Along with everything else, Hurricane Harvey took with it decades worth of files, maps, notes, coordinates, names and research I had on my external hard drive; so for the time being, this site will be on hiatus until I finish republishing. I will upload as I go, so each post will reappear on its original date and can be found in the Archive section in the right sidebar. If you need to contact me for any reason in the duration, my contact info is found in my profile. Wish me luck, guys. - JES

December 2, 2014

George Duncan Hancock

   George Duncan Hancock, soldier of the Republic of Texas, merchant, legislator, and civil leader, was born in Tennessee on April 27, 1809, the son of John Allen and Sarah (Ryan) Hancock. He moved with his family to Alabama in 1819 and was educated there. In 1835 he moved to Texas. At the battle of San Jacinto he served as a private in Capt. William Kimbro's company of Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers. He was one of the five men who accompanied Erastus (Deaf) Smith in the destruction of Vince's Bridge. For his military service, which lasted from March 15 through November 15, 1836, Hancock received a total of 1,280 acres in Lampasas County.

   Subsequently he worked as a surveyor, locating lands on the frontier. In 1840 he was residing in Bastrop County, where he owned 5,907 acres of real estate, a saddle horse, and a watch. On October 26, 1842, after Adri├ín Woll's capture of San Antonio, Hancock enlisted in Capt. Bartlett Sims's company of Col. James R. Cook's regiment of the South Western Army, and marched with Gen. Alexander Somervell to the Rio Grande. He returned to San Antonio with Somervell and was discharged on November 21, 1842, thus avoiding the Mier expedition.

   In 1843 he opened a highly successful retail store in La Grange, Fayette County, which he later moved to Bastrop and then in 1845 to Austin, where he established himself at the corner of Congress and Pecan (now Sixth) Street. There he was regarded by the editor of the Texas State Gazette as "an experienced merchant of acknowledged good taste in the selection of goods," and as offering "as large and complete a stock...as has ever been brought to the city."

   By 1850 Hancock owned assets valued at $40,000 and was residing in an Austin boardinghouse. On September 5 of that year the state legislature granted him, Thomas J. Hardeman, John Rabb, John W. S. Dancy, and nine other men a charter to incorporate the Colorado Navigation Company to promote Colorado River traffic and commerce, and on February 16, 1852, Hancock and six other men were granted corporate rights for the Brazos and Colorado Railroad Company to link Austin and Houston. Hancock was married to Eliza Louisa Lewis, the daughter of Ira Randolph Lewis, on November 2, 1855. In 1861 Hancock, an ardent Unionist like his brother, John Hancock, retired from business.

   At the end of the Civil War Hancock was a member of a committee that welcomed Governor A. J. Hamilton to Austin in August 1865, and later that month Hamilton appointed him to the board of trustees of the State Lunatic Asylum (later the Austin State Hospital). In 1866 he was elected to the Eleventh Texas Legislature. In 1872 he served as chairman of a committee formed to keep Austin the capital of Texas.

   Hancock died on January 6, 1879, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin. He was survived by his wife, who died on April 27, 1890, and a son, Lewis, who became mayor of Austin. Hancock was an active member of the Texas Veterans Association, which he helped to organize in 1873, and a vestryman at St. David's Episcopal Church. He was also a Mason and in 1852 took an active role in establishing Austin Masonic High School. Source

COORDINATES
30° 16.515, -097° 43.616

Section 1
Oakwood Cemetery
Austin

November 18, 2014

Madison G. Whitaker

   Madison G. Whitaker, veteran of the battle of San Jacinto and state senator, was born on April 4, 1811, in Lincoln County, Tennessee, the son of John and Nancy (Guest or Guess) Whitaker. He grew up in Lincoln County. In 1835 he arrived in Nacogdoches, Texas, where his half-brother, William Whitaker, had recently moved. A man named Whitaker, probably Madison, was chosen along with Solomon R. Peck to hold an election on October 1, 1835, to select delegates to the Consultation at San Felipe de Austin. Madison probably enlisted as a sergeant in the Nacogdoches company commanded by Capt. Thomas J. Rusk in October 1835 and marched with it to San Antonio de Bexar. The General Council of the provisional government elected him second lieutenant of the revolutionary army on November 28, 1835, but he declined the commission. Instead, he enlisted about March 6, 1836, as a private in the Nacogdoches Volunteer Company, first commanded by Capt. Leander Smith and then by Capt. Hayden S. Arnold, this being the first company of volunteers in the second regiment under Col. Sidney Sherman. Whitaker fought at the battle of San Jacinto and was discharged on June 6, 1836. He appears as number thirty-three in the painting The Surrender of Santa Anna by William H. Huddle, which hangs in the Capitol in Austin. Whitaker was then briefly a captain in the Texas Rangers. Some sources say that he served under Gen. Kelsey H. Douglass in the Cherokee War of 1839. Whitaker was elected senator to the Fifth and Sixth Texas legislatures, 1853-56, representing District Thirteen, Nacogdoches and Angelina counties. He was a longtime member of the board of trustees of Nacogdoches University, serving as treasurer, vice president, and president. He helped to found the rural Liberty School, north of Nacogdoches, in 1836. Whitaker became a Mason about 1839 and a member of Milam Lodge No. 2 of Nacogdoches. He was also a longtime member of the Texas Veterans Association, serving as both first and second vice president and as supervisor of the Nacogdoches district. He was a Baptist. He married Henrietta M. Fitts on August 25, 1841, in Nacogdoches County, and they became the parents of eight children. He died on January 23, 1893, in Nacogdoches County and was buried in Old North Church Cemetery north of Nacogdoches. Source

COORDINATES
31° 40.039, -094° 39.476


Old North Church Cemetery
Nacogdoches

November 11, 2014

John J. Given

   John J. Given, Medal of Honor recipient, was born at Owensboro, Kentucky, in 1840. As a corporal in Company K, Sixth United States Cavalry, he was cited for "bravery in action" at the battle of the Little Wichita River, July 12, 1870. On duty with Company L and under the command of Capt. Curwen Boyd McLellan, fifty men were engaged in a battle with 200 Indians. During the battle the horse of 2d Lt. H. P. Perrine, commander of the rear guard, was shot from under him. Given, seeing Perrine's plight, turned his horse around and drove off attacking Kiowas. Private Blum, a close friend of Given, was shot in the head. Given requested and received permission to go to his aid; he gave his picture and those of his sisters and sweetheart to guide James Dosher to hold until he got back. As Given reached the side of his friend, Kicking Bird, the Kiowa chief, rode out of an arroyo and drove his war lance into Givens's back, killing him instantly. For this and other actions Given and twelve others were cited for bravery in action and awarded the Medal of Honor. Givens's body was never recovered from the battlefield. A headstone "In Memoriam" stands at the San Antonio National Cemetery. Source

Citation: Bravery in action.

COORDINATES
29° 25.277, -098° 28.022

Section MA
San Antonio National Cemetery
San Antonio

June 10, 2014

Kenneth "Big Moe" Moore

   Kenneth “Big Moe” Moore, musician, rapper, and an original member of DJ Screw’s Screwed Up Click (S.U.C.), was born in Houston, Texas, on August 20, 1974. He grew up in southeast Houston and graduated from Jack Yates High School.

   Moore, whose stage name was Big Moe, gained distinction from other Houston rappers for his softer and slower style and his “rapsinging,” the term he applied to his mixture of rapping and singing. As a founding member in S.U.C., he began his music career by freestyling on DJ Screw’s mixtapes. He was subsequently signed to Wreckshop Records, and in 2000 the label released Big Moe’s debut album, City of Syrup. The title paid homage to the codeine-laced cough syrup that was prevalent in Houston’s hip-hop community. The album cover show’s Big Moe pouring syrup from a styrofoam cup. City of Syrup featured the single, Maan! which was Big Moe’s answer to an East Coast hit titled Whoa! by Black Rob.

   In 2002 Moore released his second album Purple World. The release showcased a number of prominent Houston vocalists and two versions of Moore’s breakthrough single, Purple Stuff. The song’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory-like video garnered some airplay on MTV, and the album ranked as high as Number 3 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Moore’s third album, Moe Life, issued in 2003, included the commercially-successful single Just a Dog.

   After suffering a heart attack and slipping into a coma, Kenneth “Big Moe” Moore died on October 14, 2007. Wreckshop Records and the Koch label released his album Unfinished Business posthumously in 2008. In 2009 City of Syrup earned Number 25 on Houstonpress.com’s list of the 25 Best Houston Hip-Hop Albums. Lil’O, another original S.U.C. member, commented, “While Moe did sing about syrup, he also sang about a wide array of things. Outside of hip-hop, he was a happy man….He was very approachable. The fans knew they could always come up and ask for a picture, and he signed every autograph.” Musicologists regarded Big Moe’s style of rap as a type of hip-hop/R&B hybrid that covered a middle ground between hardcore and pop styles. Source

COORDINATES
29° 34.116, -5° 20.970

Block 4
Paradise Cemetery South
Pearland

June 3, 2014

Claiborne West

   Claiborne West, political leader and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in Tennessee about 1800. He moved to Louisiana and married Anna Garner in 1824. The Wests came to Texas seven years later. West represented the Liberty District at the Convention of 1832 and served as a member of that body's subcommittee for safety and vigilance for the district of Cow Bayou. In 1835 he served in the Consultation from the Liberty Municipality. Upon the formation of the General Council West was selected to represent the Jefferson Municipality. At the Convention of 1836 he signed the declaration of independence from Mexico. During the Runaway Scrape West returned to Southeast Texas, where he furnished provisions to soldiers prior to the battle of San Jacinto. He subsequently enlisted in a company under Benjamin Franklin Hardin and served from July 1 to October 7, 1836. He was elected by Jefferson County voters to the House of the First Congress of the Republic of Texas in 1836-37. After serving as postmaster for the hamlet of Jefferson, West moved to Montgomery County, where 1840 tax rolls include six slaves, four horses, and fifty cattle among his possessions. His wife died on March 3, 1847; shortly thereafter, West married Mrs. Prudence Kimbell, widow of George C. Kimbell. By 1850 the Wests had moved to Guadalupe County, where his estate included $3,000 in real property and nine slaves. After his second wife's death in 1861, West was married for a third time, to Mrs. Florinda McCulloch Day. West was a Mason and the father of nine children by his first marriage. He died on September 10, 1866. Source

COORDINATES
29° 33.595, -097° 57.715

Section 5
Riverside Cemetery
Seguin

May 13, 2014

Sterling Clack Robertson

Sterling Clack Robertson, the empresario of Robertson's colony in Texas, was born on October 2, 1785, in Nashville, Tennessee, a son of Elijah and Sarah (Maclin) Robertson. He was given a liberal education under the direction of Judge John McNairy. From November 13, 1814, to May 13, 1815, he served as deputy quartermaster general under Maj. Gen. William Carroll, who went down to fight the British in the battle of New Orleans. After the battle Robertson purchased supplies and equipment for the sick and wounded on their return to Nashville over the Natchez Trace. By 1816 he was living in Giles County, Tennessee, where he owned a plantation. He had two sons: James Maclin Robertson with Rachael Smith, and Elijah Sterling Clack Robertson with Frances King. On March 2, 1822, he was one of the seventy stockholders of the Texas Association who signed a memorial to the Mexican government, asking for permission to settle in Texas. On November 21, 1825, he was one of thirty-two members of Dr. Felix Robertson's party that set out from Nashville, Tennessee, bound for Texas, to explore and survey Robert Leftwich's grant. Robertson remained in Texas until August 1826, when he returned to Tennessee, filled with enthusiasm for the colonization of Texas. He toured Tennessee and Kentucky in an attempt to recruit settlers. In the spring of 1830 he signed a subcontract with the Texas Association to introduce 200 families, and on May 9, 1830, he took in Alexander Thomson as his partner. They brought families to Texas, but they were prevented from settling in the colony because of the Law of April 6, 1830. In 1831 that area was transferred to Stephen F. Austin and Samuel May Williams, but Robertson obtained a contract in his own name in 1834 and served as empresario of Robertson's colony in 1834 and 1835. On January 17, 1836, he became captain of a company of Texas Rangers. Then he was elected as a delegate from the Municipality of Milam to the convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos (March 1-17, 1836), where he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. He was stationed at Harrisburg to guard army equipment during the battle of San Jacinto. Robertson served as senator from the District of Milam in the First and Second congresses of the Republic of Texas (October 3, 1836-May 24, 1838), after which he retired to his home in Robertson County, where he became the earliest known breeder of Arabian horses in Texas. He died there on March 4, 1842. His remains were removed to Austin and reinterred in the State Cemetery on December 29, 1935. Robertson was responsible for settling more than 600 families in Texas. Source

COORDINATES
30° 15.914, -097° 43.630

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

April 22, 2014

John "Big Hawk" Hawkins

   Rap musician Big Hawk was born John Edward Hawkins in Houston, Texas, on November 15, 1969. Big Hawk was a Houston rapper and original member of the pioneering rap group Screwed Up Click.

   Big Hawk started his rap career in 1994 along with his younger brother, Patrick (known as Fat Pat), and the legendary DJ Screw (born Robert Earl Davis, Jr.). Hawk and other members of Screwed Up Click released their first album Screwed for Life on D.E.A. Records, the label Big Hawk had formed earlier the same year. D.E.A. was short for Dead End Records, which he had named after the dead-end street where he grew up in Houston. Hawk’s best-known songs include Back, Back and Playas Get Chose, both of which were collaborations with fellow rapper Lil’ O, and a solo hit Chillin’ Wit My Broad. Hawk, also known as the “Five-Star General” became the leader of Screwed Up Click, in part due to the deaths of DJ Screw and other founding members.

   In 2000 he released a solo album, Under Hawk’s Wings, and in 2002 he established the label Ghetto Dreams Entertainment and released a second work, HAWK. Its single, You Already Know, reached Number 45 on Billboard’s rap charts. Hawk released Wreckin’ 2K4 with fellow rapper Lil’ Keke in 2003. He was featured on the song Swang by Houston rapper Trae in 2005 and recorded a song as a promotion for World Cup soccer in early 2006. Big Hawk advocated non-violence in his music and was known for being an ambassador for Houston rap because of his ability to get along with rappers from all over the area.

   Big Hawk’s fate was perhaps foreshadowed by the deaths of his brother Fat Pat, who was shot and killed in 1998, and that of numerous other members of the Screwed Up Click, including DJ Screw (drug overdose), Big Mello (car accident,) and Big Moe (heart attack). He was murdered outside the home of a friend on the night of May 1, 2006. He was shot several times and eventually died at the scene. Neither his vehicle nor his possessions were taken, leading police to believe that his murder was not a robbery attempt. A public memorial service for the fallen rapper, held on May 8, 2006, in Houston, drew hundreds of fans. He was laid to rest at Paradise South Cemetery in Pearland just outside of Houston. Big Hawk was survived by his wife Meshah Henderson Hawkins and two sons. His album Endangered Species was released posthumously in 2007. Source

COORDINATES
29° 34.135, -095° 20.960

Block 4
Paradise South Cemetery
Pearland

February 11, 2014

Leon "Pappy" Selph

   Leon "Pappy" Selph, honky-tonk fiddler and a "founding father" of honky-tonk music, was born on April 7, 1914, in Houston to Lee and Alvenie Selph. He began playing the violin at the age of seven and studied classical violin at the Columbia Conservatory in Houston. He graduated from those studies in 1928, and he performed with the Houston Youth Symphony when he was fourteen. Selph joined W. Lee O'Daniel's Light Crust Doughboys in 1931, when he was seventeen. Although O'Daniel paid Selph $20 a week to play for the band, the fiddler's primary duty was to teach the Doughboys, who could not read music, one new song a week to perform on their radio show. Bob Wills was one of his students. At the same time, Selph was approached to instruct some of the musicians at the Grand Ole Opry, and so he commuted between Fort Worth and Nashville. When one of the featured performers fell ill, Selph also got the opportunity to perform onstage at the Opry, and he played Orange Blossom Special to a standing ovation.

   Back in Fort Worth, members of the Light Crust Doughboys increasingly clashed with O’Daniel’s demands. When Wills moved to Waco to form the Texas Playboys, Selph joined him. Selph stayed with the Playboys until Wills moved the band to Tulsa in 1934, then moved back to Houston and formed his own band, the Blue Ridge Playboys. The group, which included legendary musicians Floyd Tillman, Moon Mullican, and Ted Daffan, signed with Columbia Records in the mid-1930s and achieved some regional success with recordings that included Give Me My Dime Back and the classic Orange Blossom Special. From the 1930s until World War II the Blue Ridge Playboys had their own national radio show on KPRC in Houston. The show was canceled at the outbreak of the war.

   Selph enlisted in the United States Navy and served as a firefighter. After the war he returned to Houston and joined the Houston Fire Department, where he worked for the next thirty years. He achieved the rank of captain in 1955. After he retired in 1972, he formed another band, with which he toured the Soviet Union and served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. State Department. During his music career, he performed in some thirty states and fourteen foreign countries. His audience members included United States presidents, the King of Norway, and other dignitaries. He played at numerous venues, including clubs, hospitals, churches, and schools, around Houston and for many private and municipal functions. Selph was a mainstay for thirty-one years at the Houston Rodeo parade and was made an honorary life member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Association. The city of Houston proclaimed June 9, 1991, as “Leon Pappy Selph Appreciation Day.” In 1996 he was inducted into the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame.

   Selph had married his wife Inez about 1937; they had four children. Once he became a father, he used the nickname “Pappy” for the duration of his career. He continued to play local venues around Texas until his death on January 8, 1999, in Houston. Selph was survived by his wife, two sons, and two daughters. Source

COORDINATES
29° 54.848, -095° 18.707

Section 6
Brookside Memorial Park
Houston

January 21, 2014

John "Peck" Kelley

   Jazz pianist John Dickson (Peck) Kelley was born in Houston on October 22, 1898. He was one of nine brothers. Although his mother reportedly had a fine singing voice, the Kelleys were not particularly musical. A cousin, Charlie Dickson, was a pianist and popular Houston bandleader in the 1920s.

   Peck was the only one of the nine brothers who showed much interest in the family's upright piano. He received his first instruction on the instrument from the teenaged daughter of a neighbor but soon quit because she kept rapping his knuckles with a pencil when he made a mistake. His interest in the piano continued, however, and by 1919 he was reportedly playing with Jack Sharpe in the red-light district south of Buffalo Bayou. In the fall of 1921 he organized his own band, Peck's Bad Boys, which at various times during the decade included such notable musicians as Jack Teagarden, Pee Wee Russell, Wingy Manone, Snoozer Quinn, Johnny Wiggs, Leon Prima (the brother of Louis), and Leon Roppolo. The band played dances and fraternity parties around the Houston-Galveston area and also performed at the Washington Hotel in Shreveport in 1926. In addition, Kelley played occasional solo engagements around Houston and provided accompaniment for silent films at several local theaters.

   He studied harmony and musical theory with Aldrich Kidd in Houston in the mid-1920s. He also studied classical piano with his friend Patricio Gutierrez and, possibly, with Albino Torres. Kelley idolized Vladimir Horowitz, though jazz immortal Art Tatum was the pianist to whom his peers most often compared him; many of his fellow musicians considered Kelley "the finest white jazz pianist of all time." In late 1925 Kelley journeyed briefly to St. Louis, where he played with Frankie Trumbauer's orchestra, which also included former Bad Boy Russell and Bix Beiderbecke. Beginning in 1929 Kelley played with several local bands that performed at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, and the Hollywood Club in Galveston, and briefly in New Orleans. In 1931 he also had a regular gig at the cafeteria of the Rice Hotel in Houston.

   As alumni of his bands moved on to other organizations and spread word of his talents, Kelley became a legend in jazz circles, but he stubbornly resisted the stardom that seemed his due. "I never liked to play for a living," he once said, "but I liked to play on the piano." He refused to leave Houston, turning down offers from Paul Whiteman, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Rudy Vallee, among others. "If I was working with a top band," he reasoned, "it would be rehearse, record, broadcast, play, rush, hurry, with no time to myself." He also declined recording contracts from Decca and OKeh. One measure of his growing reputation came in July 1939, when an admiring article by John Hammond, "Peck Kelley Is No Myth," appeared in Down Beat. Kelley attracted more attention in February 1940, when Collier's ran an article titled "Kelley Won't Budge." Kelley began an engagement in 1938 at the Southern Dinner Club, where he played off and on until late 1950. He joined the United States Army in 1942 and was stationed in San Antonio. There he organized a band, but eye problems led to his discharge in March 1943, whereupon he found work in a Houston shipyard for the duration of World War II.

   Plagued by deteriorating vision from cataracts and glaucoma, Kelley retired from the music business in 1950, although he reportedly spent hours practicing at home on a stringless, silent piano so as not to disturb his neighbors. He had begun to show the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. He finally recorded informally, at the urging of friends, in 1951, 1953, and 1957. The 1957 session, recorded at the studios of radio station KPRC, was released as a double album in 1983. At a Houston gig in 1960 his old friend Teagarden invited Kelley to sit in, but Kelley, nearly blind, refused to play in public.

   Kelley married in 1920, but he and his wife were divorced amicably two years later, reportedly over her refusal to attend a Christmas party at a movie theater where he had been working. In later years he lived with his nephew and his nephew's wife. Despite his lack of formal education he was a dedicated reader of philosophy and was especially fond of the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson. "He was extremely modest," remembered his old friend Johnny Wiggs. "He just wanted to stay on in Houston and live a quiet life." Kelley died in Houston on December 26, 1980. Source

COORDINATES
29° 45.961, -095° 23.270

Section D
Washington Cemetery
Houston