April 28, 2015

Louis "The Battler" Rymkus

Lou Joseph Rymkus was born on November 6, 1919 in Royalton, Illinois and grew up in Chicago. He was a star lineman in high school and won a football scholarship to attend the University of Notre Dame. At Notre Dame, he played on a 1941 team that went undefeated under head coach Frank Leahy. Rymkus was drafted by the NFL's Washington Redskins in 1943 and played one season for the team before joining the U.S. Marines during World War II. Following two years in the service, he signed with the Browns, with whom he spent the remainder of his playing career.

After Rymkus's brief stint as the first head coach of the AFL's Houston Oilers in 1960 (the team won the league's first championship, but Rymkus was fired by Oilers owner Bud Adams after a slow start in 1961), he held numerous football jobs, including as the coach of a high school team in Louisiana and an assistant with the Detroit Lions. Rymkus was a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 but was not elected. He died of a stroke on October 31, 1998 in Houston, Texas, where he lived for most of his later life.

GPS Coordinates
29° 47.892, -096° 06.070


San Felipe de Austin Cemetery
San Felipe

April 21, 2015

Richard Allen Anderson

Richard Allen Anderson, Medal of Honor recipient, was born at Washington, D.C., on April 16, 1948. He entered the military service in Houston, Texas. On August 24, 1969, Lance Corporal Richard Anderson, United States Marine Corps, Company E, Third Reconnaissance Battalion, Third Marine Division, was serving as assistant team leader against an armed enemy in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. While conducting a reconnaissance patrol his team came under heavy automatic-weapon fire that severely wounded Anderson. He continued firing in an attempt to repulse the enemy and was wounded a second time. While a companion attended his wounds he continued relentless fire. When a grenade landed between him and the other marine, Anderson rolled over and covered the grenade to absorb the detonation. By his courage and self sacrifice he saved several Marines from injury and possible death. Anderson is buried in Forest Park Cemetery, Houston, Texas.

Citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an assistant team leader with Company E, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy. While conducting a patrol during the early morning hours L/Cpl. Anderson's reconnaissance team came under a heavy volume of automatic weapons and machine gun fire from a numerically superior and well concealed enemy force. Although painfully wounded in both legs and knocked to the ground during the initial moments of the fierce fire fight, L/Cpl. Anderson assumed a prone position and continued to deliver intense suppressive fire in an attempt to repulse the attackers. Moments later he was wounded a second time by an enemy soldier who had approached to within 8 feet of the team's position. Undaunted, he continued to pour a relentless stream of fire at the assaulting unit, even while a companion was treating his leg wounds. Observing an enemy grenade land between himself and the other marine, L/Cpl. Anderson immediately rolled over and covered the lethal weapon with his body, absorbing the full effects of the detonation. By his indomitable courage, inspiring initiative, and selfless devotion to duty, L/Cpl. Anderson was instrumental in saving several marines from serious injury or possible death. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

GPS Coordinates
29° 42.630, -095° 18.158

Section 33
Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery
Houston

April 14, 2015

Robert Potter

Robert Potter, legislator, cabinet member, and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in June 1799 in Granville County, North Carolina. He joined the United States Navy as a midshipman in 1815 and resigned in 1821 to study law. By 1826 he had been admitted to the bar and had begun to practice law in Halifax, North Carolina. He soon transferred his law practice to Oxford, North Carolina, where in 1826 he was elected to the state House of Commons. In April 1828 he married Isabel A. Taylor, with whom he had two children. That same year he was elected as a Jacksonian Democrat to the United States House of Representatives, where he served two terms, from March 4, 1829, to November 1831. He resigned after an incident that occurred on August 28, 1831, in which Potter, in a jealous rage, maimed his wife's cousin and another man. For the attacks he was tried in a Granville County court in September 1831, found guilty, sentenced to six months in prison, and fined $2,000. His wife divorced him in 1834. After his release from prison Potter was again elected to the North Carolina House of Commons; he took his seat in 1834. In January 1835, however, he was expelled from the House for "cheating at cards," but the real motivation was probably the maiming.

Independence Hall, location of the Declaration signing
His domestic, legal, and political troubles in North Carolina caused Potter to decide upon Texas as a place for a new beginning. He arrived in Nacogdoches on July 1, 1835, and almost immediately became embroiled in Texas political and military affairs. On October 9, 1835, he enrolled in Thomas J. Rusk's Nacogdoches Independent Volunteers to assist in equipping men for the siege of Bexar, but he decided to resign on November 21 to offer his services to the fledgling Texas Navy. Also in 1835 Potter was selected as a delegate to the Consultation, which met at San Felipe, but he did not attend. The next year he was elected as one of four delegates to represent Nacogdoches Municipality at the Convention of 1836. There he voted for independence from Mexico, signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, assisted president Richard Ellis when questions of parliamentary procedure were raised, and served on the committee appointed to draft the Constitution of the Republic of Texas.

Before being appointed secretary of the Texas Navy and commander of the port of Galveston in 1836, Potter refused to sign the treaty afterwards negotiated with Antonio López de Santa Anna after the Battle of San Jacinto, and joined those advocating the execution of the Mexican president. In September 1836 he entered into a marriage of dubious legality with Harriet A.M. Ames. The couple had a daughter and a son.

In 1837, after Sam Houston was elected to the Texas presidency, Potter retired first to a residence in Harrison County and then to a home built on his headright grant on Soda (now Caddo) Lake in what is now Marion County. Potter's new neighbors elected him their senator in the Congress of the Republic of Texas; he served from November 2, 1840, until his death. He became involved in the Regulator-Moderator War in Harrison County, where he quickly became a Moderator leader. A Regulator band surrounded his home and killed him on March 2, 1842, as he attempted to escape. He was initially buried at Potter's Point near his home, but on October 9, 1928, he was reinterred in the State Cemetery in Austin. Potter County in the Texas Panhandle, established on August 21, 1876, was named in his honor.

Note
Both the birth and death dates on his stone are incorrect.

GPS Coordinates
30° 15.930, -097° 43.648

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

April 7, 2015

Randal Jones

Randal Jones, early Texas soldier and public official, was born in Columbus, Georgia, on August 19, 1786. He moved to Wilkinson County, Mississippi, in 1810, became a captain in the United States volunteers in 1812, and took part in the "Canoe Fight" with Creek Indians on the Alabama River in 1813. In 1814 or 1815 he moved to Texas, opened a store at Nacogdoches as an Indian trader, and had some dealings with Jean Laffite. In 1820 he joined the Long expedition and conducted Jane Wilkinson Long from Louisiana to Texas to join her husband. Driven from Texas by the failure of the expedition, Jones and his brother, James W. Jones, returned to Texas in January 1821; they built a house for Mrs. Long on San Jacinto Bay in 1822 and later escorted her to San Antonio.

In June 1824 Randal Jones wrote to Stephen F. Austin proposing legislation to require registration of marks and brands and prevention of prairie fires and to forbid the killing of deer and mustangs. As one of Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, Jones received title to a league and a labor of land now in Wharton and Fort Bend counties on July 15, 1824; he settled on Jones Creek two miles above the site of present Richmond. He was captain of the Texas militia organized to quell trouble with the Karankawa Indians and was in command at the battle of Jones Creek in September 1824. He married Polly Andrews on October 12, 1824; they had nine children.

In December 1830 Jones was elected regidor of Austin Municipality. On October 11, 1835, he was at army headquarters at Gonzales and was appointed by Austin to appraise horses and equipment for the army. He represented Fort Bend County at the Consultation in November 1835, was a member of the General Council, and served on the first petit jury impaneled in Fort Bend County in February 1838. Jones became blind and moved to Houston shortly before his death, which occurred in June 1873. He was buried on his land in Fort Bend County and reinterred at the State Cemetery in 1934.

GPS Coordinates
30° 15.940, -097° 43.642

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin