March 27, 2012

DeWitt Clinton Giddings (1827-1903)

Dewitt Clinton Giddings, Democratic politician and early Texas businessman, the youngest of eight children of James and Lucy (Demming) Giddings, was born on July 18, 1827, in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. His father, a farmer, had been a sea captain. Giddings financed his education as a civil engineer in New York by teaching school part-time. In 1847 he was employed as a railroad engineer, and in 1850 he began legal studies in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. In 1852 he joined his brother Jabez D. Giddings in Brenham, Texas. In 1853 Dewitt Giddings was admitted to the Texas bar, received license to practice before the state district and supreme courts, and became his brother's junior partner in Brenham. Giddings specialized in civil and probate cases and developed a lucrative legal practice and statewide reputation in state and federal courts before the Civil War. In 1859 he was construction superintendent of the Washington County Railroad. The Giddings brothers arranged a county school-fund loan and contributed financially to make possible completion of the railroad in 1860. In 1862, despite Unionist sentiment, D. C. Giddings enlisted as a private in the Confederate Twenty-first Texas Cavalry (First Texas Lancers). He was elected captain and then lieutenant colonel. In absence of Col. William Carter, Giddings was actual commander of this regiment during the war. He was briefly captured and exchanged in 1862. He participated in Arkansas and Louisiana campaigns and John S. Marmaduke's Missouri raid.

In 1867 Giddings aided yellow fever victims in Brenham; the same year, he was elected foreman of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, which, despite its name, was organized to resist the actions of Union troops. Giddings was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1866. He served on the Resolutions Committee of the conservative state convention in 1868. As a Democrat, he won the 1871 special election for United States congressman from the Third Texas District, in part because of his efforts to gain broad ethnic support. After Republican governor Edmund J. Davis certified the reelection of his opponent, William T. Clark, Giddings won his appeal to the United States House of Representatives, which unanimously seated him in 1872 . He was the first Southern Democrat to enter Congress during Reconstruction. He was reelected to the Forty-third Congress and as an advocate of silver defeated independent candidate George Washington Jones to serve in the Forty-fifth Congress (1877-79). After the Civil War Giddings and his brother J. D. became land agents and owners of holdings throughout Texas. They founded the Giddings and Giddings bank at Brenham in 1866. Dewitt Giddings earned a large commission during Governor Richard Coke's term when he successively recovered $339,000 in proceeds from state-owned bonds sold in Europe during the war.

After his brother's death, Giddings managed bank operations and in 1884 became sole owner of the Giddings bank. By 1874 he was a large stockholder in Texas Mutual Life Insurance of Galveston. He chartered the short-lived Brazos Valley, Brenham and Gulf Railway Company in 1888 to promote lower railroad rates. His activities focused on banking after 1875. Giddings was a Texas presidential elector at large in 1876, a member of the Platforms and Resolutions Committee at Texas Democratic conventions in 1884, 1888, 1892, and 1894, and a Texas delegate to the national Democratic convention in 1884, 1888, and 1892. In 1886 he ran unsuccessfully against Lawrence Sullivan (Sul) Ross for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Giddings campaigned against a proposed state prohibition amendment and was chairman of the Anti-Prohibition State Convention in May 1887. As an opponent of Governor James S. Hogg's reelection, Giddings was chairman of the June 1892 state Democratic platform committee, coauthor of the committee's minority report opposing free silver at the Car-Stable Convention (August 1892), and member of the Turner Hall Convention platform committee. In August 1894 he supported the national Democratic party platform as chairman of the state Democratic platform committee. He was a delegate of the Texas Gold Democratic Conference to the Memphis Convention (1895) and delegate at large of Texas Gold Democrats to the Indianapolis Convention. He also served on the state Deep Water Convention Resolutions Committee to promote federal appropriations for a Gulf of Mexico port in 1888. In the 1880s he supported Populists within Washington County to destroy Republican domination of county politics. Giddings was the leading proponent of the establishment in Brenham of the state's first public schools. In 1860 he married Malinda C. Lusk, the daughter of Samuel C. Lusk. They had five children. Mrs. Giddings died in 1869. Giddings died of heart disease in Brenham on August 19, 1903, and was buried in Prairie Lea cemetery. Source 

30° 09.329
-096° 24.559

Section 3
Prairie Lea Cemetery

March 20, 2012

Samuel Augustus Maverick (1803-1870)

Sam Maverick, land baron and legislator, was born at Pendleton, South Carolina, on July 23, 1803, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Anderson) Maverick. He spent his earliest years primarily in Charleston, but in 1810 the family moved to Pendleton, where Maverick's father established a plantation and devoted much of his energy to buying land in South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia. Maverick was educated at home until age eighteen, when he left South Carolina and spent a summer studying under a tutor at Ripton, Connecticut, in preparation for entry to Yale University. He entered the sophomore class at Yale in September 1822 and graduated in 1825. He returned to Pendleton, started handling some of his father's business affairs, and developed an eye for land and a careful business sense. In 1828 he traveled to Winchester, Virginia, and studied law under noted jurist Henry St. George Tucker. Maverick received his Virginia law license on March 26, 1829. He returned to Pendleton in 1829 and opened a law office. He ran for the South Carolina legislature in 1830, but his anti-secession and anti-nullification views contributed to his defeat and led him to leave the state in 1833. He settled temporarily in Georgia, then on a plantation in Lauderdale County, Alabama, before moving to Texas in March 1835. Maverick arrived in Texas eager to start building his own land empire, but the Texas Revolution was rapidly developing. He reached San Antonio shortly before the siege of Bexar began and was soon put under house arrest with John W. Smith and A. C. Holmes on the orders of Mexican general Martín Perfecto de Cos. Forbidden to leave the city, Maverick kept a diary that provides a vivid record of the siege.

He and Smith were released on December 1 and quickly made their way to the besiegers' camp, where they urged an immediate attack. When an attack was finally made on December 5, Maverick guided Benjamin R. Milam's division. He remained in San Antonio after the siege and in February was elected one of two delegates from the Alamo garrison to the independence convention scheduled for March 1, 1836, at Washington-on-the-Brazos. He left the embattled garrison on March 2 and arrived at the convention on March 5. While serving there, Maverick contracted a severe attack of chills and fever. After the delegates dispersed, he made his way to Nacogdoches; then, ill and aware that he was needed on family business, he departed for Alabama about the time of Sam Houston's victory at San Jacinto. In Alabama, Maverick met Mary Ann Adams, and married her on August 4, 1836, at her widowed mother's plantation near Tuscaloosa. The couple divided their time between Alabama and Pendleton until late 1837, when with their first-born, Samuel Maverick, Jr., and a small retinue of slaves, they started for Texas. In June 1838 they established a home in San Antonio. Maverick obtained his Texas law license, engaged in West Texas land speculation, and served as the city's mayor in 1839. He followed his term as mayor with a term as treasurer and continued to serve on the city council until the Mavericks joined the "Runaway of '42," a move based on rumors of pending Mexican invasion of San Antonio. They settled temporarily near Gonzales, but Maverick returned to San Antonio for the fall term of district court and was one of the prisoners taken by Mexican general Adrián Woll.

He was released from Perote Prison in April 1843 through the intervention of United States minister to Mexico Waddy Thompson. Upon his return, Maverick, who had been elected to the Seventh Congress of the Republic of Texas, served in the Eighth Congress and was a strong advocate of annexation to the United States. In late 1844 he moved his growing family to Decrows (Decros) Point on Matagorda Bay, where they lived until October 1847. When he returned permanently to San Antonio with his family, Maverick left a small herd of cattle originally purchased in 1847 on Matagorda Peninsula with slave caretakers. It was this herd that was allowed to wander and gave rise to the term maverick, which denotes an unbranded calf. In 1854 Maverick and his two eldest sons rounded up the cattle and drove them to their Conquista Ranch near the site of present Floresville before selling them in 1856. During the years between Maverick's return to San Antonio and his death, he expanded his West Texas landholdings, which in 1851 totaled almost 140,000 acres. By 1864 they had burgeoned to more than 278,000 acres, and at his death they topped 300,000 acres. Maverick gained land primarily by buying such land certificates as headright certificates and bounty and donation certificates.

In the 1850s and 1860s he was one of the two biggest investors in West Texas acreage, and Maverick County was named in his honor. He served as a Democrat in the Fourth through Ninth state legislatures (1851-63). There he worked to ensure equal opportunity for his Mexican and German constituents, to foster fair and liberal laws for land acquisition and ownership, to develop transportation and other internal state improvements, to provide protection for the frontier, and to ensure a fair and efficient judicial system. He also worked until the outbreak of the Civil War to stem the tide of secessionism, but, seeing that a conflict was inevitable, threw his support to the Confederacy. He was one of three secession commissioners appointed by the Texas Secession Convention, and the three successfully effected the removal of federal troops and the transfer of federal stores in Texas to the state government. During the war he was elected chief justice of Bexar County and served a second term as San Antonio mayor. After the war he received a presidential pardon and was active in attempts to combat the radical Republican regime in Reconstruction Texas. He died on September 2, 1870, after a brief illness. Surviving him were his wife and five of his ten children. Maverick, an Episcopalian, was buried in San Antonio's City Cemetery Number 1. Source

29° 25.222
-098° 28.034

City Cemetery #1
San Antonio

March 13, 2012

Seth Ingram (1790-1857)

Seth Ingram, surveyor, merchant, and public official, was born in Vermont on June 19, 1790. During the War of 1812 he served as a sergeant in the Eleventh Regiment, United States Infantry. On April 26, 1822, he and his brother Ira, a Nashville, Tennessee, bookstore proprietor, became co-owners of a single share of stock in the newly organized Texas Association. That same year Seth arrived in Texas with letters of introduction and recommendation as a surveyor from Joseph H. Hawkins of New Orleans. He was engaged by Stephen F. Austin as a surveyor for his colony in August 1823 and platted the town of San Felipe de Austin in late 1823 and early 1824. For such work he was paid at the rate of five dollars a mile in property or three dollars a mile in cash. Ingram took part in colony elections in August and December of 1823 and April of 1824. In the summer of 1824 he served as first lieutenant in the colonial militia. As one of Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, on July 29, 1824, he received title to two leagues and one labor of land that later became part of Wharton and Austin counties; six years later he obtained an additional league near Matagorda Bay in what became southwestern Matagorda County. By 1827 Seth and Ira had formed a partnership with Hosea H. League to operate a general store in San Felipe. This establishment stood near Stephen F. Austin's cabin on the banks of Bullinger's Creek a half mile west of the Brazos River.

Late in the summer of 1830 Ira Ingram quarreled with John G. Holtham, a lawyer of unsavory reputation, over Holtham's drunken intrusion into Ingram's yard. Holtham demanded an apology for being expelled from the premises. When Ira ignored him, he circulated handbills defaming Ira as a "coward, a rogue, and a man without honor." On September 2, 1830, Seth Ingram confronted Holtham as he was posting one such notice in the streets of San Felipe and ordered him to remove it. When Holtham refused, pistols were drawn, and Ingram killed Holtham. Ingram was arrested along with Hosea League, who had been a bystander during the incident, and both were confined almost incommunicado for sixteen months, much of the time in heavy irons. As the municipality had no jail, the two were chained to the walls of the half-completed meetinghouse of the San Felipe ayuntamiento. With the colony's inherently cumbersome legal machinery moving at a suspiciously lethargic pace, frustrating the adjudication of their case indefinitely, the pair were finally released on bond in January 1832 but were arrested again a short time later after a murder in the colony. Although in the estimation of Stephen F. Austin, Ingram was as fine a citizen as could be found in the colony, League was reportedly a very unpopular man with few friends and many influential enemies. In the fall of 1831, however, more than 700 signatures were obtained on a petition for the prisoners' release.

During his confinement Ingram wrote to Austin requesting additional grants of land to alleviate his financial distress, pointing out that his work as a surveyor had profited the colony, while he himself had been forced into poverty through long imprisonment. At last, sometime in late 1832, the pair were tried, acquitted, and released. In December of that year Austin directed Ingram to survey a league on Karankawa Bay for Sam Houston. By 1834 the Ingram brothers had moved to Matagorda, where both were members of the Committee of Safety and Vigilance in September 1835. Seth served as one of the executors of his brother's estate in October 1837. As a justice of the peace he appears to have officiated at his own marriage to Susanna Rice on December 5, 1837. He was one of the trustees of Matagorda University upon its incorporation in February 1845. According to Matagorda County marriage records, Ingram took Sarah M. Davis as his second wife on February 9, 1846, and less than four years later, on December 24, 1849, he wed Mary E. Carter. The census of 1850 described Ingram as a notary public owning $2,000 in real property, while his wife Mary held an estate worth $10,000. Ingram died on May 12, 1857, and was buried at Matagorda. Source

28° 42.029
-095° 57.282

Section E
Matagorda Cemetery

March 6, 2012

Clara Driscoll (1881-1945)

Clara Driscoll, businesswoman, philanthropist, and historic preservationist, was born on April 2, 1881, to Robert and Julia (Fox) Driscoll in St. Mary's, Texas, near the site of present Bayside. Her ancestors were among the Irish Catholic pioneers who had settled the area between the Nueces and Guadalupe rivers, and both of her grandfathers had fought in the Texas Revolution. By 1890 her father had amassed a multi-million dollar empire in ranching, banking, and commercial developments centered in the Corpus Christi area. For her education he sent his only daughter to private schools in Texas, New York City, and France. After almost a decade of study and travel abroad, Clara Driscoll returned to Texas at the age of eighteen, imbued with an appreciation of the importance of preserving historic sites in Texas for the benefit of future generations. She was shocked to discover the disrepair of the three-acre plaza and the old convent (also known as the Long Barrack) adjoining San Antonio de Valero Mission, familiarly called the Alamo, and to learn that the property might soon be converted into a hotel. Although the state of Texas owned the iconic Alamo church, the Long Barrack was owned by local merchants and plastered with signs and billboards. From 1903 to 1905 Driscoll worked with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) to draw attention to their efforts to acquire and preserve the structure, and in 1905 she personally paid most of the purchase price. The state of Texas later reimbursed her and granted custodianship of both the Alamo church and the Long Barrack to the DRT. The attractive young philanthropist received extensive national publicity as the "Savior of the Alamo." She then pursued a writing career.

She wrote a novel, The Girl of La Gloria (1905), a collection of short stories, In the Shadow of the Alamo (1906), and a comic opera, Mexicana, the production of which she financed on Broadway in 1906. That same year she married Henry Hulme (Hal) Sevier at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. The Seviers, who had met several years earlier in Austin, when Sevier was serving in the Texas legislature, remained in New York. Hal served as financial editor of the New York Sun, and Clara served as the president of the Texas Club and entertained extensively at their opulent villa on Long Island. After Clara Sevier's father died in 1914, the Seviers returned to Austin to be near her family's financial interests. Sevier established a daily newspaper, the Austin American, and his wife became active in the Austin Garden Club and Pan American Round Table and served as president of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. She also directed construction of Laguna Gloria, a fine Italianate mansion located on the Colorado River near the city. At the death of her brother, Robert Driscoll, Jr., in 1929, Mrs. Sevier closed Laguna Gloria and moved with her husband to her family's Palo Alto ranch headquarters to manage extensive land and petroleum properties and to serve as president of the Corpus Christi Bank and Trust Company. Under her astute leadership the financial dominion almost doubled in value.

After a two-year residence in Santiago, Chile, while her husband served as the United States ambassador there, the Seviers returned to Texas in 1935 and shortly thereafter legally separated. When the childless, thirty-one-year marriage was dissolved, Clara legally resumed her maiden name and was thereafter officially known as Mrs. Clara Driscoll. During the next decade much of her time, energy, and money were devoted to historic preservation, civic betterment, and club activity. She assisted the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs in liquidating the mortgage on its Austin clubhouse, served as vice chairman of the Texas Centennial Exposition executive board, and presented Laguna Gloria to the Texas Fine Arts Association to be used as a museum. To memorialize her brother and to improve the economic life of Corpus Christi, she constructed the lavish twenty-story Hotel Robert Driscoll, where she occupied the large penthouse apartment. Colorful, outspoken, and independent-minded, Driscoll relished participation in the political arena. She was elected the Democratic party's national committeewoman from Texas in 1922 and served in that position for an unprecedented sixteen years. In 1939 she promoted the candidacy of her friend John Nance Garner for president. After Franklin D. Roosevelt was reelected for a third term, however, she remained loyal to what she considered the best interests of her party and supported Roosevelt's fourth-term efforts during a bitter battle at the 1944 state convention. Her political acumen and activity were acknowledged to be of national importance, and it was said that "political potentates and Texas voters knew her equally well." Clara Driscoll was a Catholic. She died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage on July 17, 1945, in Corpus Christi. After her body had lain in state at the Alamo chapel, she was interred at the Masonic Cemetery in San Antonio. She bequeathed the bulk of her family fortune to establish the Driscoll Foundation Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi. Source

29° 25.191
-098° 28.155

Driscoll Family Mausoleum
Alamo Masonic Cemetery
San Antonio