November 25, 2014

Charles Stanfield Taylor

Charles Stanfield Taylor, member of the Texas Revolutionary Committee of Correspondence and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in London, England, in 1808. His parents died while he was young, and he was reared by an uncle. Taylor immigrated to the United States in 1828, and from New York City he moved to Nacogdoches where he established a mercantile business. On April 1, 1830, he took his Mexican citizenship oath in Nacogdoches and stated that he was Catholic and unmarried at the time. Taylor participated in the battle of Nacogdoches and represented Nacogdoches in the Convention of 1832. In 1833 he moved to San Augustine, where he was elected alcalde on January 1, 1834. In summer 1834 he returned to Nacogdoches, and on April 25, 1835, he was appointed land commissioner for San Augustine and issued land titles until the Texas Revolution began.

Independence Hall, location of the Declaration signing

He was one of the four representatives from Nacogdoches at the Convention of 1836 and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Taylor left Texas after he signed the Declaration of Independence and stayed in Louisiana until the revolution was over. Two of his children died during this time. He was appointed chief justice of Nacogdoches County on December 20, 1836. In November 1838 he was nominated by President Sam Houston to run the boundary line between Texas and the United States, however Mirabeau B. Lamar succeeded Houston as president, and the nomination was withdrawn.

Taylor was licensed to practice law in the republic in 1839. He was appointed district attorney by President Lamar but was not confirmed by the Senate. He was a candidate for Congress in 1845 but was defeated by three votes. He was elected county treasurer of Nacogdoches County in 1850 and 1852. Taylor boarded in the home of Nicholas Adolphus Sterne when he first arrived in Nacogdoches and on May 28, 1831, married Mrs. Sterne's sister, Anna Marie Rouff, daughter of John R. Rouff of Weerenberg, Germany. She was born on March 1, 1814, and died on February 8, 1873. They became parents of thirteen children, some of which died of exposure during the Runaway Scrape. Their sons, Charles Travis, Milam, William Adolphus, and Lawrence S., joined the Confederate forces in 1861. Lawrence married the daughter of Dr. Robert A. Irion. Charles S. Taylor was chief justice of Nacogdoches County from August 1860 until his death on November 1, 1865. He was a member of Milam Lodge No. 2 and an original member of the Grand Lodge of Texas. In 1936 the Texas Centennial Commission erected a joint monument at the graves of Taylor and his wife in Oak Grove Cemetery, Nacogdoches, Texas.

Note
His middle name is misspelled on his stone.

GPS Coordinates
31° 36.166, -094° 38.952


Oak Grove Cemetery
Nacogdoches

November 18, 2014

Madison G. Whitaker

Madison Guess 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.

GPS 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.

Citation
Bravery in action.

GPS Coordinates
29° 25.277, -098° 28.022

Section MA
San Antonio National Cemetery
San Antonio

November 4, 2014

David Phillip Vetter

David Vetter, also known as the "Boy in the Plastic Bubble" was a prominent sufferer of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a hereditary disease which dramatically weakens the immune system. His parents, David Joseph and Carol Ann Vetter, were advised by physicians that any male children they might conceive would have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease after their first son, David, was also born with SCID and died at 7 months of age. They  At the time, the only management available for children born with SCID was isolation in a sterile environment until a successful bone marrow transplant could be performed. The Vetters, who already had a daughter, Katherine, decided to proceed with another pregnancy. Their third child, David Phillip, was born on September 21, 1971.

A special sterilized cocoon bed was prepared for David at his birth. Immediately after being removed from his mother's womb, he entered the plastic germ-free environment that would be his home for most of his life. He was baptized a Roman Catholic with sterilized holy water once he had entered the bubble. Initial plans to proceed with a bone marrow transplant came to a halt after it was determined that the prospective donor, his sister, Katherine, was not a match. Water, air, food, diapers and clothes were sterilized before entering the chamber. After being placed in the sterile chamber, David was touched only through special plastic gloves attached to the walls of the chamber. The chamber was kept inflated by air compressors that were very loud, making communications with the boy very difficult. His parents and medical team sought to provide him as normal a life as possible, including a formal education, and a television and playroom inside the sterile chamber. About three years after David's birth, the treatment team built an additional sterile chamber in his parents' home in Conroe, Texas, and a transport chamber so that he could spend periods of two to three weeks at home, where he could have his sister and friends for company.

When he was four years old, he discovered that he could poke holes in his bubble using a butterfly syringe that was left inside the chamber by mistake. At this point, the treatment team explained to him what germs were and how they affected his condition. As he grew older, he became aware of the world outside his chamber, and expressed an interest in participating in what he could see outside the windows of the hospital and via television. In 1977, researchers from NASA used their experience with the fabrication of space suits to develop a special suit that would allow him to get out of his bubble and walk in the outside world. The suit was connected to his bubble via an eight-foot long cloth tube and although cumbersome, it allowed him to venture outside without serious risk of contamination. Vetter was initially resistant to the suit, and although he later became more comfortable wearing it, he used it only seven times. He outgrew the suit and never used the replacement one provided for him by NASA.

In 1984, David received a bone marrow transplant from his sister, Katherine, and, while his body didn't reject the transplant, he became ill with infectious mononucleosis after a few months. He died fifteen days later on February 22, 1984, from Burkitt's lymphoma at age 12. The autopsy revealed that Katherine's bone marrow contained traces of a dormant virus, Epstein-Barr, which had been undetectable in the pre-transplant screening. He was buried at Conroe Memorial Park, Conroe, Montgomery County, Texas on February 25, 1984. His parents later divorced. His father went on to become the mayor of Shenandoah, Texas. His mother married a magazine reporter who had written about her son. Vetter's psychologist, Mary Murphy, wrote a book about Vetter's case that was to be published in 1995; however, its publication was blocked by his parents. An elementary school which opened in 1990 in The Woodlands in unincorporated Montgomery County, Texas, was named David Elementary after him.

GPS Coordinates
30° 17.772, -095° 25.635

Section 12
Conroe Memorial Park
Conroe