April 29, 2016

Alexander Wray Ewing

   Alexander Wray Ewing, early Texas doctor, was born in 1809 in Londonderry, Ireland. He studied medicine at Trinity College, Dublin, and at the College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. He moved to Pennsylvania and in 1834 to Texas. He lived briefly at San Felipe and acquired a quarter league now in Fayette County in 1835. He was appointed surgeon general of the Texas army on April 6, 1836, and treated Sam Houston's wound at the battle of San Jacinto. Ewing incurred President David G. Burnet's wrath by accompanying the wounded Houston to Galveston. He was dismissed by Burnet but was soon reinstated. The Texas Congress blocked President Houston's move to keep Ewing as chief medical officer in 1837, and he was succeeded in this post by Ashbel Smith. Ewing moved to Houston, where he became first president of that city's Medical and Surgical Society in 1838. He also was a member of a "committee of arrangements" for the proposed Houston and Brazos Rail Road Company. By 1842 Ewing was again serving in the army. He was married three times within a period of ten years - to Mrs. Susan Henrietta Smiley Reid, who died in 1842, to Elizabeth Tompkins, and to Elizabeth Graham, who died in 1904. Ewing had at least two children, and by 1850 owned real property valued at $6,000. He was a Mason. He died on November 1, 1853. Source 

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. Alexander Ewing's is one of them.


Founders Memorial Park

April 26, 2016

Thomas Jefferson Sweeny

   Thomas Jefferson Sweeny, soldier and planter, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 10, 1812, the son of John W. and Ann (Fuller) Sweeny. The family entered Texas on January 20, 1835. At Brazoria on August 9, 1835, Sweeny added his signature to a petition calling for a convention "to quite the present excitement and to promote the general interest of Texas," and on March 25, 1836, he and his brother William Burrell Sweeny enlisted as privates in Capt. William H. Patton's Fourth Company-the "Columbia Company"-of Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers. The brothers served at the battle of San Jacinto, where William was on detached duty in Capt. Henry Wax Karnes's cavalry company. Thomas Sweeny was discharged from the army on June 6, 1836. William was murdered in Brazoria in September 1840. In 1844 Sweeny married Diana Frances Haynie, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee. They had five children. In 1850 their Brazoria County property was valued at $4,140. In January 1851 Sweeny was involved in a legal dispute over the ownership of a number of slaves that was argued before the Supreme Court of Texas. By 1860 he was a wealthy planter with $32,000 worth of real estate and $43,000 in personal property, including thirty-nine slaves, in Brazoria County. The topsoil on his plantation is said to have been twenty feet deep. At the time he employed a full-time overseer and a tutor for his children. Sweeny died at La Grange, Fayette County, in 1869 and was buried near the southwest Brazoria County community of Sweeny. His widow died in Angleton in 1904. Source 

29° 02.833, -095° 42.773

Sweeny Cemetery

April 22, 2016

Noel Moses Baine

   Moses Baine, early colonist, soldier, and planter, was born in 1800 at Hamilton's Bawn, County Armagh, Ireland, the son of George and Sarah Baine. One source, however, lists his parents as Noel M. and Mary Baine. He immigrated to America in 1818, settling at Baltimore, Maryland. In Baltimore, on February 13, 1830, he married Cecilia Inglesby, daughter of William and Alicia MacKernan Inglesby. On March 6, 1830, they sailed for Texas, landing in New Orleans on April 1, and from there proceeded by water to Brazoria, arriving on April 6. They stayed several weeks with the James Lynch family, then went on to San Felipe de Austin. Moses Baine received a sitio of land granted him by the Mexican government through empresario Stephen F. Austin on April 26, 1831. The land was in what is now Brazos County, on the east side of the Brazos River.

   According to Moses Baine's family records, they resided nine miles from San Felipe, and according to family tradition, their house was the only one in the colony that had glass panes in its windows. Also according to family records, they had twelve head of cattle, three horses, and plenty of hogs; it was also noted that Moses Baine taught the children of the colony and in addition farmed. During the Texas Revolution, on March 5, 1836, Moses Baine enlisted in the Texas army. He also participated in the battle of San Jacinto, and his name is listed on the bronze plaque at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Park. He received a bounty certificate for 320 acres of land for this service; the bounty warrant was dated March 19, 1839.

   On October 17, 1842, Moses Baine enlisted in the Army of the Republic of Texas under Philip Haddox Coe, Company A, First Regiment, and marched to Bexar, and then to the Rio Grande. For this service in the Somervell expedition, he received $67.50. Moses and Cecilia Baine made their home near San Felipe de Austin until 1837, when he purchased land in Washington County from Obadiah Hudson; they settled there permanently. The couple had ten children, two of whom died young. Moses Baine was a successful planter in Washington County until his death on May 28, 1864. His wife died on October 16, 1872. Both are buried in marked graves in Prairie Lea Cemetery, Brenham, Texas. The grave of Moses Baine is further marked with a Texas Historical Commission marker dedicated in the early 1980s. Source 

30° 09.328, -096° 24.517

Section 3
Prairie Lea Cemetery

April 19, 2016

Milford Phillips Norton

   Milford Phillips Norton, lawyer, publisher, judge, and civic leader, the son of Peter and Aseneth (Blossom) Norton, was born in 1794 at Readfield, Maine. He was admitted to the bar and practiced at Bangor and Readfield. In 1830-31 he was state land agent; in 1838 he served in the Maine legislature and was on the commission to locate the northeast boundary of the state; he was a member of the state Senate in 1839. Norton was married first to Sarah Ann Gilman and after her death to Mary Stevens Russell. After financial reverses due to suretyship, Norton moved to Texas in early 1839 to look after his father-in-law's lands. He decided to remain in the republic permanently and sent for his family. He formed a law partnership with Alexander H. Phillips and practiced at Galveston until December 26, 1840, when the firm's business required his removal to Black Point in Refugio County, where a client, Joseph F. Smith, was planning the townsite of Saint Mary's. The Norton family resided at Black Point until September 1841, when they moved to Montgomery County, where Norton practiced at Bayou City.

   Norton was appointed postmaster of Houston and moved there to assume his duties on January 8, 1844. At the same time he bought the Civilian, which he renamed the Democrat and turned into an Anson Jones-for-president and annexation organ. Shortly after Jones's election President Sam Houston appointed Norton judge of the Sixth Judicial District. He assumed office on September 8, 1844, but the validity of the recess appointment was challenged. Norton considered the argument well-taken and resigned but was elected by Congress at the next session. He was chairman of the Convention of 1845. After annexation he requested of Governor J. P. Henderson a transfer to the Western District of Texas. The governor acceded, the nomination was confirmed on April 14, 1846, and the Nortons moved to Corpus Christi. At the end of his term Judge Norton and his family moved to Refugio County, where his son, Henry D. Norton, had established a store at Copano. Norton practiced law at Copano until Henry L. Kinney, who was arranging to embark on his filibustering expedition against Nicaragua, employed him to return to Corpus Christi and manage the Kinney business. When Judge James Webb died in November 1856, Norton accepted appointment as judge of the Fourteenth District but continued to manage Kinney's affairs until 1858. Norton was an outstanding civic leader and prominent Mason. He died at San Antonio on June 8, 1860. Source 

29° 25.279, -098° 27.947

City Cemetery #5
San Antonio

April 15, 2016

George Weedon

   George Weedon, Republic of Texas veteran, was born in Virginia, most likely Culpeper County, to Augustine and Elizabeth Farmer Weedon. Both of his grandfathers, George Weedon, for whom he was probably named, and Daniel Farmer, fought in the American Revolutionary War, thus setting an example for their grandson. After moving to Texas in 1835, Weedon followed in his grandfathers' footsteps by joining Texas' fight for independence. He served as a member of Captain William S. Fisher's Company of Velasco Blues, which later became Company I, First Regiment of Texas Volunteers, from April 19 to June 18, 1836, and participated in the battle of San Jacinto, where he was wounded.

   Because of his service to Texas, Weedon received one-third of a league of land, 1,476.13 acres, in Washington County in 1838, as well as 320 acres for having served in the Texas Army. Two years after being mustered out of the Army, Weedon received another 640 acres for fighting at San Jacinto. On August 2, 1838, he received a league of land, 4,428.4 acres, for being wounded at San Jacinto. The majority of his land holdings were in present day Walker County. Weedon settled in Cincinnati, Texas, which was founded by James DeWitt, also a veteran of San Jacinto. Weedon passed away on January 18, 1842, and was buried on his property. According to his will, Weedon, with no mention of any family, requested that 20 acres of his land be set aside for a church, a cemetery, and a school house. Weedon's grave was moved from Walker County to the Texas State Cemetery on November 3, 1938.

30° 15.937, -097° 43.637

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

April 12, 2016

Willard Jessie "Home Run" Brown

   Willard Jessie Brown was born in Shreveport to a poor family who encouraged his interest in sports and baseball in particular. He became known in the neighborhood as an excellent hitter and joined a minor Negro League team, the Monroe Monarchs, in 1934. As he gained experience on the field, he refined his batting skills to the point that he was signed to the Kansas City Monarchs in 1936 and played professionally with them for eight years. He was the most powerful slugger in the Negro Leagues, possibly in all of baseball, but since records weren't kept consistently there is no way of knowing what his home run total is. It is known that he surpassed the legendary Josh Gibson, who was so impressed by his ability that he bestowed Willard with the nickname that would follow him for life: "Home Run" Brown.

   In 1944, Willard enlisted in the Army to fight in World War II and served until the following year when victory was declared. He returned to baseball playing in Puerto Rico, where he played during the Negro League off-season; he had lost none of his talent during his wartime service, reaching averages of .410 at one point. In 1947 he played briefly for the St Louis Browns but the overall lack of talent on his team and the foreign atmosphere of racism affected his hitting; he left the team after only twenty-one games, but not before becoming the first black player to hit a home run in the American League. Returning to Puerto Rico, his averages shot back up and he achieved his greatest season ever, attaining .432, twenty-seven home runs and eighty-six RBI in just sixty games, winning the Triple Crown - a feat he would achieve again in the 1949-1950 season. In 1948 he returned to the Monarchs and remained with them until his retirement in 1950, although he would occasionally suit up for minor league teams in the Texas League until 1956.

   After quitting the game for good, he moved to Houston where he lived a quiet life until he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1989; he underwent treatment which helped retard the progression of the disease until it finally claimed him. The greatest home run hitter of the Negro Leagues, and quite possibly all of baseball, passed away on August 4, 1996. Ten years later on February 2006, Willard "Home Run" Brown was elected unanimously into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

29° 55.745, -095° 26.850

Section G-2
Houston National Cemetery

April 8, 2016

Christopher Columbus Edinburgh

   Christopher Columbus Edinburgh (Edinburg) was born about 1797 in W├╝rttemberg, Bayern, Germany and came to Texas with his wife Eliza on October 10, 1824. He applied for land in Wavell's colony and was granted such on June 12, 1835, in what is now Walker County. During the Texas Revolution, he enlisted in the army on March 12, 1836 as a member of Captain William Ware's company and fought at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21. After his three month enlistment was up, he returned to his homestead. Upon the death of his wife Eliza, he married Lucenda Birdwell; the two would have eight children prior to his death on December 10, 1864. Edinburgh was buried in Falba Cemetery near Huntsville and his grave marked by the state of Texas in 1936.

30° 52.312, -095° 41.225

Falba Cemetery

April 5, 2016

Bernard D'Ortolant

   Bernard D'Ortolant was born in Bordeaux, France about 1753, and migrated to Louisiana about 1773, and served in the American Revolution in Louisiana.  He married Marie Ann Grappe and in 1797 he was the Lieutenant of the Natchitoches, Louisiana Cavalry Militia where he served for 14 years.  He returned to San Antonio in 1779 and was in charge of the first cattle drive of 10,000 Texas long-horned cattle that were taken to Louisiana to be used by Bernardo de Galvez during his attacks on Mobil and Pensacola.  Lt. D'Ortolant was in charge of the Old Stone Fort in Nacogdoches when Philip Nolan was arrested in 1801, and died there about 1822.  The exact location of his grave has been lost, but it is believed that he was buried in the Old Spanish Cemetery located near the Old Stone Fort in Nacogdoches, Texas. Source

Note: In 1911, the Old Spanish Cemetery was razed in order to build the first Nacogdoches County courthouse (shown below is the second county courthouse, built on the same grounds as the first in 1958). It is not recorded that any of those at rest here were exhumed and/or moved; in fact, it is specifically stated on the historical marker located on site that D'Ortolant is still buried here, as are others.


Old Spanish Cemetery (Defunct)

April 1, 2016

Daniel O'Driscoll

   Daniel O'Driscoll was born in County Cork, Ireland, date unknown. In 1829, he came to Texas with the McMullen and McGloin colonists and joined the patriot army at the outbreak of the Texas Revolution. He fought in the Battle of Nueces Crossing (November 4, 1835), the Battle of San Jacinto (April 21, 1836) and, after Texas had gained its independence, the Battle of the Nueces (July 6, 1842). He was a first lieutenant in the regular army of the Republic of Texas until September 14, 1838.

   He married Catherine Duggan in 1837 while stationed in Victoria and they had two children, Jeremiah and Robert. After he left the service, they moved to Refugio where he established a tavern and began raising cattle. O'Driscoll served as justice of Refugio County from 1846 until July 3, 1849, when he was killed in a horse carriage accident. His granddaughter Clara would do her part for Texas as well, as the "Savior of the Alamo".

28° 18.112, -097° 16.968

Mount Calvary Cemetery