December 25, 2012

Charles "Chargin' Charlie" Beckwith

   Charles Beckwith was born in Atlanta, Georgia January 22, 1929. An all-state football player for his high school team, he later enrolled in the University of Georgia, where he was a member of the Delta Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, and ROTC. Beckwith lettered in football for the Bulldogs, and was approached by the Green Bay Packers for the 1950-51 NFL draft, but turned it down in favor of a military career. He enlisted and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1952. After the Korean War, 2LT Beckwith served as platoon leader with Charlie Company, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea. In 1955, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division as the commander of the combat support company of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

   Two years later, after also having completed Ranger School, Beckwith joined Special Forces, and in 1960 was deployed to South Vietnam and Laos as a military advisor. He served as an exchange officer with the British Special Air Service in 1962 where he picked up many of their capabilities. He conducted war-time guerrilla operations with the SAS during the Malayan Emergency. In the jungle, he contracted leptospirosis so severe doctors expected him not to survive, but he made a full recovery within months. Upon his return from England, he presented a detailed report outlining the Army's vulnerability in not having an SAS-type unit. For several years, Beckwith submitted and re-submitted the report to Army brass, only to be repeatedly thwarted in his efforts. SF leadership at the time thought that they had enough on their hands and did not need the trouble of creating a new unit. Meanwhile, as the 7th Special Forces Group's operations officer, Beckwith went to work revolutionizing Green Beret training. SF at the time focused on unconventional warfare, and especially foreign internal defense: i.e. training indigenous personnel in resistance activities. Beckwith restructured 7th's training, basically rewriting the book on American special ops training from the real-world lessons he had learned with the SAS. Beckwith also had learned that a symbol of excellence like a beret had to be earned. Officers were being assigned to Special Forces straight out of war college with no prior special ops experience and were given their Green Beret on arrival. The hard-nosed and practical training standards that Beckwith instituted would lend themselves to the birth of the modern Q-Course.

   In Vietnam, Beckwith commanded a Special Forces unit code-named Project DELTA. He was critically wounded in early 1966 (he took a .50 caliber bullet through his abdomen). It was so bad that medical personnel triaged him as beyond help for the second time in his military career. This time, again, Beckwith made a full recovery and went on to overhaul the Florida Phase of the US Army's Ranger School. Beckwith transformed this phase from a scripted exercise based upon the Army's World War II experience, into a Vietnam-oriented jungle training regimen. In 1968, LTC Beckwith returned to Vietnam, taking command of the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry (Airborne), 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. For the nine months that he commanded the 2/327, they saw many successes in combat operations, including: Huế, Operation Mingo, Operation Jeb Stuart, Operation Nevada Eagle, and Somerset Plain. The toughest job the battalion had was clearing a seven kilometer stretch along Route 547, eventually defeating the determined NVA defenders so that Fire Support Base Bastogne could be established. From 1973 to 1974, LTC Beckwith served as Commander, Control Team "B" with the Joint Casualty Resolution Center located at RTAFB Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, and promoted to Colonel. Under the Command of BG Robert C. Kingston, JCRC's sole mission was to assist the Secretaries of the Armed Services to resolve the fate of servicemen still missing and unaccounted for as a result of the hostilities throughout Indochina. JCRC had a predominantly operational role - the carrying out of field search, excavation, recovery, and repatriation activities. Afterward COL Beckwith was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he commanded training operations.

   Although Beckwith had presented proposals throughout the 1960s for a superbly elite, highly autonomous direct-action unit, the idea had sat on the shelf for a decade. Finally, in the mid-'70s, as the threat of international terrorism became imminent, Beckwith was appointed to form his unit. Delta Force was then established on November 17, 1977, by Beckwith and Colonel Thomas M. Henry, as a counter-terrorism unit based on the model of the British Special Air Service, but with a greater focus on hostage rescue in addition to covert operations and specialized reconnaissance. It was the first unit of its type designed specifically to react to international hostage events such as the airplane hijackings which were a common occurrence of the era. Delta Force's first mission, Operation Eagle Claw, was the assault on the captured American embassy in Teheran, Iran early in 1980. The mission was aborted due to helicopter failures during a sandstorm and a subsequent crash which led to several deaths. After this, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment was formed to provide transport for Delta Force and other special operations units. JSOC was also formed, directly based on Beckwith's recommendations during Senate investigations into the mission's failure. Following his disappointment at the failure of the Iranian operation, Beckwith retired from the Army. He started a consulting firm and wrote a book about Delta Force. On June 13, 1994, he died at his home of natural causes. His remains are interred at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

29° 28.632, -098° 25.513

Section 9
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio

December 18, 2012

John Bowden Connally

   John Bowden Connally, Jr., thirty-eighth governor of the state of Texas, was born on a farm near Floresville, Texas, on February 27, 1917, one of eight children of John Bowden and Lela (Wright) Connally, Sr. He attended Harlandale High School in San Antonio, graduated from Floresville High School, and entered the University of Texas in 1933. He was elected president of the UT Student Association for 1938-39 and received his law degree from the UT law school in 1941. Connally passed the state bar examination in 1938 and began his career in government and politics in 1939 as secretary (legislative assistant) to Representative Lyndon B. Johnson, Connally's "mentor, friend and benefactor." It was the beginning of a close personal relationship that was storied but often stormy, and lasted until Johnson's death in 1973. Connally met Idanell (Nellie) Brill of Austin at UT and they were married on December 21, 1940. They had four children. Their eldest, Kathleen, eloped in 1958 at age sixteen and the same year died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

   Connally was commissioned in the United States Naval Reserve in 1941. As a fighter director aboard aircraft carriers, he went through nine major air-sea battles in the Pacific Theater. Aboard the USS Essex he endured fifty-two consecutive hours of Japanese kamikaze attacks in April 1945. He attained the rank of lieutenant commander and came home a hero. After returning to civilian life, Connally headed an investors' group of war veterans that owned and operated Austin radio station KVET (1946-49). He also joined an influential Austin law firm and during this period served as campaign manager in LBJ's 1946 reelection to Congress and successful 1948 Senate race. He then served as LBJ's aide until 1951, when he became Sid W. Richardson's legal counsel, a position he held until Richardson's death in 1959. Connally earned a reputation both as "Lyndon's boy" and as a "political mastermind" and expert strategist. His political credo was "Fight hard and rough, but when the battle is over, forget and dismiss." Connally managed five of LBJ's major political campaigns, including reelection to the United States House of Representatives in 1946, the 1941 and 1948 races for the United States Senate, the unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960, and the election to the presidency in 1964. In LBJ's pivotal 1948 Senate race against former governor Coke R. Stevenson, Connally, as LBJ's campaign manager, was publicly linked to the suspicious late report of 200 votes in Box 13 from Jim Wells County, which had provided LBJ's eighty-seven-vote margin of victory. Connally denied any tie to vote fraud, but acknowledged that he had learned a lesson in managing LBJ's unsuccessful 1941 race for the Senate, when Johnson's seemingly decisive 5,000-vote lead had been whittled away by late election returns from East Texas. LBJ lost the 1941 race by 1,311 votes. In 1948 Connally instructed South Texas campaign operatives to understate their early returns in the vote canvassing because, he claimed, "we had been bitten once. It would not happen again."

   Connally also ably assisted in various political turf skirmishes, including fights to control the state Democratic party. In these he was a field operative or grass-roots political ally of both LBJ and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, who considered themselves leaders of the state party's "moderate conservative wing." One major struggle for party control was fought in 1952-56 against the "right-wing Shivercrats," led by Governor Allan Shivers, who bolted in 1952 and led a "Democrats for Eisenhower" move that helped the Republican presidential candidate carry Texas. A second, and longer-running, feud that extended through Connally's tenure as governor was with liberal senator Ralph Yarbrough. Divisions between liberal and conservative-moderate Democrats became a personal feud between Lyndon Johnson and Yarbrough, and Connally found himself embroiled in the feud because of his close ties to Johnson.

   Connally served as U. S. Secretary of the Navy in 1961 in the cabinet of Democrat President John F. Kennedy. He won his first political race as a candidate for governor the next year. He was tall, handsome, personable, and articulate; his speech reflected his debate, drama, and declamation training in high school and college. He was also well-schooled in politics and government and had profited from his experience as Sid Richardson's legal counsel. Connally entered the race against a large field of candidates, including Governor Price Daniel, Sr., who was seeking a fourth term. A poll showed that Connally had only 4 percent of the votes at the outset. But in addition to wealthy backers such as the oilman Richardson, he had a strong grass-roots network of politically astute supporters. Connally won a 1962 runoff by 26,000 votes. The next year he survived serious gunshot wounds inflicted in the Kennedy assassination. He speculated that both he and JFK might have been the assassin's targets. He was reelected by a 3-to-1 vote margin in 1964 and won a third term in 1966 with 72 percent of the vote.

   Connally had grown up on his family's South Texas cotton farm in the hard-scrabble status of "a barefoot boy of mule-plowed furrows." His accomplishments as governor "epitomized the big man of Texas" and "personified the Texas establishment as the Texas establishment wanted to see itself." He considered himself "a conservative who believed in active government." He had a vision of moving Texas into a dynamic era and entered the governorship saying that his administration should emphasize one of three crucial issues of the day: education, race relations, or poverty. He chose to be "an education governor" both because he believed that the most enduring way to address social problems was through education and because he "had a farm boy's dream to become the governor of the intellectuals and of the cultivated." Connally effectively used his political skills to increase taxes substantially in order to finance higher teachers' salaries, better libraries, research, and new doctoral programs. He considered this the crowning achievement of his administration. He promoted programs to reshape and reform state government, to develop the state's tourism industry (including his endorsement of liquor by the drink and pari-mutuel betting), to establish a state fine arts commission and a state historical commission, and to establish the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, which was initiated as part of HemisFair '68, a state-supported world's fair at San Antonio.

   After leaving the governor's office in 1969 Connally joined Vinson and Elkins, a large law firm in Houston named for William Ashton Vinson and James A. Elkins, both early principals in the firm. The same year, he was named a member of President Richard M. Nixon's foreign-intelligence advisory board and assumed a favored position among Nixon's advisors (it was said that "If Connally is not for a matter, the President won't do it"). In 1971 he became Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury and earned a reputation as "a tough American statesman." He sought to address the nation's growing trade deficit and inflation by such mechanisms as currency devaluation and a price freeze. In 1972 he spearheaded a Democrats for Nixon organization that helped the Republican president carry Texas. Connally switched parties from Democrat to Republican in 1973, three months after LBJ's death. In the wake of the bribery-related resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew in October 1973, Nixon passed word that he would name Connally to fill the vacancy. This would have put Connally in a strong position to run for president in 1976. Nixon and Connally had privately mused about starting a new Whig-type party in the tradition of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. But Democrats and Republicans alike in the Senate erupted in a "firestorm of protest." Warnings went up that if Nixon pursued the appointment, some powerful Senate Democrats "would be determined to destroy Connally." This was during the height of the Watergate scandal, which ultimately forced Nixon to resign. Nixon named House minority leader Gerald Ford vice president but said that he intended to support Connally for the 1976 GOP nomination. In the aftermath, Connally rejoined Vinson and Elkins but soon confronted a criminal prosecution for alleged bribery and conspiracy in a "milk-price" scandal. He was acquitted after a trial in federal court.

   Connally's aborted effort to win the GOP's presidential nomination in 1980 was short-lived. He was hurt in part by a "wheeler-dealer" identification reminiscent of LBJ, and a press criticism that he was a political "chameleon." He was also damaged by a 1977 bank partnership he entered into with two Arab sheikhs and an ill-advised or misunderstood speech he delivered to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in 1979, that was interpreted as having anti-Semitic overtones. Connally raised and spent $11 million on the fourteen-month campaign but dropped out of the primaries, having gained the binding commitment of only one GOP convention delegate. He felt himself to be a victim of the Watergate scandal. After he lost his bid for the presidential nomination in 1980, he left politics and government.

   In February 1982 Connally, a man of some wealth, took mandatory retirement from Vinson and Elkins. In 1981 he went into the business of real estate development with his former political protégé, Ben Barnes. In the partnership Connally was the "intimidating Olympian eminence," and Barnes was the "sometimes overpowering salesman and legman." Both had superb business and political contacts in the state and nation "and saw no reason why the values of their political life could not work equally well in their business life." The partners "conducted business," however, "as if they were campaigning for higher office." They signed personal notes on loans bearing short-term interest at 18 percent and by June 1983 had sixteen major projects under way totaling $231 million. It was a boom time in the Texas petroleum industry, with world oil prices ranging up to thirty-seven dollars a barrel. When the oil price collapsed, the state's economy collapsed. Connally and Barnes were out on a limb that broke and took them with it, along with many other wealthy Texans and most of the state's major financial institutions. The fiasco led Connally to acknowledge that "we were moving too far too fast and paying dearly for it." He declared bankruptcy, and he and Nellie held a globally publicized auction of their holdings and expensive personal belongings to apply the proceeds to their debt. The positions Connally held in law and business had taken him to the high echelons of corporate America. He was a director of the Coastal Corporation, Kaiser Tech, Kaiser Aluminum, Methodist Hospital of Houston, and Maxxam, Incorporated. He had earlier served on the boards of the New York Central Railroad, U.S. Trust, Pan American Airways, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, Greyhound Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Signal Companies, First City Bank Corporation, Superior Oil Company, Falkenbridge Nickel, and American General Insurance. He was a member of the State Bar of Texas, and the American, Houston, and District of Columbia Bar associations. Connally died on June 15, 1993, at the Methodist Hospital of Houston, where he was being treated for pulmonary fibrosis. He was buried in the State Cemetery in Austin. He was survived by his wife, a daughter, Sharon C. Ammann, and two sons, John Bowden III and Mark. Source

30° 15.937, -097° 43.631

Republic Hill
Texas Cemetery

December 11, 2012

Richard Ellis

   Richard Ellis, planter, jurist, and legislator, son of Ambrose and Cecilia (Stokes) Ellis, was born in the "Tidewater Section" (probably Lunenburg County) of Virginia, on February 14, 1781. After a common-school education he possibly attended college, but no record of attendance has survived. In any event, he studied law with the Richmond firm of Wirt and Wickham until 1806, when he was admitted to the Virginia bar and joined that law firm. Sometime between 1813 and 1817 Ellis left Virginia and settled at Huntsville, Madison County, and later at Tuscumbia, Franklin County, Alabama, where he established a plantation and continued the practice of law. Then, in 1818, he was elected one of two delegates to represent Franklin County at the Alabama Constitutional Convention. The next year saw him elected a judge of the Fourth Circuit Court of Alabama, an election that automatically made him an associate justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. During his tenure on the bench, Ellis had a reputation for firm administration and a rough manner that made him unpopular with the other members of the bar. In 1829 he helped to found and served on the first board of trustees of La Grange College in Franklin County, Alabama. The college had a Methodist connection, which may indicate that Ellis was a Methodist.

   Ellis made his first trip to Texas in 1826 not as a colonist but in a futile effort to collect a debt from a Colonel Pettus. In December Stephen F. Austin induced him, along with James Kerr and James Cummings, to go to Nacogdoches in an unsuccessful effort to persuade Haden Edwards to abandon his revolt against the Mexican government. It was not until February 22, 1834, that Ellis moved his family and more than twenty-five slaves to Pecan Point in the disputed territory claimed by Mexico as part of Old Red River County and by the United States as part of Miller County, Arkansas. Ellis's land grant of 4,428.4 acres (one league and one labor) was located near Spanish Bluff in what became Bowie County, Texas. He established a considerable cotton plantation there and entertained lavishly at his elegant home.

   Late in 1835 he was chosen by Miller and Sevier counties as a delegate to the Arkansas constitutional convention scheduled to meet at Little Rock on January 4, 1836. Ill health forced him to decline, and he resigned his seat by January 21, 1836. Near the end of the month he was selected as one of five delegates from around Pecan Point to the Texas constitutional convention scheduled to meet at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 1, 1836.

   As the convention opened Ellis was unanimously elected president. On March 2, 1836, he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence as president of the convention. Although some observers were critical of him as a presiding officer, the general verdict is that he had a good grasp of parliamentary procedure and that he presided with a remarkable degree of gentleness and urbanity. Most importantly, he held the convention together for the seventeen days needed to draft a constitution for the Republic of Texas. Between October 3, 1836, when he was first elected, and February 5, 1840, when he retired from public life, Ellis represented his district as a senator in the First, Second, Third, and Fourth congresses of the Republic of Texas.

   On January 9, 1806, he married Mary West Dandridge, daughter of Nathaniel West and Sarah (Watson) Dandridge of Hanover County, Virginia. The bride was a second cousin of Martha Custis Washington and a first cousin of Dolly Madison. Richard and Mary Ellis had at least two children. An obituary printed in the Clarksville Northern Standard reports that Ellis died at his home in Bowie County on December 20, 1846, at age sixty-five and states, "Judge Ellis came to his death suddenly by his clothes taking fire." He was buried in the family cemetery near New Boston, Texas, but in 1929 his remains and those of his wife, who died on October 2, 1837, were transferred to the State Cemetery in Austin. A son, Nathaniel Dandridge Ellis, also settled in Old Red River County and was granted a league and labor of land as the head of a household. Ellis County, formed in 1849, most probably was named in Richard Ellis's honor. Source

30° 15.925, -097° 43.645

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

December 4, 2012

Daniel Robert Bankhead

   Dan Bankhead, the first black pitcher in major league baseball, played in Negro league baseball for the Birmingham Black Barons and the Memphis Red Sox from 1940 to 1947, then played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947 to 1951. During World War II, he served in the Marine Corps from 1942 to 1945. After a strong career in Negro league baseball playing for the Birmingham Black Barons and Memphis Red Sox, he was signed at age 24 by Branch Rickey to play in the Brooklyn Dodgers' farm system.

   Bankhead, an excellent hitter who was leading the Negro League with a .385 batting average when purchased by the Dodgers, hit a home run in his first major league at bat on August 26, 1947, in Ebbets Field off Fritz Ostermueller of the Pittsburgh Pirates; he also gave up ten hits in 3 1/3 innings pitching in relief that day. He finished the season having pitched in four games for the Dodgers with an earned run average (ERA) of 7.20.

   He was shipped to the minor leagues for the 1948 and 1949 seasons. Pitching for clubs in Nashua, New Hampshire and St. Paul, Minnesota in 1948, he recorded 24 wins and six losses. He returned to the Dodgers for the 1950 season, appearing in 41 games, with twelve starts, and finished with nine wins, four losses and a 5.50 ERA. In 1951, his final year in the majors, he appeared in seven games, losing his only decision, with an ERA of 15.43. After he played his final major league game, Bankhead spent time in the Mexican League, playing with various teams through 1966. He died of cancer at a Veterans Administration hospital in Houston, Texas on May 2, 1976.

29° 55.733, -095° 27.066

Section B
Houston National Cemetery

November 27, 2012

Nathaniel C. Lewis

   Nathaniel C. Lewis, merchant and legislator, was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, on June 11, 1806, the son of Nathaniel and Sarah (Hatch) Lewis. He went to sea at age fourteen in a whaling vessel. Accounts of his early life and journey to Texas are confused and contradictory. According to family legend he was shipwrecked on the coast of South America and taken to New Orleans and thence to Port Lavaca. Another story has him settling in Cincinnati, then proceeding to Texas on a boatload of tobacco that was seized by Mexican authorities. According to this account he was befriended by Castillo de la Garza, who took him to San Antonio in 1830. He entered the mercantile trade, first at Indianola and shortly thereafter in San Antonio. By 1832 he is said to have been involved in coastal trade. As a founder of the firm of Lewis and Groesbeck on Main Plaza in San Antonio, he became one of the leading merchants in the Southwest before the Civil War. He also established San Antonio's first gristmill, was an early real estate promoter and developer, and was the first large-scale cattleman in the region. He owned herds from the Medina River to the coast.

   When Santa Anna's forces entered San Antonio on February 23, 1836, Lewis fled to Gonzales, although he is reputed to have supplied the Alamo garrison from his store and was perhaps the last man to have left the mission before the battle of the Alamo on March 6. He is said to have served as a scout for Houston's army. After the battle of San Jacinto he returned to San Antonio to reestablish his mercantile business. In 1839 he was elected to the House of Representatives of the Fourth Congress of the Republic of Texas from Bexar County. After 1840 he served several terms as alderman in San Antonio and once served as mayor pro tem. During the 1850s he was engaged in the freighting business between San Antonio and El Paso. Lewis was married twice, first to Letitia Groesbeck, then to Mary Fanny Liffering, with whom he had two children. He died in San Antonio on October 21, 1872. His brother, Henry M. Lewis, was a San Antonio attorney and editor of the West Texan. Source

29° 25.282, -098° 27.951

City Cemetery #5
San Antonio

November 13, 2012

Stephen Williams

   Stephen Williams, soldier and early East Texas settler, son of Richard and Ann Williams, was born on May 9, 1760, in Granville County (later Bertie County), North Carolina. He joined the American revolutionary armies at the age of eighteen and fought at the battles of Briar Creek, Camden, and Eutaw Springs. He was mustered out of the service after the expiration of his third enlistment in 1782. He married Delilah Stallings in 1779. After the war Williams acquired bounty land in Georgia before moving westward to Louisiana. During the winter of 1814-15 he helped guard the Madisonville naval yards against the British invasion of the latter stages of the War of 1812.

   Williams, a blacksmith by trade, suffered from severe rheumatism from 1816 to 1824, which severely limited his business. After several desperate efforts to repay debts incurred during the period, he moved to Texas in 1830. He was by this time a widower with at least five children. He settled in what later became northern Newton County, then moved west to what is now Jasper County. As Texan dissatisfaction with Mexican authority grew, Williams again volunteered for military service in 1835, at the age of seventy-five, and served under Capt. James Chessher. With four of his grandsons he participated in the siege of Bexar. Williams eventually claimed two-thirds of a league of land and a town lot in Jasper. The veteran of three wars died in April 1839 and was buried at his home in Jasper. As part of the Texas Centennial celebration his body was moved to the State Cemetery in Austin. Source 

30° 15.920, -97° 43.639

Monument Hill
Texas State Cemetery

November 6, 2012

Samuel Rhoads Fisher

   Samuel Rhoads Fisher, secretary of the Texas Navy during the republic era, was born in Pennsylvania on December 31, 1794. Before 1819 he married Ann Pleasants; they had four children. Fisher came to Texas in 1830 and settled at Matagorda. He represented Matagorda Municipality in the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and there signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Fisher's nomination by President Sam Houston as secretary of the Texas Navy was confirmed by the Senate on October 28, 1836. Houston later accused Fisher of abuse of office, insubordination, use of his position for smuggling, and the unjust capture of the English brig Eliza Russell. A lengthy and bitter trial before the Senate ensued. On November 28, 1837, by a vote of six to five, the Senate voted to remove Fisher as Secretary of the Navy on “the grounds of harmony and expediency,” though they did not find that Houston presented enough evidence for a finding of dishonorable conduct . Fisher died on March 14, 1839, and was buried at Matagorda. Fisher County, established in 1876, was named for him. Source 

28° 42.009, -095° 57.324

Section D
Matagorda Cemetery

October 30, 2012

Francis "Salty" Parker

   Francis James "Salty" Parker, baseball player, coach and manager, was born July 8, 1912 in East St. Louis, Illinois. He played in the major leagues for only one month (August 13, 1936 - September 16, 1936), appearing in eleven games for the Detroit Tigers. After a lengthy minor league managerial career, including a stint managing Leones de Escogido in the Dominican Republic (1957-59), Parker coached for the San Francisco Giants (1958-61), Cleveland Indians (1962), Los Angeles/California Angels (1964-66; 1973-74), New York Mets (1967) and Houston Astros (1968-72) and served brief stints as manager of the Mets and the Astros. After his MLB coaching career, Parker scouted for the Angels and remained active in Houston-area baseball, coaching in the Karl Young League for many years. He died July 27, 1992 at the age of 80 in Houston, Texas, and was buried in Forest Park Westheimer.

29° 44.434, -095° 36.617

Section 409
Forest Park Westheimer Cemetery

October 23, 2012

Macario Garcia

   Macario García, recipient of the Medal of Honor during World War II, was born on January 2, 1920, in Villa de Castaño, Mexico, to Luciano and Josefa García, farm workers who raised ten children. In 1923 the family moved to Texas; they eventually settled in Sugar Land. Like the rest of his brothers and sisters, he contributed to the family's support by picking crops. He was working on the Paul Schumann Ranch near Sugar Land when he was drafted into the army on November 11, 1942. García distinguished himself on the battlefield. He was wounded in action at Normandy in June 1944, but after his recovery he rejoined his unit, Company B, First Battalion, Twenty-second Infantry Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division. On November 27, 1944, near Grosshau, Germany, he single-handedly assaulted two German machine-gun emplacements that were blocking his company's advance. Wounded in the shoulder and foot, he crawled forward alone towards the machine-gun nests, killed six enemy soldiers, captured four, and destroyed the nests with grenades. Only after the company had secured its position did García allow himself to be evacuated for medical treatment. He was awarded the Medal of Honor with twenty-seven other soldiers at a White House ceremony on August 23, 1945, by President Harry S. Truman. García also received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge, as well as the medal of Mérito Militar, the Mexican equivalent to the Medal of Honor, during a ceremony in Mexico City on January 8, 1946. After three years of active service, one of which was overseas, García received an honorable discharge from the army with the rank of sergeant. He returned to Sugar Land and found that he had become a celebrity around the state. Newspapers published accounts of his heroism, and he was asked to appear at meetings and banquets. The League of United Latin American Citizens Council No. 60 in Houston, presided over by president Fernando Salas Aldaz and vice president John J. Herrera, honored him at a special ceremony at the courthouse.

   In September 1945, shortly after his return to Texas, García again attracted media attention when he was denied service at a restaurant in Richmond, a few miles south of Houston, because he was Hispanic. Outraged that he was treated like a second-class citizen after having risked his life for his country, García fought with the owner until police were called in. He was arrested and charged in the incident. His case immediately became a cause célèbre, symbolizing not only the plight of Hispanic soldiers who returned from the war, but the plight of the Hispanic community as a whole. Numerous groups and private citizens rallied to his aid. LULAC Council No. 60 and the Comité Patriótico Mexicano sponsored benefits in his honor to raise money to pay for his defense. Garcia’s legal defense was headed first by John J. Herrera and later, James V. Allred. During 1945-46, the case was repeatedly postponed, until all charges were finally dropped. On June 25, 1947, García became an American citizen. He earned a high school diploma in 1951, and married Alicia Reyes on May 18, 1952. They raised three children. Like other GIs who returned from the war, García encountered many difficulties in finding employment. He eventually found a job as a counselor in the Veterans' Administration, and remained with the VA for the next twenty-five years. In 1970 García and his family moved to Alief. He died on December 24, 1972, in a car crash and was buried in the National Cemetery in Houston. At the graveside ceremonies an honor guard from Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio performed the military rites. In 1981 the Houston City Council officially changed the name of Sixty-ninth Street to Macario García Drive. This 1½ mile thoroughfare runs through the heart of the city's east-side Mexican-American community. In 1983 Vice President George Bush dedicated Houston's new Macario García Army Reserve Center, and in 1994 a Sugar Land middle school was named in García's honor. Source

While an acting squad leader of Company B, 22d Infantry, on 27 November 1944, near Grosshau, Germany, he single-handedly assaulted 2 enemy machine gun emplacements. Attacking prepared positions on a wooded hill, which could be approached only through meager cover, his company was pinned down by intense machine gun fire and subjected to a concentrated artillery and mortar barrage. Although painfully wounded, he refused to be evacuated and on his own initiative crawled forward alone until he reached a position near an enemy emplacement. Hurling grenades, he boldly assaulted the position, destroyed the gun, and with his rifle killed 3 of the enemy who attempted to escape. When he rejoined his company, a second machine gun opened fire and again the intrepid soldier went forward, utterly disregarding his own safety. He stormed the position and destroyed the gun, killed 3 more Germans, and captured 4 prisoners. He fought on with his unit until the objective was taken and only then did he permit himself to be removed for medical care. S/Sgt. (then private) Garcia's conspicuous heroism, his inspiring, courageous conduct, and his complete disregard for his personal safety wiped out 2 enemy emplacements and enabled his company to advance and secure its objective.
29° 55.858, -095° 27.066

Section Ha
Houston National Cemetery

October 16, 2012

Joseph White

   Joseph White, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born in Georgia. He received title to a sitio of land in the area of present Brazoria County on August 16, 1824. The census of 1826 classified him as a farmer and stock raiser, aged between twenty-five and forty. His household included his wife, two sons, a daughter, and five slaves. White was elected alcalde at San Felipe on December 21, 1828. In December 1829 he bought several lots in San Felipe de Austin and took over a debt owed by Horatio Chriesman to the ayuntamiento. White died in San Felipe de Austin on June 14, 1830. In October 1830 alcalde Thomas Barnett published notice that Zeno Philips, administrator of White's estate, would have a public sale at White's last residence, of half a league of land on Clear Creek, west of Galveston Bay; two lots; a negro woman slave; household and kitchen furniture; and personal property. Sources indicate that a Joseph White served with the artillery corps at San Jacinto. Source

Note: Joseph White's grave is unmarked. During the Texas Revolution, the town of San Felipe was largely destroyed by Mexican troops chasing after the Texan army. Nothing was spared, not even the town graveyard. The majority of those buried here prior to 1836 are no longer marked, so although Joseph White is known to be buried here, the exact location has been lost. The photo below shows the oldest section of the cemetery where it is possible he still rests.


San Felipe de Austin Cemetery
San Felipe

October 9, 2012

John Wheeler Bunton

   John Wheeler Bunton, patriot and statesman, son of Joseph Robert and Phoebe (Desha) Bunton, was born in Sumner County, Tennessee, on February 22, 1807. He was educated at Princeton College, Kentucky, and studied law in Gallatin, Tennessee. He arrived in Texas in 1833 and settled first in Austin's colony in San Felipe; soon thereafter he moved to Mina (Bastrop), where, on May 17, 1835, he was elected secretary of the local committee of safety. Such committees, newly organized for protection against the Indians, became the first step toward Texas independence. Bunton represented Mina at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos, signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, and was a member of the committee to draft the constitution of the new republic.

   Bunton was first sergeant of Robert M. Coleman's company of Mina Volunteers. For the siege of Bexar on December 5-10, 1835, he was transferred to Capt. John York's company. After being honorably discharged, he rejoined the army, on March 28, 1836. At the battle of San Jacinto he served on the staff of Gen. Sam Houston in Capt. Jesse Billingsley's company of Mina Volunteers. Afterward, Bunton returned to his home, and from October 3 to December 21, 1836, he represented Bastrop County in the House of Representatives of the First Congress of the Republic of Texas.

   In the spring of 1836 Bunton returned to Gallatin, Tennessee, and married his sweetheart, Mary Howell. In April the Buntons, accompanied by 140 friends and slaves, left for Texas. At New Orleans they boarded the Julius Caesar carrying a cargo valued at $30,000. Near the Texas coast on April 12 the vessel was captured by Mexicans and taken to Matamoros, where all of the passengers were imprisoned for three months. After release, the Buntons and other passengers returned to Tennessee. Bunton soon headed another group that traveled by boat and entered Texas at Indianola on Matagorda Bay. While residing in Austin County, he was elected to the House of Representatives of the Third Congress. He is credited for the bill that established the Texas Rangers, the bill providing postal service, and the bill outlining the judiciary system. In 1840 he settled on a farm on Cedar Creek in Bastrop County, where he resided for seventeen years. In 1857 he moved to Mountain City, where he engaged in the cattle business. Bunton originated the famous Turkey Foot brand, which was registered in Hays County.

   He joined the First Christian Church at Lockhart and was baptized in Walnut Creek in Caldwell County. He was a very tall man, and family members said it was necessary to dam the creek to get sufficient water to immerse him. He was a member of the Texas Veterans Association and a charter member of the Philosophical Society of Texas. The Buntons had five sons and a daughter. On September 16, 1862, Mary Bunton died. Bunton was married again on July 26, 1865, in Bastrop County to Hermine C. Duval. He died at his home on August 24, 1879, and was buried in the Robinson Cemetery beside his first wife. In recognition of his patriotic services in behalf of Texas, on Texas Independence Day, March 2, 1932, the remains of John Wheeler and Mary Howell Bunton were moved and reinterred in the State Cemetery in Austin under the auspices of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Source

30° 15.925, -097° 43.617

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

October 2, 2012

Louis Trezevant Wigfall

   Louis T. Wigfall, secessionist, was born in Edgefield, South Carolina, on April 21, 1816, to Levi Durand and Eliza (Thomson) Wigfall and educated at South Carolina College and the University of Virginia. Wigfall believed in a society led by the planter class and based on slavery and the chivalric code. As a young man he neglected his law practice for contentious politics that led him to wound a man in a duel (and be wounded himself) and to kill another during a quarrel. In 1846 Wigfall arrived in Galveston, then moved with his wife, Charlotte, and three children to Nacogdoches, where he was a law partner of Thomas J. Jennings and William B. Ochiltree. Soon Wigfall opened his own law office in Marshall. He was active in Texas politics from the month he arrived, "alerting" Texans to the dangers of abolition and growing influence of non-slave states in the United States Congress. At the Galveston County Democratic convention in 1848 he condemned congressional efforts to prohibit the expansion of slavery into the territories and expressed sorrow that Texas would not take the lead in opposing such unconstitutional actions.

   Named in 1850 to the Texas House of Representatives, Wigfall attacked United States Senator Sam Houston as a coward and a traitor to Texas and the South. Wigfall played a major role in organizing Texas Democrats and fighting the American (Know-Nothing) party and Sam Houston in 1855-56. Wigfall was one of the few men in Houston's opposition who rivaled him as a stump speaker, and he was widely credited with Houston's defeat for the governorship in 1857. That year Wigfall was elected to the Texas Senate, and in 1858 he had a strong voice in the state Democratic convention that adopted a states' rights platform. With the breakup of the Know-Nothings, many moderates moved back into the Democratic party, and it appeared that Wigfall`s radicalism was repudiated and that Houston and moderates were ascendant. But Wigfall capitalized on the fear that John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry caused in the slave states and was elected to the United States Senate in 1859. In the Senate Wigfall earned a reputation for eloquence, acerbic debate, and readiness for encounter. In the forefront of southern "fire-eaters," Wigfall continued his fight for slavery and states' rights and against expanding the power of national government. Nevertheless he tried, unsuccessfully, to get federal funds to defend the Texas frontier against Indian attacks and to build the Southern Pacific Railroad into Texas.

   After Abraham Lincoln was elected president, Wigfall coauthored the Southern Manifesto, declaring that any hope for relief in the Union was gone and that the honor and independence of the South required the organization of a Southern Confederacy. Wigfall helped foil efforts for compromise to save the Union and urged all slave states to secede. He stayed in the Senate after Texas seceded, spying on the Union, chiding northern senators, and raising and training troops in Maryland to send to South Carolina. With the assistance of Benjamin McCulloch, he bought revolvers and rifles for Texas Confederates. Wigfall made his presence felt when the Civil War began at Fort Sumter, rowing under fire to the fort and dictating unauthorized surrender terms to the federal commander. Between April and July 1861, when he was finally expelled from the Senate, Wigfall was a member of the Provisional Congress of the Confederacy, an aide to President Jefferson Davis, and a United States Senator. He was commissioned colonel of the First Texas Infantry on August 28, 1861, and on November 21 Davis nominated him brigadier general in the Provisional Army, a move later confirmed by the Confederate Congress. Wigfall commanded the Texas Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia (Hood's Texas Brigade) until February 1862, when he resigned to take a seat in the Confederate Congress.

   At the beginning of the war Wigfall was a friend and supporter of President Davis. But soon after Wigfall's election to the Confederate Senate they quarreled over military and other matters. During the last two years of the Confederacy Wigfall carried on public and conspiratorial campaigns to strip Davis of all influence. Despite his public advocacy of states' rights, Wigfall did little for Texas. In the Confederacy he worked for military strength at the expense of state and individual rights. But he opposed the arming of slaves and was willing to lose the war rather than admit that blacks were worthy of being soldiers. After the fall of the Confederacy, Wigfall fled to Texas for almost a year and then, in the spring of 1866, to England, where he tried to foment war between Britain and the United States, hoping to give the South an opportunity to rise again. He returned to the United States in 1872, lived in Baltimore, moved back to Texas in 1874, and died in Galveston on February 18, 1874. Source

29° 17.590, -094° 48.695

Trinity Episcopal Cemetery

September 25, 2012

John Montgomery

   John Montgomery, San Jacinto veteran, was born in 1796, Baker's Creek, Blount, Tennessee, the son of William and Mary Polly (James) Montgomery and brother of fellow San Jacinto soldier Andrew Jackson Montgomery. He first arrived in Texas in 1831, after traveling through Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas and settled in what is now Montgomery County. He entered the Texas army on March 1, 1836, as a soldier in Captain James Gillaspie's Company, fought at San Jacinto on April 21 and left the service on May 13, 1836. On October 12, 1838, while living in Walker County, he married Elizabeth Julia Robinson and the couple had three children before she died in 1845, possibly from complications after having their last child. He remarried in 1848 to Sarah Allen in Collin County, and the two had five children. John continued his habit of moving often throughout his life, living in Walker County in 1850 and Trinity County in 1861, until finally settling in Grimes County, where he died in 1863. He was buried next to his brother Andrew in Stoneham Cemetery.

30° 21.468, -095° 55.373

Stoneham Cemetery

September 18, 2012

Weldon "Juke Boy" Bonner

   Weldon Philip H. (Juke Boy) Bonner, blues guitarist, vocalist, and harmonica player, was born in Bellville, Texas, on March 22, 1932, one of nine children of sharecroppers Emanuel and Carrie (Kessee) Bonner. His parents died when he was young, so he was raised by another family on a nearby farm. Bonner became interested in music when he was six and sang with a local spiritual group when he was in elementary school. By the time he was twelve he had taught himself to play the guitar. He quit school when he was a teenager and moved to Houston to find a job. When he was fifteen he won a talent contest held by Trummy Cain, a local talent coordinator. This led to an appearance on KLEE radio.

   For the next decade Bonner worked as a one-man band in lounges, bars, and clubs throughout the South and in California. He frequently worked in juke joints accompanied only by jukebox music; hence his nickname. In 1956 he cut his first record, Rock Me Baby, with Well Baby as the flip side, on Bob Geddins's Irma label. Bonner made his next record for Goldband Records in 1960 and continued to record for Liberty, Sonet, and other labels during the 1960s. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he toured Europe, where he recorded on the British Flyright and Storyville labels. His best work, however, came in the late 1960s on the Arhoolie label. Songs such as Going Back to the Country, Struggle Here in Houston, and Life Is a Nightmare reflected his impoverished youth and the dangers he had faced living in big cities. Bonner continued to tour, work local venues, and record. He was married in 1950 and was later divorced. He died in Houston on June 29, 1978, of cirrhosis of the liver. Five children survived him. Source 

29° 52.667, -095° 25.768

Restlawn Cemetery

September 11, 2012

Edwin Waller

   Edwin Waller, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in Spottsylvania County, Virginia, on November 4, 1800. In April 1831 he arrived in Texas from Missouri, where his family had moved. A few months later, on July 20, 1831, Waller received one league of land from the Mexican government in what is now Brazoria County. Soon thereafter, as owner of the Sabine, a vessel used to transport cotton from Velasco to New Orleans, he refused to pay custom duties at Velasco and was arrested by Mexican authorities. After being held but a short time he was released without punishment. He participated as a member of Henry S. Brown's unit in the battle of Velasco on June 26, 1832, and was wounded.

   In 1833 Waller became alcalde of Brazoria Municipality. He represented the municipality of Columbia at the Consultation in San Felipe de Austin in 1835 and was chosen by its members to serve in the General Council of the Provisional Government of Texas. Waller was elected on February 1, 1836, as a delegate from Brazoria to the Convention of 1836, which met at Washington-on-the-Brazos and adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence. As a member of the convention he served on the committee that framed the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. Afterward Waller returned to his plantation in Brazoria and in 1838 served as president of the board of land commissioners for Brazoria County. In 1839 he was chosen by President Mirabeau Lamar to supervise the surveying and sale of town lots and the construction of public buildings at the new capital at Austin, located on the fringe of the Texas frontier. After being bonded on April 12, 1839, Waller, protected by a group of armed citizens, began in earnest to carry out his new duties. While in Austin he helped organize Austin Masonic Lodge No. 12 at his residence in 1839. In December of that year he was appointed Texas postmaster general; the Senate confirmed him on December 10, and he resigned the next day.

   Waller was elected Austin's first mayor on January 13, 1840, but gave up that position before his term expired. On August 12 of that year he participated in the battle of Plum Creek. Afterward he moved to Austin County and engaged in farming and merchandising. In addition to his private economic endeavors, Waller served as chief justice of Austin County from 1844 to 1856. Meanwhile, he campaigned unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1847. In 1861 Waller was elected to represent Austin County at the Secession Convention. Because he was the only delegate present who had signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, the members voted to allow him the honor of signing the ordinance of secession immediately after the president of the convention signed. The delegates also elected him major of the mounted defense regiment mandated by the secession ordinance. Waller returned to Austin County after the conclusion of the convention.

   In 1873 the legislature formed a new county from Austin and Grimes counties and honored Waller by naming it for him. When the Texas Veterans Association was organized in 1873, he was elected its first president. At the time of his death Waller was in Austin working as a commissioner to submit names of Texas Revolution veterans entitled to special recognition by the state. Waller married Juliet M. de Shields, a native of Virginia. They had seven children, including Edwin Waller, Jr. Waller died on January 3, 1881, and was buried in the family cemetery in Waller County. In 1928 his remains, along with his wife's, were moved to the State Cemetery in Austin. Source 

Note: The place of death on his stone is incorrect, he did not die in Waller County - he died in Austin.

30° 15.924, -097° 43.645

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

September 4, 2012

Josiah Hughes Bell

   Josiah Hughes Bell, Brazoria county planter, founder of East and West Columbia, Texas, and one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born on August 22, 1791, in Chester District, South Carolina, the son of John and Elizabeth (Hughes) Bell. His father died when he was five, and at age eleven the young man was apprenticed to two uncles in the hat business in Tennessee. He later moved to Missouri Territory, where he became justice of the peace of Bellevue Township in 1813 and served in the Indian wars growing out of the War of 1812. He was discharged from service by 1815 and manufactured hats and dealt in pelts for a time. In 1818 he sold his farm in Missouri and on December 1 of that year married Mary Eveline McKenzie of Kentucky, with whom he had eight children. Bell's son, Thaddeus C. Bell, was the second white child born in Austin's colony.

   After a period in Natchitoches, Louisiana, Bell came to Texas with Austin in 1821. He brought with him a family of slaves and settled on New Year Creek, near old Washington. There he served as síndico procurador in 1821 and alcalde in 1822. From 1822 until August of 1823, when Austin was in Mexico, Bell took charge of Austin's colony. Horatio Chriesman made the colony's first survey on February 10, 1823, to locate Bell's land grants on the west side of the lower Brazos. Bell moved to what became known as Bell's Creek in January 1824, was made a militia lieutenant the same year, and was joined by his family in the fall. By 1829 a community known as Bell's Landing or Marion, which became an important inland port, grew up around a landing he constructed near his home. Bell developed a sugar plantation along the creek's banks and subsequently laid out the two towns that came to be known as East Columbia and West Columbia. He built the area's first hotel in 1832, constructed a school, and as an innovative town planner provided garden plots for new residents.

   In 1834 he called a meeting of the colonists to draw up representations to Mexico for Austin's release from prison. He was Austin's friend and dependable agent in settling differences and publicizing new regulations among the colonists. He followed Austin's conservative policy in dealing with Mexico before the Texas Revolution, but he was loyal to the Texas cause during the war. Bell sold the tract embracing both Marion and East Columbia to Walter C. White and James Knight in October 1837 and moved to West Columbia, where he died on May 17, 1838; he was buried there. The value of his estate was estimated at $140,000. Source 

29° 08.422, -095° 38.863

Columbia Cemetery
West Columbia

August 28, 2012

Ann Richards

   Dorothy Ann Willis Richards, state treasurer and forty-fifth governor of Texas, daughter of Cecil and Ona Willis, was born in Lacy-Lakeview, Texas, on September 1, 1933. Richards entered Waco High School in 1946 and dropped her first name Dorothy and was known as Ann thereafter. She was a member of the Waco High School debate team and was the state debate champion as a senior. Prior to her senior year in high school, Ann Richards attended Girls State, the annual mock-government assembly of students, where she was elected lieutenant governor. She later acknowledged this experience as fueling her interest in government and politics. Richards graduated from high school in 1950 and attended Baylor University where she received a B.A. in 1954. While at Baylor, Ann Willis married David Richards in 1953. The couple moved to Austin where David Richards attended law school at the University of Texas and Ann taught government at Fulmore Junior High School. Upon David Richards' graduation from law school, they spent a year in Washington D.C. before moving to Dallas, where David practiced law and Ann became active in Democratic politics in Dallas. Their family grew to include four children: Cecile, Dan, Clark, and Ellen. In 1969 the Richards family returned to Austin where David became a labor and civil rights attorney. Ann became involved in local politics and successfully managed the legislative campaigns of both Sarah Weddington (1972) and Wilhelmina Delco (1974). Weddington later presented the oral arguments to the United States Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (1973). Delco was the first African American to represent Austin in the Texas Legislature. Richards also served as Sarah Weddington's administrative assistant in the Texas House of Representatives.

   In 1976 David Richards declined a request from the Travis County Democratic leadership to challenge three-term Travis County commissioner Johnny Voudouris in the party's primary election. In David's stead, with her husband's encouragement, Ann Richards won the Democratic nomination for county commissioner and became the first woman elected to that office in Travis County. In 1980 Richards was elected to a second term. In 1982 she entered the statewide race for state treasurer and was not only the first woman to serve in that office, but also was the first woman elected to statewide office in Texas since Miriam Ferguson's successful gubernatorial race in 1932. During this time, Ann Richards and David Richards divorced, and she sought and completed treatment for alcoholism in 1980.

   Ann Richards's keynote speech to the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta brought her national attention when she said of the wealthy, then Vice President of the United States, George H. W. Bush: "Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." In 1990 Governor William Clements decided to leave office at the end of his term, and Richards entered the primary campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in a three-way race with Attorney General Jim Mattox and former governor Mark White. In a bruising campaign, Mattox attacked Richards for substance abuse problems beyond her acknowledged alcoholism. Richards won the nomination and defeated the Republican nominee, Clayton Williams, by narrow margin on November 6, 1990.

   As governor, Ann Richards led the reform of the Texas prison system, establishing a substance abuse program for inmates, reducing the number of violent offenders released, and increasing prison space to deal with a growing prison population (from less than 60,000 in 1992 to more than 80,000 in 1994). During her term, Governor Richards signed into law the amendment to the Texas Financial Responsibility Law - an act in which motor vehicle registration renewal, as well as initial registration of a new-purchased vehicle, safety inspection sticker, driver's license, and license plates, required that the applicant have a valid auto insurance policy. The Texas Lottery also was instituted during her term of office; Ann Richards purchased the first lottery ticket on May 29, 1992, in the Austin suburb of Oak Hill. Public school finance was a key issue during Richards's term of office, and the "Robin Hood Plan" was launched during the 1992-1993 biennium in the attempt to make school funding more equitable by having wealthier school districts remit property taxes to the state for redistribution to poorer school districts. Governor Richards also vetoed the Concealed Carry Bill that would have permitted licensed citizens to carry firearms for self-defense inside public establishments without the owner's permission. She was asked, in the midst of the controversy, whether the women of Texas might feel safer if they could carry guns in their purses. The governor replied, "Well, I'm not a sexist, but there is not a woman in this state who could find a gun in her handbag, much less a lipstick."

   Ann Richards was defeated in 1994 by the Republican George W. Bush and before leaving office, she said, "I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house.' I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government to everyone.'"

   Ann Richards was a political consultant in the years after leaving office. She was the recipient of a number of awards for her years of service, including the Texas NAACP Presidential Award for Outstanding Contributions to Civil Rights, the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award, and the Mexican government's Order of the Aztec Eagle. She was also honored by the Texas Women's Hall of Fame. From 1997 to 1998 Richards served as the Fred and Rita Richman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Politics at Brandeis University. In 2003 she coauthored, with Dr. Richard U. Levine, I'm Not Slowing Down: Winning My Battle With Osteoporosis, a book about her experience with that disease. She was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in March 2006 and died at home in Austin on September 13, 2006, surrounded by her family. She was buried in the Texas State Cemetery. In August 2007 the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, an all-girl preparatory school, opened in Austin. Source 

30° 15.934, -097° 43.613

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

August 21, 2012

William Stilwell

   A native of New York (b 1809), William Stilwell came to Texas through Velasco on January 28, 1836, likely for the purpose of enlisting in the Texas army. A few days after landing, on February 1, he enlisted with Turner's Company but was transferred shortly afterward to Captain Isaac N. Moreland's Company. He was at the Battle of San Jacinto and apparently impressed his superiors enough that he was appointed an officer some time after. Stilwell was stationed on Galveston Island when he was promoted to Captain of Artillery and ended his military career with that rank when his enlistment ended in February, 1837. He died a few months afterward in Houston on September 12, 1837, possibly from one of the yellow fever epidemics sweeping through the area at the time.

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.

29° 45.429, -095° 22.740

Founders Memorial Park

August 14, 2012

Jiles Perry "The Big Bopper" Richardson

   The Big Bopper, disc jockey, songwriter, and singer, was born Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr., on October 24, 1930, in Sabine Pass, Texas. He was the son of Jiles and Elsie Richardson. He usually went by the initials J. P. and briefly used the nickname Jape, before settling on the pseudonym, "The Big Bopper," on air and when recording. He is best-known for his hit, Chantilly Lace, which reached Number 6 on the charts in 1958, and for dying in a plane crash with Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly.

   His family moved to Beaumont when he was very young. At Beaumont High School he sang in the school choir as well as played on the football team. He graduated from Beaumont High School in 1947 and enrolled at Lamar College. While still a teenager Richardson began working as a disc jockey at KTRM radio in Beaumont, and he soon left college to work full-time. He eventually became program director while still working as a disc jockey. His colorful on-air personality (a stark contrast to the naturally shy Richardson) made him a very popular disc jockey in the Golden Triangle area.

   Richardson was influenced early by country singers but soon moved into the realm of rock-and-roll. In 1958 he traveled to Houston's Gold Star Studios to record songs for Pappy Daily's D Records. Richardson recorded his novelty song, Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor, as the A-side of a single that he hoped would capitalize on the popularity of other novelty songs that had recently been released. For the B-side he recorded Chantilly Lace, which he reportedly penned as an afterthought in the backseat of the car while driving to the session. At the recording session, he also reportedly formally adopted his nickname "The Big Bopper" as his musical persona.

   Unexpectedly, the record's B-side, Chantilly Lace, quickly gained the attention of radio programmers and listening audiences, and Daily released it on his D label and subsequently leased it to Mercury Records for national distribution. Chantilly Lace became very successful and would eventually go gold and multi-platinum as an early hit in rock-and-roll history. It was by far the most famous record on Daily's D label. Songs from the Gold Star sessions comprised Richardson's only album, Chantilly Lace. He followed with Little Red Riding Hood and Big Bopper's Wedding, which were also hits but not of the same caliber as Chantilly Lace. Richardson's song, White Lightning became the first Number 1 hit for George Jones in 1959. Later that year, his song Running Bear became a Number 1 hit for fellow Texan Johnny Preston.

   The Bopper wrote about thirty-eight songs during his life and recorded twenty-one of them. Most of his recordings were classified as novelty songs that did not have lasting popularity. His appeal was largely in his flamboyant stage performances. He wore checkered jackets and zoot suits and used a prop phone during Chantilly Lace to talk to his girl. In 1958 he also made a pioneering video for the hit song and later coined the term "music video" for the production. In order to maintain his showman image, he did not wear his wedding ring in public and generally kept his marriage to Adrianne "Teetsie" Fryou, a secret from his fans. The couple had two children.

   With his newfound fame, Richardson resigned his position as disc jockey at KTRM in Beaumont in order to perform full-time by November 1958. In this capacity, he appeared on the top pop shows of the day and was booked on the "Winter Dance Party" tour with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. On February 2, 1959, Richardson, Holly, and Valens played a show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. They were scheduled to play in North Dakota the next day. After the show Holly and Valens chartered a plane so that they could rest before their bands arrived. Richardson, who had the flu, was supposed to take the bus, but at the last minute switched places with Holly's band member, Waylon Jennings. The plane went down just after takeoff at about 1:00 A.M. in Mason County, Iowa, killing the pilot and all three musicians. Richardson was survived by his wife and a daughter and son. He was buried in Beaumont Cemetery.

   In the late 1980s the Port Arthur Historical Society commissioned sculptor Donald Clark to create a memorial to the musicians. The piece was initially displayed at a Fabulous Thunderbirds benefit concert on February 3, 1989, thirty years after the crash. The Big Bopper is an inductee in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and is honored in the Music Hall of Fame at the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur. In 2004 he was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. The following year the Texas Historical Commission erected a marker in his honor. His body was reburied next to his wife in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Beaumont in 2007. In 2008 he was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. His son Jay had a successful music career and billed himself as The Big Bopper, Jr. He died on August 21, 2013. Source 

30° 07.380, -094° 06.004

Tranquility Garden
Forest Lawn Memorial Park

August 7, 2012

Thomas Freeman McKinney

   Thomas Freeman McKinney, trader and stock raiser, was born on November 1, 1801, in Lincoln County, Kentucky, the fourth of eleven children of Abraham and Eleanor (Prather) McKinney. Two of his brothers, Charles Chastain and James Prather, and a sister, Euphemia McKinney Austin, joined him in Travis County in the 1850s. He received a common-school education in Christian County, Kentucky, where the family lived from 1811 to 1818. By 1822 the McKinneys and their kin, the McLeans and Subletts, moved first to southern Illinois and then Randolph County, Missouri, where the men engaged in farming, hunting, and the fur trade. McKinney went to Santa Fe in 1823 and then Chihuahua, Durango, Saltillo, and Bexar. In 1824 he received a league on the Brazos River from Stephen F. Austin, but a trip to Ayish Bayou, where his uncle Stephen Prather had a trading post, convinced him that the Nacogdoches area was best for trade. He married Nancy Watts in 1827 and kept a store on the square in Nacogdoches until 1830. He made one trip to New Orleans and returned by keelboat up the Neches and Angelina rivers, but mainly he took cotton and piece goods to Saltillo and traded them for livestock and specie. In 1830 he moved to San Felipe and continued trading to the south, sometimes in partnership with the sons of Jared E. Groce. He also maintained an interest on the lower Trinity, where Michael B. Menard developed a sawmill. In 1834 he became senior partner with Samuel May Williams in McKinney and Williams, a firm located on the Brazos; Williams supplied the bookkeeping and commercial contacts in the United States, while McKinney collected and shipped the cotton. The firm developed Quintana at the mouth of the river in 1835 and used its credit to help finance the Texas Revolution to the amount of $99,000, which was never repaid in full.

   Always impetuous and ready for a fight, McKinney, on board his schooner, San Felipe, captured the Correo de Mexico in September 1835. The Mexican vessel had been preying on Texas-bound shipping. McKinney obtained a privateering licence from the Provisional Government and used the firm's credit to buy the William Robbins, renamed Liberty, for the rebel government. Though he refused commissions as commissary general and loan agent, he continued to forward men and supplies to the Texas army. He and Williams joined Menard in 1833 in a scheme to claim Galveston Island, and in 1836 they combined with others to secure a charter for the Galveston City Company. The firm had a wharf and warehouse on the island in October 1837, when Racer's Hurricane struck and severely damaged their property. McKinney built a house for Williams and an identical one for himself west of town in 1839, but he lived in his home only briefly before his marriage ended. In 1843 he secured a divorce and the same year married Anna Gibbs, a native of Boston. There were no children from either union.

   McKinney withdrew from the partnership with Williams in 1842 and devoted himself to trading and stock raising, first on the island, where he had a race course, and in 1850 in Travis County, where he constructed a fine stone house, a gristmill, and another quarter horse track opposite the capital city. He also served as state senator from Galveston in 1846 and as representative in 1849. He was a member of the Democratic party and a Unionist in 1860-61. He had opposed independence, annexation, and secession, but once each was accomplished, he worked to support the government. He served the Confederacy as a special cotton agent and made several trips to Mexico with cotton, but the duplicity of various individuals and the confusion of the times left him liable for contracted debts. This burden, along with the loss of about fourteen slaves, crippled him financially. His once-large estate was reduced to $5,000. He died on October 2, 1873, after a long struggle with a kidney disease, and was survived by his wife. His ranch became McKinney Falls State Park in 1976. Source 

30° 16.617, -097° 43.629

Section 4
Oakwood Cemetery

July 31, 2012

Alexander Watkins Terrell

   Alexander Watkins Terrell, jurist, Civil War officer, and statesman, the son of Christopher Joseph and Susan (Kennerly) Terrell, was born in Patrick County, Virginia, probably on November 3, 1827. In 1831 his Quaker parents migrated to Booneville, Cooper County, Missouri, where Terrell grew to maturity. After graduating from the University of Missouri, he returned to Booneville to study law in the office of Judge Peyton R. Hayden. He was admitted to the bar in 1849 and practiced law in St. Joseph, Missouri, until 1852, when he moved to Austin, Texas. There he soon won a reputation as a courtroom protagonist of great astuteness and skill. Terrell was elected judge of the state's Second District in 1857. Due to his office and his friendship with Governor Sam Houston, an ardent Unionist, he took no part in the secession movement. Upon the expiration of his judicial term in 1863, however, he joined the First Texas Cavalry Regiment, Arizona Brigade, of the Confederate Army, as a major. Within two years he was assigned the rank of brigadier general by Gen. E. Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, but the war ended before his promotion was confirmed. As commander of what came to be called "Terrell's Texas Cavalry Regiment," he participated with distinction in the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill during the campaign in northern Louisiana against Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks. When the war ended he fled to Mexico, where he briefly served Emperor Maximilian as a battalion commander.

   Terrell returned to Texas in 1866 and resumed the practice of law in Houston, but the following year, disgusted with the turmoil of Reconstruction politics, he temporarily retreated to his plantation in Robertson County. Here, for four years, he experimented with scientific agriculture and studied. In 1871 he and Judge A. S. Walker formed a partnership in Austin, and five years later he entered the Texas Senate, where he served four terms (1876-84). Later he served four years in the state House of Representatives (1891-92, 1903-05). During his years in the legislature, he authored several acts: a bill requiring jurors to be literate; the enabling legislation for the Railroad Commission; the Terrell Election Law, which required candidates for public office to be nominated by direct primaries instead of by state or local conventions; and the measure which pledged the resources of three million acres in the Panhandle to the Chicago-based Capitol Syndicate to construct the Capitol. Terrell's reputation as an advocate of the small farmer and consumer spread beyond the state. At the invitation of the University of Missouri, he returned to the campus of his alma mater in June 1885 to address a social problem of his choice. In a notable speech, he criticized private corporations that had too much power in politics and threatened independent labor. Two years later he failed to secure legislative nomination for a seat in the United States Senate. In 1893 President Grover Cleveland appointed Terrell minister plenipotentiary to the Ottoman Empire, a post he held for four years. In 1897 he returned to Austin to reenter private practice and state politics. After Governor Thomas Campbell appointed Terrell a regent of the University of Texas in 1909, Terrell led the campaign to raise funds for a new library building and helped design it.

   With his partner Judge Walker, Terrell reported and annotated thirteen volumes of Texas Supreme Court decisions (vols. 38-51); subsequently he alone reported eleven more volumes (52-62). He also published several articles in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly and in 1912 served as president of the Texas State Historical Association. His memoir, From Texas to Mexico and the Court of Maximilian in 1865, appeared in 1933. Terrell was married three times. His first wife, Ann Elizabeth Boulding of Howard County, Missouri, bore him five children before her death in 1860. By his second wife, Sarah D. Mitchell of Robertson County, Texas, who died in 1871, he had three children. He married his third wife, Mrs. Ann Eloise Holliday Anderson Jones, in 1883. Terrell died in Mineral Wells, Texas, on September 8 or 9, 1912, while on the way home from visiting family in Virginia. He was buried in the State Cemetery in Austin. Terrell County is named in his honor. Source 

30° 15.919, -097° 43.625

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

July 24, 2012

Jesse Grimes

   Jesse Grimes, judge and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, son of Sampson and Bethsheba (Winder) Grimes, was born in what is now Duplin County, North Carolina, on February 6, 1788. In 1817 he moved to Washington County, Alabama. His first wife, Martha (Smith), died in 1824; they had nine children. In 1826 he married Mrs. Rosanna Ward Britton; they became the parents of six children.

   Grimes moved to Texas in 1826 and settled temporarily in Stephen F. Austin's second colony on the San Jacinto River in what is now Harris County; in the fall of 1827 he settled on Grimes Prairie, now in Grimes County. On March 21, 1829, he was elected first lieutenant of the First Company, Battalion of Austin. He was elected síndico procurador of the Viesca precinct in December 1830 and in December 1831 was elected a regidor of the ayuntamiento. On October 5, 1832, he was put on a subcommittee of safety and vigilance for the Viesca District and on October 6 was appointed treasurer of the district. He represented Washington Municipality in the Consultation and on November 14, 1835, was elected a member of the General Council of the provisional government.

   Grimes was one of the four representatives from Washington Municipality to the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and there signed the Declaration of Independence. On June 3, 1836, he enrolled a company of volunteers for three months' service in the Texas army. He represented Washington County in the Senate of the First Congress of the Republic of Texas from October 3, 1836, to September 25, 1837. From November 1, 1841, to December 8, 1843, he represented Montgomery County in the Sixth and Seventh congresses. He filled out Robert M. Williamson's unexpired term in the Eighth Congress, representing Washington, Montgomery, and Brazos counties, and was elected to the Ninth Congress, which ended on June 28, 1845. After annexation he was a member of the Senate of the First, Second, Third, and Fourth legislatures. Grimes County was probably named for him. Grimes died on March 15, 1866, and was buried in the John McGinty cemetery, ten miles east of Navasota. In 1929 his remains and those of his second wife were reinterred in the State Cemetery. Source 

30° 15.913, -097° 43.630

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery