June 30, 2009

Samuel May Williams

Samuel May Williams, entrepreneur and associate of Stephen F. Austin, was the eldest child of Howell and Dorothy (Wheat) Williams. He was born on October 4, 1795, in Providence, Rhode Island, where his father, a descendant of Robert Williams, the founder of Roxbury, Massachusetts, was a sea captain. Three of Williams's four brothers lived in Texas during the 1840s and 1850s, and two of his three sisters made an extended visit. Henry Howell Williams of Baltimore served as Texas consul from 1836 to 1838 and moved to Galveston in 1842 to assume control of the McKinney and Williams commission house, where he remained off and on until the 1850s. In 1838 Matthew Reed and Nathaniel Felton Williams opened a sugar plantation on Oyster Creek in Fort Bend County purchased from their brother; it became Imperial Sugar Company in the twentieth century.

Samuel Williams was educated in Providence and apprenticed around the age of fifteen to his uncle, Nathaniel F. Williams, a Baltimore commission merchant. He journeyed as supercargo to Buenos Aires, where he remained for a time mastering Spanish and Latin American business practice. He settled in New Orleans in 1819 before departing for Texas in 1822 using an assumed name, E. Eccleston. He resumed his true identity in 1823 when Stephen F. Austin employed him as translator and clerk. For the next thirteen years Williams was Austin's lieutenant; he wrote deeds, kept records, and directed colonial activities during the empresario's absences. In 1826 he was named postmaster of San Felipe and was appointed revenue collector and dispenser of stamped paper by the state of Coahuila and Texas the following year. He became secretary to the ayuntamiento of San Felipe in 1828. For these services he received eleven leagues (49,000 acres) of land which he selected on strategic waterways including Oyster Creek and Buffalo Bayou.

Williams earned notoriety in 1835 while attending the legislature at Monclova by contracting for two of the 400-league grants offered by the state government as a means to raise funds to oppose President Antonio López de Santa Anna. He and six others were proscribed as revolutionaries, but he escaped arrest by going to the United States. He entered a partnership with Thomas F. McKinney in 1833 and used his family's mercantile contacts in the United States to secure credit for the firm. Their commission house, located at Quintana, dominated the Brazos cotton trade until 1838, when they moved to Galveston. The firm of McKinney and Williams used its credit in the United States to purchase arms and raise funds for the Texas Revolution in 1835-36. Neither the republic nor the state was able to repay the $99,000 debt in full, and the partners realized only a small portion of their investment in addition to the passage of favorable relief legislation. As investors in the Galveston City Company, McKinney and Williams aided in developing the city by helping to construct the Tremont Hotel as well as the commission house and wharf. McKinney withdrew from the partnership in 1842, when Henry Howell Williams assumed his brother's interest in the firm, which became H. H. Williams and Company.

Sam Williams concentrated on banking after 1841, when the commission house received special permission from the Texas Congress to found a bank to issue and circulate paper money as an aid to commerce. In 1848 he activated his 1835 charter, obtained from Coahuila and Texas and approved by the republic in 1836, to open the Commercial and Agricultural Bank of Galveston, which also printed its own money. Jacksonian anti-banking sentiment inspired his enemies to attack the bank through the state courts on the grounds that it violated constitutional prohibitions against banks. The Texas Supreme Court sustained the bank in 1852, but subsequent suits brought its demise in 1859. Williams, a political supporter of Sam Houston, represented the Brazos district in the Coahuila and Texas legislature in 1835 and Galveston County in the lower house of the Texas Congress in 1839. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States Congress in 1846. In 1838 he received a commission to negotiate a $5 million loan in the United States and to purchase seven ships for the Texas Navy. President Houston sent him to Matamoros in 1843 to seek an armistice with Mexico, an unsuccessful ploy.

Williams lived quietly with his wife, Sarah Patterson Scott, on a country estate west of the city. His home, a one-story, frame, Greek Revival residence on brick piers, is operated by the Galveston Historical Foundation as a house museum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built between 1839 and 1844, it is among the oldest structures on the island. Williams died September 13, 1858, and was buried by the Knights Templars whose chapter he had founded. He was survived by his wife and four of his nine children. One son, William Howell Williams, was Galveston county judge from 1875 to 1880.

GPS Coordinates
29° 17.588, -094° 48.697


Trinity Episcopal Cemetery
Galveston

June 26, 2009

David Rusk

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.

GPS Coordinates
31° 36.198, -094° 38.948


Oak Grove Cemetery
Nacogdoches

June 23, 2009

Augustine Blackburn Hardin

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.

Independence Hall, location of the Declaration signing
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.

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.

GPS Coordinates
30° 06.076, -094° 45.971


Hardin Family Cemetery
Liberty

June 19, 2009

Homer Hill Norton

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.

GPS Location
29° 43.475, -095° 18.257

Section L
Forest Park Lawndale
Houston

June 16, 2009

Mollie Arline Kirkland Bailey

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. Some 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.

During 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 Generals John Bell Hood and 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.

Note
Except for the Texas historical marker at her feet, Mollie Bailey's grave is unmarked. She lies between James and Brad Bailey.

GPS Coordinates
29° 47.376, -095° 21.761

Fountain Hill Section
Hollywood Cemetery
Houston

June 12, 2009

William S. Fisher

William S. Fisher, soldier and secretary of war of Texas, son of James and Margaret (Nimmo) Fisher, moved to Texas from Virginia in 1834 and settled in Green DeWitt's colony at Gonzales. Fisher represented the municipality of Gonzales at the Consultation at San Felipe in 1835. On March 10, 1836, he joined the Texas army and on March 26 reinforced Sam Houston's army with the company that he had raised, Company I, First Regiment of Texas Volunteers, and participated in the battle of San Jacinto. He remained in the army until June 10, 1836, and served again from June 27 to September 27, 1836.

Appointed secretary of war of the Republic of Texas, he served from December 21, 1836, to November 13, 1837, but his was a recess appointment and was not confirmed when the Senate met because of the change to the Mirabeau B. Lamar administration. On January 23, 1837, Lamar appointed Fisher lieutenant colonel of a frontier cavalry regiment. On March 19, 1840, he was in command of two companies of regulars at San Antonio at the time of the Council House Fight. Later in 1840 he was attracted to the Republic of the Rio Grande and led 200 men to join the army of that organization at San Patricio.

Returning to Texas after a few months of unsuccessful campaigning, he joined the Somervell expedition in 1842 and was elected captain. With Alexander Somervell's abandonment of the enterprise, Fisher was elected leader of those members of the expedition who continued on into Mexico on the Mier expedition. During the attack on Mier, Fisher was wounded. Imprisoned with his men by the Mexican general Pedro de Ampudia, Fisher was marched to Perote Prison. He was released in 1843 and returned to Texas, where he died at his home in Jackson County in 1845.

GPS Coordinates
29° 17.617, -094° 48.701


Trinity Episcopal Cemetery
Galveston

June 9, 2009

Charles Guy "Charlie" Tolar

Charlie Tolar, early American Football League (AFL) star, was born on September 5, 1937 in Natchitoches, Louisiana. He attended Northwestern State University of Louisiana, and was twice named Gulf States Conference MVP. One of the most popular figures in the early days of the AFL, the 5-6, 210-pounder had dozens of nicknames, including "The Human Bowling Ball", and was named to AFL All-Star teams in 1961, 1962 and 1963. Tolar helped the Houston Oilers win the first American Football League championship in 1960 and repeat in 1961. The team finished as runners-up in 1962, when he was the team's Offensive MVP with 1,012 yards and a league record 244 carries. After his football career ended, he worked for Red Adair as an oil well fire-fighter. He was named to the Oilers' 30th Anniversary Dream Team chosen by fans in 1989, and was among the top ten all-time rushers in the history of the AFL. Tolar died in Houston on April 28, 2003, following a bout with cancer.

GPS Coordinates
29° 30.845, -095° 07.430

Section 210
Forest Park East Cemetery
Webster

June 5, 2009

Isaac L. Jaques

Jacques, his wife and two daughters came to Texas via New York in October, 1835 and settled near Lynchburg. A few months later, on February 22, he volunteered to serve in Captain Duncan's Company for two weeks, before being transferred to Captain Thomas A. McIntire's Company on March 8. He fought at San Jacinto but passed away several months later at his home in Lynchburg, August 8, 1836.

GPS Coordinates
29° 45.241, -095° 05.351


San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
La Porte

June 2, 2009

Dillon Anderson

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.

GPS Coordinates
29° 45.974, -095° 23.004

Section J
Glenwood Cemetery
Houston