Oil and Refining Company (now EXXON). As chairman of the Houston harbor board he raised money for the Houston Ship Channel. During World War I President Woodrow Wilson asked Jones to become the director general of military relief for the American Red Cross. He remained in this position until he returned to Houston in 1919. In December 1920 he married Mary Gibbs of Mexia. He became the sole owner of the Houston Chronicle in 1926. Jones served as director of finance for the Democratic National Committee, made a $200,000 donation, and promised to build a hall. These actions were instrumental in bringing the 1928 Democratic national convention to Houston. At the convention Jones was nominated as a "favorite son."

On the recommendation of John Nance Garner, President Herbert Hoover appointed Jones to the board of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a new government entity established to combat the Great Depression. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Jones chairman of the RFC, a position he held from 1933 until 1939. In this capacity, Jones became one of the most powerful men in America. He helped prevent the nationwide failure of farms, banks, railroads, and many other businesses. The RFC became the leading financial institution in America and the primary investor in the economy. The agency also facilitated a broadening of Texas industry from agriculture and oil into steel and chemicals. Jones's success in Washington was closely associated with Roosevelt and Garner. Roosevelt realized that his outstanding weakness was his lack of rapport with business. Jones provided a connection as businessmen respected him. Garner and Jones were conservatives, however, and did not always approve of the politics of the New Deal. During Roosevelt's regime, these two were undoubtedly the second and third most influential men in Washington. Jones's control extended to such RFC subsidiaries as the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Electric Home and Farm Authority, the RFC Mortgage Company, the Federal National Mortgage Association, and the Export-Import Bank. Moreover, the RFC helped to finance many public works programs. Jones's tough business acumen made the RFC the most powerful and successful agency in the Roosevelt administration.

In 1939 Roosevelt appointed Jones to head the Federal Loan Agency. Jones resigned as head of the RFC, but as Federal Loan Administrator continued overall control of the RFC. He also had general supervision over the Federal Housing Authority and the Home Owners Loan Corporation. After flirting with the vice-presidential nomination in 1940, Jones was offered the post of Secretary of Commerce. With congressional approval, he was allowed to retain his post as FLA chief during the war years, when he supervised more than thirty agencies that received federal money. Jones's relationship with the president and some members of his cabinet, however, deteriorated. In 1944 Roosevelt believed that Jones was allied with Republican Thomas E. Dewey against him. On January 20, 1945, Jones received a letter from the president asking him to resign so that the post could be given to Henry Wallace, his former vice president. Jones was offered other positions but declined and returned to Houston. From this time to his death he occupied himself with his business ventures and philanthropy. He also broke with the Democratic leadership and supported the Republican ticket in 1948 and 1952. After a brief illness, he died on June 1, 1956, and was buried in Forest Park Cemetery in Houston. The Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in Houston was named for him. Houston Endowment, which he established in 1937, was the nation's fifteenth largest by 1979. In 1988 the Jesse H. Jones and Mary Gibbs Jones Endowed Presidential Scholarship in the University of Texas at Austin Graduate School of Business was established by a gift of Houston Endowment. Collections of Jones's papers and memorabilia are housed at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin, at the Library of Congress, and at Houston Endowment. Source

COORDINATES
29° 42.997
-095° 18.273

Chapel Garden
Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery
Houston