May 26, 2015

Michael Goheen

   Michael Goheen was born in Catawissa, Pennsylvania sometime in 1807 and arrived in Texas in 1834. He applied for a land grant in October 1835, but did not receive it. In September of that year, he enlisted in the Texas army and commanded a company at the Storming and Capture of Bexar (December 5-10), after which he left the service. He re-enlisted in March 1836 during the Texas Revolution as a member of James Gillaspie's company and fought with that unit at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21. During his enlistment, he served as postmaster of Electra and stayed in the army until November 20, 1836 when he was discharged. He was living in Grimes County in June 1850, but shortly thereafter moved to Harris County where he died some time prior to August 30, 1850.

Note: Unmarked. Founders Memorial Park, originally founded in 1836 as Houston's first city cemetery, was rapidly filled due to a yellow fever epidemic and closed to further burials around 1840. The cemetery became neglected over a period of time, often vandalized and was heavily damaged by the 1900 hurricane. In 1936, despite a massive clean up effort, a century of neglect had taken its toll. The vast majority of grave markers were either destroyed or missing and poor record keeping prevented locating individual graves. Several cenotaphs were placed in random areas throughout the park in honor of the more high-profile citizens buried there, but a great number of graves go unmarked to this day. Michael Goheen's is one of them.


Founders Memorial Park

May 19, 2015

Ashbel Smith

   Ashbel Smith, pioneer doctor and leader in the development of Texas, son of Moses and Phoebe Smith, was born at Hartford, Connecticut, on August 13, 1805. He has been called "the father of Texas medicine" and "the father of the University of Texas." He also made valuable contributions to Texas in the areas of politics, diplomacy, agriculture and ranching, warfare, finance, transportation, and immigration. After graduating from Hartford Public School and Hartford Grammar School, Smith attended Yale College. By the time he was nineteen he had earned A.B. and A.M. degrees from Yale, where he was made a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. After a year and a half of teaching in a private school in Salisbury, North Carolina, he returned to Yale to study medicine and earned the degree of M.D. in the spring of 1828. He did a subsequent two-year stint of teaching in North Carolina, then studied medicine in Paris for a year. During the Paris cholera epidemic of 1832 he helped treat the sick and wrote and published a pamphlet on the disease. Upon his return to the United States around 1833 Smith established a successful medical practice in Salisbury, North Carolina. He was involved in politics in that state and became editor and half owner of the Western Carolinian, a nullification newspaper. In the fall of 1836 James Pinckney Henderson, a fellow North Carolinian already in Texas, persuaded Smith to move to the newly formed Republic of Texas.

   Smith had a long and distinguished medical career. When he arrived in Texas in the spring of 1837 he became Sam Houston's roommate and close friend. Houston appointed him surgeon general of the Army of the Republic of Texas on June 7, 1837. In this role Smith set up an efficient system of operation and established the first hospital in Houston, a military institution. He also served as the first chairman of the Board of Medical Censors, which was established by the Second Congress of the republic in December 1837. During the devastating epidemic of yellow fever in Galveston in 1839, he treated the sick, published factual reports of the progress of the disease in the Galveston News, and, after the epidemic abated, wrote the first treatise on yellow fever in Texas. In 1848 Smith met with ten other Galveston doctors to begin working for the formation of the Medical and Surgical Society of Galveston. When the Texas Medical Association came into being in 1853, he was chairman of the committee that drafted its constitution and bylaws. He also may have served as an early president of the board of trustees of the Texas Medical College and Hospital after it was organized in Galveston in 1873. He served as president of the Texas Medical Association in 1881-82.

   When Smith first came to Texas, Sam Houston quickly recognized his diplomatic ability and in 1838 sent him to negotiate a treaty with the Comanche Indians. In 1842 Smith traveled to Europe as the chargé d'affaires of Texas to England and France, a position he held from 1842 to 1844. He secured ratification of a treaty of amity and commerce between England and Texas and improved the republic's relations with France, which had been disturbed by the Pig War. He was also charged with working for friendly mediation by European powers to stop Mexican threats to reinvade Texas, with encouraging immigration to Texas, and with learning the attitude of Russia, Prussia, and Austria toward Texas. In addition, he investigated and reported to leaders in Texas and the United States activities of the British antislavery party, which seemed potentially harmful to Texas, and the fact that two steamers were being built in England for Mexico. In 1845, as secretary of state, Smith worked with President Anson Jones to give the people of Texas a choice between remaining an independent republic and being annexed to the United States of America. To this end, he negotiated a treaty with Mexico, by which that country acknowledged the independence of Texas. This treaty, known as the Smith-Cuevas Treaty, angered many Texans who were avid for annexation, and Smith was burned in effigy by citizens of Galveston and San Felipe. After Texas became a state Smith served three terms (1855, 1866, and 1879) in the state legislature as a representative from Harris County. As a legislator he supported measures to aid railroad construction, validate land titles, improve common schools, found the University of Texas, and pay off the public debt. He also helped to found the Democratic party in Texas, took an active part in county and state party meetings, and represented the party several times in Democratic national conventions.

   Smith rendered further military service to Texas during the Mexican and Civil wars. During the former he was on active duty with Gen. Zachary Taylor in the field. When the Civil War began he organized a company, the Bayland Guards, which he drilled and trained. While leading this company, a part of Company C, Second Texas Infantry, at Shiloh, he received a severe arm injury and was cited for bravery, along with the rest of his company. He was promoted to colonel and named commander of the Second Texas Infantry, which he led in several engagements in Mississippi, including Corinth and the Tallahatchie River. During the siege of Vicksburg, he was in command of a vulnerable earthen fortification at one of the entrances to that city. After the surrender of Vicksburg, Smith was in charge of several positions in the vicinity of Matagorda Peninsula on the Gulf Coast of Texas, and was credited with preventing Union invasions in that area. Toward the end of the war he was put in charge of the defenses of Galveston. After the war he and William P. Ballinger were sent by Governor Pendleton Murrah as commissioners to negotiate peace terms for Texas with Union officials in New Orleans.

   Smith devoted much time and energy to the cause of education, and he often urged that Texas underwrite the education of every child in the state. He was a charter member and first vice president of the Philosophical Society of Texas; one of that organization's first acts was to draw up a memorial to the Texas Congress urging the establishment of a system of public education in Texas. Smith served as superintendent of Houston Academy before the Civil War, and he was also a trustee at various times on a number of school boards in Houston and Galveston. He championed public education for blacks and women and was one of three commissioners appointed by Governor Richard Coke to establish an "Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, for the benefit of the Colored Youths." This school, located five miles east of Hempstead, is now Prairie View A&M University. Smith also helped organize Stuart Female Seminary in Austin and served as a trustee on its first board. He spent his last years in an unceasing effort to establish a state university with a first-class medical branch. As president of the University of Texas Board of Regents, established in 1881, he led the effort to recruit the best professors available for the university faculty and to set up a curriculum necessary for a first-rate institution of higher learning. He also served as president of the board of visitors to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1848.

   Smith was a powerful orator, many of whose numerous speeches were published in newspapers and as separate monographs. He was also an able and indefatigable writer. In addition to editing the Salisbury Western Carolinian, he served a brief stint (December 1839 - January 1840) as guest editor of the Houston Morning Star. His writings were published in scientific, agricultural, educational, and general magazines and newspapers in the United States and Europe. His Reminiscences of the Texas Republic (1876) contains much valuable material pertaining to the early history of Texas. In 1869, when the Southern Historical Society was organized, Smith was named vice president for Texas, along with Gen. Robert E. Lee for Virginia and Adm. Raphael Semmes for Alabama. Smith's experiments and innovations in agriculture and ranching were recognized internationally. He published numerous articles based on firsthand observation of the climate, soil, vegetation, and wildlife in Texas, as well as his experiences raising livestock and crops on the Gulf Coast. In 1851 he was sent as Texas delegate to the Great London Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and was named one of the judges. In May 1852 he served as superintendent of the first fair in Texas, held in Corpus Christi. He was elected the first president of the Texas State Agricultural Society when it was formed in 1853. In 1876 he was appointed by the United States Centennial Commission to act as a judge on the Jury of Awards at the Great International Exhibition in Philadelphia, and in 1878 President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed him one of the two honorary commissioners from Texas to the Paris International Exposition, where he was named one of the judges of agricultural products. Smith never married. He died on January 21, 1886, at Evergreen, his plantation home on Galveston Bay. He is buried in the State Cemetery in Austin. Source 

30° 15.924, -097° 43.639

Monument Hill
Texas State Cemetery

May 12, 2015

James Howard

   James Howard was born James Brown in Newton, New Jersey, in 1841; it is not known why or when he changed his name. He entered the Union Army in Brooklyn, New York and enlisted in the Union army as a Sergeant in Company K, 158th New York State Volunteers on November 27, 1863. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on May 9, 1865 for his actions on April 2, 1865, near Petersburg (Battery Gregg), Virginia. He was to be promoted to Second Lieutenant but mustered out with his company on August 28, 1865 before the promotion took effect. Howard died of heart failure on November 8, 1879 and was originally buried at the post cemetery at Fort McKavett, but later reinterred in San Antonio National Cemetery.

Carried the colors in advance of the line of battle, the flagstaff being shot off while he was planting it on the parapet of the fort.

29° 25.287, -098° 28.022

Section E
San Antonio National Cemetery
San Antonio

May 5, 2015

Henry Prentice Redfield

   Henry Prentice Redfield, an early colonist and soldier in the Army of the Republic of Texas, was born in Derry, New Hampshire, on May 27, 1819, the son of William and Susan (Prentice) Redfield. After the death of his father, his mother married John C. Cunningham, a friend of Moses and Stephen F. Austin, and soon thereafter the family (including Henry's brothers, John Albert and William) immigrated to the Austin colony in Texas; they left New York in late 1830 and arrived by ship at Matagorda in 1831. They lived at San Felipe for several years, then settled on the Colorado River in lower Bastrop County on a large grant of land that became known as Cunningham's Prairie. Besides farming, the Cunninghams later ran a stagecoach inn on the old road from Austin to San Felipe. During the Texas Revolution Redfield was in Capt. John Henry Moore's company at the battle of Gonzales, October 2, 1835, and with Benjamin R. Milam at the siege of Bexar in early December 1835. Though not an actual participant in the battle of San Jacinto, he helped round up the fleeing Mexicans after the battle (incorrect, see below). Redfield continued to serve in the Texas army in various Indian fights and was wounded in the battle of Plum Creek on August 11, 1840. That year his brother William was killed in a battle involving the Republic of the Rio Grande.

   In 1842 Redfield was with Mathew Caldwell on the expedition against Adrián Woll at San Antonio and fought in the battle of Salado Creek. During the Mexican War (in 1846) Redfield joined the First Texas Cavalry, United States Army, and served under Gen. Zachary Taylor at the battle of Resaca de la Palma and the siege of Monterrey. In 1850 he was the first census taker in Bastrop County. Redfield was married to Sarah Card of Fayette County on September 11, 1842, and they had nine children. After her death he was married to Julia Kersting of Washington County in 1872, and they had seven children. Redfield died on February 27, 1900, at Giddings and was buried in the Giddings Cemetery. An official Texas historical marker honoring Redfield was dedicated at his grave in 1971. Source 

Note: At the time of the battle, Henry Redfield was a member of Chance's Company, which was stationed at Harrisburg with the wounded. However, further research has shown that Redfield did indeed participate at the Battle of San Jacinto as a temporary member of Company H, First Regiment Texas Volunteers, under Captain Robert Stevenson.

30° 10.886, -096° 56.859

Giddings City Cemetery