December 29, 2015

James Shannon Mayfield (1808-1852)

James S. Mayfield, lawyer, legislator, and soldier, was born in Williamson County, Tennessee on November 1, 1808, to John and Polly (Martin) Mayfield.  James Shannon married Sophia Ann Crutcher on July 10, 1833, and the following year the family relocated to Jackson County, Illinois. Between 1834 and 1871 the Mayfield family expanded to include seven children. In 1837 Mayfield arrived in Nacogdoches County, Texas, where he joined the military to combat incursions from Native Americans and began practicing law in Nacogdoches with Joseph M. White. In 1839 he accompanied Albert Sidney Johnston, David Burnet, I. W. Burton, and Thomas J. Rusk as a commission to propose to the Cherokee Indians that they leave Texas upon payment for their improvements by the republic. The Cherokee refused the offer on July 16, 1839, which resulted in hostilities with the military.  Mayfield participated in the ensuing battles as aide-de-camp for Brigadier General K. H. Douglas and authored field reports for Johnston. Mayfield represented Nacogdoches County in the Fifth and Sixth congresses (1840-42) and introduced the Franco-Texian Bill. From February 8, 1841, to September 7, 1841, Mayfield served as secretary of state under Mirabeau B. Lamar, except for the period from April 30 to September 7, when Joseph Waples and Samuel A. Roberts served consecutively in his place. On October 28, 1841, Mayfield relocated his family to La Grange in Fayette County, where he continued to practice law.

During a speech in the Texas House of Representatives on January 4, 1842, Mayfield disparaged fellow congressman David S. Kaufman. The two men exchanged gunfire and Kaufman ultimately died from a wound to the abdomen, but the encounter was considered a fair fight and Mayfield did not face charges. On September 16, 1842, Mayfield assembled a company of fifty-three volunteers from La Grange, to follow Capt. Nicholas Dawson in an attempt to repel Gen. Adrián Woll's Mexican army from San Antonio. His group, joined by others under the command of Jesse Billingsley and W. J. Wallace, arrived at the scene of the Dawson massacre on Salado Creek while it was occurring. Mayfield, as the commanding officer, determined that his group was too far outnumbered and remained in the distance until the following day, when he joined the command of Mathew Caldwell. Mayfield commanded one of the battalions but opposed pursuing Woll further south due to overwhelming force and the inevitable arrival of Mexican reinforcements.

In 1842 Mayfield was a member of the Somervell expedition but did not join the subsequent Mier expedition. Congressman Robert Potter died in 1842 and bequeathed one-third of his estate to Sophia as well as his favorite horse “Shakespeare” to James. In 1843 he presented himself as a candidate for major general of the Texas army but removed himself from consideration because, he said, of ill health. It is probable, however, that accusations of cowardice during the Woll invasion leveled by Mathew Caldwell and Edward Burleson had much to do with his decision. Mayfield represented Fayette County at the Convention of 1845 and in September challenged Burleson to a duel but did not go through with the engagement. In 1846 Mayfield served as an inspector of the La Grange Female Institute and in April he helped organize the Democratic party in Texas. On July 28, 1849, he killed Absolom Bostwick in self-defense during a political argument regarding the special election of the sheriff.  Bostwick’s death led to the discovery of an organized gang of thieves operating from Missouri to the Rio Grande. In July 1850 Mayfield was one of a committee appointed in a meeting at La Grange to consider insurrectionary movements in Santa Fe County. Sophia died in La Grange on March 2, 1852 and James passed away later that year on December 3. The Mayfields were buried in the front yard of their home in La Grange, but relocated to the La Grange Cemetery in 1858. On March 6, 2004, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas held a dedication ceremony to adorn the grave with a bronze medallion identifying Mayfield as a “Defender of the Republic of Texas.” Source

COORDINATES
29° 54.643
-096° 52.109


Old La Grange City Cemetery
La Grange

December 22, 2015

Xavier Blanchard Debray (1818-1895)

Xavier Debray, soldier, was born in Selestat (Schlettstadt), near Epinal, France, on January 25, 1818, the son of Nicholas Blanchard, a government official, and his wife Catherine Benezech. He is often said to have attended the French Military Academy at St. Cyr and then served in the French diplomatic service until he immigrated to the United States via New York on September 25, 1848. St. Cyr, however, has no record of his attending. He moved to Texas in 1852, settled in San Antonio, and was naturalized there on April 5, 1855. That same year he established a Spanish newspaper with A. A. Lewis called El Bejareño. Later he worked in the General Land Office as a translator. He also established an academy that prospered until the Civil War began. In 1859 Debray ran a strong but losing race for mayor of Austin. After brief service with Company B, Fourth Texas Infantry, Debray served as aide-de-camp to Governor Edward Clark during the summer of 1861. In September, 1861, he was commissioned major of the Second Texas Infantry. On December 7, 1861 he was elected lieutenant colonel and commander of Debray's Texas Cavalry battalion and on March 17, 1862, colonel of the Twenty-sixth Texas Cavalry.

From January to June of 1862 he commanded on Galveston Island. In July he assumed command of the military sub-district of Houston in the Department of Texas. He commanded some of the Confederate troops in the recapture of Galveston on January 1, 1863. On February 13, 1863, he was relieved of command of the eastern subdivision of Texas in the Trans-Mississippi Department, and on May 30 he took command of the troops on Galveston Island in the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. British observer Arthur Fremantle found Debray “a broad shouldered Frenchman, and a very good fellow,” who'd left France because of political differences with Emperor Napoleon. Although he was assigned temporary command of the eastern sub-district of Texas in June 1863, by July 1 he had resumed his position on Galveston Island. Debray led his regiment in the Red River campaign in Louisiana during the spring of 1864. For his participation in the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, he was appointed brigadier general by General Edmund Kirby Smith on April 13, 1864, but this was never confirmed by President Jefferson Davis. Nevertheless, he commanded a brigade consisting of the Twenty-third, Twenty-sixth, and Thirty-second Texas Cavalry regiments. Debray discharged his men on March 24, 1865. After the war he moved to Houston and then to Galveston, working as a teacher and a bookkeeper before eventually returning to his position as translator in the General Land Office. He died in Austin on January 6, 1895, and was buried in the State Cemetery. Source

COORDINATES
30° 15.905
-097° 43.643

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

December 15, 2015

Corwin Anthony "Amazing Grace" Hawkins (1965-1994)

Corwin Hawkins attended St. Peter's Catholic School in Houston, and, after graduation, decided he wanted to be an entertainer. He was fascinated by the drag culture and began competing - and quickly started winning - female impersonator competitions. In 1991, his favorite and most popular character "Amazing Grace" was crowned Miss Gay Texas; the next year he took the title of Texas Entertainer of the Year and went on to capture the 1992 National Entertainer of the Year title in Louisville, Kentucky. He was also awarded an invitational tryout at the L. A. Improv. After appearing on Def Comedy Jam, BET and HBO Comedy specials, he was discovered by Keenan Ivory Wayans and hired for the role of "Wayman" in the film A Low Down Dirty Shame, a part originally written for RuPaul. Sadly, he was unable to capitalize on his new-found fame; he passed away on August 5, 1994 at Baylor Hospital in Dallas of pneumonia. He was 29 years old.


COORDINATES
29° 33.780
-095° 21.116

Section 18
Houston Memorial Gardens
Pearland

December 8, 2015

Placido Olivarri (1815-1894)

Placido Olivarri, a famed scout for the Texas Revolutionary Army, son of Simon Olivarri and Guadalupe Garza de Torres, was born in San Antonio, Texas, in February 1815. The Olivarri family initially arrived in San Antonio when José Olivarri, from the Basque region of Spain, established himself in the city as one of the first settlers. Placido Olivarri is most famous for his service as a scout and guide for the Texas Revolutionary Army under Sam Houston. His proficiency as a scout was so great that Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos of the Mexican Army offered a substantial bounty for Olivarri’s capture, dead or alive. During the Texas Revolution, Mexican sympathizers in San Antonio tried to apprehend Olivarri, but he was able to evade capture by concealing himself on Bowen’s Island on the San Antonio River. Following the Texas Revolution, Olivarri became a landowner and wagon train manager in San Antonio. Texas General Land Office records show that he received a certificate for one-third of a league of land in February 1838. Olivarri was married twice. His first wife, Juana Padillo y Olivarri, was born in 1816 in Bexar County and died around December 1862. She left her estate to her natural son born of a previous marriage. After her death, Placido Olivarri married Micaela Jimenes (or Ximenes), who was born in June 1844 and lived until 1917. Together, they had fourteen children. Late in his life, Olivarri was a member of the Sociedad Mutualista Mexicana. He was listed in San Antonio city directories in the 1880s and into the early 1890s as a “ranchman.” The San Antonio Daily Express on May 2, 1892, listed a Placido Olivarri (possibly Olivarri himself or his son) as chairman of his voting precinct. Olivarri lived in San Antonio throughout his life, and died on September 8, 1894. He was buried in the San Fernando Cemetery No. 1. The Texas Centennial Commission erected a Centennial marker at his grave in 1936.

COORDINATES
29° 41.548
-098° 51.215

Block 3
San Fernando Cemetery No. 1
San Antonio

December 1, 2015

The Von Erich Family

The Von Erichs were a wrestling family, best known for their dominance in the 1980s and the so-called "Von Erich Curse". They all primarily wrestled in World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), the organization their father Fritz ran and owned in Dallas. They are all buried together in the same section of the cemetery.

Fritz Von Erich was born Jack Barton Adkisson on August 16, 1929 in Jewett, Texas. Originally trained by Stu Hart, Fritz became a top star in many National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) promotions, most notably in St. Louis and in World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). He held a variation of the AWA World Heavyweight Championship at one time in the 1960s. Despite never winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, he maintained his presence within the NWA, holding many other major belts. Fritz also served shortly as NWA President in the 1970s, as well as President of WCCW when it moved to Dallas, Texas. Fritz was also a major part of Japanese wrestling, where he was known as "Tetsu no Tsume" - The Iron Claw - and helped rebuild the business after the death of Rikidōzan. On September 10, 1997, Fritz died of lung cancer that had spread to his brain.



COORDINATES
32° 47.257
-096° 43.146

Hilltop Section
Grove Hill Memorial Park
Dallas


"The Yellow Rose of Texas" David Von Erich was the third son of Fritz Von Erich. He was born David Alan Adkisson on July 22, 1958 in Dallas, Texas. David worked in the World Class Championship Wrestling promotion with the rest of his family. It was there that he faced off with Harley Race and later Ric Flair several times for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship (never winning), as well as teamed with brothers Kevin and Kerry against their mortal enemies The Fabulous Freebirds. David also wrestled in Missouri, winning the Missouri Heavyweight Championship on a couple of occasions. From late 1981 to mid-1982, David wrestled in the Florida territory to show that he could work as a heel. This run was successful, with David enjoying brief reigns as both as singles and tag team champion. David died on February 10, 1984 in Tokyo, Japan of acute enteritis. Ric Flair wrote in his autobiography, To Be the Man, that "everyone in wrestling believes" that it was a drug overdose that really killed him and that Bruiser Brody (the wrestler who found David) disposed of the narcotics by flushing them down a toilet before the police arrived. Mick Foley also claims that he died from an apparent drug overdose. A tribute show was held a couple of months later in his honor, during which his younger brother, Kerry Von Erich, won the NWA World Title from Ric Flair.

COORDINATES
32° 47.264
-096° 43.146

Hilltop Section
Grove Hill Memorial Park
Dallas


Kerry Von Erich was the fourth son of Fritz Von Erich. He was born Kerry Gene Adkisson on February 3, 1960 in Niagara Falls, New York. Known as "The Modern Day Warrior" and "The Texas Tornado", Kerry was by far the best-known of the Von Erich family. Much like his brothers, Kerry spent the majority of his career wrestling in World Class Championship Wrestling. Among the many major feuds he had were those against Gino Hernandez, Iceman Parsons, Chris Adams and The Fabulous Freebirds. Kerry won the NWA World Heavyweight Title from Ric Flair at the David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions, a tribute show to his deceased older brother. He lost the belt three weeks later to Flair. Kerry also wrestled for several months in both the World Wrestling Federation (where he won the WWF Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam on August 27, 1990) and Global Wrestling Federation. Kerry committed suicide via a .44 caliber gunshot to the heart on February 18, 1993 on his father's ranch in Denton County, Texas. There is a marker placed by his father Fritz of an angel on the spot Kerry had shot himself. Bret Hart states in his biography, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, that Kerry had told him months before about his plans, that he had wanted to follow his late brothers, that they were calling him. His marriage had fallen apart as well and he thought his death was inevitable. He is buried alongside his father.

COORDINATES
32° 47.257
-096° 43.146

Hilltop Section
Grove Hill Memorial Park
Dallas


Mike Von Erich was the fifth son of Fritz Von Erich. He was born Michael Brett Adkisson on March 2, 1964 in Dallas, Texas. Mike replaced David in the feud the Von Erichs had with The Fabulous Freebirds following David's death. According to the documentary Heroes of World Class, Mike wanted to work for World Class as a cameraman and had no interest in being in the ring full-time. His only previous involvement on-screen was being involved in an angle where Ric Flair insulted him and wrestled him as a run-up, to what was planned, as David winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, but Fritz forced him into the ring after David's death. Mike was married on February 14, 1985 to Shani Danette Garza. Shortly after his wedding, Mike suffered a shoulder injury on a tour of Israel and was forced to have surgery. After the surgery it was discovered that he was suffering from Toxic Shock Syndrome, a rarity in men. He had to retire from wrestling after not being able to return to the ring at full strength. He committed suicide on April 12, 1987 by overdosing on tranquilizers.

COORDINATES
32° 47.264
-096° 43.146

Hilltop Section
Grove Hill Memorial Park
Dallas


Born Chris Barton Adkisson on September 30, 1969 in Dallas, Texas, Chris Von Erich was the youngest of the Von Erich family. Due to his short stature (5'4"), asthma, and extremely brittle bones that were prone to breaking, Chris was never able to reach the success his father and brothers reached. He made many attempts to succeed in the squared circle due to an incredible love of wrestling that kept him going despite numerous injuries. He managed one major feud with Percy Pringle in the USWA/World Class, but his career didn't take off like the rest of the family's. On occasion, he, his brothers Kerry and Kevin, and Chris Adams wrestled tag-team matches against Percy Pringle and Steve Austin, but Chris only wrestled Pringle, while the much more athletic Adams, Kerry or Kevin wrestled Austin. After several years of not being able to succeed in the wrestling business, Chris became depressed and frustrated. He was also heartbroken over the loss of his brother, Mike. In 1991, 18 days before his 22nd birthday, he committed suicide via gunshot to the head. Source

COORDINATES
32° 47.264
-096° 43.146

Hilltop Section
Grove Hill Memorial Park
Dallas