September 24, 2013

John Gordon Chalmers (1803-1847)

John Gordon Chalmers, editor and political figure in the Republic of Texas, was born in Halifax County, Virginia, on August 25, 1803, the son of James Ronald and Sarah Lanier (Williams) Chalmers. After graduation from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, he received his medical education at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where his uncle, Rev. Thomas Chalmers, was a leading theologian. On his return from Scotland, he served for several years in the Virginia legislature. In 1827 he married Mary Wade Henderson of Milton, North Carolina; they had seven children. Chalmers moved his family to Texas in 1840 and settled first in La Grange and then in Austin. He held office for a time as secretary of the treasury for the Republic of Texas under President Mirabeau B. Lamar and later chaired the committee that drafted the resolution approving the annexation of Texas to the United States. Chalmers helped establish the Democratic party in Texas. In 1845 he became editor and proprietor of the Austin New Era. He also formed a partnership with Michael Cronican to publish the Austin Texas Democrat. On January 1, 1847, he became involved in a heated argument with Joshua Holden; a fight resulted and Chalmers was mortally stabbed. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin. Source

30° 16.566
-097° 43.703

Section 1
Oakwood Cemetery

September 17, 2013

Peter W. Gray (1819-1874)

Peter W. Gray, legislator and jurist, one of the six children of Milly Richards (Stone) and William Fairfax Gray, was born on December 12, 1819, at Fredericksburg, Virginia. His father moved to Texas in 1835, and his family followed him in the winter of 1838 to Houston, where young Gray studied in his father's law office. As a captain in the Army of the Republic of Texas, Peter Gray participated in the campaign to remove the Shawnee Indians from East Texas in 1839. In 1842 he was elected second lieutenant of the Milam Guards and aided in repulsing the raid of Rafael Vásquez on San Antonio. Upon his father's death in 1841, Gray was appointed district attorney of Houston by Sam Houston. He held this position from April 24 until annexation. On January 25, 1843, he married Abby Jane Avery. He failed in an election bid for city secretary on January 20, 1840, but was elected alderman on November 1, 1841, and was appointed a member of the board of health on May 20, 1844. He was elected in 1846 to the first state legislature, where he was author of the important Practice Act regulating Texas court procedures. In 1848 he became a founder of the Houston Lyceum, which became the Houston Public Library. Largely through his financial support, Henderson Yoakum was able to complete his classic History of Texas (1855), which is dedicated to Gray.

Gray was elected to the fourth Senate in 1854 and subsequently served as judge of the Houston district, a jurisdiction stretching from the Sabine to the Brazos, until the outbreak of the Civil War. Although he had been a strong advocate of annexation to the United States, Gray was a strong states'-rights Democrat and was elected as a delegate to the state Secession Convention, where he voted in favor of taking the state out of the Union. In November 1861 he was elected to represent the Houston district in the first Confederate House of Representatives. There he served on the House Currency and Judiciary committees and the special committee on homesteads for disabled soldiers. As a vigilant guardian of Texas financial interests, Gray secured a separate branch of the Treasury Department for the Trans-Mississippi region. Like most Texans, he favored direct taxation and heavy export duties to support the government and took a keen interest in the Sequestration Acts owing to the fact that much Texas land was owned by absentee Northern interests. At the same time he supported a strong central government, favoring, for example, nationalizing of the Confederate railroad system.

He was a friend and confidential advisor of Jefferson Davis, as well as a supporter of conscription and exemption from the draft of overseers of slaves. Gray was defeated in his 1863 reelection campaign by Anthony Martin Branch. At the end of his term he became a volunteer aide to Gen. John B. Magruder and served at the battle of Galveston. In 1864 President Davis appointed him fiscal agent for the Trans-Mississippi Department, a position that he accepted with some reluctance. He was unsuccessful in raising funds to retire the Confederate debt in the region and thus left Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith's army virtually without financial means through the final months of the war. After the war Gray returned to his Houston law practice, which he built into one of the largest in the South, and was elected first president of the Houston Bar Association in 1870. In 1873 he toured Europe. In 1874 Gov. Richard Coke appointed him associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court, upon the resignation of William P. Ballinger, but Gray resigned within two months, on April 18, due to worsening pulmonary tuberculosis. He died in Houston on October 3, 1874, and was buried in the Glenwood Cemetery. In 1876 the Texas legislature named Gray County in his honor. Gray reportedly assumed his middle initial, which stands for no other name, in later life. He was a devout Episcopalian, a charter member of Christ Church in Houston, and an active Mason. Source

29° 45.879
-095° 23.219

Section E2
Glenwood Cemetery

September 10, 2013

James Hope (?-1836?)

James Hope, pioneer settler, moved to Texas from Alabama before July 10, 1824, when, as one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, he received title to 1¼ leagues and two labors of land on the east bank of the Brazos River in what is now southwestern Brazos County. By March 26, 1825, he had exchanged his league for that of Bluford Brooks and was trying to secure vacant land on Mill Creek. Hope's daughter, Augusta, married Horatio Chriesman in 1825. The census of March 1826 listed Hope as a farmer and stock raiser aged between forty and fifty. His household included his wife, Althea, three sons, six daughters, and one servant. In January 1827 at Mina, Hope signed a declaration of loyalty to the Mexican government and a protest against the Fredonian Rebellion. He bought garden lots in 1829 and in May 1830 advertised his Connecticut garden seed and fruit trees for sale at San Felipe. In August 1830 he and Gail Borden, Jr., were nominated commissioners to superintend surveying of town lots at San Felipe. Hope in December 1831 advertised that he was going to England and leaving his son Richard in charge of his 15,000 to 20,000 peach and nectarine trees. According to Worth S. Ray's Austin Colony Pioneers, the tax rolls of 1840 indicate that James Hope died about 1836. His sons took part in the battle of San Jacinto and later had a saddle shop at Washington-on-the-Brazos. Source

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


San Felipe de Austin Cemetery
San Felipe

September 3, 2013

William S. Steele (1819-1885)

William Steele, army officer, son of Orlo and Fanny (Abbe) Steele, was born in Albany, New York, on May 1, 1819. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1840, thirty-first in his class of forty-two. Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Second U.S. Dragoons, he took part in the war in Florida with the Seminole Indians. He saw action in the Mexican War (1846-48) at Palo Alto and Monterrey under Gen. Zachary Taylor and at Churubusco in the Mexico City campaign under Gen. Winfield Scott. At Churubusco, he received a commendation for gallant conduct and meritorious service and a brevet promotion to captain. Steele continued his military career during the 1850s and served in Texas, New Mexico, and Nebraska; he rose to the rank of captain. On July 1, 1850, he married Anne Elizabeth Duval.  The couple had one child, Laura, who was born in 1856.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Steele resigned his commission in the United States Army on May 30, 1861, and joined Confederate forces in Texas. On October 4, 1861, he was commissioned as colonel of the Seventh Texas Mounted Rifles. Although assigned to Henry H. Sibley's Army of New Mexico, he did not take a direct role in the campaign up the Rio Grande but remained instead in command of the troops occupying the El Paso/Mesilla area. Upon Sibley’s departure for Richmond at the end of the campaign, Steele remained as civil governor and military commander of Arizona Territory until his promotion to brigadier general in September 1862 and assignment to the command of the Department of Indian Territory.  Superseded by Brig. Gen. Samuel Bell Maxey in December 1863, he was assigned to the command of the defenses of Galveston until the spring of 1864 when he took part in the Red River Campaign as a brigade commander in Maj. Gen. Thomas Green’s Cavalry division, which he briefly commanded after Green’s death at the battle of Blair’s Landing. Following the Civil War, Steele returned to Texas, where, from 1866 to 1873, he engaged in the mercantile business in San Antonio. With the end of Reconstruction in Texas, he was appointed as adjutant general, serving from January 1874 to January 1879, during which time he oversaw the reorganization of the Texas Rangers. Steele died at San Antonio on January 12, 1885, and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Austin. Source

30° 16.527
-097° 43.640

Section 1
Oakwood Cemetery

August Carl Buchel (1813-1864)

Carl Buchel, soldier, was born at Guntersblum, Hesse, on October 8, 1813. He dropped the umlaut from his original surname, Büchel, when he moved to Texas. He entered the military academy at Darmstadt at the age of fourteen and at eighteen was commissioned a second lieutenant of volunteers in the First Infantry Regiment of Hesse-Darmstadt. His next military training was at L'École Militaire in Paris, following which he served as a lieutenant in the Foreign Legion of France and participated in the Carlist War in Spain. He was decorated and knighted by Queen Maria Christina in 1838 for his bravery at the battle of Huesca the year before. Subsequently, he was for several years an instructor in the Turkish army and attained the rank of colonel, the highest allowed a Christian. He was offered the rank of general on the condition that he become a Moslem, but he refused and subsequently resigned. There is some indication that he was designated a pasha, a title of respect given officers of high rank. Buchel had a reputation for dueling and, according to family tradition, is said to have gone to Texas because he killed a man in a duel after his return to Germany. He sailed with the Adelsverein in 1845 and arrived late that year at Carlshafen, later known as Indianola, where he established residence. In 1846, during the Mexican War, he raised a company in the First Regiment of Texas Foot Rifles and served as its captain. He was present at the battle of Buena Vista, where he served as aide-de-camp on the staff of Gen. Zachary Taylor. After the war President Franklin Pierce appointed him collector of customs at Port Lavaca, a position he held for many years. He also sold lumber and building materials in Corpus Christi in partnership with M. T. Huck. In 1859, during the Cortina Wars, he organized the Indianola Volunteers to combat the depredations of Mexican bandits under Juan N. Cortina. Buchel served until 1860, but the volunteers never actually fought Cortina.

   At the outbreak of the Civil War Buchel joined the Texas militia; late in 1861 he was made lieutenant colonel of the Third Texas Infantry and served in South Texas. He became colonel of the First Texas Cavalry in 1863 and saw extensive service on the Texas Gulf Coast but was transferred to Louisiana when the threat of an invasion of Texas by Union troops became imminent. He was mortally wounded while leading his troops in a dismounted charge at Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, on April 9, 1864. He was taken to Mansfield, where he died and was buried. The generally accepted date of his death is April 15, but Gen. Hamilton P. Bee, Buchel's commander, related in his official report of the battle that he died two days following the battle, on April 11. Earlier that year Buchel had been appointed a brigadier general, but the appointment was never confirmed. Later, his body was taken by a detachment of his cavalry to Austin, and he was reinterred in the State Cemetery, where a eulogy was delivered by Lieutenant Governor Fletcher S. Stockdale. The state of Texas erected an impressive stone at his grave. Buchel, who never married, was described by his contemporaries as a small, quiet man and is said to have been unassuming, courteous, and gentlemanly in manner. He spoke seven languages. In his honor the state legislature designated an area as Buchel County in 1887, but the county was never organized and eventually became part of Brewster County. Source

30° 15.918
-097° 43.634

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery