October 17, 2017

Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard

Doc Blanchard was born on December 11, 1924 in McColl, South Carolina. His father was a doctor and the family moved frequently when Felix was a child before settling in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. He seemed to be naturally gifted in athletics, and while at Saint Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis led the school's football team to its first undefeated season in 1941, resulting in offers from Notre Dame, Fordham and Army, which he refused. Now nicknamed "Doc" due to his father's occupation, he chose to play for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, in part because its coach was a relative.

In 1943, Doc decided to enlist in the Army. He was stationed in New Mexico with a chemical-warfare unit until July 1944, when his father secured him a spot at West Point in July 1944. During his three years of playing for West Point, Doc racked up an undefeated streak of twenty-seven games. An all-around athlete, Blanchard served as the placekicker and punter in addition to his primary roles as an offensive fullback and a linebacker on defense, and his skills won him the Heisman trophy in 1945, as well as the cover of Time magazine. He had the opportunity to play professional football after being selected third overall in the 1946 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but was refused a furlough.

In 1947, Blanchard played himself in the movie The Spirit of West Point, the same year that he graduated and commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He coached Army’s freshman team in the 1950s, but never played professionally, choosing a military career as a fighter pilot instead. He would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959.

While with the 77th Tactical Fighter Squadron and flying back to his base at RAF Wethersfield near London in 1959, a gas leak in his F-100 Super Sabre broke and caught his plane on fire. Rather than escaping and parachuting out safely, he decided to stay with the plane and land it safely, because of a village on the ground that would have been damaged. The event garnered him an Air Force commendation for bravery. In the Vietnam War, Blanchard flew 113 missions from Thailand, 84 of them over North Vietnam. He piloted a fighter-bomber during a one-year tour of duty that ended in January 1969. He retired from the Air Force in 1971 as a colonel and spent several more years as the commandant of cadets at the New Mexico Military Institute.

Blanchard died of pneumonia on April 19, 2009 in Bulverde, Texas, where he had been living with his daughter for the last twenty years of his life. He was interred at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. In Blanchard's honor, the Interstate 20/U.S. Route 15 interchange near his hometown of Bishopville, South Carolina was named the Felix "Doc" Blanchard Interchange.

29° 28.543
-098° 25.101

Section 50
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio

September 1, 2017

Edwin Oswald LeGrand

Edwin LeGrand, soldier and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in North Carolina on June 28, 1801, the son of John and Margaret (Chambers) LeGrand. He married Martha McGehee in North Carolina in 1825 and in 1833 moved his family, consisting of a son and a daughter, to the Ayish Bayou District of Texas, now San Augustine County. On May 11, 1835, he received a land grant from the Mexican government. During the Texas Revolution he is said to have served under Capt. George English at the siege of Bexar, but his name does not appear on English's muster roll or on the list of those who received donation certificates for participating in the storming of the city on December 5-10, 1835.

In February 1836 he was elected with Stephen William Blount and Martin Parmer as a San Augustine delegate to the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. He reached Washington on February 28, the day before the convention began, and began to lobby energetically for independence from Mexico. On March 1, the opening day of the convention, he nominated for secretary Herbert Simms Kimble, who was easily elected. On March 3 LeGrand was appointed to the committee on privileges and elections and to a committee of five "to inquire into the actual condition of the army." He signed the Declaration of Independence on March 2 and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas on March 17. After the convention adjourned, he enlisted as a private in Capt. William Kimbrough's company of Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers, and took part in the battle of San Jacinto.

From 1836 to 1838 he served as chief justice of San Augustine County. On November 18, 1839, he was elected inspector of the Third Brigade of the Texas militia. Nothing further is known about his family. From 1846 until his death in 1861 he lived at the home of his sister, Mrs. W. C. Norwood. He is buried in the Macune Cemetery, twelve miles south of San Augustine. In 1936 the Texas Centennial Commission placed a historical marker at his grave. Source

Note: His first name is misspelled on his stone. His name was Edwin, not Edward.

31° 24.836
-094° 09.794

Macune Cemetery

August 8, 2017

James Shannon Mayfield

James Shannon 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

29° 54.643
-096° 52.109

Old La Grange City Cemetery
La Grange

June 27, 2017

Richard Tice

Richard Tice was born September 28, 1762 in Gloucester, New Jersey and first served as a "fifer" in a company commanded by Capt. Jonathan Williams as he was only 14 years of age and too young to handle a musket. He later served as a private at the Battles of Trenton, Princeton and Monmouth as well as a number of smaller battles. He lived in Philadelphia, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Long Island, New York before coming to Independence, Texas some time after October 1842 to live with his daughter and son-in-law, Adam James Hall. Richard Tice died August 27, 1848 and buried in the Old Independence Cemetery. Source

30° 19.732
-096° 21.637

Old Independence Cemetery

June 20, 2017

Marvin Ivan "Buck" Barrow

Buck Barrow was born Marvin Ivan Barrow in Jones Prairie, Marion County, Texas, the third child of Henry and Cumie Barrow. He got the nickname Buck from an aunt, who said he ran around like a horse. In the early 1920s, Marvin went to Dallas, ostensibly to work for his brother Clyde repairing cars, but he quickly became part of the West Dallas petty-criminal underworld. He began his criminal career as a cockfighter, but moved up quickly; just before Christmas 1926, Marvin and Clyde were arrested with a truck full of stolen turkeys they intended to sell. Marvin took the rap for himself and his brother and went to jail for a week. He met his future wife, Blanche, on November 11, 1929 in West Dallas and she soon became part of the loose Barrow gang. He was shot and captured two weeks later after a burglary and given four years in the state prison.

He escaped from the Ferguson Prison Farm on March 8, 1930 by simply walking out and stealing a guard's car. He and Blanche married on July 3, 1931 in Oklahoma. Blanche convinced him to return to prison and serve the rest of his term, which he did. After two years, he was issued a pardon by the governor, mostly due to the lobbying done by his wife and mother, partly due to the effort to reduce prison overcrowding. Upon his release on March 22, 1933, he and Blanche joined Clyde, his girlfriend Bonnie and W. D. Jones and began the crime spree the Barrow gang became notorious for. A few robberies and murders later, Buck was mortally wounded during a shootout with the police at the Red Crown Tourist Court in Platte City, Missouri. He hung on for a few days in a delirium until July 29, 1933, when he died of pneumonia aggravated by his head injury.

Note: Marvin's year of birth on his stone is incorrect. His mother gave the engravers her daughter Nell's birth year by accident.

32° 45.957
-096° 84.663

Western Heights Cemetery

April 7, 2017

William P. Massey

William Massey [Massie] came to Texas in 1835 from parts unknown and enlisted in the Texas army on April 4, 1836 as a member of Captain Amasa Turner's Company, and fought with them at the Battle of San Jacinto. After the battle, Massey was stationed on Galveston Island as part of Captain John Smith's Company and discharged on October 25, 1837. He received his first land grant for his military service in March 1838 for a third of a league in Harrisburg, now Harris, County, and his second certificate in October 1838 for 1,280 acres of land in Montgomery County. Massey sold off his headright in Montgomery County and settled in Houston where he lived until his death . He was initially buried in the city's Episcopal Cemetery, but when the cemetery was scheduled to be razed for neglect in the 1950s, he was reinterred in Glenwood.
29° 45.832
-095° 22.896

Section G1
Glenwood Cemetery

March 31, 2017

William Vanoy Criswell

William Vanoy (Vannoy) Criswell, Republic of Texas Veteran, was born on April 16, 1858, in Knox County, Kentucky to John Yancy Criswell, Sr. and Mary Eleanor Vannoy. At the age of 14 he moved to Texas and settled in or around Bastrop in February 1830. During Texas' fight for independence, Criswell joined Jesse Billingsley's Mina Volunteers, which became Company C of the 1st Regiment of the Texas Volunteers, which fought at the Battle of San Jacinto. Because of his service to Texas, Criswell received one-third of a league of land by the Fayette County Board on January 5, 1838. On February 7, 1840, he received 640 acres of land for taking part in the Battle of San Jacinto. He later received another 3,250 acres of land for serving in the army from September 28 to December 13, 1835, and another 320 acres for his service from March 27 to June 27, 1836.

On February 3, 1842, Criswell married Mary "Polly" E. Michin (McMicken) in La Grange. Together, they had six children: Bettie, Sallie E., Mollie, John H., James Yancy, and Lillie. Criswell, a member of the Lyons Masonic Lodge # 195, died on January 19, 1858, and was buried on the Kubena farm one mile south of Praha, Texas. During Texas' centennial celebration, Criswell's body was moved to the Texas State Cemetery. Source

30° 15.919
-097° 43.649

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

March 10, 2017

Andrew May Clopper

Born in Pennsylvania in 1791, Andrew Clopper came to Texas in January, 1828 and settled in the Matagorda Municipality (now County). He enlisted and served in the army from April 6 to October 3, 1836 as a member of Captain William H. Smith's cavalry company with whom he fought under at San Jacinto. Clopper died on September 16, 1853, and buried in Morris Cemetery in Seabrook until May 17, 1936, when his remains were exhumed and reinterred in Founders Memorial Park, Houston as part of Texas' Centennial celebration.

29° 45.460, -095° 22.745

Founders Memorial Park