Joseph Baker, newspaperman and public official, son of William and Jane (Gerrish) Baker, was born in Maine in 1804. On December 7, 1831, he arrived at San Felipe de Austin, where he taught school for three years and was secretary of the ayuntamiento in 1835. On October 5, 1835, he was issued title to one-fourth league of land on the west bank of Fish Pond Creek, a mile north of the site of Hempstead, in what is now Waller County. A ten-league grant made to him in December 1835 was cancelled by the Republic of Texas. With Gail Borden, Jr., and Thomas H. Borden, Baker, or Don José, as he was called, established the Telegraph and Texas Register at San Felipe; the first issue appeared on October 10, 1835. Baker severed his connection with the paper on April 5, 1836, to join the Texas army, in which he served from February 29 to June 1. He was a member of Moseley Baker's company at the battle of San Jacinto. In 1836 he was chosen second judge of Austin Municipality and became a charter member of the Texas Philosophical Society. He was appointed translator to the state on October 23, 1836, and was elected first chief justice of Bexar County on December 16, 1836. In 1837-38 he represented Bexar County in the House of the Second Congress. In 1841-42 he published the Houston Houstonian. He was Spanish translator in the General Land Office in 1845. Baker died in Austin on July 11, 1846, and was buried there in Oakwood Cemetery. In 1936 the state of Texas placed a monument at his grave. Source
Fat Pat, musician, rapper, and one of the original members of DJ Screw’s Screwed Up Click (S.U.C.), was born Patrick Lamont Hawkins on December 4, 1970, in Houston. He graduated from Sterling High School in Houston. Hawkins’s career took off in the mid-1990s alongside his older brother Big Hawk, Lil’ Keke, and others as pioneers of the Screwed and Chopped phenomenon in the group S.U.C. Hawkins performed at numerous Houston nightclubs, parties, and freestyle garage sessions. He signed with Wreckshop Records and began recording his debut album.
On February 3, 1998, Hawkins was shot and killed in Houston after visiting his club promoter’s apartment to collect payment for a performance. His debut, Ghetto Dreams, with the featured single Tops Drop, was released by Wreckshop Records two weeks after his death. His album release party became a wake of hip-hop artists as notable rappers Scarface, Willie D, Lil’ Keke, DJ Screw, and others paid their respects. The album sold more than 20,000 copies during its first week. Later that year Wreckshop Records released a second album Throwed in da Game, which featured the single Holla at Cha Later. Hawkins had highly influenced fellow Houston rappers, including Paul Wall, who named his firstborn son William Patrick Hawkins in memory of his friend. Wreckshop Records continued to release compilations and other Fat Pat tracks into the early 2000s. Tragically, other members of the Screwed Up Click suffered early deaths, including Fat Pat’s brother, Big Hawk, who was shot and killed in 2006. Source
John Birdsall, judge and attorney general in the Republic of Texas, son of Maurice and Ann (Pixley) Birdsall, was born in Greene, Chenango County, New York, in 1802. He received his legal training in New York and was appointed circuit court judge of the Eighth District by New York governor DeWitt Clinton. Birdsall served in the New York Senate in 1832 and 1833. In 1837 he moved to Texas and became the law partner of Thomas J. Gazley in Houston. President Sam Houston appointed Birdsall attorney general of the Republic of Texas on August 15, 1837, and the Senate of the Second Congress unanimously confirmed him. Houston then appointed Birdsall chief justice pro tempore as successor to James Collinsworth. He served briefly, but the Senate refused to confirm him in this post. On January 8, 1839, he became the law partner of Sam Houston. The partnership lasted until Birdsall's death. Birdsall was a charter member of the Philosophical Society of Texas. He and his first wife, Ann (Whiteside), had two sons. In 1836 Birdsall married Sarah Peacock. He died of yellow fever on July 22, 1839, and was buried in Glendale Cemetery, Harrisburg (now Houston). Source
Guy Morrison Bryan, legislator, Confederate officer, and judge, son of James and Emily Austin Bryan, was born at Herculaneum, Jefferson County, Missouri, on January 12, 1821. His mother was the sister of Stephen F. Austin. James Bryan died in 1822, and Emily married James F. Perry in 1824. In 1831 the family moved to Texas and lived at San Felipe and at Pleasant Bayou until December 1832, when they located at Peach Point Plantation in Brazoria County. Bryan was boarding with Josiah H. Bell to attend a school taught by Thomas J. Pilgrim in March 1836, when he was selected as a courier to carry the William B. Travis letter written at the Alamo from Bell's Landing to Brazoria and Velasco. Bryan accompanied his mother on the Runaway Scrape and after her return home visited the battlefield at San Jacinto and enlisted in the Texas army as orderly for Alexander Somervell.
Bryan attended school at Chocolate Bayou in 1836 and 1837 and in May 1837 entered Kenyon College, where he graduated in 1842. He returned to Texas and studied law in the Brazoria law office of William H. Jack until failing eyesight ended his law studies. Soon after the outbreak of the Mexican War, Bryan enlisted in a Brazoria volunteer company and was in service under John C. (Jack) Hays east of the Rio Grande until he had to return home with his brother, Stephen S. Perry, who had become ill. In 1847 Bryan was elected to the Texas legislature. He served six years in the House (1847-53) and four years in the Senate (1853-57). On October 20, 1858, he married Laura H. Jack, daughter of William H. Jack. She accompanied him to Washington, D.C., where he represented the Western District of Texas in the Thirty-fifth Congress, 1857-59. His testimony before the House probably caused the collapse of the impeachment case against John C. Watrous. Bryan moved to Galveston in 1860 and operated ranches in Galveston and Brazoria counties. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1860, and as chairman and spokesman for the delegation led in the split from the convention.
A leader in the movement for secession, Bryan associated himself with Oran M. Roberts. George M. Flournoy, John F. Marshall, and Williamson S. Oldham in calling for the election of delegates to the Secession Convention. During the Civil War, early in 1862, Jefferson Davis sent Bryan to visit the governors of the Trans-Mississippi Department to reconcile the clash between civil and military authorities. When Bryan requested active field duty in May 1863, General Edmund Kirby Smith made him confidential adjutant general. Later Bryan helped organize the Texas Cotton Bureau. He was offered a place on Davis's staff and was later appointed by Pendleton Murrah as Texas representative at the headquarters of the Trans-Mississippi Department. After the war, Bryan lived at Galveston except for a time spent in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1873, 1879, and 1887, serving as speaker of the Fourteenth Legislature in 1874. In May 1873 he was a charter member of the Texas Veterans Association and from 1892 until his death served as its president. He was also a charter member and vice president of the Texas State Historical Association. He moved to Austin in 1898 and died there on June 4, 1901. He was buried in the State Cemetery. Source
Howard Hughes, aviator, movie producer, and billionaire, was born in Houston, Texas, on Christmas Eve 1905 to Allene (Gano) and Howard Robard Hughes, Sr. Sonny, as the family called him, grew up in the upper crust of Houston society. Like his father, he enjoyed tinkering with mechanical things, and as a youth he built a shortwave radio set and started the Radio Relay League for amateurs. Because of his father's traveling, Hughes became close to his mother, who constantly worried about her son's health. At the slightest hint of an epidemic, she would take him out of town. In 1919 Hughes was paralyzed for a short time by an unexplained illness. The young man developed a lifetime phobic regard for his health. He also grew up a loner whose only solid friend was Dudley Sharp, son of his father's partner, Walter B. Sharp. His father sent him to a private school in Boston, where he did fairly well in classwork and excelled in golf. On a visit to Harvard, his father took him on a plane ride, an experience that stimulated a life-long love of aviation. While Howard was attending the Thacher School in California, his mother died, on March 29, 1922. In California, Hughes spent time with his father's brother Rupert, a writer for Samuel Goldwyn's movie studios. Although Howard had no high school degree, through his father's intercession (and donation), he sat in on classes at Cal Tech, then returned to Houston and enrolled at Rice Institute. On January 14, 1924, the elder Hughes died suddenly in Houston. At age eighteen Howard received access to a large part of the family estate and dropped out of Rice. Rupert Hughes agreed to supervise Howard's part of the estate and interests in the Hughes Tool Company until he was twenty-one. Howard quarreled with the family and had company lawyers buy out his relatives. Through the decision by a Houston judge, who had been a friend of his father's, Howard was granted legal adulthood on December 26, 1924, and took control of the tool company. On June 1, 1925, he married Houston socialite Ella Rice.
After a summer of tinkering with a steam-powered car, Howard and Ella headed for Hollywood. Howard wanted to make movies. After a first effort that flopped, he hired Noah Dietrich to head his movie subsidiary of the tool company and Lewis Mileston as director. In 1928 Mileston directed Two Arabian Nights and won an Academy Award. Hughes worked next on his epic movie Hell's Angels, a story about air warfare in World War I. He wrote the script and directed it himself. He acquired eighty-seven World War I airplanes, hired ace pilots, took flying lessons and obtained a pilot's license. He crashed and injured his face. As he spent little time at home, Ella divorced him in December 1929. Since talkies had become popular, Hughes added dialogue scenes to Hell's Angels that included actress Jean Harlow. The movie, released in June 1930, had cost $3.8 million, the most expensive movie to that date. Though Hell's Angels was a box-office smash, Hughes actually lost $1.5 million on it. He was now accepted by the Hollywood establishment, however, and went on to produce Scarface (1932), which was decensored after he sued the censorship agency. His later film The Outlaw (1941) also was controversial because of promotional publicity.
In 1932, Hughes acquired a military plane through the Department of Commerce and converted it for racing. When the costs rose, he formed the Hughes Aircraft Company as a division of Hughes Tool Company. Since Charles Lindbergh's license number had been 69, Hughes (whose number was 4223) badgered the Department of Commerce to lower his number to 80 in 1933. He signed on with American Airways as a co-pilot under the name Charles W. Howard to gain experience. The deception was immediately discovered and Hughes resigned, thus leaving the only job he ever had. In 1934 he entered his converted Boeing in the All-America Air Meet in Miami and won. Afterward, he gathered a group of engineers and technicians to work on the H-1, the most advanced plane of its time. He personally test-flew the plane himself and precipitated a power struggle in the Hughes empire when he placed Vice President Dietrich in control of his holdings. Meanwhile, on September 13, 1935, Hughes set a new land-speed record of 352 miles per hour with his H-1 (he called it Winged Bullet). In 1936 he set a new transcontinental record, and the next year he shortened the record to seven hours and twenty-eight minutes. Hughes was now immensely popular and was hosted by the president at the White House. He next converted a special Lockheed 14 for an around-the-world flight. He studied weather patterns and installed an autopilot and four radios to make contacts along his route. He and a four-man crew left New York on July 10, 1938, and cut Lindbergh's record in half in his flight to Paris. He personally piloted the plane on the flight. Hughes landed in New York on July 14, 1938, having circled the globe in three days, nineteen hours, and seventeen minutes. He was honored with parades all over America. Houston briefly renamed its airport (now William P. Hobby Airport) in his honor.
He now decided to invest in military aircraft, and sought to sell his planes and ideas to the government. But he veiled his plans in secrecy and ignored regulations and protocol. He also insisted on building planes out of plywood using a "duramold" process, when the industry standard was aluminum. When the Army Material Command declared that the airplanes could not be made combat ready, Hughes used friends in Washington in an attempt to go over their heads. At last, shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser got Hughes a contract. Kaiser convinced the government that a fleet of gigantic flying boats was needed to ferry men and supplies across the ocean. On November 16, 1942, Hughes Aircraft won a contract to build three flying boats at a cost of up to $18 million in ten months. Hughes declared the goal impossible to meet, and the contract was canceled. On March 27, 1944, after Hughes's lobbying in Washington, he received a contract for one flying boat. Only one HK-1, which the public called the Spruce Goose (a name Hughes hated), was built. He successfully flew the craft on November 2, 1947. On October 11, 1943, Hughes also received a contract for 101 of his D-2 (XF-11 reconnaissance) planes. The XF-11 was an aluminum redesign of the wooden D-2. At the end of World War II in 1945, Hughes won permission to complete the two prototypes under construction. In 1946, in his first flight of the XF-11, he crashed in Beverly Hills. This was his fourth crash (in November 1943 he had hit Lake Mead in a crash that killed two people). He successfully flew the second prototype on April 5, 1946. In 1947 a Senate war investigating committee questioned him at length about his failure to deliver on wartime contracts. Hughes remained active in the 1950s. In 1948 he had purchased the movie studio RKO, and in 1955 he sold it to the General Tire Company for profit. Hughes also invested in Trans World Airlines, and in 1956 pushed the company into the jet age by purchasing sixty-three jets. He quarreled with engineers at Hughes Aircraft in 1953, causing a shakeup that imperiled contracts with the Pentagon. That same year, he founded the Hughes Medical Institute in Delaware, thus funding the Medical Center he earlier had designated as the main recipient of his will. In 1957 he again shook the Hughes empire by firing his long-time associate Noah Dietrich.
During the 1930s in Hollywood Hughes had squired many actresses and socialites, particularly Katherine Hepburn. In 1957 he married actress Jean Peters; the marriage ended in divorce in 1970. Hughes remained in Los Angeles until 1966, then began traveling and eventually rented a penthouse in the Desert Inn in Las Vegas. When lawsuits were filed against TWA, he sold his stock in 1966 for $546 million. The next year he began buying properties to build a business empire in Nevada. In 1970 he took over Air West. By this time he was becoming increasingly reclusive and conducted most of his business through memos. He now had little control over his empire. Chester Davis, Raymond Holliday, and Bill Gay, Hughes Tool Company executives, ran his Nevada properties. In 1972, Hughes sold Hughes Tool Company stock to the public and renamed his holdings company Summa Corporation. This ended his role as a businessman and entrepreneur. In poor health and accompanied by a squadron of personal aides, he went to Panama, Canada, and London, then to Acapulco. He was indicted in a case relating to the Air West takeover, but it was dismissed. Hughes allowed a CIA ship, the Glomar Explorer, to work through one of his companies to recover a sunken Soviet sub. In Los Angeles a break-in occurred at the Hughes headquarters, and many of his personal papers were stolen. With his health rapidly deteriorating, he boarded a plane en route to a hospital in Houston on April 5, 1976, but died on the way. The Treasury Department made fingerprints to confirm his identity.
More than forty alleged wills and 400 prospective heirs emerged to try to inherit part of Hughes's estimated $2 billion estate. In 1983 the estate was settled among twenty-two cousins on both sides of his family. For eight years Texas and California pursued inheritance-tax claims, although Hughes executives insisted that Nevada (which has no estate taxes) was Hughes's home. The United States Supreme Court reviewed the case three times before it was settled. Howard Hughes Medical Institute was given ownership of Hughes Aircraft and sold it to General Motors in 1985 for $5 billion. Hughes's Summa Corporation emerged with four hotels and six casinos in Las Vegas and Reno. Howard Hughes has been the subject of many books; The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977), a television film with actor Tommy Lee Jones; and three feature films, The Carpetbaggers (1964), Melvin and Howard (1980), and The Aviator (2004). Source