June 28, 2016

Kermit King Beahan

   Kermit K. Beahan was a career officer in the United States Air Force and its predecessor United States Army Air Forces during World War II. He was the bombardier on the crew flying the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Bockscar on August 9, 1945, that dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan as well as participating in the first atomic mission that bombed Hiroshima three days earlier. Flying as part of the crew of The Great Artiste which was a reference to him, purportedly because he could "hit a pickle barrel with a bomb from 30,000 feet", his aircraft acted as the blast instrumentation support aircraft for the mission.

   Beahan attended Rice University on a football scholarship during the 1930s. In 1939 he joined the Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet but washed out of pilot training, becoming a bombardier instead. He was assigned to the 97th Bombardment Group and took part in the first B-17 raids in Europe by Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses. He flew 13 missions over Europe, 17 missions over North Africa, five credited combat missions in the Pacific with the 509th Composite Group and was crash-landed four times, twice in Europe and North Africa. He returned to the United States as a bombing instructor in Midland, Texas, but in the summer of 1944, he was recruited by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets to be part of the 509th, which was formed to deliver the atomic bomb. The mission to bomb Nagasaki was conducted on Beahan's 27th birthday. Admiral Frederick L. Ashworth, who participated on the mission as weaponeer, credited Beahan with saving the mission from failure by finding an opening in the clouds by which to complete the required visual bombing of the city. An estimated 35,000-40,000 people were killed outright by the bombing of Nagasaki, the majority of whom were munitions workers.

   Following the Japanese surrender, he returned to the United States as a crewman in the record-breaking 1945 Japan-Washington flight under Lieutenant General Barney M. Giles. He remained in the Air Force until 1964, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. After his retirement, he worked as a technical writer for the engineering and construction firm Brown & Root through 1985. On the 40th anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing, Beahan said he would never apologize for the bombing, that he had been thanked for his role by a group of 25 Japanese, and hoped that he would forever remain the last man to have dropped an atomic bomb on people. Beahan died on March 10, 1989 of heart attack and was buried at the Houston National Cemetery.

29° 55.814, -095° 26.945

Section K
Houston National Cemetery

June 24, 2016

William Stanhope Taylor

   William Stanhope Taylor, soldier and planter, was born in Canton, Stark County, Ohio, in 1819, the son of Thomas and Sarah Hoyland (Bull) Taylor. William’s family moved to central Tennessee in the mid-1820s. His father obtained a Mexican land grant on April 27, 1831, via the Austin colony in present-day Fayette County. In 1832 William and his brother, George A. Taylor, traveled to Texas with their father, and then the boys returned to Tennessee that same year. After the death of his father to yellow fever in August 1833 in Louisiana, Taylor returned to Texas to take care of his father’s estate.

   As reflected in Comptroller’s Military Service Record No. 1441, William Taylor enlisted in the revolutionary army on October 17, 1835, and served with Capt. John M. Bradley (Volunteers from Tunahan District) at the siege of Bexar, to include the Grass Fight, and was discharged on December 23, 1835. He re-enlisted on March 12, 1836, and served under Capt. William Ware (Second Company, Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers) and Capt. William Smith (Company J, Second Regiment, Volunteer Cavalry). On April 20, 1836, Taylor, who served as a scout/spy, volunteered to participate as part of Col. Sidney Sherman’s cavalry force in an attempt to capture the Mexican cannon at San Jacinto. On April 21 he was reassigned to Captain Smith’s Company J in the cavalry charge on the Mexican left flank, followed by the pursuit of General Santa Anna and his cavalry towards Vincent Bridge. William received Texas land via Headright Certificate No. 183 and Donation Certificate No. 353 for his military services.

   Taylor married Agnes Elizabeth Garrett on June 7, 1838, in Montgomery County, Texas, and they had eleven children. In 1853 he achieved Master Mason (3rd degree) with Masonic Lodge No. 25 in Montgomery County. He was one of the vice presidents of the 1860 Know-Nothing convention at San Jacinto that nominated Sam Houston for president of the United States as “the people’s candidate.” In 1866 he wrote a personal letter to William C. Crane, president of Baylor University and biographer of Sam Houston, defending Gen. Sam Houston’s conduct at the battle of San Jacinto and refuting incorrect information about the pursuit of Santa Anna that was printed in the Texas Almanac. Taylor’s personal account of the pursuit of Santa Anna and his cavalry was published in the Texas Almanac of 1868 and is recorded in the Texas State Archives. William Taylor died of yellow fever on February 2, 1869, in Montgomery, Montgomery County, Texas, and was buried with Masonic honors at the Montgomery Old Cemetery. In February 1879 his widow filed for a Republic of Texas veteran’s pension; she died later the same year and is buried at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Montgomery County. A Texas Centennial marker was erected at William’s grave in 1936 to honor him as a San Jacinto veteran. Source 

30° 23.309, -095° 41.862

Old Methodist Churchyard

June 21, 2016

Larry Blyden

   Larry Blyden, actor, producer (A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum), and director (Harold), was born Ivan Lawrence Blieden on June 23rd, 1925 to Adolph and Marian (née Davidson) Blieden in Houston, Texas. His childhood years consisted of attending Wharton Elementary School and Sidney Lanier Junior High School. It was sometime during this period that Larry met and befriended Rip Torn. The two became such wonderful friends that their friends and families jokingly called them Torn and Bleedin’ (an obviously cute play on the pronunciation of the Blieden surname). In the beginning of his years at Lamar High School, Larry was considering becoming an attorney just like his father (known by locals as ‘Jelly’ Blieden), with his eyes then on a law scholarship at the University of Texas. In turn, Larry proved himself a quite worthy contender on Lamar High’s debate team. But when it boiled down to needing either Home Economics, Shop, or Drama credits, Larry decided to give Drama a crack after Shop not being his forte, nor having any remote interest in Home Ec. To his surprise and delight, the future Larry Blyden discovered how much he actually enjoyed acting and learning more about it. And with the coining of Larry’s personal slogan, “Yes, I Can Do That!”, his road to Broadway commenced its construction.

   At the tender age of fourteen, Larry landed his first ever role in a Margo Jones production. He would find himself starring in more of the Texas theatre giant’s offerings throughout the remainder of his high school years and time with the Houston Little Theatre…including S.N. Behrman’s Here Today and The Sound Of The Hunting, the latter of which officially opened Houston’s world renowned Alley Theatre. After graduating from Lamar High, Larry attended Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) for just under a year before enlisting with the United States Marine Corps due to the outbreak of World War II. Before receiving an honorable discharge in 1946, Larry rose to the officer rank of Lieutenant. He went back to school, this time with the University of Houston, from whence he graduated in 1948 with degrees in English and mathematics. During this time, Larry worked at KPHC, a Houston radio station and where he began to demonstrate a penchant for foreign accents and cultures with a well received show called the International Hour. Throughout the hour, Larry would perform as four different DJs introducing the music of their featured native countries, with his accents fluctuating between British, French, and Chinese, among many others. After graduating from the U of H, Larry dabbled in politics, and did campaign work for George Peddy.

   In 1948, Larry Blyden traveled to New York City to try to trip the lights fantastic of the Great White Way. In addition to finding further work in radio, Blyden immediately enrolled at the Stella Adler School of Acting, where he would further study the craft of theatre for eighteen months. In 1949, Larry would get his much coveted big break…during a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest, Joshua Logan, one of Broadway’s most esteemed director/producers at the time, spotted Larry and decided he would be perfect in his up and coming hit, Mister Roberts, starring Henry Fonda. At first, Larry’s role was only a small one as a Shore Patrol Officer…but over the course of a few months, and with the departure of David Wayne from the production, Larry would take over as Ensign Pulver, and as whom he won the first of several applauses of critical acclaim. Joshua Logan appreciated Blyden’s efforts as much as the general public did and immediately cast him in his next production, titled Wish You Were Here (which would also feature Jack Cassidy and Florence Henderson), in 1952.

   Work for Larry, in television (for which he appeared in several of the playhouse and omnibus/anthology shows prevalent then, the two most noteworthy of them, both in 1959, being the TV movie What Makes Sammy Run with Blyden turning in a decadently ruthless portrayal of the title character, Sammy Glick, and the TV musical, George M. Cohan’s Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway, which had Larry co-starring alongside Tammy Grimes) and stage, instantaneously became steady upon Logan’s discovery of him. Hollywood took notice, and came calling. In 1957, Blyden was cast in Paddy Chayefski’s The Bachelor Party, also starring Don Murray and Carolyn Jones, as well as Kiss Them For Me, also starring Cary Grant, Ray Walston, Werner Klemperer, and Jayne Mansfield. Earlier, and while in the midst of such an immensely busy schedule, Blyden managed to meet Carol Haney, famed choreographer and then actress (who won a 1955 Best Featured Actress In A Musical Tony Award for The Pajama Game, but would quit acting due to never quite overcoming stage fright), during a touring production of Oh Men, Oh Women! The two got married in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 14th, 1955. Blyden and Haney would actually work together three years later in Flower Drum Song, the Rodgers and Hammerstein culture clash musical which would see Larry sporting an exquisite use of a Chinese accent as Sammy Fong, and helped him land his first Tony Award nomination (1959 Best Leading Actor In A Musical), as well as Ms. Haney receiving a further nomination (1959 Best Choreographer). The Blydens’ marriage went on to produce two children (Joshua, born in 1957 and named after Joshua Logan, and Ellen Rachel, born in 1960), but ended in divorce in 1962. Two years later, Ms. Haney would die of pneumonia complicated by diabetes and alcoholism. Larry, wanting to keep the family together and vowing to be the best father AND parent his children had ever known, immediately took Joshua and Ellen under his wing.

   The 60’s were that much more of a hectic time for Larry Blyden, having to juggle the odd Broadway role or two, numerous beyond numerous television appearances, and being dad to his two quite young children. Because of the latter and its expenses, Larry turned to television even more-so than previously in the 50’s. It was during this time that some of Blyden’s most famous television appearances would occur…including two visits to The Twilight Zone (“A Nice Place To Visit” and “Showdown With Rance McGrew”), Dr. Kildaire (“Take Care Of My Little Girl”), Route 66 (“Like This, It Means Father..Like This, Bitter..Like This, Tiger”), The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (“Wally The Beard”), Twelve O’Clock High (“Mutiny At 10,000 Feet”), The Fugitive (“Crack In A Crystal Ball”), and The Man From UNCLE (“The Waverly Ring Affair”). On Broadway and in 1964, Larry found himself starring alongside Bert Lahr in Foxy, and reunited with Rip Torn (who helped Blyden win his role through telling producers he was every bit as Southern as the role required the actor to be) in Blues For Mr. Charlie. 1965 had Larry appear in Mike Nichols’ Luv, which would inadvertently kickstart Blyden’s game show career via his first appearances as a panelist on the highly rated What’s My Line? to promote the production. Mike Nichols found Larry Blyden’s stage presence to be dynamic, and in turn, Larry was cast as the Devil in the 1967 Tony Award Best Musical nominated The Apple Tree (and also starring Alan Alda and Barbara Harris). Later in the spring of 1967, Blyden would be approached by NBC about hosting a then new game show called Personality. He accepted the job, all of which lasted two years, but would lead to further emceeing gigs for the likes of You’re Putting Me On, The Movie Game, and most notably, replacing Wally Bruner on the syndicated/color version of What’s My Line? in 1972.

   Until 1972, Larry Blyden’s career sadly entered a small doldrums; after leaving You Know I Can’t Hear You When The Water Is Running in 1968, Larry decided to try his hand at directing again (his first time being a play titled Harold in 1962, which starred Anthony Perkins, and also featured Don Adams and John Fiedler) with a play called The Mother Lover. It ended up being the most dreaded thing in one’s Broadway career - an opening night flop. Apart from a Hollywood commute that saw him in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (which had Larry getting to perform alongside Barbara Streisand) and two television dramas (The FBI - “The Innocents” and The Mod Squad - “Exit The Closer”), Blyden mostly laid low until 1971, when he saw a California repertory theatre production of a musical that would, almost as if by magic, turn his life and career around overnight. The revival of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum could also be called ‘A Terrific Thing Happened To Larry Blyden’ with all it accomplished for the producer and those around him, most particularly Phil Silvers, who took the role of Pseudolus (a role he had rejected previously for the musical’s original 1962 Broadway run) and ran with it to great heights. And oh what great heights Silvers and Blyden (who played Hysterium) hit - with a 1972 Best Leading Actor In A Musical Tony Award for the former and a 1972 Best Featured Actor In A Musical Tony Award for Larry, who remained a workhorse and was one of the on-stage performers at the 1972 Tony Awards (at which Larry entertained with such greats as Hal Linden, Alfred Drake, and Ethel Merman, among others).

   After A Funny Thing closed, the remainder of 1972 and beyond had Larry Blyden maintaining a steady television schedule between What’s My Line?, a couple of television dramas (notably Medical Center - “Terror” and Cannon - “The Torch”), and several appearances on other game shows as a panelist (To Tell The Truth and Match Game ’74) and celebrity assistant ($10,000 Pyramid and Blankety Blanks). Larry returned to the stage in 1973 for one evening, March 11th, to participate in the Stephen Sondheim Musical Tribute (the recording of which is affectionately known by fans as ‘the Scrabble album’ due to its cover art), and performed “Love Is In The Air” from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and “Buddy’s Blues” from Follies (with one of his co-stars on the number being Chita Rivera). He would not see stage work again until 1974, when Blyden was asked by Burt Shevelove (who had directed A Funny Thing) to take on the role of Dionysos in a Yale Repertory Theatre production of The Frogs, Shevelove and Stephen Sondheim’s modern retelling of a comedy by Aristophenes. The show would last for eight performances in late May of 1974, and had Larry performing alongside Michael Vale of Dunkin’ Donuts commercial spokesperson fame, and also included a pre-stardom Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver.

   In December of 1974, What’s My Line was cancelled after a six year syndication run and a near twenty-five year duration overall, with Larry Blyden having hosted its last two years and several months. Goodson-Todman, the production company behind What’s My Line? and other classic game shows, offered Larry an emceeing slot on an upcoming idea called Showoffs, which was basically a combination of charades and a Beat The Clock-esque format. Meanwhile, Blyden had started the last great stage role of his all too short-lived career: Sidney, in Absurd Person Singular, a British farce also featuring Tony Roberts, Carole Shelley, and Richard Kiley. Larry won the role through a heavy demonstration of his best Cockney accent during the interview and audition, and never dropped the accent at all between entering and leaving the room. It paid off most handsomely, landing Blyden his third Tony Award nomination, for 1975 Best Featured Actor In A Play, as well as also his first and only Drama Desk Award nomination, for 1975 Outstanding Featured Actor In A Play. Remaining one of Broadway’s hardest workers, Larry took on the skit directing and hosting duties for the 1975 Tony Awards and again was one of the on-stage performers (alongside other stars such as co-hosts Bobby Van and Larry Kert). Such duties would be Larry Blyden’s fifth to last ever appearance in anything…his fourth to last being a gala to Joshua Logan (which was recorded and distributed only among private parties) where he reprised his Ensign Pulver role from Mister Roberts, his third being a week on Blankety Blanks (May 12th-16th), his second being the pilot for the aforementioned Showoffs, taped on May 24th, 1975; and his final showing being a Bicentennial Minute segment that aired on CBS on May 31st.. A couple of days after the Showoffs pilot taping, Larry Blyden embarked on a plane for a promised two week vacation in Morocco before the official tapings for Showoffs were to begin later in June. On May 31st, Larry was in a horrific automobile accident between Agadir and Tan-Tan, and sustained significant wounds to his head, chest, and abdomen. Larry underwent surgery, but ultimately succumbed to his injuries on June 6th, just a little over two weeks shy of turning fifty. As well as quite sadly and literally alone, with all loved ones and friends an ocean away, and very tragically ending a most inimitable and still blossoming career and young life all too soon. Biography courtesy of MavenBlyden 

29° 42.904, -095° 18.437

Section 27
Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery

June 17, 2016

James Robert Pace

   James Robert Pace was born in Montgomery County, Tennessee sometime in 1814. On December 24, 1834, his father Gideon, his brothers William and Wesley, and their families arrived in Texas via Louisiana. Sometime prior to June 24, 1830, Gideon died and James became the head of the household at sixteen. He requested permission for him and his six siblings to settle in Austin's Colony but was turned down for unknown reasons.

   He joined the Texas army as a volunteer November 8, 1835, in Captain John G. Swisher's Company and participated in the Siege of Bexar (December 5-10) later that year. He was transferred shortly after to another unit and fought at San Jacinto as a member of Captain Jesse Billingsley's Company of Mina Volunteers on April 21, 1836. His military service continued through the rest of 1836, serving in Captain William M. Eastland's Company as a volunteer in the First Division of the troops in the campaign against the Waco and Tehuacana Indians (July 25 - September 13). He left the service with the rank of colonel. Pace died on July 2, 1876 while living in Travis County and is buried alongside his wife Elizabeth in Austin's Oakwood Cemetery.

30° 16.642, -097° 43.605

Section 4
Oakwood Cemetery

June 14, 2016

Able Allison Lewis

   Able Allison Lewis was born in about 1761, probably in South Carolina, where he served for 477 days under Capt. Thomas Price's South Carolina 96 District Company. He married Martha "Patsy" Wofford in about 1795, and the family moved to Missouri before coming to Texas to settle in the Sabine District of San Augustine County. He died before 1839 and was buried in the Chapel Hill Cemetery about six miles east of San Augustine, Texas. Source

31° 29.210, -094° 01.172

Chapel Hill Cemetery
Chapel Hill

June 10, 2016

Joseph Manson McCormick

   Joseph McCormick was born on January 9, 1806 in Christian County, Kentucky. He came to Texas in 1829, and although he secured land from the Mexican government, he settled on a farm belonging to his uncle David McCormick and lived there the rest of his life. On June 22, 1832, he received title to one league of land in Austin's Second Colony in what is now Fort Bend County, but never improved upon it. On March 5, 1836, he enlisted in the Texas army for three months, from March 5 to June 5, 1836, as a member of Captain William H. Patton's Columbia Volunteers and with them fought at the battle of San Jacinto. He re-enlisted on July 4, in Captain Byrd Lockhart's Company and was discharged a month later for unknown reasons. McCormick married Agnes Louisa McKenzie, the sister of Josiah Hughes Bell, on January 3, 1852. He died January 21, 1865 and was buried in the cemetery at West Columbia.

29° 08.426, -095° 38.864

Columbia Cemetery
West Columbia

June 7, 2016

William Jones Elliott Heard

   William J. E. Heard, soldier and planter, was born near Knoxville, Tennessee, on August 16, 1801, the son of Stephen Rhodes and Jemima (Menifee) Heard. At an early age Heard was taken by his family to Alabama. On October 30, 1830, he and his twenty-one-year-old wife, America (Morton), and their two daughters joined his family and an "Alabama colony" that had arrived in Texana, Texas, in December 1830. Heard was granted a league and a labor six miles from Texana in Stephen F. Austin's colony. In 1832 he was elected second lieutenant of Capt. Joseph K. Looney's volunteer company. In 1835 he moved to Egypt in Colorado (now Wharton) County and established himself as a sugar and cotton planter. On February 1, 1836, with the outbreak of the Texas Revolution, Heard was elected first lieutenant of Capt. Thomas J. Rabb's company of volunteers, but when the army was reorganized on April 2 he was elected captain of what became Company F of Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment, Texas Volunteers.

   At the battle of San Jacinto Heard's company was in the middle of the Texan line opposite the Mexican artillery and overran and captured the enemy cannons. Heard was discharged at Victoria on May 13, 1836. On September 28, 1838, he was elected chief justice of Colorado County, where in 1840 he owned 1,200 acres of land, seventeen slaves, forty-five cattle, a workhorse, and a clock. In that year he was elected chief justice of Wharton County and accompanied Col. John H. Moore's expedition against the Indians of the upper Colorado River. Heard was elected justice of the peace of Beat One of the judicial Ward County on February 24, 1841. When Mexican general Adrián Woll invaded Texas in 1842, Heard raised a company of twenty volunteers and was assigned to the command of the defense of Victoria. He arrived there on the evening of March 6 to find "the citizens badly armed and in great confusion." Upon receiving reports that a force of 1,100 of the enemy were marching toward Victoria from Refugio and that 3,000 more were near San Antonio, with an additional 14,000 reinforcements still beyond the Rio Grande, he wrote to the editor of the Telegraph and Texas Register, "I have no doubt, from all I can gather that there is an invasion at hand," and resolved to fall back beyond the Lavaca River the following day. "I cannot risk myself and men here longer than tomorrow evening without help," he wrote. After Woll's withdrawal, however, Heard and his men returned to their homes. By 1850 Heard reported real-estate holdings worth $16,888. His wife died on June 18, 1855; they had two daughters and two sons. Heard later married a widow named Ester Glass. In 1866 he moved to what was said to have been a model plantation at Chappell Hill, where he died on August 8, 1874. He is buried at the Chappell Hill Masonic Cemetery. He was a Methodist and a member of the Texas Veterans Association. Source 

30° 09.238, -096° 15.642

Masonic Cemetery
Chappell Hill

June 3, 2016

Harvey Homan

   A carpenter by trade, Homan was living in New Orleans when he was recruited into the Texas militia by Amasa Turner. He arrived at Velasco on January 28, 1836, aboard the schooner Pennsylvania. He officially enlisted the day after landing and was assigned to Captain Richard Roman's company, with whom he later fought at San Jacinto. Homan left service once his initial enlistment period was up, but re-enlisted January 18th as part of George M. Casey's company until December 17, 1837, when he left the army for good. He died in Houston in July, 1846 of unknown causes.

Note: This is a cenotaph. 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.

29° 45.431, -095° 22.731

Founders Memorial Park