May 29, 2012

Oliver Jones

   Oliver Jones, Texas pioneer, Indian fighter, and public official, was born in New York City in 1794. He served in the War of 1812 and was taken prisoner by the British. He became so disturbed by the failure of the United States to secure release for himself and his fellow prisoners of war that after the conflict he resolved to live no longer under such a government. He made his way to Mexico City, where he met Stephen F. Austin and was persuaded to travel with him to Texas in 1822. As one of Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, Jones received title on August 10, 1824, to a league of land on Cedar Lake Creek in what is now western Brazoria County and a labor on the west bank of the Brazos River in land now part of eastern Austin County. The census of March 1826 classified Jones as a farmer and stock raiser with six servants. In 1829, as a captain in the colony's militia, Jones led a company of fifty volunteers on an expedition against Waco and Tawakoni Indians from the Brazos River to the Colorado and then to the mouth of the San Saba. From 1829 to 1830 he served as alguacil, or sheriff, of Austin's colony.
   By 1833 he had become a client of William B. Travis at San Felipe de Austin. As a delegate to the Convention of 1833, he advocated a separate state government for Texas within the Mexican confederation. As a representative of Texas in the legislature of Coahuila and Texas in 1834, Jones, with his colleague José Antonio Vásquez and Supreme Court judge Thomas J. Chambers, issued a public appeal for a convention at Bexar to consider the establishment of a more satisfactory government for Texas. After the Texas Revolution Jones represented Austin County in the House of the Second Congress of the republic (1837-38), and in the Senate of the Third (1838), Fourth (1839-40), Sixth (1841-42), and Seventh (1842-43) congresses. He was chairman of the committee appointed to produce a flag and seal for the republic and also served as a delegate to the annexation convention in 1845. While attending Congress in Austin in 1840, Jones became acquainted with Mrs. Rebecca Greenleaf Westover McIntyre, whom he soon married. After annexation the couple established residence at Burleigh, a plantation on the Brazos River a few miles from Bellville, where Jones became a successful cotton planter. There Anson Jones, a political ally who referred to Oliver Jones as his adopted cousin, was a frequent guest. Jones resided at Burleigh until 1859, when he purchased a home in Galveston; he remained in the Houston vicinity for most of the rest of his life. He died in Houston at the residence of Mrs. Sarah Merriweather on September 17, 1866, and was buried in the city's Episcopal and Masonic Cemetery beside his wife, who had died on Christmas Eve the previous year. The bodies of both Rebecca and Oliver Jones were reinterred in the State Cemetery at Austin in 1930. Source

30° 15.936, -097° 43.642

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

May 22, 2012

Hardin Richard Runnels

   Hardin R. Runnels, governor and legislator, the son of Hardin D. and Martha "Patsy" Burch (Darden) Runnels, was born on August 30, 1820, in Mississippi. His father died in 1839, and in 1842 he moved with his mother, his three brothers, and his uncle Hiram G. Runnels to Texas. The family first settled on the Brazos River, but Runnels soon moved with his mother and brothers to Bowie County, where they established a cotton plantation on the Red River. From 1847 to 1855 he served as state representative in the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth legislatures. He was speaker of the House during his final term. In 1855 he was elected lieutenant governor. During these years he acquired a reputation as a loyal member of the Democratic party and a staunch supporter of states' rights. He was the son of a prominent and wealthy family and also became a wealthy man in his own right. By 1860 his real and personal property was worth an estimated $85,000 and included thirty-nine slaves. In May 1857 the state Democratic party held its first convention at which a gubernatorial candidate was nominated. Leading Democrats, angered by Sam Houston's votes in the United States Senate and his seeming endorsement of the American (Know-Nothing) party in 1856, wished to prevent Houston's election as governor. Because of his support of Southern positions and his party loyalty, Runnels received the nomination on the eighth ballot. Shortly thereafter, Houston announced his candidacy as an independent Democrat, saying that the issues were "Houston and Anti-Houston." Runnels was a poor public speaker and made few appearances, but the party's candidate for lieutenant governor, Francis R. Lubbock, campaigned actively. Houston also campaigned vigorously, but had no party machinery and little support from Texas newspapers. Runnels won by a vote of 38,552 to 23,628 and thus became the only person ever to defeat Sam Houston in an election.

   During his term Runnels consistently supported Southern positions. He frequently asserted that Texas might be forced to secede from the Union, supported the unsuccessful effort to put the Texas legislature on record in favor of reopening the African slave trade, and signed into law a bill allowing free blacks to choose a master and become slaves. He also signed into law the bill that appropriated financial support to establish the University of Texas and the bill establishing the State Geological Survey. The most vexing problem Runnels faced during his term as governor was the problem of protecting frontier settlers against Indian depredations. The year he took office there was a marked upsurge in Indian attacks, generally by the Comanches. Although Runnels supported and signed into law bills that called for the raising of temporary ranger battalions to meet the emergency, he opposed efforts to form permanent battalions on the grounds that the state could not afford them and that the federal government was responsible for protecting the frontier. When angry settlers took matters in their own hands and retaliated against Indians on the Brazos Indian Reservation, they clashed with the army. Runnels's efforts to make peace failed. In 1859 the state Democratic convention renominated Runnels, and Houston again declared himself a candidate. This time however, Houston's key issues were his record of service to the state, particularly at the battle of San Jacinto, and Runnels's record as governor. Houston made particularly effective use of the problems on the frontier and the African slave-trade issue. The Democratic party attempted to blunt the criticism on the slave-trade matter by remaining silent on the controversy in their platform, but they were largely unsuccessful. The combination of Runnels's mediocre record as governor and Houston's personal popularity resulted in a reversal of the 1857 results, and Houston defeated Runnels by a vote of 36,227 to 27,500.

   Runnels subsequently retired to his plantation in Bowie County but remained active in the Democratic party. He was a member of the Secession Convention in 1861, where he was a vigorous supporter of the secession resolution. After the Civil War, although he had not yet received a pardon from the president, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1866. At this convention he was one of about eleven delegates who were often termed the "aggressive secessionists" or the "irreconcilables." Although this group nominated him for convention president, he was not elected, and his extreme reluctance to seek or endorse workable compromises negated any influence he might have had on the convention's deliberations. In the 1850s Runnels built an impressive Greek Revival mansion near Old Boston and furnished it in anticipation of his approaching marriage. For some reason the wedding never took place, and he remained a bachelor for the rest of his life. When the Texas Historical Society was organized in Houston on May 23, 1870, Runnels was elected one of its vice presidents. He was also a member of St. John's Masonic Lodge. He died on December 25, 1873, and was buried in the Runnels family cemetery in Bowie County. In 1929 his remains were exhumed and reinterred in the State Cemetery at Austin, where a monument was installed at his new grave. Source

30° 15.933, -097° 43.639

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

May 15, 2012

Johnson Calhoun Hunter

   Johnson Calhoun Hunter, early Texas doctor and one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born in South Carolina on May 22, 1787. He received a diploma in medicine about 1805. In 1813 he and his wife, the former Martha Herbert of Virginia, were living in Circleville, Ohio, where Hunter practiced medicine, taught school, had a mercantile business, and acted as county judge. He moved to New Madrid, Missouri, in 1817. In 1821, after the earthquake there, he made an exploratory trip to Texas, going as far as San Antonio, where he left a supply of medicines with Juan Martín Veramendi. On that trip he selected land near the Nacogdoches Road crossing of the Colorado River. The vessel bringing the Hunter family, including five children, to Texas was wrecked on Galveston Island in June 1822. After repairing the boat the Hunters proceeded to land at the future site of Morgan's Point or New Washington.

   From his cypress-bark home on Sylvan Beach near the mouth of the San Jacinto River, Hunter sailed the Santa María of San Jacinto and, after its loss, the Adventure, to bring supplies to the colonists. He also traded in bear oil and skins, acted as a surveyor (and as such had disagreements with Enoch Brinson, John Iiams, and John R. Harris, and practiced medicine; one of his patients was the widow McCormick, with whom a quarrel over a bill furnished several documents in the Austin Papers. As one of the Old Three Hundred, Hunter received title to a sitio of land now in Harris County on August 10, 1824. The census of 1826 listed him as a farmer and stock raiser with a household including his wife, four sons, two daughters, and three servants. In 1829 Hunter moved to land now in Fort Bend County, bought part of the Randal Jones survey, and developed the Hunter plantation on Oyster Creek. For fifty years the Hunter home was a landmark in the Richmond area. The family retreated from the plantation at the time of the Runaway Scrape, and the Mexican army camped there for three days; both Mexican and Texan troops subsisted on cattle belonging to Hunter. In October 1836 Hunter was postmaster at Rocky Well, on the road between San Felipe and Liberty. He died at his plantation on May 29, 1855, and was buried in the family cemetery, known as the Brick Church Graveyard. Source

29° 39.931, -095° 45.194

Section I
Brick Church Graveyard

May 8, 2012

John Bankhead Magruder

   John Bankhead (Prince John) Magruder, soldier for the United States, the Confederate States, and Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, was born on May 1, 1807, at Port Royal, Virginia, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Bankhead) Magruder. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1826, graduated fifteenth in the class of 1830, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Seventh Infantry on July 30, 1830. He was transferred to the First Artillery on August 11, 1831, and promoted to first lieutenant on March 31, 1836. With Winfield Scott's army in Mexico, Magruder was promoted to captain on June 18, 1846, and brevetted to major on April 18, 1847, for "gallant and meritorious conduct" at the battle of Cerro Gordo. On September 13, 1847, he received a lieutenant colonel's brevet for his bravery in the storming of Chapultepec. Said to have been "the wittiest man in the old army," he was a great favorite of General Scott's.

   He resigned from the United States Army on April 20, 1861, and was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate service, and was then quickly promoted to major general. While commanding Confederate forces at Yorktown, Virginia, Magruder completely deceived George B. McClellan as to his strength and caused the Union commander weeks of needless delay. Lack of aggressiveness during the Seven Days Battles cost him the favor of Robert E. Lee, however, and he was soon reassigned to the command of the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. He arrived in Texas on October 10, 1862, and assumed command on November 29. From his headquarters in Houston, Magruder ably administered his department and was generally popular with the citizens of the region, despite occasional clashes with the governor, especially over the enforcement of conscription laws. His greatest success was his brilliant recapture of Galveston on January 1, 1863, and the consequent if temporary dispersal of the Union blockading fleet. On August 17, 1864, however, he was transferred to the command of the Department of Arkansas and was superseded in Texas by Gen. John G. Walker.

   On March 31, 1865, Confederate president Jefferson Davis returned Magruder to the command of the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, but only in time to witness Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith's surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Department at Galveston on June 2, 1865. After the war Magruder offered his sword to the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, but after the collapse of the imperial forces he returned to Texas to make his home in Houston, where he died on February 19, 1871. According to John N. Edwards, with whom he traveled Mexico, "Magruder was a born soldier...He would fight all day and dance all night. He wrote love songs and sang them, and won an heiress rich beyond comparison." Magruder spoke with a lisp. He was six feet tall and "in full regimentals" was said to have been "the handsomest soldier in the Confederacy." He married Esther Henrietta von Kapff on May 18, 1831. For the first nineteen years he saw his family in Baltimore only on occasional furloughs. After 1850 his wife visited him only twice, 1854-55 and 1856. Many thought he was single. He is buried in Galveston, the scene of his greatest military success. Source

29° 17.624, -094° 48.674

Trinity Episcopal Cemetery

May 1, 2012

Albert Clinton Horton

   Albert Clinton Horton, the first lieutenant governor of Texas, son of William and Mary (Thomas) Horton, was born in Hancock County, Georgia, on September 4, 1798. In 1829 he married Eliza Holliday. Before moving to Texas he served as a representative in the Alabama state legislature (1829-30, 1833-34), representing Greensboro district. He arrived in Texas in April 1835 and became an early and active supporter of the Texas Revolution. He traveled to Alabama to recruit volunteers; the company became known as the Mobile Grays and were outfitted at Horton's own expense. He also organized a company of cavalry volunteers in Matagorda in February 1836. Colonel Horton's company joined Col. James Walker Fannin, Jr.'s command in South Texas in early March. On March 19 Horton advanced with a small detachment on a scouting patrol of Coleto Creek. Turning to find the remainder of Fannin's army surrounded by hostile forces, Horton and his patrol fled, an action that saved his life but haunted his later political career. His military service ended on May 1, 1836.

   From 1836 to 1838 Horton, a Democrat, served as senator in the First and Second congresses of the republic, representing Matagorda, Jackson, and Victoria counties. He campaigned unsuccessfully for the vice presidency in 1838. In January 1839 he was chosen by the Republic of Texas Congress to chair the committee to select the site of the new capital. On March 7, 1842, Horton was recruited to serve as captain under Colonel Owen, to defend against Rafael Vásquez, and his force of 500-700 Mexican soldiers, who had seized San Antonio. Horton served as a delegate to the Convention of 1845 and subsequently consented to run for lieutenant governor. Voting returns initially awarded the victory to his opponent, Nicholas Henry Darnell, but late returns from several South Texas counties were sufficient to alter the results. On May 1, 1846, Horton was declared the first lieutenant governor of the new state. When Governor James Pinckney Henderson left to assume command of Texas volunteers assembled to deal with troubles with Mexico, Horton served as governor pro tem from May 19, 1846 until Henderson returned on November 13, 1846. He was never elected to another public office, and he emerged from retirement only to attend the Democratic national convention in Charleston in 1860 and the state Secession Congress in 1861.

   Horton moved to his plantation on Caney Creek in what is now Wharton County, near Wharton, by 1843 and maintained a large home on a plantation in Matagorda County, near the town of Matagorda. On the eve of the Civil War he owned more than 150 slaves and was one of the wealthiest men in the state. During the war, however, he lost most of his money. He was a lifelong Baptist and an original member of the board of trustees that established Baylor University. Of the six children born during his marriage, only a son and a daughter survived him. Horton died on September 1, 1865, at Matagorda, where he is buried. Source

28° 42.008, -095° 57.333

Section D
Matagorda Cemetery