December 27, 2011

James Power

James Power, empresario and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in 1788 or 1789 in Ballygarrett, County Wexford, Ireland. In 1809 he immigrated to New Orleans, where he lived for twelve years and worked as a merchant. In New Orleans he learned from Stephen F. Austin of the empresario contracts being offered by the Mexican government and, in 1821, moved to Matamoros. He subsequently moved to Saltillo and became a citizen of Mexico. There he dealt in mining equipment and formed a partnership with James Hewetson.

In 1828 Power and Hewetson received an empresario contract to settle 200 Catholic families, half Irish and half Mexican citizens, on the coast of Texas between the Lavaca and Guadalupe rivers. The contract was subsequently modified many times; by the early 1830s the Power and Hewetson colony included lands between Coleto Creek and the mouth of the Nueces.

Independence Hall, location of the Declaration signing
In the fall of 1835 Power participated in the Lipantitlán expedition and could not take his seat at the Consultation, to which he had been elected as representative from Refugio. He represented Refugio at the Convention of 1836 and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. He used his influence to persuade the 1836 convention to seat Sam Houston and also served on the committee that drafted the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. As Gen. José de Urrea's army advanced into the state, Power was sent to New Orleans to raise supplies for the Texas army.

In 1837 Power founded the town of Aransas City by his home on Live Oak Point in present-day Aransas County on the Gulf Coast. He opened a mercantile and post office, built a wharf, and established a customs operation. With his partner Henry Smith, Power promoted the town and became mayor after its incorporation in January 1839. The town declined, however, and ceased to exist by the mid-1840s. He represented Refugio in the Second Congress and at the Convention of 1845. Power was first married to Dolores de la Portilla, daughter of Felipe Roque de la Portilla, in 1832. They had two children. After her death he married her sister, Tomasita, and fathered five more children. Power died on August 15, 1852, at his home, where he was buried. Subsequently, his remains were reinterred in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Refugio. The site of his homestead, Live Oak Point, was marked by the Texas Centennial Commission in 1936.

GPS Coordinates
28° 18.132, -097° 16.978


Mount Calvary Cemetery
Refugio

December 20, 2011

Edwin Hawley "Eddie" Dyer

Edwin Hawley Dyer, baseball player and manager, son of Joseph Dyer, was born in Morgan City, Louisiana, on October 11, 1900. After attending public schools there, he enrolled in Rice Institute, Houston, where he played football and baseball. He was a member of the class of 1924 but did not graduate until 1936, after playing with various minor-league baseball teams. As manager of the Houston club of the Texas League he won league championships in 1939, 1940, and 1941, and in 1942 he was named minor-league manager of the year for his direction of the Columbus, Ohio, team. Thereafter, he joined the St. Louis Cardinals and was manager of that club when it won the World Series in 1946 by beating the Boston Red Sox four games to three.

After twenty-three years as a player, manager, and coach, Dyer moved to Houston in 1948 and opened an insurance office. He relinquished managership of the Cardinals in 1950. On January 2, 1962, he suffered a stroke and on April 20, 1964, died of a heart attack. His survivors were his wife, the former Geraldine Jennings of Timpson, a son, and a daughter. Dyer was buried at the Garden of Gethsemane in Houston. He was described in the Official Encyclopedia of Baseball as a "slow-speaking and quick-thinking Texan" and was considered one of the best teachers and developers of young baseball talent. He discovered such men as Stan Musial, Howard Pollet, and Jeffre Cross. Pollet and Cross were associated with him in his Houston business.

GPS Location
29° 43.032, -095° 18.227

Section 53
Forest Park Lawndale
Houston

December 13, 2011

Allan Shivers

Allan Shivers, governor of Texas, was born on October 5, 1907, in Lufkin, Texas, the son of Robert Andrew and Easter (Creasy) Shivers, and spent his early childhood at Magnolia Hills, the family home near Woodville. By the age of thirteen he was "doing a man's job" after school and during the summer at a nearby sawmill. When his father moved to Port Arthur, Shivers completed his secondary schooling, graduating from Port Arthur High School in 1924. He then entered the University of Texas, intent upon becoming a lawyer like his father. At the end of his first year he dropped out of school to work at an oil refinery in Port Arthur. But by 1928 he had reentered the University of Texas, determined to participate fully in campus life and to graduate.

He ran for and was elected president of the Students' Association and was a member of the Friars, the Cowboys, and Delta Theta Phi law fraternity. In 1931 Shivers graduated with a B.A. degree and also passed the state bar exam, although he did not receive his LL.B. degree until two years later. He engaged in private law practice in Port Arthur until 1934, when he was elected as a Democrat to the state senate, at age twenty-seven the youngest member ever to sit in that body. In 1937 he married Marialice Shary of Mission, whose father, John H. Shary, was a prominent citrus fruit grower, cattleman, banker, and realtor in the Rio Grande valley. In 1943 Shivers entered the United States Army and during the next 2½ years served with the Allied Military Government in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany.

Upon his discharge from the army in 1945 with the rank of major (with five battle stars and the Bronze Star), Shivers became general manager of his father-in-law's business enterprises. But he soon decided to pursue an ambitious political career. In 1946 he ran for and was elected state lieutenant governor; he was reelected two years later. Together with Democratic Governor Beauford H. Jester, Shivers helped bring Texas into the twentieth century. As lieutenant governor he initiated the practice of appointing senators to specific committees and setting the daily agenda. Subsequently, the Senate passed a right-to-work law, reorganized the public school system with the Gilmer-Aikin Laws, appropriated funds for higher education, including the Texas State University for Negroes (now Texas Southern University), and provided monies for improvements of state hospitals and highways. On July 11, 1949, Beauford Jester died; subsequently Shivers assumed the governorship, which he held effectively for the next 7½ years.

During his tenure he pushed through significant legislation as well as reforms of state government. He helped create the Legislation Council, which researches and drafts bills, and the Legislative Budget Board, which sets the budget for legislative consideration. Shivers also expanded state services by pushing tax increases through the legislature. His administrations thus augmented appropriations for eleemosynary institutions, retirement benefits for state employees, aid for the elderly, teacher salaries, and improvements for roads and bridges. During his terms of office the legislature also enacted laws pertaining to safety inspection and driver responsibility, legislative redistricting in 1951 (the first in thirty years), and the expansion of juries and grand juries to include women in January 1955. But Shivers was probably best known for defending state claims to the Tidelands against the Truman administration and his break with the national Democratic party over this issue. As a result, he was instrumental in delivering the state's electoral votes in 1952 to Republican nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower and the subsequent congressional approval in 1953 of the state's claim to the Tidelands.

During the last years of his governorship, his popularity diminished. Because of his support of Eisenhower in 1952 he was accused of disloyalty to the Democratic party. He also lost support for his opposition to Brown v. Board of Education, which legally ended segregation. And even though Shivers was never implicated in any way, his administration became tainted with corruption because of state scandals involving insurance and veterans' lands. After retiring from politics in January 1957, Shivers served in a number of capacities. He actively managed vast business enterprises in the valley, which his wife inherited. He served on the board of directors or as chairman for a number of banks, including the Austin National Bank (later Interfirst Bank Austin) and Texas Commerce Bank. He was president of the United States Chamber of Commerce and, for a time, chairman of the advisory board of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. In 1973 Shivers was a appointed to a six-year term to the University of Texas Board of Regents, whereupon he served as chairman for four years. During this time he donated his Austin home, the historic Pease mansion, to the university to help raise funds for the UT law school. In 1980 he was instrumental in securing a $5 million grant for the UT College of Communications, which soon thereafter established an endowed chair of journalism in his honor. On January 14, 1985, Shivers died suddenly from a massive heart attack. He was survived by wife Marialice, three sons and a daughter, and ten grandchildren.

GPS Coordinates
30° 15.908, -097° 43.640

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

December 6, 2011

Milton Arthur Lee

Milton A. Lee, Medal of Honor recipient, was born on February 28, 1949, at Shreveport, Louisiana, to Mr. and Mrs. George Lee. He attended Harlandale High School in San Antonio, Texas, then enlisted in the army there. Lee arrived in Vietnam in January 1968. At the time of his death he was a member of Company B, Second Battalion, 502nd Infantry, First Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, United States Army. On April 26, 1968, near Phu Bai, South Vietnam, Private First Class Lee was serving as radio-telephone operator for the Third Platoon when the unit came under intense fire from North Vietnamese regulars. Lee's platoon suffered casualties of 50 percent and maneuvered to a position of cover to regroup and tend to the wounded. Lee rendered lifesaving first aid while under heavy enemy fire.

During a subsequent assault on the enemy position he observed four enemy soldiers, armed with automatic weapons and a rocket launcher, lying in wait for the lead element of the platoon. He passed his radio to another soldier and with disregard for his safety charged through the heavy fire. He overran the enemy position, killed all the occupants, and captured their weapons. He continued his assault on a second enemy position. Grievously wounded, he delivered accurate covering fire until the platoon destroyed the enemy position. Only then did he succumb to his wounds. His heroic action saved the lives of the lead element and was instrumental in the destruction of the key position of the enemy defense. The Medal of Honor was presented to his grandmother and guardian, Mrs. Frank B. Campion, by President Richard M. Nixon at the White House, on April 7, 1970. Lee is buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery at San Antonio, Texas.

Citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Lee distinguished himself near the city of Phu Bai in the province of Thua Thien. Pfc. Lee was serving as the radio telephone operator with the 3d platoon, Company B. As lead element for the company, the 3d platoon received intense surprise hostile fire from a force of North Vietnamese Army regulars in well-concealed bunkers. With 50 percent casualties, the platoon maneuvered to a position of cover to treat their wounded and reorganize, while Pfc. Lee moved through the heavy enemy fire giving lifesaving first aid to his wounded comrades. During the subsequent assault on the enemy defensive positions, Pfc. Lee continuously kept close radio contact with the company commander, relaying precise and understandable orders to his platoon leader. While advancing with the front rank toward the objective, Pfc. Lee observed 4 North Vietnamese soldiers with automatic weapons and a rocket launcher Lying in wait for the lead element of the platoon. As the element moved forward, unaware of the concealed danger, Pfc. Lee immediately and with utter disregard for his own personal safety, passed his radio to another soldier and charged through the murderous fire. Without hesitation he continued his assault, overrunning the enemy position, killing all occupants and capturing 4 automatic weapons and a rocket launcher. Pfc. Lee continued his 1-man assault on the second position through a heavy barrage of enemy automatic weapons fire. Grievously wounded, he continued to press the attack, crawling forward into a firing position and delivering accurate covering fire to enable his platoon to maneuver and destroy the position. Not until the position was overrun did Pfc. Lee falter in his steady volume of fire and succumb to his wounds. Pfc. Lee's heroic actions saved the lives of the lead element and were instrumental in the destruction of the key position of the enemy defense. Pfc. Lee's gallantry at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, the 502d Infantry, and the U.S. Army.

GPS Coordinates
29° 28.669, -098° 25.773

Section X
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio