June 28, 2016

Clarence Green (1934-1997)

Blues guitarist and band leader Clarence Green was born in Mont Belvieu, Texas, in Chambers County, on January 1, 1934. He was a versatile guitarist who should not be confused with the piano-playing blues singer Clarence "Candy" Green (1929-88) from nearby Galveston. Green, the guitar player, was a stalwart of the Houston scene who fronted a number of popular bands, the most famous being the Rhythmaires, between the early 1950s and his death. The oldest son of a Creole mother, he grew up in Houston's Fifth Ward in the neighborhood known as Frenchtown. He had first started making music on homemade stringed instruments devised in collaboration with his brother, Cal Green, who later served as lead guitarist for Hank Ballard and the Midnighters and did studio work for Ray Charles and other stars, relocating permanently to California in the process. Clarence, however, opted to stay close to home all his life, choosing the security of full-time employment with Houston Light and Power, where he worked for twenty years. Nevertheless, he found ample opportunity in the Bayou City to exploit his musical talents, both on stage and in recordings. He started out around 1951 or 1952 in a group that called itself Blues For Two. Throughout the next decade the band's personnel changed often; some of the more well-known members, at various times, included fellow guitarists Johnny Copeland and Joe Hughes. Green went on to lead the High Type Five, the Cobras (not to be confused with the mid-1970s Austin-based band of the same name led by Paul Ray), and ultimately his most well-known ensemble, the Rhythmaires, which was a mainstay of the Houston scene for over thirty years.

Mixing blues, jazz, and soul music - and playing in all manner of venues, from small clubs in the old wards to grand corporate affairs downtown and in private mansions - the Rhythmaires are remembered not only for Green's precisely swinging performances on electric guitar, but also for the many female vocalists they developed and featured over the years, including Iola Broussard, Gloria Edwards, Luvenia Lewis (who married Cal Green but did not follow him to the West Coast), Trudy Lynn, Faye Robinson, Lavelle White, and others. Starting in the late 1950s and continuing through the 1960s, Green also did regular session work as a guitarist at various studios, the most notable being Duke Records, where he backed artists such as Bobby Bland, Joe Hinton, and Junior Parker and released a few singles, including Keep On Working, under his own name. In 1958 he had recorded his first single, Mary My Darling, for the C & P label, which later leased it to Chicago-based Chess Records. In the following years he made numerous records for a variety of other small labels, including Shomar (which released his Crazy Strings in 1962), All Boy, Aquarius, Bright Star, Lynn, Pope, and Golden Eagle. His backing personnel on these tracks varied from session to session but occasionally included notable Texas blues musicians such as Henry Hayes, Wilbur McFarland, Teddy Reynolds, Ivory Lee Semien, and Hop Wilson. Green did not always receive proper compensation for his many recordings, especially as they began to reappear on compact disc in the 1990s. In 1994 he became a co-plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed against one of his former producers on behalf of fifteen Houston blues musicians or their descendants. Just days before Green died of natural causes in Houston on March 13, 1997, a federal jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. In the final months of his life Green was especially focused on performing gospel music in the context of religious worship, especially at the Frenchtown institution known as Buck Street Memorial Church of God in Christ, where he served as a deacon for many years. Green had a daughter, three sons, and several stepchildren. Source

29° 53.171
-095° 27.770

Garden of Memories
Paradise North Cemetery

June 24, 2016

Benjamin Franklin Hardin (1803-1878)

 Benjamin Franklin (Frank) Hardin, surveyor, soldier, and legislator, the fourth son of Swan and Jerusha (Blackburn) Hardin, was born in Franklin County, Georgia, on January 25, 1803, and grew up in Maury County, Tennessee. He moved to Texas in 1826 and served under Stephen F. Austin against the Fredonian Rebellion of 1827. Hardin, who discontinued writing his first name in later years, was one of the Hardin brothers who, with their father, escaped into Texas after their feud with a prominent family in Maury County left two dead. Because their adversaries held various offices there, including one who was prosecuting attorney, the Hardins thought they would not receive a fair trail for murder; nevertheless, the Tennessee governor managed to have Franklin arrested and held at La Bahía (present Goliad), Texas, but when Tennessee officers failed to come for him, he was released, and he and his brothers were free to continue their services in Texas.

Hardin was elected secretary of the ayuntamiento of Liberty in 1831 and was surveyor of the Atascosita District from 1834 to 1836. He was first lieutenant of infantry and fought in the siege of Bexar under Col. Francis White Johnson. Hardin served as a lieutenant in Capt. William M. Logan's company until June 1836. He carried the San Jacinto victory dispatch for Sam Houston to the United States border. Between July 7, 1836, and October 7, 1836, he was captain of a newly organized company and joined an expedition against the Indians. Hardin was put in charge of guarding Mexican officers interned at his brother's plantation until they were repatriated in 1837. He was Liberty county surveyor (1838-45) and served as colonel of the Second Brigade of the Texas militia (1842-43). In 1839 he was appointed postmaster by Sam Houston and moved his family from his plantation north of Liberty to a house in town, known as Seven Pines, where he lived with his wife and six children and a slave known as Aunt Harriet. Harriet had moved to Texas with the Hardins in 1826 and lived to be nearly 100 years old. Hardin continued to live near Liberty, where he was district surveyor from 1849 to 1852. He served in the Texas legislature in 1857, when Hardin County was formed from Liberty County and named in honor of the Hardin family. In the legislature he helped to get a surveyors' bill passed and the University of Texas founded and served as chairman of the Public Lands Committee. He married Cynthia O'Brien in 1839; they had six children. Hardin was a Methodist. He died at his residence in Liberty on April 21, 1878. State historical markers were placed at the Hardin family cemetery in 1936 and the Liberty home site, Seven Pines, in 1988. Source 

30° 03.791
-094° 48.168

City Cemetery

June 21, 2016

William Lockhart Clayton (1880-1966)

William L. Clayton, cotton merchant, was born on a farm near Tupelo, Mississippi, on February 7, 1880, to James Munroe and Martha Fletcher (Burdine) Clayton. He attended seven grades of public school in Tupelo and Jackson, Tennessee, where the family moved when he was six years old. Proficient in shorthand, he went to St. Louis in 1895 as personal secretary to an official of the American Cotton Company. From 1896 to 1904 he worked in the New York office of the American Cotton Company, where he rose to the position of assistant general manager. In 1904 Clayton formed a partnership to buy and sell cotton with two members of a Jackson, Tennessee, family prominent in banking - Frank E. and Monroe D. Anderson, the former Clayton's brother-in-law. A younger brother, Benjamin Clayton, joined the firm in 1905. Anderson, Clayton and Company first opened its offices in Oklahoma City and experienced immediate success. In 1916 the firm moved its headquarters to Houston, where Clayton, as the partner most expert in foreign sales, led other cotton exporters in providing warehouse facilities, insurance, credit, and other services that European firms had formerly rendered. In 1920 the company reorganized as an unincorporated Texas joint-stock association. Later in the 1920s Clayton led the fight that forced the New York Stock Exchange to accept southern delivery on futures contracts, thus removing an impediment to the natural operation of the futures market.

When high tariffs and federal farm-price supports threatened to drive American cotton out of the world market in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Clayton's firm responded by establishing cotton-buying offices in Latin America and Africa in order to supply its foreign sales agencies with cotton at competitive rates. At the same time that Clayton was expanding his business abroad, he fought the farm policies of the New Deal. He opposed government supports of the agricultural market. Instead, he believed that if subsidies were necessary they should go straight to the farmer. Clayton joined the American Liberty League in 1934 but left the organization the following year, when it failed to accept his recommendations for public relations in Texas. In 1936 he renounced his earlier opposition to Roosevelt because of Secretary of State Cordell Hull's work for a reciprocal trade agreement, a cause Clayton had advocated for many years. Meanwhile, Anderson, Clayton and Company increased investments in cotton gins, vegetable-oil mills, feed factories, experimental seed farms, and other enterprises related to processing cotton and similar commodities. From the beginning such investments had made the firm unique among cotton-merchandising organizations. Frank Anderson died in 1924, and Benjamin Clayton withdrew from the firm in 1929. The two remaining partners formed Anderson, Clayton and Company (Delaware) in 1930 and issued preferred stock. In 1940 Clayton retired from active management in the firm, but through several trusts he maintained control of the company until his death.

During World War I he served on the Committee of Cotton Distribution of the War Industries Board. In 1940 he was called to Washington to serve as deputy to the coordinator of inter-American affairs. For the next four years he held a variety of high-level positions with the Export-Import Bank, the Department of Commerce, and wartime agencies. From December 1944 until October 1947 he was assistant and then undersecretary of state for economic affairs, in which capacity he became a principal architect of the European Recovery Program, known commonly as the Marshall Plan. After his return to Houston in late 1947, he remained an occasional participant and frequent contributor to international conferences on world trade, the European Common Market, and related matters. He contributed personally and through the Clayton Fund to a variety of religious, charitable, and educational institutions, most notably to Johns Hopkins University (of which he was a trustee from 1949 to 1966), Tufts University, the University of Texas, Susan V. Clayton Homes (a low-cost housing project in Houston), and the Methodist Church. Clayton married Susan Vaughan of Clinton, Kentucky, on August 14, 1902. They had a son who died in infancy and four daughters who survived them. Clayton died after a brief illness on February 8, 1966, and was buried in Houston. Source

29° 45.910
-095° 22.983
Section I
Glenwood Cemetery

June 17, 2016

Ambrose Mays (?-1852)

As is often the case with early Texas settlers, little is known of Mays' history. He came to Texas in 1831, and enlisted in the Texian army on March 20, 1836 for a four month stint. He fought at San Jacinto as a member of Captain Thomas H. McIntire's Company and died in Harris County in 1852.

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. Ambrose Mays' is one of them.


Founders Memorial Park

June 14, 2016

Louis Joseph "The Battler" Rymkus (1919-1998)

Lou 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. In 1960, Rymkus was hired by the new Houston Oilers team to be their first head coach and led them to win the AFL's first championship, The championship provided Rymkus with an extra degree of satisfaction because it came over a Chargers team coached by his arch-nemesis, Sid Gillman.  No one is exactly sure how the feud began, but it stemmed from the days when Rymkus was an assistant coach on Gillman’s Los Angeles Rams team. The two nearly came to blows one day in 1959, and despised each other since.  Despite the 1960 championship, the team’s slow start in 1961 and Rymkus’ outspoken criticism of the Oilers’ owner, Bud Adams, resulted in his dismissal as head coach early in the 1961 season. Following this, he held numerous football jobs, from coaching a high school team in Louisiana to working as 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 in 1998.

29° 47.892
-096° 06.070

San Felipe de Austin Cemetery
San Felipe

June 10, 2016

David G. Choate (1811-1845)

Choate was born in 1811, most likely in Zwolle, Louisiana, as the Choate family was settled there prior to 1818. The family moved to Texas in 1831 and settled in present-day Liberty County. On October 2, 1834, David's father received a league of land on Pine Island Bayou and the family moved and set up their homestead in what is now Hardin County. On or about March 4, 1836, David joined a group of Beaumont volunteers under Capt. B.J. Harper to join the Texas army in the Revolution, and left for Liberty. Upon arrival on March 6, Harper’s and Franklin Hardin’s companies were combined with Capt. William Logan’s company and they marched southwest to join the main army. The companies now combined under Houston, on April 21 the Texas army met the Mexican troops at San Jacinto, and, with that victory, liberated Texas from Santa Anna's Mexican dictatorship. David left the army on June 6 and returned home. From October 29 to January 8, 1837, he was living on Galveston island as a beef provider for the troops stationed there. Sometime in the 1840s, he and his wife moved to Harris County and died there in 1845.

30° 11.515
-094° 11.121

Leatherwood Cemetery

June 7, 2016

Thomas Green (1814-1864)

Thomas Green, military leader, was born in Buckingham County, Virginia, on June 8, 1814, to Nathan and Mary (Field) Green. The family moved to Tennessee in 1817. Green attended Jackson College in Tennessee and Princeton College in Kentucky before he received a degree from the University of Tennessee in 1834. He then studied law with his father, a prominent judge on the Tennessee Supreme Court. When the Texas Revolution began, he left Tennessee to join the volunteers. He reached Nacogdoches by December 1835 and enrolled for military service on January 14, 1836. He became one of Isaac N. Moreland's company, which operated the Twin Sisters cannons in the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. A few days after the battle Green was commissioned a lieutenant; in early May he was made a major and aide-de-camp to Thomas J. Rusk. He resigned on May 30 to continue studying law in Tennessee. When he returned and settled in Texas in 1837, he was granted land in reward for his army service and became a county surveyor at La Grange, Fayette County. After his nomination by fellow San Jacinto veteran William W. Gant, he was elected engrossing clerk for the House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas, a post he held until 1839, when he represented Fayette County in the House of the Fourth Congress. After a term he chose not to run again and resumed the office of engrossing clerk. During the Sixth and Eighth congresses he served as secretary of the Senate. From 1841 to 1861 he was clerk of the state Supreme Court. Between legislative and court sessions Green served in military campaigns against the Indians and Mexico.

In the fall of 1840 he joined John H. Moore in a foray up the Colorado River against the Comanches. After Rafael Vásquez's invasion of San Antonio in March 1842, Green recruited and served as captain of the Travis County Volunteers, a unit that did not see battle. That fall he served as inspector general for the Somervell expedition after Adrián Woll's foray into San Antonio. When the United States went to war with Mexico, Green recruited and commanded a company of Texas Rangers in La Grange as part of the First Texas Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, led by John C. Hays. The Texans helped Zachary Taylor capture Monterrey, Nuevo León, in September 1846. After returning home, Green married Mary Wallace Chalmers, daughter of John G. Chalmers, on January 31, 1847. Five daughters and one son were born to them. After secession in 1861, Green was elected colonel of the Fifth Texas Volunteer Cavalry, which, as part of a brigade led by Gen. H. H. Sibley, joined the invasion of New Mexico in 1862. There Green led the Confederate victory at the battle of Valverde in February. After a difficult retreat into Texas he led his men, aboard the river steamer Bayou City, to assist in the recapture of Galveston on January 1, 1863. In the spring of 1863 Green commanded the First Cavalry Brigade in fighting along Bayou Teche in Louisiana. On May 20 he became a brigadier general. In June he captured a Union garrison at Brashear City but failed to seize Fort Butler on the Mississippi. At Cox's Plantation he defeated a Union advance in July. In September the First Cavalry captured another Union detachment at Stirling's Plantation. A similar success followed in November at Bayou Burbeaux. In four victories Green's men inflicted about 3,000 casualties and suffered only 600. In April 1864 he led a division in successful attacks against Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks at the battle of Mansfield and against Maj. Gen. William H. Emory at the battle of Pleasant Hill. A few days later, on April 12, 1864, Green died while leading an attack on federal gunboats patrolling the Red River at Blair's Landing. He was buried in the family plot at Oakwood Cemetery in Austin. Tom Green County was named for him in 1874. Source 

30° 16.566
-097° 43.703

Section 1
Oakwood Cemetery

June 3, 2016

Anderson Buffington (1806-1891)

Anderson Buffington, soldier at San Jacinto and Baptist minister, was born in South Carolina on February 14, 1806. After being reared by a stepmother, he ran away from home with his brother John and settled in Nashville, Tennessee, where he learned the printing trade. In Nashville he was licensed to preach by the Nashville Baptist Church. Buffington and Parolee Cobler were married on October 1, 1834, and eventually became the parents of two boys and four girls. The Buffingtons left Tennessee in 1835 and crossed the Red River into Texas in an ox wagon on January 10, 1836. They settled at Washington-on-the-Brazos. Two months later Buffington joined Capt. William Kimbro's company in the Second Regiment of Texas Volunteers as a private. He was discharged on June 15 at San Augustine and received 640 acres of land for fighting in the battle of San Jacinto.

Buffington and his wife became members of a prayer-meeting group organized at Washington-on-the-Brazos. Later in the year they formed a small church, Washington Baptist Church No. 1, the first missionary Baptist church in Texas. Buffington was on a committee that requested missionaries from the United States. The church dissolved in 1838. During this time Buffington was operating a sawmill at Washington-on-the-Brazos. He also served in the 1839 campaign against the Cherokee Indians and published a newspaper, the Tarantula, at Washington-on-the-Brazos in 1841. On October 19, 1841, he was ordained by Washington Baptist Church No. 2 and appointed by the American Baptist Home Mission Society as a missionary to Montgomery County. The Buffingtons moved in 1848 to Anderson, where Buffington opened a store with a man named Van Alstyne. They later sold the business, and Buffington opened another store, but it did not last long. He then opened the second hotel in Anderson and operated it for many years. Buffington preached to Negro congregations in Anderson for twenty years. He was also a strong Mason. At the beginning of the Civil War he was one of the few men in Grimes County who voted for the Union and Sam Houston. Both his sons fought in the Confederate Army. Buffington served briefly as postmaster in Anderson in 1865-66. He died on December 20, 1891, and was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery at Anderson. Source 

30° 29.278
-096° 00.295

Odd Fellows Cemetery