February 24, 2015

Philip Singleton (1781?-1836)

Phillip Singleton, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, received title to a league of land at the mouth of Yegua Creek on the west bank of the Brazos River in what is now southeastern Burleson and northeastern Washington counties on August 19, 1824. The census of March 1826 classified him as a farmer and stock raiser aged between forty and fifty. His household included his wife, Susanna (Walker), two sons, and three daughters. In 1828-29 Singleton settled on the north side of Buffalo Bayou and built a log house that was afterwards bought by Lorenzo de Zavala and became Zavala's first home in Texas. Source 

Note: This is a cenotaph. While the official details of his death are uncertain, family legend relates that he was killed by Indians while hunting and his body never recovered.



COORDINATES
29° 43.210
-095° 16.523


Glendale Cemetery
Houston

February 17, 2015

John Austin Wharton (1806-1838)

John Austin Wharton, soldier and statesman, son of William and Judith (Harris) Wharton, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in April 1806, left an orphan in 1816, and reared by an uncle, Jesse Wharton, who helped him obtain a classical education. He later studied law and was admitted to the bar in Nashville before he was twenty-one. In 1830 he began legal practice in New Orleans. Though some historians have suggested that he accompanied his brother, William H. Wharton, to Texas in 1829, he probably did not arrive until 1833. Shortly after his arrival, Wharton was embroiled with the Austin family in a feud that eventually led to a duel between him and William T. Austin. Wharton was shot in the right wrist and never fully regained the use of his hand. Around the same time, he participated in the establishment of the first Masonic lodge in Texas. Wharton was an early activist in the movement for Texas independence. He attended the assembly in Columbia that preceded the Consultation and was appointed to the Committee of Vigilance, Correspondence, and Safety of the Department of Brazoria. As a member of this committee, Wharton corresponded with political leaders throughout Texas to consolidate opposition to the Centralist government in Mexico City. At the Consultation in San Felipe in the fall of 1835, he advocated immediate independence from Mexico and was appointed chairman of the committee to list grievances and explain the call to arms. He later served as a member of the General Council of the provisional government.

On December 8, 1835, Sam Houston appointed Wharton Texas agent to New Orleans to procure supplies for the army. Wharton also served as adjutant general on Houston's staff and was responsible for bringing the Twin Sisters to the army. Secretary of War Thomas J. Rusk later recognized Wharton for bravery during the battle of San Jacinto. After the Texas Revolution Wharton attempted to gain the release of his brother and other Texans captured on the naval vessel Independence and imprisoned in Matamoros. Upon his arrival in Mexico, however, he too was imprisoned. The brothers soon escaped and returned to Texas. John served briefly as the secretary of war until October 1836, when he left the position to become a representative from Brazoria in the First Congress of the Republic. He returned to Houston after completion of his term in office and for two years practiced law with Elisha M. Pease and John Woods Harris. Wharton left the partnership to serve in the Third Congress. During this term in the House he acted as chairman of the committee on education but fell ill with fever and had to leave the position. He died on December 17, 1838, and was buried with military and Masonic rites. David G. Burnet, who delivered the funeral oration, described Wharton as "the keenest blade of San Jacinto." Source

COORDINATES
29° 45.453
-095° 22.753


Founders Memorial Park
Houston

February 10, 2015

James Gibson Swisher (1794-1862)

James Gibson Swisher, early Texas patriot, son of Henry and Annie (Gibson) Swisher, was born near Franklin, Williamson County, Tennessee, on November 6, 1794. His father, a German immigrant, participated in the organization of Tennessee Territory as a state. After receiving a good education in Tennessee, Swisher worked as a land surveyor and gained experience dealing with Indians in his native state. In the War of 1812 he served as a private in Capt. David Mason's company of Tennessee militia from August 18, 1813, to May 21, 1814, and in Capt. John Donelson's company of United States Mounted Rangers from September 2, 1814, to September 1, 1815. Swisher participated in the two battles of New Orleans. After hostilities ceased, he married Elizabeth Boyd in Knoxville, Tennessee, on September 14, 1815. In 1833 he arrived in Texas with his brother Harvey H. Swisher, who later participated in the battle of San Jacinto. Between January and October 1834 Swisher and his family settled at Tenoxtitlán in Robertson's colony, in what is now Burleson County. He successfully led a retaliatory attack after a Comanche Indian raid on the settlement in April 1834. By October 1834 Swisher and his family had moved to Chriesman Settlement in what became Washington County. On July 2, 1835, Swisher was one of the petitioners who requested a separate municipality for the area that later became Washington Municipality. Swisher was elected captain of a military company organized in Washington Municipality at the beginning of the Texas Revolution. His Texas military service began on October 8, 1835. His company participated in the siege of Bexar in December 1835. Gen. Edward Burleson appointed Swisher one of the three commissioners to negotiate the surrender of Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos on December 11, 1835. Swisher remained with the revolutionary army until he was elected one of four delegates from Washington Municipality to the Convention of 1836 on February 1, 1836.

At the convention he participated in debates and urged payment of land bounties to reward military service as well as careful examination of all bounty claims. His proposals influenced future Texas land policy. Swisher also served on the defense committee; he opposed Sam Houston's policy of retreat and urged immediate engagement of the enemy. Swisher signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. After the convention he accompanied his family in the Runaway Scrape and assisted in the evacuation of Washington-on-the-Brazos. Swisher later served in Capt. William W. Hill's company of rangers on the frontier from July to October 1836. Between 1839 and 1841 he served as a justice of the peace in Washington County. He was also an incorporator and trustee of Union Academy, a Washington County school chartered in February 1840. In 1846 Swisher moved to Austin, where he operated a tavern, a hotel, and after 1852 a ferry. In his later years he also farmed. In 1848 he was registrar of an Austin high school. He was a member of the building committee of the First Presbyterian Church in Austin in 1851 and one of five members of a vigilance committee formed by the Austin vigilante movement in October 1854 to enforce slave-control laws. After Swisher's death in Austin on November 14, 1862, his wife, Elizabeth, continued to operate the important ferry transportation link on the Austin-San Antonio Road. Swisher had four children who lived to adulthood, including John Milton Swisher, who held many appointive offices in the republic and state of Texas, and James Monroe Swisher, an Indian fighter and later a state legislator. Swisher County and a street in Austin were named for James Swisher. Source 

COORDINATES
30° 16.608
-097° 43.625

Section 4
Oakwood Cemetery
Austin

February 3, 2015

Ross Shaw Sterling (1875-1949)

Ross S. Sterling, governor of Texas, son of Benjamin Franklin and Mary Jane (Bryan) Sterling, was born near Anahuac, Texas, in February 1875. Biographical sources give different specific birth dates of February 11 and February 22, due to the change from the Julian (Old Style) to the Gregorian (New Style) Calendar. He attended public schools and farmed until about 1896. He opened a feed store at Sour Lake in 1903, and during the next several years he also entered the banking business by purchasing a number of banks in small towns. In 1903 he became an oil operator and in 1910 bought two wells, which developed into the Humble Oil and Refining Company. The company was officially organized in 1911, and Sterling was president. In 1918 he also was president and owner of the Dayton-Goose Creek Railway Company. In 1925 he sold his Humble interests and started developing real estate in the vicinity of Houston. He bought the Houston Dispatch and the Houston Post in 1925 and 1926 and subsequently combined them as the Houston Post-Dispatch, which later became the Houston Post. Sterling was chairman of the Texas Highway Commission in 1930 and was instrumental in highway development in Texas, including the implementation of the 100-foot right-of-way for highways. On January 20, 1931, he was inaugurated governor of Texas.

In September 1931, during the Great Depression, he called a special session of the legislature to deal with the emergency in agriculture. The Texas Cotton Acreage Control Law of 1931-32 was designed to cut cotton acreage in the state, but it was declared unconstitutional and never went into effect. Because rulings of the Railroad Commission regulating oil proration in East Texas were being ignored, Sterling placed four counties under martial law and shut down all oil production temporarily. Later the courts ruled that he had exceeded his authority by the declaration of martial law. Sterling was defeated by Miriam A. Ferguson in his race for a second term as governor. In 1933 Sterling returned to Houston, where he appeared little in public life, but in a few years had built another fortune in oil. He was president of the Sterling Oil and Refining Company from 1933 to 1946. He was president of the American Maid Flour Mills and the R. S. Sterling Investment Company and was chairman of the Houston National Bank and the Houston-Harris County Channel Navigation Board. Sterling married Maud Abbie Gage on October 10, 1898; they were parents of five children. Among his philanthropies were the gift of his La Porte home to the Houston Optimist Club for a boys' home, establishment of a boys' camp in memory of Ross Sterling, Jr., who died in 1924, and the contribution of $100,000 to Texas Christian University. He was a Democrat and a Mason. Sterling died in Fort Worth on March 25, 1949, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston. Source 

COORDINATES
29° 45 825
-095° 23.173

Section H2
Glenwood Cemetery
Houston