December 25, 2012

William George Harrell (1922-1964)

World War II Medal of Honor recipient William George Harrell was born on June 26, 1922, in Rio Grande City, Texas, to Roy E. and Hazel Marion (Culver) Harrell. His father served in the cavalry in World War I, worked as a ranch hand, and patrolled the Mexican border as an employee of the Bureau of Immigration. After the death of Roy Harrell in 1931, Hazel Harrell was left to support William, his older brother Dick, and his sister Virginia. As a youngster, Harrell attended school in Rio Grande City and in Mercedes. In junior high school, he was a member of the Boy Scouts. Like his father, Harrell developed a love for horses. He also enjoyed camping and hunting and spent much of his time boating at a local lake. He worked in the summer at various jobs including a stint on a ranch. In 1939 Harrell graduated from Mercedes High School and enrolled at Texas A&M University. In September 1939 Harrell arrived at Texas A&M and remained there for four semesters. With an interest in the scientific breeding of horses and cattle, he selected animal husbandry as his field of study and selected the cavalry as his military science requirement. An aunt provided some financial support, but Harrell understood that he had to finance his own way. After two years in College Station, he decided to seek employment in order to pay for his the rest of his education. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he sought to join the military. After being rejected twice by the United States Army Air Corps due to color blindness and once by the United States Navy, Harrell enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in July 1942. He took basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego and received training as an armorer at Camp Elliott. After completing the basic rocket course, Harrell was assigned to Company A, Twenty-eighth Marine Regiment, Fifth Marine Division in early 1943.

   After additional training in Hawaii and then Saipan, Sergeant Harrell hit the beach on Iwo Jima with the Twenty-eighth in the early hours of February 19, 1945. The Fifth Division was ordered to the southern part of the island facing Mount Suribachi. The marines had taken Mount Suribachi and one of the two airfields by February 24. In the early morning of March 3, Harrell and fellow Texan PFC Andrew J. Carter of Paducah manned a foxhole in a perimeter defense about twenty yards in front of the company command post. At about 5:00 A.M., the enemy attacked. Carter shot first and killed four Japanese moving toward him. Sergeant Harrell rapidly fired his carbine and killed two Japanese that had emerged from a ravine. After Carter’s rifle jammed, Harrell ordered him to the rear to secure another one. Fighting alone and ignoring the dangers of enemy grenades landing near him, Harrell fought the Japanese and took enemy fire that shot off his left hand and fractured his thigh. After securing a rifle, Carter returned to aid Harrell. Unable to reload his rifle, Harrell drew a pistol with his right hand to kill a Japanese officer who slashed Carter’s hand with a samurai sword. Convinced his comrade might bleed to death, Harrell ordered him to the command post. Although exhausted and injured, Harrell found the strength to kill two more Japanese charging him; one with pistol fire and the other with a grenade that exploded and tore off his (Harrell’s) right hand. After the fighting, medics found Harrell and twelve dead Japanese by him. Harrell’s commander called the position the “two-man Alamo.” For their heroics, Harrell received the Medal of Honor, and Carter received the Navy Cross.

   First treated for his wounds at the Army Hospital Station on Iwo Jima, Harrell was later moved to a U.S. Naval hospital at Pearl Harbor and then to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Mare Island, California. While undergoing treatment and rehabilitation at the Mare Island Hospital, Harrell met Larena Anderson, a clerical worker at the local naval base. They married on February 16, 1946. Their son William Carter was born in 1947 and daughter Linda Gail in 1948. President Harry S. Truman presented the Medal of Honor to Harrell in a ceremony at the White House on October 5, 1945. With his new bride William Harrell returned to Mercedes, Texas, in early 1946 and was welcomed home as a hero. The local Kiwanis Club along with several other groups raised $25,000 for the marine hero to purchase a ranch. Harrell accepted a job with the Veterans Administration as a contact representative and relocated to San Antonio where he purchased a home. Equipped with general hooks for hands, Harrell appeared to have adapted well after the war. He later served as the chief of the Prosthetic Appliance Group with the Veterans Administration, worked with disabled veterans, and was a frequent speaker to groups and an advocate for disabled veterans. Harrell’s first marriage ended in divorce. In 1951 he married Olive Cortese; they had two children - Christie Lee and Gary Douglas.

   Tragically, William Harrell used a rifle to kill Ed and Geraldine Zumwalt and then himself in the early morning hours of August 9, 1964 at his home in San Antonio. Ed Zumwalt, who had lost part of his leg during the Korean War, had known Harrell for about a year. Friends of Harrell and the Zumwalts knew of no friction between them. Dr. Ruben Santos, the medical examiner, stated a motive “probably never will be established.” William Harrell was buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery on August 11, 1964. Harrell has been honored in a various ways. In Mercedes, Texas, a monument of Harrell stands in the center of town, and the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps building is named for him. Texas A&M named a dormitory William G. Harrell Hall, placed a large bronze plaque of him in the Sam Houston Sanders Corps of Cadets Center, and hung an artist’s portrait of him with a specimen Medal of Honor and the citation for his medal in the Memorial Student Center.  On December 11, 2015, the Mercedes ISD rededicated the new North Middle School as the William George Harrell Middle School in his honor. Source 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of an assault group attached to the 1st Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division during hand-to-hand combat with enemy Japanese at Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, on 3 March 1945. Standing watch alternately with another marine in a terrain studded with caves and ravines, Sgt. Harrell was holding a position in a perimeter defense around the company command post when Japanese troops infiltrated our lines in the early hours of dawn. Awakened by a sudden attack, he quickly opened fire with his carbine and killed 2 of the enemy as they emerged from a ravine in the light of a star shellburst. Unmindful of his danger as hostile grenades fell closer, he waged a fierce lone battle until an exploding missile tore off his left hand and fractured his thigh. He was vainly attempting to reload the carbine when his companion returned from the command post with another weapon. Wounded again by a Japanese who rushed the foxhole wielding a saber in the darkness, Sgt. Harrell succeeded in drawing his pistol and killing his opponent and then ordered his wounded companion to a place of safety. Exhausted by profuse bleeding but still unbeaten, he fearlessly met the challenge of 2 more enemy troops who charged his position and placed a grenade near his head. Killing 1 man with his pistol, he grasped the sputtering grenade with his good right hand, and, pushing it painfully toward the crouching soldier, saw his remaining assailant destroyed but his own hand severed in the explosion. At dawn Sgt. Harrell was evacuated from a position hedged by the bodies of 12 dead Japanese, at least 5 of whom he had personally destroyed in his self-sacrificing defense of the command post. His grim fortitude, exceptional valor, and indomitable fighting spirit against almost insurmountable odds reflect the highest credit upon himself and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

29° 28.572
-098° 25.794

Section W
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio

December 18, 2012

John Bowden Connally (1917-1993)

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 State Cemetery

December 11, 2012

Jack English Hightower (1926-2013)

Born September 6, 1926 in Memphis, Texas, Hightower served as a United States Navy sailor for two years during World War II. In 1949, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and in 1951 procured an LLB from Baylor Law School. He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1951 and immediately became district attorney of the 46th Texas Judicial District, based in Vernon, Wilbarger County, from 1951 to 1961. From 1953 to 1955, he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election held in 1961. While still living in Vernon, Hightower served from 1965 to 1974 in two reconfigured districts in the Texas Senate. He was a delegate to the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention, which met in Chicago to nominate Vice President of the United States Hubert H. Humphrey for the presidency. That fall, Humphrey narrowly carried Texas over the Republican Richard M. Nixon and the American Independent Party nominee George Wallace of Alabama. In 1974, Hightower challenged four-term Republican Bob Price of Pampa for a congressional seat and won. Hightower was one of several Democrats elected due to voter anger over Watergate.

Hightower was a fairly moderate Democrat, and served a mostly rural district stretching from Amarillo to Wichita Falls on the east. The district had become increasingly friendly to Republicans at the national level, though Democrats continued to hold most local offices well into the 1990s. Hightower was reelected four times, mainly by stressing constituent services. However, in 1984, he was toppled by Republican challenger Beau Boulter of Amarillo, who benefited from Ronald W. Reagan's massive reelection landslide that year. After he left Congress, Hightower was the first assistant attorney general of Texas under Attorney General Jim Mattox from 1985 to 1987, then was elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1988. In 1992, he obtained an LLM from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was later appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, a position which he held from August 9, 1999, to July 19, 2004. A Freemason, Jack Hightower was a member of Vernon Lodge #655 and in 1972 served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas. Until his death, he had been the oldest living past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas. Hightower died on August 3, 2013 in Austin.

30° 15.904
-097° 43.611

Monument Hill
Texas State Cemetery

Larry Blyden (1925-1975)

Larry Blyden, actor, producer (A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum), and director (Harold), was born Ivan Lawrence Blieden on June 23rd, 1925 to Adolph and Marian (née Davidson) Blieden in Houston, Texas. His childhood years consisted of attending Wharton Elementary School and Sidney Lanier Junior High School. It was sometime during this period that Larry met and befriended Rip Torn. The two became such wonderful friends that their friends and families jokingly called them Torn and Bleedin’ (an obviously cute play on the pronunciation of the Blieden surname). In the beginning of his years at Lamar High School, Larry was considering becoming an attorney just like his father (known by locals as ‘Jelly’ Blieden), with his eyes then on a law scholarship at the University of Texas. In turn, Larry proved himself a quite worthy contender on Lamar High’s debate team. But when it boiled down to needing either Home Economics, Shop, or Drama credits, Larry decided to give Drama a crack after Shop not being his forte, nor having any remote interest in Home Ec. To his surprise and delight, the future Larry Blyden discovered how much he actually enjoyed acting and learning more about it. And with the coining of Larry’s personal slogan, “Yes, I Can Do That!”, his road to Broadway commenced its construction.

At the tender age of fourteen, Larry landed his first ever role in a Margo Jones production. He would find himself starring in more of the Texas theatre giant’s offerings throughout the remainder of his high school years and time with the Houston Little Theatre…including S.N. Behrman’s Here Today and The Sound Of The Hunting, the latter of which officially opened Houston’s world renowned Alley Theatre. After graduating from Lamar High, Larry attended Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) for just under a year before enlisting with the United States Marine Corps due to the outbreak of World War II. Before receiving an honorable discharge in 1946, Larry rose to the officer rank of Lieutenant. He went back to school, this time with the University of Houston, from whence he graduated in 1948 with degrees in English and mathematics. During this time, Larry worked at KPHC, a Houston radio station and where he began to demonstrate a penchant for foreign accents and cultures with a well received show called the International Hour. Throughout the hour, Larry would perform as four different DJs introducing the music of their featured native countries, with his accents fluctuating between British, French, and Chinese, among many others. After graduating from the U of H, Larry dabbled in politics, and did campaign work for George Peddy.

In 1948, Larry Blyden traveled to New York City to try to trip the lights fantastic of the Great White Way. In addition to finding further work in radio, Blyden immediately enrolled at the Stella Adler School of Acting, where he would further study the craft of theatre for eighteen months. In 1949, Larry would get his much coveted big break…during a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest, Joshua Logan, one of Broadway’s most esteemed director/producers at the time, spotted Larry and decided he would be perfect in his up and coming hit, Mister Roberts, starring Henry Fonda. At first, Larry’s role was only a small one as a Shore Patrol Officer…but over the course of a few months, and with the departure of David Wayne from the production, Larry would take over as Ensign Pulver, and as whom he won the first of several applauses of critical acclaim. Joshua Logan appreciated Blyden’s efforts as much as the general public did and immediately cast him in his next production, titled Wish You Were Here (which would also feature Jack Cassidy and Florence Henderson), in 1952.

Work for Larry, in television (for which he appeared in several of the playhouse and omnibus/anthology shows prevalent then, the two most noteworthy of them, both in 1959, being the TV movie What Makes Sammy Run with Blyden turning in a decadently ruthless portrayal of the title character, Sammy Glick, and the TV musical, George M. Cohan’s Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway, which had Larry co-starring alongside Tammy Grimes) and stage, instantaneously became steady upon Logan’s discovery of him. Hollywood took notice, and came calling. In 1957, Blyden was cast in Paddy Chayefski’s The Bachelor Party, also starring Don Murray and Carolyn Jones, as well as Kiss Them For Me, also starring Cary Grant, Ray Walston, Werner Klemperer, and Jayne Mansfield. Earlier, and while in the midst of such an immensely busy schedule, Blyden managed to meet Carol Haney, famed choreographer and then actress (who won a 1955 Best Featured Actress In A Musical Tony Award for The Pajama Game, but would quit acting due to never quite overcoming stage fright), during a touring production of Oh Men, Oh Women! The two got married in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 14th, 1955. Blyden and Haney would actually work together three years later in Flower Drum Song, the Rodgers and Hammerstein culture clash musical which would see Larry sporting an exquisite use of a Chinese accent as Sammy Fong, and helped him land his first Tony Award nomination (1959 Best Leading Actor In A Musical), as well as Ms. Haney receiving a further nomination (1959 Best Choreographer). The Blydens’ marriage went on to produce two children (Joshua, born in 1957 and named after Joshua Logan, and Ellen Rachel, born in 1960), but ended in divorce in 1962. Two years later, Ms. Haney would die of pneumonia complicated by diabetes and alcoholism. Larry, wanting to keep the family together and vowing to be the best father AND parent his children had ever known, immediately took Joshua and Ellen under his wing.

The 60’s were that much more of a hectic time for Larry Blyden, having to juggle the odd Broadway role or two, numerous beyond numerous television appearances, and being dad to his two quite young children. Because of the latter and its expenses, Larry turned to television even more-so than previously in the 50’s. It was during this time that some of Blyden’s most famous television appearances would occur…including two visits to The Twilight Zone (“A Nice Place To Visit” and “Showdown With Rance McGrew”), Dr. Kildaire (“Take Care Of My Little Girl”), Route 66 (“Like This, It Means Father..Like This, Bitter..Like This, Tiger”), The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (“Wally The Beard”), Twelve O’Clock High (“Mutiny At 10,000 Feet”), The Fugitive (“Crack In A Crystal Ball”), and The Man From UNCLE (“The Waverly Ring Affair”). On Broadway and in 1964, Larry found himself starring alongside Bert Lahr in Foxy, and reunited with Rip Torn (who helped Blyden win his role through telling producers he was every bit as Southern as the role required the actor to be) in Blues For Mr. Charlie. 1965 had Larry appear in Mike Nichols’ Luv, which would inadvertently kickstart Blyden’s game show career via his first appearances as a panelist on the highly rated What’s My Line? to promote the production. Mike Nichols found Larry Blyden’s stage presence to be dynamic, and in turn, Larry was cast as the Devil in the 1967 Tony Award Best Musical nominated The Apple Tree (and also starring Alan Alda and Barbara Harris). Later in the spring of 1967, Blyden would be approached by NBC about hosting a then new game show called Personality. He accepted the job, all of which lasted two years, but would lead to further emceeing gigs for the likes of You’re Putting Me On, The Movie Game, and most notably, replacing Wally Bruner on the syndicated/color version of What’s My Line? in 1972.

Until 1972, Larry Blyden’s career sadly entered a small doldrums; after leaving You Know I Can’t Hear You When The Water Is Running in 1968, Larry decided to try his hand at directing again (his first time being a play titled Harold in 1962, which starred Anthony Perkins, and also featured Don Adams and John Fiedler) with a play called The Mother Lover. It ended up being the most dreaded thing in one’s Broadway career - an opening night flop. Apart from a Hollywood commute that saw him in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (which had Larry getting to perform alongside Barbara Streisand) and two television dramas (The FBI - “The Innocents” and The Mod Squad - “Exit The Closer”), Blyden mostly laid low until 1971, when he saw a California repertory theatre production of a musical that would, almost as if by magic, turn his life and career around overnight. The revival of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum could also be called ‘A Terrific Thing Happened To Larry Blyden’ with all it accomplished for the producer and those around him, most particularly Phil Silvers, who took the role of Pseudolus (a role he had rejected previously for the musical’s original 1962 Broadway run) and ran with it to great heights. And oh what great heights Silvers and Blyden (who played Hysterium) hit - with a 1972 Best Leading Actor In A Musical Tony Award for the former and a 1972 Best Featured Actor In A Musical Tony Award for Larry, who remained a workhorse and was one of the on-stage performers at the 1972 Tony Awards (at which Larry entertained with such greats as Hal Linden, Alfred Drake, and Ethel Merman, among others).

After A Funny Thing closed, the remainder of 1972 and beyond had Larry Blyden maintaining a steady television schedule between What’s My Line?, a couple of television dramas (notably Medical Center - “Terror” and Cannon - “The Torch”), and several appearances on other game shows as a panelist (To Tell The Truth and Match Game ’74) and celebrity assistant ($10,000 Pyramid and Blankety Blanks). Larry returned to the stage in 1973 for one evening, March 11th, to participate in the Stephen Sondheim Musical Tribute (the recording of which is affectionately known by fans as ‘the Scrabble album’ due to its cover art), and performed “Love Is In The Air” from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and “Buddy’s Blues” from Follies (with one of his co-stars on the number being Chita Rivera). He would not see stage work again until 1974, when Blyden was asked by Burt Shevelove (who had directed A Funny Thing) to take on the role of Dionysos in a Yale Repertory Theatre production of The Frogs, Shevelove and Stephen Sondheim’s modern retelling of a comedy by Aristophenes. The show would last for eight performances in late May of 1974, and had Larry performing alongside Michael Vale of Dunkin’ Donuts commercial spokesperson fame, and also included a pre-stardom Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver.

In December of 1974, What’s My Line was cancelled after a six year syndication run and a near twenty-five year duration overall, with Larry Blyden having hosted its last two years and several months. Goodson-Todman, the production company behind What’s My Line? and other classic game shows, offered Larry an emceeing slot on an upcoming idea called Showoffs, which was basically a combination of charades and a Beat The Clock-esque format. Meanwhile, Blyden had started the last great stage role of his all too short-lived career: Sidney, in Absurd Person Singular, a British farce also featuring Tony Roberts, Carole Shelley, and Richard Kiley. Larry won the role through a heavy demonstration of his best Cockney accent during the interview and audition, and never dropped the accent at all between entering and leaving the room. It paid off most handsomely, landing Blyden his third Tony Award nomination, for 1975 Best Featured Actor In A Play, as well as also his first and only Drama Desk Award nomination, for 1975 Outstanding Featured Actor In A Play. Remaining one of Broadway’s hardest workers, Larry took on the skit directing and hosting duties for the 1975 Tony Awards and again was one of the on-stage performers (alongside other stars such as co-hosts Bobby Van and Larry Kert). Such duties would be Larry Blyden’s fifth to last ever appearance in anything…his fourth to last being a gala to Joshua Logan (which was recorded and distributed only among private parties) where he reprised his Ensign Pulver role from Mister Roberts, his third being a week on Blankety Blanks (May 12th-16th), his second being the pilot for the aforementioned Showoffs, taped on May 24th, 1975; and his final showing being a Bicentennial Minute segment that aired on CBS on May 31st.. A couple of days after the Showoffs pilot taping, Larry Blyden embarked on a plane for a promised two week vacation in Morocco before the official tapings for Showoffs were to begin later in June. On May 31st, Larry was in a horrific automobile accident between Agadir and Tan-Tan, and sustained significant wounds to his head, chest, and abdomen. Larry underwent surgery, but ultimately succumbed to his injuries on June 6th, just a little over two weeks shy of turning fifty. As well as quite sadly and literally alone, with all loved ones and friends an ocean away, and very tragically ending a most inimitable and still blossoming career and young life all too soon. Biography courtesy of MavenBlyden 

29° 42.904
-095° 18.437

Section 27
Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery

December 4, 2012

William Daniel Jones (1916-1974)

W. D. Jones was born on May 15, 1916 to a poor sharecropper family. In 1921, his father moved them all to Dallas where Jones met and became friends with Clyde Barrow, seven years his senior. When Clyde left town to begin his criminal career, William stayed behind, learning the "trade" on his own by stealing cars and working for bootleggers. Clyde returned home during Christmas 1930 with his new girlfriend Bonnie, met up with his childhood buddy and asked him to keep watch over their car while the two slept. The next morning, Jones did some quick repairs on the car and accepted Clyde's offer to ride with them. In a matter of days, he was involved in his first murder. In Temple, Texas, Clyde spotted a car with the keys left in it and instructed Jones to start it up while he and Bonnie switched their things from their old car to the new one. When the owner showed up and tried to struggle over the door, Clyde shot him in the head and ordered Jones to step on it. From then on, Jones was a member of the Barrow gang and would remain so for eight months.

   He was more mechanic or driver than gunman, usually remaining in the car with Bonnie while Clyde and another member would rob gas stations, taking care of the steering while the others took shots at whomever was following them. He was involved in the several shootouts, from Joplin, Missouri to Platte City, Iowa, driving the gang from one town to another in a perpetual quest to avoid capture. Once Clyde's brother Buck was killed and Buck's wife Blanche captured by police, Jones decided it was time to jump ship before he was shot or arrested for something more serious than he could handle. While the gang was in Mississippi, Jones took off and hitched his way to Houston, where he was quickly recognized and imprisoned. He claimed that he was a victim, a virtual prisoner of the gang, forced to work for them, and tied down at night to prevent his escape; the authorities didn't believe him, but having no evidence of hard crime, could only sentence him to six years in prison. After he served his term, he drifted from job to job, hooking himself on drugs and alcohol. He surfaced in 1968 to sue Warner Brothers over what he felt was a libelous portrayal of him in the movie Bonnie and Clyde. When the suit was thrown out, he gave an interview with Playboy magazine on his time with the Barrow gang, still insisting he was an unwilling dupe, caught up by circumstances. Six years later, on August 20, 1974, Jones was gunned down during a failed drug transaction.

29° 54.789
-095° 18.927

Garden of the Apostles
Brookside Memorial Park

November 27, 2012

Eugene McDermott (1899-1973)

Eugene McDermott, scientist, industrialist, and philanthropist, was born on February 12, 1899, in Brooklyn, New York, to Owen and Emma (Cahill) McDermott. After receiving a master's degree from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1919, he worked at the Goodyear Rubber Company as an engineer (1919-21) and at the Western Electric Company (1921-23). After completing an M.A. degree at Columbia in 1925, McDermott joined Everette Lee DeGolyer's Geophysical Research Corporation in Houston as a field supervisor. He was soon placed in charge of GRC's instrument laboratory in Bloomfield, New Jersey. In 1930 DeGolyer secretly financed McDermott and John C. Karcher in their organization of Geophysical Service, Incorporated, to exploit Karcher's development of the reflection seismograph. By means of underground explosions, this instrument determined formations of the earth's layers. The company contracted to conduct geophysical exploration for the oil industry and soon became one of the world's foremost geophysical service firms. McDermott moved to Dallas to serve as vice president of GSI (1930-39); he became president in 1939 and chairman of the board in 1949. In 1951 he formed Texas Instruments, and GSI became a wholly owned subsidiary of the new electronics firm. McDermott continued as TI board chairman until 1958, then chaired the executive committee until 1964 and remained a company director until his death. During World War I he served in the United States Navy, and from 1941 to 1946 he was a civilian consultant to the Office of Scientific Research and Development. He contributed to various technical journals.

His inventions, numbering around ten, ranged from geochemical applications to antisubmarine warfare. Nevertheless, he was concerned with what he saw as a tendency of science to neglect individual and economic growth. His service on a national committee to alert American businessmen to their stake in perceived population problems in the nation and the world reflected this concern, as did his commitment to education. Believing that education should be consistently excellent from the start, that "learning begins when a child starts looking at the world," McDermott and his wife, Margaret (Milam), whom he married on December 1, 1954, worked diligently to promote quality education with the goal of "maximizing everyone's capacities for thinking and doing." They gave stock valued at $1.25 million toward building the Stevens Institute of Technology Center in 1954 and to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for scholarships in 1960. Other schools receiving McDermott's financial support included the Lamplighter School, the Dallas junior college system, Southern Methodist University, the University of Dallas, Hockaday School, and the University of Texas System. McDermott also helped found St. Mark's School of Texas and establish the University of Texas at Dallas. He was a member of the MIT Corporation from 1960 to 1973, a trustee of the board of governors of SMU, trustee and chairman of the executive committee of the Excellence in Education Foundation, a trustee of St. Mark's and the Area Educational TV Foundation, and a member of the Coordinating Board of Texas Colleges and Universities (now the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board) from 1965 to 1971. He also was chairman of a visiting committee in the Harvard University psychology department and a member of a similar committee at MIT. In 1949 McDermott collaborated with William Sheldon on four books, including Varieties of Delinquent Youth. He was also involved in scientific medical projects at various universities, including Columbia, the University of California, and Southwestern Medical School (now the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas), where he supported a visiting professorship in anesthesiology and a research laboratory and in 1973 established the Eugene McDermott Center for the Study of Human Growth and Development.

He was a trustee of Stevens Institute, the Presbyterian Hospital-Children's Medical Center, the SMU Foundation for Science and Engineering, the Eugene McDermott Foundation, the Biological Humanics Foundation (which he founded in 1954), the Texas Research Foundation, and the Southwestern Medical Foundation. The McDermotts contributed $200,000 towards establishing the Margo Jones Memorial Theater at SMU in 1965 and served as directors of the SMU Fine Arts Association. McDermott served as director of the Dallas Theater Center. The McDermotts established a trust fund for the Dallas Art Association, and their financing renovated the Gillespie County Courthouse in Fredericksburg. McDermott was a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, of which he was president (1933-34), the Seismological Society of America, the American Physicians Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Mathematical Society, the American Geographical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition to honorary degrees from Stevens Institute of Technology (1960), the University of Dallas (1973), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1972), he received papal honors for his outstanding work for Christianity (1966), an award from the Texas State Historical Survey Committee for the courthouse renovation (with his wife, 1967), the Bene Merenti medal (1966), the Santa Rita Gold Medal from the University of Texas for his work in higher education (1972), and the Linz Award for service to Dallas (1972). McDermott was the father of one daughter. He died at his home in Dallas on August 23, 1973, after an illness of several months. Source

32° 52.107
-096° 46.701

Monument Garden
Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery       

November 20, 2012

Amber Rene Hagerman (1986-1996)

Amber was a young girl abducted in 1999 while riding her bike with her brother in Arlington, Texas. A neighbor who witnessed the abduction called the police, and Amber's brother, Ricky, went home to tell his mother and grandparents what happened. On hearing the news, Hagerman's father, Richard, called Marc Klaas, whose daughter, Polly, had been abducted and murdered in Petaluma, California, on October 1, 1993. Richard and Amber's mother, Donna Whitson, called the news media and the FBI, then they and their neighbors began searching for Amber. Four days after her abduction, near midnight, Amber's body was discovered in a creek behind an apartment complex with severe laceration wounds to her neck. The site of her discovery was less than five miles from where she went missing. As of 2018, there are still no suspects in her abduction and homicide.

Within days of Amber's death, her mother was "calling for tougher laws governing kidnappers and sex offenders". Amber's parents soon established People Against Sex Offenders (P.A.S.O.) and collected signatures hoping to force the Texas Legislature into passing more stringent laws to protect children. God's Place International Church donated the first office space for the organization, and as the search for Amber's killer continued, P.A.S.O. received almost-daily coverage in local media. Congressman Martin Frost, with the help of Marc Klaas, drafted the Amber Hagerman Child Protection Act. Both of Hagerman's parents were present when President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law, creating the national sex offender registry. The two then began collecting signatures in Texas, which they planned to present to then-Governor George W. Bush as a sign that people wanted more stringent laws for sex offenders.

In July 1996, Bruce Seybert (whose daughter was a friend of Amber) and Richard Hagerman attended a media symposium in Arlington. In Seybert's twenty minute speech, he spoke about efforts that local police could take quickly to help find missing children and how the media could facilitate those efforts. C.J. Wheeler, a reporter from radio station KRLD, approached the Dallas police chief shortly afterward with Seybert's ideas and launched the first ever Amber Alert. Whitson testified in front of the U.S. Congress in June 1996, asking legislators to create a nationwide registry of sex offenders. Representative Martin Frost, the Congressman who represented Whitson's district, proposed an "Amber Hagerman Child Protection Act". Among the sections of the bill was one that would create a national sex offender registry. In 1998, the Child Alert Foundation created the first fully automated Alert Notification System (ANS) to notify surrounding communities when a child was reported missing or abducted. Source

32° 45.274,
-096° 07.026

Moore Memorial Gardens

November 13, 2012

William Mosby Eastland (1806-1843)

William Mosby Eastland, soldier, was born in Woodford County, Kentucky, on March 21, 1806, the son of Thomas B. and Nancy (Mosby) Eastland. As a child he moved with his family to Tennessee where he was reared and educated. As a young man he entered the timber business and was persuaded by his friend and former neighbor Edward Burleson to move to Texas in 1834. With his wife and children, two brothers, and a cousin, Nicholas Mosby Dawson, he settled near the site of present La Grange in Fayette County. From July 25 to September 13, 1835, Eastland served as first lieutenant of a volunteer company under Col. John H. Moore against the Waco and Tawakoni Indians. From September 28 to December 13, 1835, he served under Capt. Thomas Alley and participated in the siege of Bexar, and from March 1 to May 30, 1836, he served under Capt. Thomas J. Rabb. Eastland was elected second lieutenant of Rabb's Company F of Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment, Texas Volunteers, on April 3, 1836, and advanced to first lieutenant when Rabb left the company and 1st Lt. W. J. E. Heard moved up to captain.

At the battle of San Jacinto, according to Robert Hancock Hunter, when Sam Houston ordered that the killing of Mexican fugitives cease and that his men begin to take prisoners, Eastland responded, "Boys take prisners, you know how to take prisners, take them with the but of guns, club guns, & said remember the Alamo remember Laberde [La Bahía], club guns, right & left, nock there brains out." Eastland enlisted in the Texas Rangers on September 5, 1836, and on December 14, 1836, succeeded Capt. M. Andrew as commander, but when he attempted to instill military discipline in their ranks the men "marched out, stacked their arms, told him to go to hell and they would go home." According to Walter P. Webb, however, Eastland yielded gracefully, maintained the rangers' respect, and continued to serve until as late as January 22, 1838. In 1839 he was elected captain of one of the three companies that campaigned against the Comanches on the upper Colorado River. Eastland's wife, the former Florence Yellowly, died in September 1837, and in 1839 he married Louisa Mae M. Smith, the daughter of Rev. Dr. William P. Smith, a Methodist minister. By 1840 he owned 5,535 acres under survey in Bastrop County and four town lots in Bastrop. On January 31, 1840, Eastland was elected one of three land commissioners for Fayette County.  In response to the raid of Adrián Woll in 1842, Eastland raised a company that he led to San Antonio; but he arrived too late to take part in the battle of Salado Creek. He participated in the pursuit, however. His company was incorporated into Col. James R. Cook's First Regiment, Second Brigade, of Gen. Alexander Somervell's Army of the South West for the subsequent Somervell expedition. Eastland, eager for revenge for the killing of his cousin Nicholas Mosby Dawson and his nephew Robert Moore Eastland by Woll's men, chose to remain on the Rio Grande with William S. Fisher's command when Somervell ordered his expedition to return to San Antonio.

Eastland was elected captain of Company B for the Mier expedition. He was taken captive with his men after the battle of Mier on December 26, 1842, and marched to the interior of Mexico. There he participated in the Texans' abortive escape attempt and was the first of the Texans to draw a fatal black bean, the only officer of the expedition to do so. In a brief private interview with Fenton M. Gibson Eastland said, "For my country I have offered all my earthly aspiration and for it I now lay down my life. I never have feared death nor do I now. For my unjustifiable execution I wish no revenge, but die in full confidence of the Christian faith." After giving his money to his brother-in-law, Robert Smith (who responded with the joyous shout that he had "made a raise!"), and sending word to his wife that "I die in the faith in which I have lived", Eastland was shot to death, on March 25, 1843. Diarist Israel Canfield, to whom Eastland was handcuffed on the march to Salado, observed with some satisfaction that Robert Smith later died at Perote Prison. On February 17, 1844, the Texas Congress passed a bill for the relief of Eastland's family. In 1848 Eastland's remains, together with those of the other Mier victims, were moved to Monument Hill. near La Grange for reinterment. Eastland was a cousin of the famed Confederate partisan ranger Col. John Singleton Mosby. His nephew, Charles Cooper Eastland, a private in Capt. Jacob Roberts's Company F of Col. John Coffee Hays's First Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles, died in Mexico City on December 20, 1847, during the Mexican War. Another nephew, William Mosby Eastland II, was born on March 15, 1843, ten days before the death of his uncle at Salado. Eastland County is named in Eastland's honor. Source

29° 53.339
-096° 52.618

Monument Hill State Historic Site
La Grange

Stephen Williams (1760-1839)

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

Mary Kathlyn "Mary Kay" Ash (1918-2001)

Business leader and entrepreneur Mary Wagner was born on May 12, 1918, in Hot Wells, Texas. She was a pioneer for women in business, building a substantial cosmetics empire. In 1939, she became a salesperson for Stanley Home Products, hosting parties to encourage people to buy household items. She was so good at making the sale that she was hired away by another company, World Gifts, in 1952. She spent a little more than a decade at the company, but quit in protest after watching yet another man that she had trained get promoted above and earn a much higher salary than she did. After her bad experiences in the traditional workplace, Ash set out to create her own business at the age of 45. She started with an initial investment of $5,000 in 1963. She purchased the formulas for skin lotions from the family of a tanner who created the products while he worked on hides. With her son, Richard Rogers, she opened a small store in Dallas and had nine salespeople working for her. The company turned a profit in its first year and sold close to $1 million in products by the end of its second year driven by her business acumen and philosophy. The basic premise was much like the products Ash sold earlier in her career: her cosmetics were sold through at-home parties and other events. However, she strove to make her business different by employing incentive programs and not having sales territories for her representatives.

She wanted everyone in the organization to have the opportunity to benefit from their successes. Sales representatives (she called them consultants) bought the products from the company at wholesale prices and then sold them at retail price to their customers. They could also earn commissions from new consultants that they had recruited. All of her marketing skills and people savvy helped make Mary Kay Cosmetics a very lucrative business. The company went public in 1968, but it was bought back by Ash and her family in 1985 when the stock price took a hit. The business itself remained successful and now annual sales exceed $2.2 billion, according to the company's website. At the heart of this profitable organization was Ash's enthusiastic personality. She was known for her love of the color pink and it could be found everywhere, from the product packaging to the Cadillacs she gave away to top-earning consultants each year. She seemed to sincerely value her consultants, and once said "People are a company's greatest asset". Her approach to business attracted a lot of interest. She was admired for her strategies and the results they achieved. She wrote several books about her experiences, including Mary Kay: The Success Story of America's Most Dynamic Businesswoman (1981), Mary Kay on People Management (1984) and Mary Kay: You Can Have It All (1995). While she stepped down from her position as CEO of the company in 1987, she remained an active part of the business. She established the Mary Kay Charitable Foundation in 1996. The foundation supports cancer research and efforts to end domestic violence. In 2000, she was named the most outstanding woman in business in the 20th century by Lifetime Television.

Married three times, Ash had three children - Richard, Ben and Marylyn - by her first husband, J. Ben Rogers. The two divorced after Rogers returned from serving in World War II. Her second marriage to a chemist was brief; he died of a heart attack in 1963, just one month after the two had gotten married. She married her third husband, Mel Ash, in 1966, and the couple stayed together until Mel's death in 1980. The cosmetics mogul died on November 22, 2001, in Dallas, Texas. By this time, the company she created had become a worldwide enterprise with representatives in more than 30 markets and more than 1.6 million salespeople working for Mary Kay, Inc. around the world.

32° 52.102
-096° 46.847

Hillcrest Mausoleum
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park

October 30, 2012

John Crittenden Duval (1816-1897)

John Crittenden Duval, writer, son of Nancy (Hynes) and William Pope Duval, was born at Bardstown, Kentucky, on March 14, 1816, and grew up in Tallahassee after his father was appointed to a federal judgeship in what was then Florida Territory. Duval returned to Bardstown in 1831 with his mother to continue his education at St. Joseph College. Late in 1835 he left the college to join a small company organized by his brother Capt. Burr H. Duval to fight with the Texans against Mexico. The brothers were with James W. Fannin's army when it surrendered to the Mexican forces under José de Urrea. In the Goliad Massacre on Palm Sunday, 1836, Burr Duval was killed, but John escaped. Not long afterwards he entered the University of Virginia to study engineering. He returned to Texas by 1840 and became a land surveyor. In 1845 he was, alongside William A. A. (Bigfoot) Wallace, a member of John C. (Jack) Hays's company of Texas Rangers.

Duval did not favor secession, but he joined the Confederate Army as a private, declining a commission. He was a captain by the war's end. He liked to be out in wilderness places, to loiter and to read, write, and recollect. His writings justify his being called the first Texas man of letters. Early Times in Texas was published serially in Burke's Weekly at Macon, Georgia, in 1867, although it did not appear in book form (and then only as a pamphlet printed on rotten paper) until 1892. The story of Duval's remarkable escape from the Goliad Massacre and of his more remarkable adventures before he rejoined human society became a Texas classic. Of all personal adventures of old-time Texans it is perhaps the best written and the most interesting. The Young Explorers (189?), a narrative with a fictional thread, a book for boys, was published as a sequel to Early Times in Texas. Duval's most artistic and most important book is The Adventures of Bigfoot Wallace, the Texas Ranger and Hunter (1870). Always free and at home with himself, Bigfoot opened up to his old friend Duval with gusto, and Duval helped him stretch the blanket. He died in Fort Worth on January 15, 1897. Source 

30° 16.515
-097° 43.632

Section 1
Oakwood Cemetery

October 23, 2012

Jerome B. Alexander (?-1842)

Jerome B. Alexander, soldier of the Republic of Texas, moved to Texas in January 1832. During the Texas Revolution he served as a private in Capt. John York's volunteer company at the siege of Bexar and as a private in Capt. Moseley Baker's Company D of Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment, Texas Volunteers, at the battle of San Jacinto. He was elected clerk of the Third Judicial District court in January 1838 and was reelected in January 1842. During this period he was a resident of Fayette County with title to 200 acres of land and an additional 611 acres under survey. He also owned two town lots in La Grange, four horses, fifty cattle, and a silver watch. He had an additional 1,476 acres under survey in Gonzales County. When Adrián Woll raided San Antonio in 1842, Alexander was elected lieutenant in the volunteer company of Capt. Nicholas M. Dawson. He was killed in action in the infamous Dawson Massacre on September 18, 1842. He was buried with his companions at Monument Hill near La Grange, Fayette County. Source

29° 53.339
-096° 52.618

Monument Hill State Historic Site
La Grange

October 16, 2012

Benjamin Rush Milam (1788-1835)

Ben Milam, soldier, colonizer, and entrepreneur, was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, on October 20, 1788, the fifth of the six children of Moses and Elizabeth Pattie (Boyd) Milam. He had little or no formal schooling. He enlisted in the Kentucky militia and fought for several months in the War of 1812. When his period of enlistment was completed he returned to Frankfort. In 1818 he was in Texas trading with the Comanche Indians on the Colorado River when he met David G. Burnet. The two became friends. In New Orleans in 1819 Milam met José Félix Trespalacios and James Long, who were planning an expedition to help the revolutionaries in Mexico and Texas gain independence from Spain. Milam joined Trespalacios and was commissioned a colonel. While they sailed to Veracruz, Long marched to La Bahía, which he easily captured, only to discover that the people and soldiers there were revolutionaries, not Royalists. They gave him a hostile reception, and he moved on to San Antonio. In Veracruz and Mexico City, Trespalacios and Milam met with the same reception that Long had received and were imprisoned. Ultimately, with General Long, they were able to legitimize their purposes and intentions to the new revolutionary government which, in turn, accepted and treated them with respect and generosity.

Long was shot and killed by a guard under circumstances that convinced Milam that the killing was plotted by Trespalacios. Milam and several friends then planned to kill Trespalacios. The plot was discovered, however, and Milam and his friends were imprisoned in Mexico City. Through the influence of Joel R. Poinsett, United States minister, all were released. By the spring of 1824 Milam returned to Mexico, which now had adopted the Constitution of 1824 and had a republican form of government. In Mexico City he met Arthur G. Wavell, an Englishman who had become a general in the Mexican army. Trespalacios, now prominent in the new government also, made overtures to Milam to renew their friendship, and Milam accepted. He was granted Mexican citizenship and commissioned a colonel in the Mexican army in 1824. In 1825-26 he became Wavell's partner in a silver mine in Nuevo León; the two also obtained empresario grants in Texas. Wavell managed the mining in Mexico and leased the most productive mine to an English company, which by 1828 was unable to fulfill the terms of their contract. In 1829 Milam sought to organize a new mining company in partnership with David G. Burnet, but they were unable to raise the necessary capital. In April 1830 the Mexican Congress passed a law prohibiting further immigration of United States citizens into Texas. This was one reason why Milam, as Wavell's agent for his Red River colony, and Robert M. Williamson, as agent for Milam's colony, were not able to introduce the required number of settlers specified in their empresario contracts, which were due to expire in 1832. During this time Milam removed the great Red River raft of debris, which for years had blocked traffic in the upper part of the Red River for all vessels except canoes and small, flat-bottomed boats. He then purchased a steamboat, the Alps, the first of its kind to pass through the channel.

In 1835 Milam went to Monclova, the capital of Coahuila and Texas, to urge the new governor, Agustín Viesca, to send a land commissioner to Texas to provide the settlers with land titles. Viesca agreed to do this. However, before Milam could leave the city, word came that Antonio López de Santa Anna had overthrown the representative government of Mexico, had established a dictatorship, and was en route to Texas with an army. Viesca fled with Milam, but both were captured and imprisoned at Monterrey. Milam eventually escaped and headed for the Texas border, which he reached in October 1835. By accident he encountered a company of soldiers commanded by George Collinsworth, from whom he heard of the movement in Texas for independence. Milam joined them, helped capture Goliad, and then marched with them to join the main army to capture San Antonio. While returning from a scouting mission in the southwest on December 4, 1835, Milam learned that a majority of the army had decided not to attack San Antonio as planned but to go into winter quarters. Convinced that this decision would be a disaster for the cause of independence, Milam then made his famous, impassioned plea: "Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?" Three hundred volunteered, and the attack, which began at dawn on December 5, ended on December 9 with the surrender of Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos and the Mexican army. Milam did not survive to witness the victory, however. On December 7 he was shot in the head by a sniper and died instantly. In 1897 the Daughters of the Republic of Texas erected a monument at Milam's gravesite in Milam Park, San Antonio. The marker was moved in 1976, and the location of the grave was forgotten until 1993, when a burial was unearthed that archeologists think is probably Milam's. Source

29° 25.570
-098° 29.978

Milam Park
San Antonio

October 9, 2012

John Winfield Scott Dancy (1810-1866)

John Dancy, early legislator, farmer, and railroad promoter, was born to William and Priscilla (Turner) Dancy in Greensville County, Virginia, on September 3, 1810. He was a descendant of Francis de Dance, a Castilian nobleman who fled persecution in France. Dancy had a sister and at least one brother, Charles, who spent time in Texas. General Winfield Scott was Dancy's cousin. After growing up in Decatur, Alabama, Dancy studied law, science, and languages and attended Nashville University. He received a law license in Tennessee from Judge John Catron, United States Supreme Court justice from 1837 to 1865. In July 1835 Dancy married Evalina Rhodes. After her death the following summer he decided to move to Texas. On December 28, 1836, he and Francis R. Lubbock arrived at Velasco on the schooner Corolla. Dancy became a citizen of Texas on January 13, 1837, before Judge Robert M. Williamson. He traveled throughout the republic and in 1838 purchased 640 acres in Fayette County. He introduced long-staple cotton to Texas and developed the first hydraulic ram in the state to provide irrigation for his plantation. In 1841 he was elected Fayette County representative to the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas. He later served in the Senate of the Second and Fourth state legislatures (1847-48 and 1851-53) and in the House of the Sixth Legislature (1855-56). He was considered an eloquent but long-winded speaker. Dancy ran for governor as a Democrat in 1853 but placed last in a field of six candidates led by Elisha M. Pease. In February 1861 he was a delegate to the Secession Convention.

His early advocacy of railroad development earned him the nickname "Father of Texas Railroads." During his first legislative term he advocated annexing California and constructing a railroad to connect the West Coast to Texas. He helped secure charters for the Harrisburg Railroad and Trading Company and the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway; he became a vice president of the latter and in 1866 transferred it to the Southern Pacific. In 1850 Dancy proposed using public lands to finance railroad construction. He maintained a law practice in La Grange and was a developer of Colorado City, the site chosen by the legislature in 1838 for the new capital but vetoed by President Sam Houston. Dancy was a member of the Texas Monumental Committee, formed to raise funds for a monument to men killed during the Mier Expedition and Dawson Massacre, and edited the committee's newspaper, the Texas Monument, from July 1850 to June 1851. He was a founding trustee of Rutersville College. During the Mexican invasions of 1842, Dancy served in the First Regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers under John Coffee Hays. From May to July 1847 he served as a private in a spy company of Texas mounted volunteers commanded by Benjamin McCulloch. He also fought in Indian skirmishes. He married Lucy Ann Nowlin of Austin on October 25, 1849. They had a son and five daughters. Dancy died in La Grange on February 13, 1866, and was buried in the city cemetery. Source

29° 54.625
-096° 52.090

Section 1
Old La Grange City Cemetery
La Grange

October 2, 2012

Joshua Parker (1790-1838)

Joshua Parker, member of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born on April 13, 1790, in Grayson County, Virginia. He was living in Arkansas in 1821, when he became acquainted with Moses Austin and enrolled in the proposed Austin colony in Texas. He and his colonist partner William Parks received title to a sitio of land in what is now Wharton County on July 24, 1824. Parker's home place on Palmetto Creek was adjacent to Stephen F. Austin's headquarters. The census of 1826 listed Parker as a farmer and stock man, a single man aged between twenty-five and forty. He married Nancy Whiteside in 1828. Evidently he dealt extensively in livestock. He bought a mule from James Gaines in 1824, ordered horses from Josiah H. Bell in 1826, had Austin buy him an ox ring from Nicholas Clopper in August 1826, and had a quarrel with Aylett C. Buckner while he and Buckner were driving a herd of horses from the Rio Grande. In November 1830 Parker was listed among persons who must comply with the conditions of their grants or have their lots sold by the ayuntamiento of San Felipe. He was an acquaintance of William B. Travis at San Felipe in 1833. Parker died on July 24, 1838, at Independence, Texas. Source

30° 19.729
-096° 21.675

Old Independence Cemetery

September 25, 2012

Asa Brigham (1790-1844)

Asa Brigham, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, first treasurer of the Republic of Texas, and mayor of Austin, was born in Massachusetts about 1790. With his wife, Elizabeth S., two sons, a daughter, and a son-in-law, he arrived in Texas from Louisiana in April 1830. In December the ayuntamiento of San Felipe de Austin announced his election as síndico procurador for the precinct of Victoria (Brazoria), and in December 1831 he was elected comisario for the same precinct. He was one of those who signed a document on June 20, 1832, indicating readiness to participate in military operations in the interest of Texas independence. On October 6, 1832, he was elected treasurer for the Brazoria district. Brigham was appointed a member of the Brazoria board of health in 1831. After 1832 he kept a ferry at Brazoria, where he ran a mercantile business with his son-in-law, and later he was a stockholder in the San Saba Colonization Company and receiver of stock for the Brazos and Galveston Railroad. He acquired leagues of land at Hall's Bayou in Brazoria County and in Galveston and Bastrop counties, and raised sugar, cotton, corn, and cattle. By 1833 his daughter, wife, and son-in-law had all died. Though he held slaves for a time, Brigham later signed petitions for free blacks.

As one of those instrumental in establishing a Masonic lodge at Brazoria, he served as junior warden there and was also a charter member of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, organized at Houston on December 20, 1837. Brigham was elected Brazoria alcalde in 1835. He served as one of four representatives from Brazoria to the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. He remained at the convention until at least March 16, 1836. David G. Burnet appointed him auditor of the Republic of Texas, and President Sam Houston named him treasurer on December 20, 1836. He was the first to hold the latter office and was re-appointed by Mirabeau B. Lamar in January 1839. On February 16, 1839, Brigham became a Houston alderman while serving as national treasurer. He left the treasury on April 12, 1840; later that year he was charged with using state funds for private purposes but was cleared. Houston re-appointed him treasurer on December 31, 1841, and in 1842 Brigham became mayor of Austin. After the death of his first wife he married Mrs. Ann Johnson Mather, on July 8, 1839. He died on July 3, 1844, at Washington, Texas, where he is buried. A monument was erected by the state of Texas at the burial site in 1936, and Brigham's remains were removed to a site in Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site sometime later. Source 

30° 19.566
-096° 10.165

Washington Cemetery

September 18, 2012

Francis Marcus Weatherred (1781-1854)

Francis Marcus Weatherred, son of Francis and Agnes Weatherred, was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, on July 15, 1781. On December 23, 1806, while living in Tennessee, he married Nancy Dowell. He fought in the Creek War under Andrew Jackson before moving to Texas in December 1835, where he settled in Robertson's Colony. During the Texas Revolution, Francis joined William Patton's Columbia Company, but was on leave of absence during the battle of San Jacinto. On October 3, 1836, he was elected to Congress of the Republic as a representative from Milam County, but resigned on the 31st when it was discovered he had actually lost. In 1837 he was living in what is now Sabine County, where he operated a hotel in Milam. He ran for office again in 1843, but was defeated. Francis died on December 4, 1854 at his home and was buried in the town cemetery.

31° 26.190
-093° 51.004

Milam Cemetery

September 11, 2012

James Albert Michener (1907-1997)

James A. Michener was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, on February 3, 1907, and soon after abandoned by his parents. His foster mother, Mabel Michener, a poor widow who made a scant living by taking in laundry and sewing, took him in and raised him to young adulthood. At fourteen, Michener began what would become a lifelong inclination toward travel when he went on a hitchhiking tour that took him through 45 states. That fall he entered Doylestown High School, where his chief interest was sports, especially basketball. Upon graduation in 1925, he won a scholarship to Swarthmore College. He graduated from college summa cum laude in 1929 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. His first job was as an English teacher at Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where he worked from 1929 to 1931. He then received a Lippincott Travel Fellowship and, for the next two years, traveled in Europe. He studied in Scotland, England, and Italy, worked on a Mediterranean cargo ship, and toured Spain with a troupe of bullfighters. Upon returning to the United States in 1933, Michener accepted a teaching position at George School in Doylestown. While there he met Patti Koon; they were married in 1935. The following year, Michener was offered an associate professorship at the Colorado State College of Education in Greeley, where he taught until 1939. He also obtained his master's degree in English in 1937. His next move was to Harvard University's School of Education, where he was a visiting professor from 1939 to 1940. In 1940, he began a nine-year stint as a social studies editor at Macmillan.

In 1943, an event occurred that would drastically change Michener's life, although perhaps not in the way he expected. He had enlisted as an apprentice seaman in the United States Naval Reserve when World War II broke out and, in 1943, was called to active duty. He was sent to the South Pacific in 1944, where he traveled from island to island, learning about local culture and history and hearing stories from the residents. Michener developed an idea for a book and began to spend his nights tapping it out with two fingers on an old typewriter, using the backs of letters from home, old envelopes, and official Navy correspondence. Ultimately the recording of his experiences became his first well-known book, Tales of the South Pacific, published in 1947. It paid off - Tales of the South Pacific won a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and was adapted by Rogers and Hammerstein into the popular musical comedy, South Pacific in 1949. In 1948, Michener and his first wife were divorced and he married Vange Nord, an aspiring writer. The couple bought some property and built a new house, and Michener proceeded to publish several more books, including The Fires of Spring (1949), Return to Paradise (1951), The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1953), and Sayonara: The Floating World (1954). In addition, Michener began working as a roving editor for Readers Guide, an endeavor he continued until 1970. In 1955, he and his second wife divorced and Michener married Mari Yoriko Sabusawa. Although they had no children of their own, throughout their 39-year marriage Michener and his third wife housed and cared for many underprivileged children.

With the publication of his first historical novel, Hawaii, in 1959, Michener's writing career took on greater challenges. Like many such novels that were to follow, Hawaii was based on extensive research into the social, cultural, economic, and political history of a particular region and spanned generations of a family. Others of this kind included Caravans, about a romantic American girl in Afghanistan (1963); Centennial, which presented the history of Colorado from prehistory through the twentieth century (1974); Chesapeake, a depiction of 400 years of history on Maryland's eastern shore (1978); and The Covenant, a full history of South Africa (1980). Poland (1983), Texas (1985), Alaska (1988), and Caribbean (1989) were others among the more than 40 books Michener published. Space, published in 1982, dealt with NASA and space exploration and was one of Michener's most popular books. His novels sold an estimated 75 million copies worldwide. Several were made into motion pictures, including Tales of the South Pacific, Hawaii, Texas, and Space. Despite the popularity of his novels, Michener received mixed critical reviews. Some called him mediocre and long-winded, relying too much on trivial historical detail and not enough on imaginative language and subtlety. Others praised his ability to mold the vast amount of research into a story that taught about cultural diversity. Michener first became active in politics when he was chairman of the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, campaign for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election. In 1962, he lost his run for Congress as a Democrat. He served as secretary of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention in 1967-1968, during which a new state constitution was written. Michener also served as a correspondent for President Richard Nixon during his 1972 trips to the Soviet Union and China.

Although Michener was best known for his novels, they were not his only products. His earliest work, which consisted of 15 articles on teaching social studies published between the years 1936 and 1942, provided examples of the way in which Michener used fiction as a teaching device. In his book Return to Paradise (1951), Michener alternated essays about Asia with stories designed to exemplify the essays. The Novel (1991), though fiction, taught about art and the craft of writing. Michener also wrote books about Japanese art, the electoral college, sports and the 1970 shooting at Kent State. He published his memoirs, titled appropriately The World is My Home, in 1992. In 1994, he wrote Recessional, about retirement life in Florida and gave readers insight into Michener's own thoughts and feelings at that point in his life. Michener is known for his generous contributions to various organizations, estimated to be at least $100 million. Examples include $7.2 million to his alma mater, Swathmore College; $64.2 million to the University of Texas at Austin; and $9.5 million to the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. In addition, Michener designated the royalties from many of his books to various charitable organizations. In 1997, Fortune magazine listed Michener as the previous year's twenty-first most generous philanthropist. Throughout his long career, Michener received numerous awards. Some of the most noteworthy include the Einstein Award from Einstein Medical College in 1967, the Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford in 1977, the Pennsylvania Society Gold Medal in 1978, the Franklin Award and Spanish Institute Gold Medal in 1980, and an award for Outstanding Philanthropist by the National Society of Fund Raising Executives in 1996. Another honor came in the form of a television series on PBS called The World of James A. Michener, a program that explored some of the regions in which his novels were set.

In the midst of his professional achievements, Michener suffered a severe loss when his wife died of cancer in 1994. By this time Michener himself was in poor health; he had undergone hip surgery, major bypass surgery, and suffered from severe kidney problems which required dialysis treatments three times a week. Despite these ailments, Michener continued to write, publishing This Noble Land: My Vision for America in 1996 and A Century of Sonnets in 1997. He died in his home in Austin, Texas, on October 16, 1997, at the age of 90. Source

30° 19.949
-097° 45.192

Section 11
Austin Memorial Park Cemetery