August 31, 2010

Charles Stewart

Charles Stewart, legislator and congressman, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on May 30, 1836, the son of Charles and Martha (Moore) Stewart. In 1845 the family moved to Galveston, where Stewart began the study of law in 1852 with James W. Henderson of Houston and later pursued his studies with the Galveston firm of which William Pitt Ballinger was a member. Stewart was admitted to the bar in 1854, before his eighteenth birthday, and began the practice of law in Marlin. In 1856 and again in 1858 he was elected prosecuting attorney for the Thirteenth Judicial District. In Marlin he also practiced law in partnership with Thomas P. Aycock from 1857 to 1866. In 1860 Stewart married Rachel Barry of Marlin. That year he reported owning $15,000 in real property and $4,425 in personal property, including four slaves. In 1861 he was a delegate to the Secession Convention, where he and Alfred Marmaduke Hobby were the two youngest delegates. Stewart enlisted in the Confederate Army and served throughout the Civil War, first in the Tenth Regiment of Texas Infantry and later in George Wythe Baylor's cavalry.

In 1866 Stewart moved to Houston, where he practiced law with D.U. Barziza, J.B. Likens, and G.H. Breaker. Stewart gained recognition as both a civil and a criminal attorney. An important part of his civil practice involved land litigation and suits against railroads. He served as Houston city attorney from 1874 to 1876. In 1878 he was elected to the Texas Senate, where he was an advocate of tax-supported public education. After one term in the Senate (1879-72), Stewart was elected as a Democrat to the United States Congress, where he served five terms (1883-93). In Washington, Stewart was a member of the Committee on Rivers and Harbors and worked for increased appropriations for harbor improvements on the Texas coast. He also advocated securing a railroad link between the United States and Argentina in order to increase United States exports to Central and South America. Stewart belonged to various Masonic bodies and in 1883 served as grand master of Masons in Texas. In 1892 he declined to run for office again. He returned to Houston, where he practiced law with his son, John S. Stewart. After several years of failing health, Stewart died of phthisis and diabetes in Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio on September 21, 1895, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Houston. His son, who was city attorney at the time of Stewart's death, was his only surviving child.

GPS Coordinates
29° 45.918, -095° 23.193

Section C-3
Glenwood Cemetery
Houston

August 27, 2010

John Austin Wharton

John Austin Wharton, Confederate major-general, the son of Sarah Ann (Groce) and William Harris Wharton, was born near Nashville, Tennessee, on July 3, 1828. Wharton was brought to Galveston as an infant and spent his early years on a Brazoria County plantation. At the age of eight he was sent to the home of his uncle, Leonard W. Groce, for instruction under a Mr. Deans from Boston, who later founded a school at Galveston which Wharton attended until he was fifteen. From 1846 to 1850 Wharton attended South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina), where he served as a commander in the student cadet corps. In 1848 he married Eliza Penelope Johnson, daughter of David Johnson, the governor of South Carolina. Following college, Wharton returned to Texas and studied law with former United States Senator William Preston, Jack Harris, and Elisha M. Pease, all well-known and successful lawyers. After he was licensed to practice, Wharton established the firm of Wharton and Terry with Clint Terry at Brazoria.

In 1860 Wharton served as a Breckinridge presidential elector and later represented Brazoria County at the state Secession Convention, voting for secession. In addition to his career in law and politics, Wharton was also a planter of considerable means. The 1860 tax roll for Brazoria County showed that he owned $167,004 of taxable property, including 135 slaves. When the war began Wharton was elected captain of Company B, Eighth Texas Cavalry, better known as Terry's Texas Rangers. He rose to command the regiment after the deaths of Col. Benjamin F. Terry and Lt. Col. Thomas S. Lubbock. Wharton led his troop with distinction at the battle of Shiloh, where he was wounded. His leadership in the course of Gen. Braxton Bragg's 1862 Kentucky invasion earned him a promotion to the rank of brigadier general on November 18, 1862. His actions at the battle of Chickamauga in the fall of 1863 earned him another promotion, to the rank of major general.

In February 1864 the general was transferred to Richard Taylor's Trans-Mississippi Department in Louisiana. Upon his arrival he was assigned to lead the cavalry and took part in the closing scenes of the Red River campaign. On April 6, 1865, while visiting Gen. John B. Magruder's headquarters at the Fannin Hotel in Houston, Wharton was killed by fellow officer George W. Baylor in a personal quarrel that grew out of "an unpleasant misunderstanding over military matters." Even though Wharton was found to have been unarmed, Baylor was acquitted of murder charges in 1868. Wharton was originally buried at Hempstead but was later moved to the State Cemetery in Austin.

GPS Coordinates
30° 15.904, -097° 43.603

Confederate Field
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

August 24, 2010

Karle Wilson Baker

Karle Wilson Baker, writer, daughter of William Thomas Murphey and Kate Florence (Montgomery) Wilson, was born on October 13, 1878, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her first name was originally spelled Karl; the e was added later, first appearing in Kate Wilson's diary in 1893. She attended public schools, Little Rock Academy, and Ouachita Baptist College and returned to graduate from Little Rock Academy, a high school, in 1898. She attended the University of Chicago periodically from 1898 to 1901 and later attended Columbia University (1919) and the University of California at Berkeley (1926–27). The only university degree that she held, however, was an honorary doctorate of letters conferred in 1924 by Southern Methodist University.

From 1897 to 1901 Karle Wilson alternately studied at the University of Chicago and taught at Southwest Virginia Institute in Bristol, Virginia. In 1901 she joined her family, which had moved to Nacogdoches, Texas. She went back to Little Rock to teach school for two years but returned to Nacogdoches, and there, on August 8, 1907, she married Thomas E. Baker, a banker. They had a son and daughter. Karle Baker devoted the remainder of her life to maintaining her household, to writing, and to teaching (from 1925 to 1934) at Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College (now Stephen F. Austin State University). She wrote personal and historical essays, novels, nature poetry, and short stories. Her early writing appeared in such journals as Atlantic Monthly, Century, Harper's, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Scribner's, Putnam's, and the Yale Review, under the pen name of Charlotte Wilson. Yale University Press published her first volume of poetry, ninety-two lyrics collected under the name of the title poem, Blue Smoke (1919), which received favorable reviews in the United States and England. Yale also published a second collection of her poems, Burning Bush (1922), as well as two prose volumes, The Garden of Plynck (1920), a children's fantasy novel, and Old Coins (1923), twenty-seven short allegorical sketches. Baker was anthologized in The Best Poems of 1923, English and American, published in London, and in 1925 she won the Southern Prize of the Poetry Society of South Carolina, a competition open to poets living in the states of the former Confederacy.

In 1931 a third volume of her poems, Dreamers on Horseback, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. By that time, however, she had begun to concentrate mainly on prose writing. As early as 1925 she had written The Texas Flag Primer, a Texas history for children that was adopted for use in the public schools. In 1930, The Birds of Tanglewood, a collection of essays based on her birdwatching, appeared. Tanglewood was the name that she gave to an area around her parents' second home in Nacogdoches. A second reader for children, Two Little Texans, was published in 1932. Her most notable prose works were two novels published when she was in her late fifties and early sixties. Family Style (1937), a study of human motivation and reaction to sudden wealth, is set against the background of the East Texas oil boom. Star of the Wilderness (1942) is a historical novel in which Dr. James Grant, a Texas revolutionary, figures. It later became a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club.

In 1958 Baker was designated an honorary vice president of the Poetry Society of Texas, of which she was a charter member. She had served in 1938-39 as president of the Texas Institute of Letters, of which she was a charter member and the first woman fellow. Still other recognition was given her by the Authors League of America, the Philosophical Society of Texas, and the Poetry Society of America. She died on November 9, 1960, and is buried in Nacogdoches.

GPS Coordinates
31° 36.206, -094° 38.904


Oak Grove Cemetery
Nacogdoches

August 20, 2010

Peter Johnson

Johnson was born December 29, 1857 in Sumerland, England. He was living in Michigan when he enlisted in the United States Navy and sent to fight in the Spanish-American War as a Fireman First Class aboard the U.S.S. Potomac. He was afterward transferred to the U.S.S. Vixen, where, on the night of May 28, 1898, a sudden explosion from the front boiler threatened to sink the ship and all aboard. At great personal risk, he entered the boiler room alone and made the necessary repairs to keep the fire contained until they could pull into safe harbor. For this brave action, he was awarded the Medal Of Honor for bravery on August 27, 1904. Johnson died on June 21, 1943 and buried in San Antonio.

Citation
On board the U.S.S. Vixen on the night of 28 May 1898. Following the explosion of the lower front manhole gasket of boiler A of the vessel, Johnson displayed great coolness and self-possession in entering the fireroom.

GPS Coordinates
29° 28.571, -098° 25.913

Section F
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio

August 17, 2010

William Sumter Murphy

William Sumter Murphy, United States diplomat, was born in South Carolina about 1796 and moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1818. There he established a legal practice and, in 1821, married Lucinda Sterret. His powers of oratory were such that he came to be called the "Patrick Henry of the West." Politically, Murphy was at first a Democrat but later supported Whig candidates William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. He was greatly interested in military affairs and was appointed a brigadier general in the Ohio state militia. In 1843 President John Tyler appointed Murphy minister extraordinary to Central America and chargé d'affaires to the Republic of Texas, in which office he replaced Joseph Eve.

From his ministry in Galveston Murphy worked diligently toward the annexation of Texas to the United States. When, in February 1844, annexation appeared imminent, Murphy, without authorization from his government, acceded to President Sam Houston's request for United States warships to patrol the Gulf of Mexico to protect Texas ports and harbors. For this action the chargé received the reprimand of his superiors and was given to understand that his appointment would not be confirmed by the Senate. This report caused Houston to write to Murphy on March 30, 1844, of his "regret that anything should at this time withdraw you from this Government, until the work which you have been instrumental in commencing should be terminated either by annexation, or rejection of Texas by the U[nited] States." The treaty of annexation, signed by the Texas government on April 11, 1844, was rejected by the United States Senate, and Murphy was recalled to Washington. "The tail went with the hide," as he summed up the situation. Murphy died of yellow fever in Galveston only a few weeks later, on July 12, 1844, and was buried there the following day. He was the third United States minister to Texas to die at his post since 1840.

GPS Coordinates
29° 17.613, -094° 48.672


Trinity Episcopal Cemetery
Galveston

August 13, 2010

John W. Moore

John W. Moore, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and early Texas official, was born in Pennsylvania about 1797. He traveled to Texas from Tennessee in 1830 and settled in Harrisburg Municipality. In December 1831 the ayuntamiento of San Felipe de Austin announced his election as comisario of the precinct of San Jacinto. Moore was a friend of William B. Travis and was with him on July 30, 1835, when a company of volunteers under Travis forced the capitulation of Antonio Tenorio at the fort at Anahuac. Moore was a delegate from Harrisburg to the Consultation and was elected contractor for the army by the General Council on November 18, 1835. He was one of the three representatives from Harrisburg at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and signed the Declaration of Independence.

On October 3, 1836, Moore was seated in the House of the First Congress of the Republic of Texas as a member from Harrisburg County, but his election was contested and Jesse H. Cartwright was seated in his stead on October 11. In January 1837 Moore was elected captain of the Second Militia District and sheriff of Harrisburg County; he held the latter post at least until November 30, 1840. In 1839 he served as a trustee for the newly formed Harrisburg Town Company. On January 6, 1840, he was elected an alderman of the city of Houston. He was a charter member of the first Independent Order of Odd Fellows lodge of Texas, organized at Houston on July 25, 1838. Moore's first wife died sometime after April 28, 1831. On February 21, 1839, he married Eliza Belknap in Houston. He died in Houston in 1846 and was buried there in the city cemetery. In 1936 the Texas Centennial Commission placed a monument in the cemetery in his honor.

Note
This is a cenotaph. Founders Memorial Park, originally founded in 1836 as Houston's first city cemetery, was rapidly filled due to a yellow fever epidemic and closed to further burials around 1840. The cemetery became neglected over a period of time, often vandalized and was heavily damaged by the 1900 hurricane. In 1936, despite a massive clean up effort, a century of neglect had taken its toll. The vast majority of grave markers were either destroyed or missing and poor record keeping prevented locating individual graves. Several cenotaphs were placed in random areas throughout the park in honor of the more high-profile citizens buried there, but a great number of graves go unmarked to this day.

GPS Coordinates
29° 45.461, -095° 22.768


Founders Memorial Park
Houston

August 10, 2010

Cleto Luna Rodriguez

Cleto L. Rodríguez, Medal of Honor recipient, was born on April 26, 1923, and raised in San Marcos and San Antonio. After his parents died when he was nine, he moved to San Antonio with relatives. He worked at the Gunter Hotel and as a newsboy. He attended Washington, Irving, and Ivanhoe schools. He was one of an estimated 375,000 to 500,000 Mexican-American soldiers in World War II. The percentage of persons of Mexican descent who served in the armed forces was higher than that of Mexican Americans in the general public, and they constituted the most decorated ethnic group. Rodríguez married Flora Muñiz on November 11, 1945, and they had four children.

Rodríguez entered the United States Army in early 1944 and served as a technical sergeant. He was an automatic rifleman with Company B, 148th Infantry, when his unit attacked the strongly defended Paco Railroad Station during the battle for Manila in the Philippine Islands. He and his partner, John N. Reese, Jr., of Pryor, Oklahoma, killed eighty-two enemy soldiers and disorganized their defense, thus facilitating the defeat of the Japanese at their strong point. Two days later, Rodríguez singlehandedly killed six enemy soldiers and destroyed a twenty-millimeter gun. Thus on two occasions he "materially aided the advance of U.S. troops in Manila." Later, he was promoted to staff sergeant. Rodríguez was the fifth person of Mexican descent to win the Medal of Honor. Fourteen Texans received the award for service in World War II, six of whom were of Mexican descent. Rodríguez was also the first Mexican American GI to win the highest award in the South Pacific. Upon his return to San Antonio, city officials and the public greeted him and gave him a key to the city. Rodríguez joined the League of United Latin American Citizens, Council 2, in 1946. In 1947 he began work as a representative of the Veterans Administration. He served in the United States Air Force from 1952 to 1954 and again in the army from 1955 to 1970. Ivanhoe Elementary School was renamed Cleto Rodríguez School in 1975. Rodríguez died on December 7, 1990, and is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

Citation
He was an automatic rifleman when his unit attacked the strongly defended Paco Railroad Station during the battle for Manila, Philippine Islands. While making a frontal assault across an open field, his platoon was halted 100 yards from the station by intense enemy fire. On his own initiative, he left the platoon, accompanied by a comrade, and continued forward to a house 60 yards from the objective. Although under constant enemy observation, the 2 men remained in this position for an hour, firing at targets of opportunity, killing more than 35 hostile soldiers and wounding many more. Moving closer to the station and discovering a group of Japanese replacements attempting to reach pillboxes, they opened heavy fire, killed more than 40 and stopped all subsequent attempts to man the emplacements. Enemy fire became more intense as they advanced to within 20 yards of the station. Then, covered by his companion, Pvt. Rodriguez boldly moved up to the building and threw 5 grenades through a doorway killing 7 Japanese, destroying a 20-mm. gun and wrecking a heavy machinegun. With their ammunition running low, the 2 men started to return to the American lines, alternately providing covering fire for each other's withdrawal. During this movement, Pvt. Rodriguez' companion was killed. In 2 l/2 hours of fierce fighting the intrepid team killed more than 82 Japanese, completely disorganized their defense, and paved the way for the subsequent overwhelming defeat of the enemy at this strongpoint. Two days later, Pvt. Rodriguez again enabled his comrades to advance when he single-handedly killed 6 Japanese and destroyed a well-placed 20-mm. gun by his outstanding skill with his weapons, gallant determination to destroy the enemy, and heroic courage in the face of tremendous odds, Pvt. Rodriguez, on 2 occasions, materially aided the advance of our troops in Manila.

GPS Coordinates
29° 28.587, -098° 25.981

Section AI
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio

August 6, 2010

Albert Richard Thomas

Albert Thomas, legislator, son of James and Lonnie (Langston) Thomas, was born in Nacogdoches, Texas, on April 12, 1898. He attended public schools in Nacogdoches and worked in his father's store. During World War I he served as a second lieutenant in the army. He graduated from Rice Institute (now Rice University) in 1920 and from the University of Texas law school in 1926. Thomas was married to Lera Millard in 1922. After admittance to the bar in 1927, he returned to Nacogdoches to practice. He won election as county attorney that same year and served until 1930, when he moved to Houston to become assistant United States district attorney for the southern district of Texas. He held that position until 1936, then was elected to represent the Eighth District (Harris County) in the United States House of Representatives. He held that position until his death.

Thomas was a member of numerous committees in the House, among them Irrigation and Reclamations, Pensions, Labor, Elections, Appropriations, the Independent Offices Subcommittee, and the Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations. He also served on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and was instrumental in the location at Houston of the Manned Spacecraft Center (later the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center) of the National Aeronautics and Space Agency. At the time of his death Thomas had risen to eleventh in seniority in the House of Representatives. In 1949 he became chairman of the House Subcommittee on Independent Office Appropriations, was elected chairman of the Texas House delegation in 1950, and was named chairman of the House Democratic caucus in 1964. While he was contemplating retiring from office because of ill health in 1963, President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson attended a testimonial dinner in Thomas's honor in Houston to urge that he remain in Congress. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas the following day, and Thomas returned to Washington on the President's plane, Air Force One, with President Johnson. The photograph in which he appears as a witness to Johnson's oath of office is one of the most memorable pictures from that historic time. Thomas was a Methodist. He died on February 15, 1966, and was buried in Houston. His widow was elected to complete his unexpired term.

GPS Coordinates
29° 55.828, -095° 27.080

The Mall
Houston National Cemetery
Houston

August 3, 2010

James Pinckney Henderson

James Pinckney Henderson, statesman, soldier, and first governor of the state of Texas, the son of Lawson and Elizabeth (Carruth) Henderson, was born in Lincolnton, North Carolina, on March 31, 1808. He attended Lincoln Academy and the University of North Carolina, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1829. After serving as aide-de-camp and major in the North Carolina militia in 1830, he was elected colonel of a regiment. He moved to Canton, Mississippi, in 1835, became interested in news of the Texas Revolution, and began enlistments for the Texas service. He arrived at Velasco, Texas, on June 3, 1836, and was commissioned by David G. Burnet as brigadier general and sent to the United States to recruit for the Texas army. Henderson organized a company in North Carolina and sent it to Texas, reputedly at his own expense. Upon his return to Texas in November 1836, he was appointed attorney general of the republic under Sam Houston and in December 1836 succeeded Stephen F. Austin as secretary of state.

Early in 1837 Henderson was appointed Texas minister to England and France and was commissioned particularly to secure recognition and treaties of amity and commerce. Largely through his efforts both England and France entered into trade agreements with the republic and ultimately recognized Texas independence. While in France, Henderson met Frances Cox of Philadelphia, whom he married in London in October 1839. He returned to Texas in 1840 and set up a law office at San Augustine. In 1844 he was sent to Washington, D.C., to work with Isaac Van Zandt in negotiating a treaty of annexation with the United States. The treaty was signed on April 12, 1844, but was rejected by the United States Senate on June 8, 1844, and Henderson, over his protest, was ordered home by President Houston.

Henderson was a member of the Convention of 1845, was elected governor of Texas in November 1845, and took office in February 1846. With the declaration of the Mexican War and the organization of Texas volunteers, the governor asked permission of the legislature to take personal command of the troops in the field. He led the Second Texas Regiment at the battle of Monterrey and was appointed a commissioner to negotiate for the surrender of that city. Later he served with the temporary rank of major general of Texas volunteers in United States service from July 1846 to October 1846. After the war he resumed his duties as governor but refused to run for a second term. He returned to his private law practice in 1847. After election by the Texas legislature to the United States Senate to succeed Thomas J. Rusk, Henderson served in the Senate from November 9, 1857, until his death, on June 4, 1858. He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery, Washington. In 1930 his remains were reinterred in the State Cemetery in Austin. Henderson County, established in 1846, was named in his honor.

GPS Coordinates
30° 15.924, -097° 43.628

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin