August 27, 2013

David Spangler Kaufman

David Spangler Kaufman, lawyer, Indian fighter, and politician, son of Daniel Kaufman, was born in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, on December 18, 1813. After graduating with high honors from Princeton College in 1830, he studied law under Gen. John A. Quitman in Natchez, Mississippi, and was admitted to the bar. He began his legal career in Natchitoches, Louisiana, in 1835. Two years later he settled in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he practiced law and participated in military campaigns against the Cherokee Indians. He was wounded in the encounter in which Chief Bowl lost his life in 1839.

Kaufman occupied a number of important positions in the republic and state of Texas. Between 1838 and 1841 he represented Nacogdoches County in the House of the Third Congress of the republic; he served as speaker in the Fourth and Fifth congresses. From December 1843 through June 1845 he represented Shelby, Sabine, and Harrison counties in the Senate of the republic. Texas president Anson Jones named him chargé d'affaires to the United States in February 1845. After annexation Kaufman represented the Eastern District of Texas in the United States House of Representatives during the Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first congresses. While in Congress, Kaufman argued unsuccessfully that Texas owned lands that are now parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, and Oklahoma. He encouraged Governor Peter H. Bell to have Texas troops seize Santa Fe. He also played a role in the Compromise of 1850, whereby the national government assumed the debts of Texas. No other Jewish Texan served in Congress until the 1970s. Kaufman was a Mason and a charter member of the Philosophical Society of Texas. He married Jane Baxter Richardson, daughter of Daniel Long Richardson, on April 21, 1841. The couple had three sons and a daughter. Kaufman died in Washington, D.C., on January 31, 1851, and was buried in the Congressional Cemetery there. In 1932 his remains were moved to the State Cemetery in Austin. Kaufman County and the city of Kaufman are named for him.

GPS Coordinates
30° 15.937, -097° 43.642

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

August 20, 2013

Joe Medwick

Joe Medwick (aka Joe Veasey, Joe Masters, and Joe Melvin), prolific blues and R&B songwriter and vocalist, was born Medwick N. Veasey in Houston, Texas, on June 21, 1931, the son of Rayfield Veasey and Renatta Watson. Though mainly noted as a lyricist whose songs were often covered by other singers, Veasey, best-known both personally and professionally as Joe Medwick, also recorded and released material (under pseudonyms) on various labels from 1958 through 1988.

A lifelong Houstonian, Veasey grew up in Third Ward and attended Yates High School. As a youth he reportedly adopted the nickname “Joe” as a prefix to his given name because of the national popularity of the major league baseball player Joe Medwick (who first starred for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930s). In his teens Veasey launched his singing career, performing with the Chosen Gospel Singers for approximately four years before turning his focus to secular music.

Following an early-1950s stint serving in the United States Army in Korea, Medwick returned home and established himself at the Third Ward venue Shady’s Playhouse, a legendary showcase for blues musicians, some of whom (including Medwick’s frequent collaborator, pianist Teddy Reynolds) resided in the backyard cabins that the proprietor Vernon “Shady” Jackson offered for rent. There Medwick not only got to sing onstage but launched his major phase as a writer. During the mid-1950s he frequented a table at Shady’s Playhouse during the day and wrote lyrics on tablet paper and socialized with resident musicians such as Reynolds, whom he could engage on the spot to help him set the newly-minted words to music.

Given the burgeoning success of blues and R&B recording in Houston during this era, Medwick was often able to sell the resulting material almost immediately to local music producers. In doing so, he rarely asked for formal contracts to establish proper songwriting credit for himself, instead choosing to peddle the songs outright - thereby surrendering any rights to potential royalty payments - for ready cash. Thus, among his musician peers and industry insiders (if not always supported by publishing documentation), Medwick is commonly known to have written or co-written many songs which became hits for other artists with the writing credits typically attributed exclusively to the person who had purchased (and thereafter registered the copyrights on) the compositions.

The most frequently cited examples of this phenomenon occurred in Medwick’s transactions with Don Robey, who was no songwriter himself but, among other things, the owner of the nationally prominent Duke Records. Certain hit songs (R&B classics such as I Don’t Want No Woman, I Pity the Fool, Cry, Cry, Cry, Turn On Your Love Light and others) recorded by Duke’s biggest star, Bobby Bland - particularly most of those that ascribe the songwriting to Robey or to Deadric Malone (the alias he later adopted to deflect criticism) - are widely believed to have originated with Medwick. However, in a few cases, such as the song Farther Up the Road (which was a Number 1 hit for Bland in 1957 and later also recorded by rock star Eric Clapton), Medwick did receive half of the writing credit, shared with Robey (although Medwick’s actual co-writer in this case reportedly was Johnny Copeland). In a 1990 article for the Houston Chronicle, Medwick retrospectively acknowledged his poor judgment in choosing to trade songs to Robey for instant cash, yet he also absolved Robey of blame for exploiting his talents as he did. Moreover, as a singer Veasey, billing himself as Joe Medwick, also recorded some of his own compositions for Robey, resulting in three Duke singles issued in 1958-59.


Beyond his affiliation with Robey, in the 1960s and early 1970s Veasey sold songs to various other Houston-based producers, including Huey P. Meaux, Steve Poncio, Charlie Booth, and Roy Ames. He also occasionally recorded for them, usually as Joe Medwick but also as Joe Masters or Joe Melvin; these tracks were released on small labels such as Paradise, All Boy, Boogaloo, Pacemaker, Jetstream, Monument, Tear Drop, Westpark, Kimberly, and others. In 1978, drawing from his archive of previously produced material, Meaux issued a Joe Medwick LP album titled Why Do Heartaches Pick On Me on the Crazy Cajun Records label. In 2000 many of those and other Meaux-produced tracks resurfaced in CD format on the posthumous Joe Medwick album titled I’m an After Hour Man released on the British imprint Edsel.

Following a period of little or no professional work in music, Veasey reactivated his career in the mid-1980s when he joined a band of reunited Houston blues veterans led by saxophonist Grady Gaines. As a featured singer, Veasey made his final recordings, published under the Medwick alias, on two tracks of the Full Gain CD by Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters, issued on the New Orleans-based Black Top label in 1988.

Though never formally married, Veasey is known to have fathered one child with Sarah Jean Braxton (aka Broadnax). He died on April 12, 1992, at his home in Houston. As a military veteran, Veasey is buried in Houston National Cemetery.

GPS Coordinates
29° 55.735, -095° 27.003

Section J
Houston National Cemetery
Houston

August 13, 2013

Sara Haden

Born Katherine W. Haden on November 17, 1899 in Galveston, Texas, Sara was the second daughter of Dr. John Brannum Haden and character actress Charlotte Walker, one of the great stage beauties at the turn of the century. Her parents divorced when she was young and the children split their time between New York and Galveston. Sara and her elder sister Beatrice attended the Sacred Heart Academy in Galveston, where they boarded during school terms.

She made her debut onstage in the early 1920s as Nora in Macbeth. She lacked the beauty of her mother, having the appearance of a lonely school marm, and thus was always cast in character roles and supporting parts. Sometime in the mid-20s she changed her professional name to Sara, although it was often spelled Sarah on the programs. She made her film debut in 1934 in the Katharine Hepburn vehicle Spitfire. Sara later became a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player and had small roles in many of the studio's films, most notably as spinsterish Aunt Milly in the Andy Hardy series. She was most notable for her stern, humorless characterizations such as a truant officer in Shirley Temple's Captain January (1936), but she also played the much-loved teacher Miss Pipps who is unjustly fired in the Our Gang comedy Come Back, Miss Pipps (1941). Her other notable films include Poor Little Rich Girl (1936), The Shop Around the Corner (1940), Woman of the Year (1942) and The Bishop's Wife (1947).

She made her last film in 1958 (Andy Hardy Comes Home) and turned to television, performing on episodes of Climax!, Bourbon Street Beat, Perry Mason and Bonanza, with her last TV appearance in a 1965 guest spot on Dr. Kildare. She retired, and spent the rest of her life socializing with her friends and decorating her home. Sara died of an unknown illness on September 15, 1981, in Woodland Hills, California, and buried in the Haden family mausoleum in Galveston.

Note
Unmarked. There are several crypts inside the Haden family mausoleum, all marked with a small nameplate except for two - those of Sara and her mother Charlotte.

GPS Coordinates
29° 17.621, -094° 48.682

Haden Mausoleum
Trinity Episcopal Cemetery
Galveston

August 6, 2013

Walter Arthur "Hoot" Evers

Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1921, Evers gained the nickname "Hoot" as a child since he was a devoted fan of the films of Richard "Hoot" Gibson, a popular movie cowboy. He graduated from Collinsville High School in Collinsville, Illinois, then attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign where he was a star baseball and basketball player. Evers was signed by the Detroit Tigers as an amateur free agent in 1941 and was considered one of the brightest prospects in baseball. After playing one major league game on September 16, 1941, Evers' baseball career was put on hold while he served four years in the military during World War II.

He returned to the Tigers in 1946, playing 76 games in center field, but missing half the season with a broken ankle. In 1947, the 26-year-old Evers finally played his first full season in the big leagues. He had a .296 batting average and a .344 on-base percentage. He was selected for the American League All-Star team in 1948 and 1950. Evers' career peaked in the three years from 1948 to 1950, hitting over .300 all three years and batting in over 100 runs in 1948 and 1950.

His best season was in 1950 when he led the American League in triples and was among the American League leaders in most batting categories. That year, he had a .551 slugging percentage, 34 doubles, .959 OPS, 67 extra base hits, .323 batting average, 109 RBIs, 259 total bases, and .408 on-base percentage. He remains the only major league player to hit two triples and hit for the cycle in the same game.

In 1951 his batting average dropped nearly 100 points from .323 to .224, and his RBI production dropped from 103 to 46. After playing only one game for the Tigers in 1952, Evers was traded on June 3, 1952 that sent George Kell, Johnny Lipon, Dizzy Trout, and Evers to the Boston Red Sox. He became the Red Sox starting left fielder in 1952, and he hit .262 with 59 RBIs. A broken finger in 1952 reportedly hampered Evers' grip, and he never regained his stroke. Evers played four more major league seasons from 1953 to 1956, but he did not hit above .251 or collect more than 39 RBIs. In 1,142 career games, Evers batted .278 with 98 home runs, 565 RBIs, and 1,055 hits.

After his playing career ended, he worked in the Cleveland Indians organization for several years and was a member of the team's coaching staff in 1970. In 1971, he joined the Detroit Tigers as director of player development. In 1978, he became a special assignment scout for the Tigers in Houston. Evers died in Houston, Texas in 1991. He was 69 years old and had recently suffered a heart attack.

GPS Coordinates
29° 46.636, -095° 37.034

Section 212
Memorial Oaks Cemetery
Houston