July 30, 2013

Thomas Jefferson Rusk (1803-1857)

Thomas Jefferson Rusk, soldier and statesman, the oldest of seven children of John and Mary (Sterritt) Rusk, was born in Pendleton District, South Carolina, on December 5, 1803. His father was an Irish stonemason immigrant. The family rented land from John C. Calhoun, who helped Rusk secure a position in the office of the Pendleton County district clerk, where he could earn a living while studying law. After admission to the bar in 1825, Rusk began his law practice in Clarksville, Georgia. In 1827 he married Mary F. (Polly) Cleveland, the daughter of Gen. Benjamin Cleveland. Rusk became a business partner of his father-in-law after he and Polly married. He lived in the gold region of Georgia and made sizable mining investments. In 1834, however, the managers of the company in which he had invested embezzled all the funds and fled to Texas. Rusk pursued them to Nacogdoches but never recovered the money. He did, however, decide to stay in Texas. He became a citizen of Mexico on February 11, 1835, applied for a headright in David G. Burnet's colony, and sent for his family. After hearing Nacogdoches citizens denounce the despotism of Mexico, Rusk became involved in the independence movement. He organized volunteers from Nacogdoches and hastened to Gonzales, where his men joined Stephen F. Austin's army in preventing the Mexicans from seizing their cannon. They proceeded to San Antonio, but Rusk left the army before the siege of Bexar.

The provisional government named him inspector general of the army in the Nacogdoches District, a position he filled from December 14, 1835, to February 26, 1836. As a delegate from Nacogdoches to the Convention of 1836, Rusk not only signed the Texas Declaration of Independence but also chaired the committee to revise the constitution. The ad interim government, installed on March 17, 1836, appointed Rusk Secretary of War. When informed that the Alamo had fallen and the Mexicans were moving eastward, Rusk helped President Burnet to move the government to Harrisburg. Rusk ordered all the coastal communities to organize militias. After the Mexicans massacred James W. Fannin's army Burnet sent Rusk with orders for Gen. Sam Houston to make a stand against the enemy, and upon learning that Antonio López de Santa Anna intended to capture the government at Harrisburg, the Texas army marched to Buffalo Bayou. As a security measure, Houston and Rusk remained silent about their plans. Rusk participated with bravery in the defeat of Santa Anna on April 21, 1836, in the battle of San Jacinto. From May 4 to October 31, 1836, he served as commander in chief of the Army of the Republic of Texas, with the rank of brigadier general. He followed the Mexican troops westward as they retired from Texas to be certain of their retreat beyond the Rio Grande. Then he conducted a military funeral for the troops massacred at Goliad.

When it appeared that the Mexicans intended to attack Texas from Matamoros, Rusk called for more troops. Though he had 2,500 soldiers by July, he maintained a defensive position. In the first regularly elected administration, President Houston appointed Rusk Secretary of War, but after a few weeks he resigned to take care of pressing domestic problems. At the insistence of friends, however, he represented Nacogdoches in the Second Congress of the republic, from September 25, 1837, to May 24, 1838. While in the capital, Houston, he taught a Christian Sunday school class. Like many prominent Texans, Rusk became a Mason. He joined Milam Lodge No. 40 in Nacogdoches in 1837 and was a founding member of the Grand Lodge of Texas, organized in Houston on December 20, 1837. In the election of 1838 and in succeeding ones, friends importuned Rusk to be a presidential candidate, but he refused. As chairman of the House Military Committee in 1837, he sponsored a militia bill that passed over Houston's veto, and Congress elected Rusk major general of the militia. In the summer of 1838 he commanded the Nacogdoches militia, which suppressed the Córdova Rebellion. Rusk suspected Cherokee involvement in the rebellion, but Chief Bowl emphatically denied any collusion with Córdova. In October, when Mexican agents were discovered among the Kickapoo Indians, Rusk defeated those Indians and their Indian allies. He captured marauding Caddo Indians in November 1838, and he risked an international incident when he invaded United States territory to return them to the Indian agent in Shreveport. Unrest among the Cherokees grew after the failure to ratify the Cherokee Treaty of 1836, which would have given the Cherokees title to the lands they occupied in East Texas.

In July 1839 the final battle with the Cherokees and their allies was fought. Papers taken from captured Mexican agents implicated the Cherokees in a Mexican-Indian conspiracy against the Republic of Texas. Because he agreed with President Mirabeau B. Lamar's determination to remove the Cherokees, Rusk commanded part of the troops in the battle of the Neches, in which the Cherokees were driven into Oklahoma. On December 12, 1838, Congress elected Rusk chief justice of the Supreme Court. He recognized that he was working in a system that combined Spanish and English law and practices, systems that did not always coincide. In Milam County v. Bell he established the rule of mandamus against public officers. He served until June 30, 1840, when he resigned to resume his law practice. Later he headed the bar of the Republic of Texas. He and J. Pinckney Henderson, later the first governor of the state of Texas, formed a law partnership on February 25, 1841, the most famous law firm in Texas of that day. For a short time the firm also included Kenneth L. Anderson, later vice president under Anson Jones. One of the most widely known cases Rusk handled was the murder of Robert Potter, former Secretary of the Texas Navy, in 1842. Rusk represented the ten defendants, secured their bail, which had previously been denied, and obtained a dismissal before the case was to be tried on May 6, 1843. Earlier in 1843 Rusk had been called once again to serve as a military commander. Concern over the lack of protection on the frontier caused Congress, in a joint ballot on January 16, 1843, to elect Rusk major general of the militia of the Republic of Texas. But he resigned in June when Houston obstructed his plans for aggressive warfare against Mexico. Rusk then turned his energies to establishing Nacogdoches University. He was vice president of the university when the charter was granted in 1845 and president in 1846.

The annexation of Texas by the United States was heartily supported by Rusk. He was president of the Convention of 1845, which accepted the annexation terms. Rusk's legal knowledge contributed significantly to the constitution of the new state. The first state legislature elected him and Houston to the United States Senate in February 1846. Rusk received the larger number of votes and the longer term of office. The two men forgot past differences as they worked to settle the southwest boundary question in favor of the Texas claim to the Rio Grande. Rusk supported the position of President James K. Polk on the necessity of the Mexican War and the acquisition of California. In the debate over the Compromise of 1850, Rusk refused to endorse secession, proposed by some in the caucus of southern congressmen. He vigorously defended Texas claims to New Mexico and argued forcefully for just financial compensation for both the loss of revenue from import duties as well as the loss of territory. As chairman of the Committee of Post Offices and Post Roads, he sponsored bills that improved services and lowered postage rates. As an early advocate of a transcontinental railroad through Texas, he made speeches in the Senate and throughout Texas in support of a southern route and toured Texas in 1853 to investigate a possible route. The Gadsden Treaty received his support since it provided an easier railroad route to the Pacific. Rusk received the approval of the state legislature for his vote in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He was a popular man in his party and was encouraged to become a presidential candidate in 1856. President James Buchanan offered him the position of Postmaster General in 1857. During the special session of March 1857 the United States Senate elected him president pro tem. While Rusk attended the spring session of Congress, Mrs. Rusk succumbed to tuberculosis, on April 26, 1856. Five of their seven children were still living at the time. Despondent over the death of his wife and ill from a tumor at the base of his neck, Rusk committed suicide on July 29, 1857. The State of Texas placed a monument at the graves of Rusk and his wife in Oak Grove Cemetery, Nacogdoches. Rusk County and the town of Rusk were named in his honor. Source

31° 36.165
-094° 38.979

Oak Grove Cemetery

July 23, 2013

Mary Carson Kidd (1876-1951)

Mary Carson, soprano, was born Mary Carson Kidd in Millican, Texas, likely in the late 1800s. She was the daughter of George Kidd and Katherine Bledsoe (Aldridge), who were both trained musicians and singers. She grew up in Houston, and exhibited promising vocal skills at a very early age and performed excerpts from operas with her brothers for neighborhood children. She received formal training in New York and the New England Conservatory before traveling abroad to study voice in Milan and Florence. Her teachers included Isadore Vraggiotti, Rafaele del Ponte, and Adolgesa Moffi. She made her debut in Italy in 1912 as Amina in La Sonnambula. She would go on to sing in some thirty operas in Italian, German, French, and English. These included the roles of Gilda in Rigoletto, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and Norina in Don Pasquale. She was highly praised for her pure soaring soprano and vocal stamina, even performing Il barbiere de Siviglia twice in one day. In Berlin, composer Richard Strauss often played as her accompanist. At some point during her European performances she dropped her surname, Kidd, the subject of various puns, and adopted the stage name of Mary Carson. She also performed in many cities across the United States and was a member of the Century Opera Company.

In the 1910s she became a featured recording artist of popular songs and ballads for Thomas Edison’s Blue Amberol and Diamond Disc labels. Her rendition of Oh Dry Those Tears in 1912 was an early favorite, along with Kiss Waltz, released in 1913. Kiss Waltz remained a popular choice in the Edison catalog throughout the 1920s. She also recorded under the name of Kathleen Kingston. In 1917 Carson sued Edison over the company’s refusal to pay her when she was not booked with its phonograph dealers on its Tone Test circuit. The company had also forbidden her to work for any other employer, thereby depriving her of making a living. Carson won her suit. By the late 1920s and early 1930s Mary Carson worked as a music teacher in Houston. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church. She lived in Houston until her death on August 21, 1951. She was buried in Glenwood Cemetery. Throughout her life she received many accolades for her beautiful singing voice, but Carson commented that perhaps the best compliment came from a small boy in Devonshire, England, who likened her singing to "a thrush on the ground" and "a lark in the sky." Source 

29° 46.008
-095° 23.258

West Avenue Section
Glenwood Cemetery

July 16, 2013

Angelina Elizabeth Dickinson (1834-1869)

Angelina Dickinson, called the Babe of the Alamo, daughter of Almeron and Susanna (Wilkerson) Dickinson, was born on December 14, 1834, in Gonzales, Texas. By early 1836 her family had moved to San Antonio. On February 23, as the forces of Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna entered the city, Dickinson reportedly caught up his wife and daughter behind his saddle and galloped to the Alamo, just before the enemy started firing. In the Alamo, legend says William B. Travis tied his cat's-eye ring around Angelina's neck. Angelina and Susanna survived the final Mexican assault on March 6, 1836. Though Santa Anna wanted to adopt Angelina, her mother refused. A few days after the battle, mother and child were released as messengers to Gen. Sam Houston. At the end of the revolution, Angelina and her mother moved to Houston. Between 1837 and 1847 Susanna Dickinson married three times. Angelina and her mother were not, however, left without resources. For their participation in the defense of the Alamo, they received a donation certificate for 640 acres of land in 1839 and a bounty warrant for 1,920 acres of land in Clay County in 1855. In 1849 a resolution by Representative Guy M. Bryan for the relief of "the orphan child of the Alamo" to provide funds for Angelina's support and education failed. At the age of seventeen, with her mother's encouragement, Angelina married John Maynard Griffith, a farmer from Montgomery County. Over the next six years, the Griffiths had three children, but the marriage ended in divorce. Leaving two of her children with her mother and one with an uncle, Angelina drifted to New Orleans. Rumors spread of her promiscuity. Before the Civil War she became associated in Galveston with Jim Britton, a railroad man from Tennessee who became a Confederate officer, and to whom she gave Travis's ring. She is believed to have married Oscar Holmes in 1864 and had a fourth child in 1865. Whether she ever married Britton is uncertain, but according to Flake's Daily Bulletin, Angelina died as "Em Britton" in 1869 of a uterine hemorrhage in Galveston, where she was a known courtesan. Source

Note: Angelina Dickinson's grave is unmarked and likely lost. She originally had a small grave marker, purchased with contributions from the general public, inscribed only with the word "Britton", the last name of the man she was living with at the time of her death. She claimed to be married to him but there are no marriage records to confirm it, and considering that she had a history working as a courtesan, it was probably a respectful attempt by the community to give her a semblance of dignity due to her legacy as the "Babe of the Alamo". The stone was swept away during the 1900 hurricane and her exact burial location lost, but according to family lore her grave was located in the far back corner of Evergreen Cemetery, in a section known as Cahill Ground. I searched the four corners of Evergreen and the only corner area that wasn't marked with grave stones predating the hurricane is in the photo below. Whether it is her final resting place or not is uncertain, but it seems to me to be the most likely.


Cahill Ground (Defunct)
Evergreen Cemetery

July 9, 2013

Marion Price Daniel (1910-1988)

Price Daniel, governor of Texas, son of Marion Price and Nannie Blanch (Partlow) Daniel, was born on October 10, 1910, in Dayton, Texas. After earning a law degree from Baylor University in 1932 he opened a law practice in Liberty.. He became known through his defense of two of the county's most infamous murder suspects, and used the popularity to win a seat in the Texas House of Representatives in 1939. As an outspoken member of the "Immortal 56", an alliance of state legislators adamantly opposed to a state sales tax, Daniel earned the respect of his colleagues and in early 1943 was unanimously elected speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. After serving one term in that office he enlisted in the army as a private and the following year graduated from officers' candidate school in Lexington, Virginia, as a judge advocate general. He was discharged from the army in May 1946 with the rank of captain, after having served in the Pacific and Japan.

He returned to Texas and conducted a successful whirlwind campaign to become the youngest state attorney general in the United States. In his six-year tenure, Daniel disposed of more than 5,000 lawsuits, served on 25 state boards and agencies, composed more than 2,000 bills for the Texas legislature, and successfully defended more money and land claims than any previous attorney general. His three best-known crusades were the defense of the University of Texas law school in its refusal to admit Heman Marion Sweatt, a black postal clerk; the disbandment of a majority of the state's organized gambling operations; and the defense of Texas ownership of its tidelands against federal encroachment. When the United States Supreme Court refused to allow Texas to retain the tidelands, valuable offshore lands rich in oil that Daniel argued belonged to Texas because of an agreement in the terms of the state's annexation, he defied the Democratic party by endorsing the Republican, states'-rights candidate, Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1952, Daniel was elected to the United States Senate on a "Texas Democrat" platform. He immediately drafted a tidelands bill similar to the one President Harry Truman had previously vetoed, and on May 22, 1953, Eisenhower signed it into law. As a result the Permanent School Fund has received an infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars. While in the Senate, Daniel directed a nationwide narcotics probe that eventually resulted in the most stringent narcotics regulation in United States history, and nearly succeeded in the passage of legislation designed to reform the electoral college. Declaring that he would "rather be governor of Texas than President of the United States," Daniel returned home to run for governor and, upon his nomination in 1956, resigned from the Senate. He was reelected governor in 1958 and 1960.

During his tenure 131 out of 151 of his major proposals were enacted into law. He was successful in pushing through a heavy legislative program that ranged from highways to prison reform, water conservation, higher teachers' salaries, and improved care for the mentally impaired. Being a devoted student of history, Daniel worked to establish the Texas State Library and Archives Building, which he virtually designed himself, to house many Texas papers and documents that had been subject to neglect. In 1961, despite his strident objections, he could only watch in his third term as the legislature approved a sales tax after two called special sessions. He allowed the tax to become law without his signature to keep the state from going broke. Much of the electorate blamed him for the sales tax, partly because store clerks developed the practice of ringing up sales and then saying, "Now, let's have a penny for Price." After losing a bid for an unprecedented fourth term in 1962, Daniel returned to his law practice and took cases in both Liberty and Austin. In 1967, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed him to head the Office of Emergency Preparedness in Washington, a post that gave him a position on the National Security Council. In addition, he served as the president's liaison to the governors of the fifty-three states and territories. Daniel was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Texas Supreme Court in 1971 by Governor Preston Smith.

He was elected to the court in 1972 and 1979, then retired during his second term. In his eight years on the court, Daniel was most influential in the areas of groundwater law, as well as laws dealing with other minerals such as uranium, oil, and gas. He was a trustee of Baylor University and Baylor College of Medicine, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by his alma mater in 1951. He was president of International Christian Leadership (1956-57), and a leader of the Men's Bible Class of the First Baptist Church in Austin. He was a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, the Knights of the Order of San Jacinto, and the Philosophical Society of Texas. In his later years he served as legal council for the Alabama Coushatta Indians and was appointed to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Daniel died on August 25, 1988, at which time he had held more offices of public trust than anyone else in Texas history. He was buried on his family ranch in Liberty and survived by his wife, the former Jean Houston Baldwin, a great-great-granddaughter of Sam Houston, and three children: Jean Houston Murph, Houston Lee, and John Baldwin. His eldest son, Marion Price Daniel, Jr., had died on January 19, 1981. Source

Note: The family cemetery is private and kept locked, but it lies on the shoulder of FM 1011 and can be viewed in its entirety from outside the gate.

30° 06.065
-094° 45.962

Daniel Family Cemetery

July 2, 2013

David Gouverneur Burnet (1788-1870)

David G. Burnet, speculator, lawyer, and politician, was born on April 14, 1788, in Newark, New Jersey, the fourteenth child of Dr. William Burnet, and the third of his second wife, widow Gertrude Gouverneur Rutgers. David was orphaned at an early age and raised by his older half-brothers. All of his life he strove to achieve the prominence of his father and brothers: Dr. Burnet served in the Continental Congress and as surgeon general. Jacob Burnet (1770-1853), lawyer, ardent federalist, and later a Whig who nominated his friend, William Henry Harrison, for president, served as a member of the territorial council of Ohio, state legislator, Supreme Court judge, and United States senator, and was honored for intellectual achievements including a history of the territory of Ohio. Another brother, Isaac, was mayor of Cincinnati during the 1820s. Burnet lived with his brothers in Cincinnati, studied law in Jacob's office, and followed the same conservative politics. He wrote proudly in 1859 that he had never been a Democrat and deplored the course of the "ignorant popular Sovereignty." His attitude and politics did not make him popular in Texas, and his entire life was a string of disappointments. After a classical education in a Newark academy, young Burnet wanted to join the navy but instead was placed by a brother as a clerk in a New York commission house in 1805, a position he disliked. On February 2, 1806, he sailed with the unsuccessful filibustering expedition to Venezuela led by Xavier Miranda. Lieutenant Burnet returned to New York at the end of 1806.

His movements between 1806 and 1817 are obscure; he probably lived with relatives seeking success. About 1817 he moved to Natchitoches, Louisiana, and for the next two years traded with the Comanches near the headwaters of the Brazos with John Cotton. He suffered some sort of pulmonary illness at this time, and living a simple, natural life was supposed to be a cure. His health improved but not his finances, and he returned to Ohio, where he studied law. In May 1826 Burnet passed through San Felipe on his way to Saltillo to petition for an empresario grant, which he received on December 22. The grant authorized him to settle 300 families north of the Old Spanish Road and around Nacogdoches, part of the area recently replevined from Haden Edwards, within six years. He was to receive 23,000 acres from the state of Coahuila and Texas for every 100 families settled. Burnet spent 1827 in Texas and then returned to Ohio, where he fruitlessly sought colonists and financial backing from prominent men to develop his grant. In desperation he and refugee Lorenzo de Zavala sold the rights to their colonization contracts in October 1830 to a group of northeastern investors, the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company. Burnet received an undisclosed sum of money and certificates for four leagues of land from the new company. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to locate the leagues because of the Law of April 6, 1830. He used the money to buy a fifteen-horsepower steam sawmill and move his bride to Texas. They left New York on the seventy-ton schooner Cull on March 4, 1831, and arrived in Galveston Bay on April 4.

Burnet bought seventeen acres on the San Jacinto River from Nathaniel Lynch for the mill and an additional 279 acres east of Lynch facing Burnet Bay, where he built a simple four-room home called Oakland. Between 1831 and 1835 Burnet unsuccessfully petitioned the state for eleven leagues of land because of the mill; the mill, however, lost money, and he sold it in June 1835. The articulate Burnet impressed local residents, and though he took no part in the events at Anahuac in 1832, they chose him to represent the Liberty neighborhood at the convention at San Felipe in 1833. He helped draft the plea to sever Texas from Coahuila and made an earnest statement against the African slave trade. He hoped to become chief justice of the newly established Texas Supreme Court in 1834 but was only named to head the Brazos District Court. Instead of his $1,000 per annum allotment, Burnet wanted a handsome stipend in land like that which Chief Justice Thomas J. Chambers received. Burnet was against independence for Texas in 1835, although he deplored the tendency of the national government toward a dictatorship. Thus his more radical neighbors did not choose him as a delegate to either the Consultation or the Convention of 1836. Nevertheless, he attended the session on March 10, where he successfully gained clemency for a client sentenced to hang. The delegates, who were opposed to electing one of their number president of the new republic, elected Burnet by a majority of seven votes.

His ad interim presidency of the Republic of Texas lasted from March 17 to October 22, 1836, and was very difficult. His actions angered Sam Houston, the army, the vice president, many cabinet members, and the public, and he left office embittered, intending never to return home, where a number of neighbors had turned against him. He lacked legal clients and was forced to turn to subsistence farming. In 1838 he entered the race for vice president and rode Mirabeau B. Lamar's coattails to victory. Forced to serve part of the time as secretary of state and acting president, Burnet became more out of step with public opinion. His bid for the presidency in 1841 against his old enemy, Sam Houston, resulted in defeat after a vitriolic campaign of name-calling. Burnet was against annexation to the United States in 1845 but nevertheless applied for the position of United States district judge in 1846. Even with the Whig influence of his brothers, however, he lacked enough political influence. He was named secretary of state by Governor James P. Henderson in 1846 and served one term. An application to the Whig administration in 1849 for a position as Galveston customs collector also failed. His only other public office was largely symbolic, a reward for an elder statesman.

In 1866 the Texas legislature named Burnet and Oran M. Roberts United States senators, but upon arrival in Washington they were not seated because Texas had failed to meet Republican political demands. Although intellectually opposed to secession, Burnet had embraced the Southern cause when his only son, William, resigned his commission in the United States Army and volunteered for Confederate service. The son was killed in a battle at Spanish Fort, Alabama, in 1865, a crushing blow to Burnet, who had lost his wife in 1858. Burnet had married Hannah Este in Morristown, New Jersey, on December 8, 1830. She bore four children, but only William survived, and the doting parents sacrificed for his education. After Hannah's death Burnet had to hire out his slaves and rent his farm in order to have income to pay his room and board in Galveston. He and Lamar intended to publish a history of the republic to expose Sam Houston, and though Burnet furnished Lamar with many articles, Lamar was unable to find a publisher. Burnet burned his manuscript shortly before his death. He was a Mason and a Presbyterian. He outlived all of his immediate family, died without money in Galveston on December 5, 1870, and was buried by friends. His remains were moved from the Episcopal Cemetery to the new Magnolia Cemetery and finally to Lakeview Cemetery in Galveston, where the Daughters of the Republic of Texas erected a monument to him and his friend Sidney Sherman in 1894. Burnet County was named for him in 1852, and in 1936 the state erected a statue of him on the grounds of the high school in Clarksville. Source

29° 16.392
-094° 49.566

Section C
Lakeview Cemetery