Along with everything else, Hurricane Harvey took with it decades worth of files, maps, notes, coordinates, names and research I had on my external hard drive; so for the time being, this site will be on hiatus until I finish republishing. I will upload as I go, so each post will reappear on its original date and can be found in the Archive section in the right sidebar. If you need to contact me for any reason in the duration, my contact info is found in my profile. Wish me luck, guys. - JES

March 28, 2017

Thomas Henry Ball

   Thomas H. Ball, lawyer, prohibitionist politician, and promoter of publicly owned Houston port facilities, son of M. O. (Spivey) Cleveland and Rev. Thomas Henry Ball, was born on January 14, 1859, in Huntsville, Texas. His father, a Methodist minister, had moved to Huntsville from Virginia in 1856 to become president of Andrew Female College. Ball's parents died, and he was left at the age of six in the care of his uncle, Lt. Sidney Spivey, a Confederate veteran, who sent him to private schools for his primary and secondary education. After graduating from Austin College in 1871, Ball worked as a farmhand and clerk and attended lectures at the University of Virginia, where he was elected president of the law class. He returned to Texas, was admitted to the bar in 1888, and was thrice elected mayor of Huntsville, a post he held from 1877 to 1892. He practiced law in Huntsville until 1902, when he moved to Houston.

   Ball first became active in Texas politics in 1887 as an advocate of a prohibition amendment to the state constitution. He held many state Democratic party posts and was elected to the United States Congress in 1896. He resigned in 1903 to return to a Houston law practice that primarily served railroad and corporate clients. In 1911 he was selected chairman of the Prohibition Statewide Executive Committee, and many prohibitionists encouraged him to run against incumbent governor Oscar Branch Colquitt, who was up for reelection in 1912. Ball declined, and lent his support to Judge William F. Ramsey, who was easily defeated by the antiprohibitionists. In 1914 at a pre-primary elimination convention, Ball emerged as the prohibitionist standard-bearer with the slogan "Play Ball." Both wet and dry forces assumed he would win the coming gubernatorial nomination. But political newcomer James Edward Ferguson won support by focusing on farm tenant reform. Late endorsements of Ball by President Woodrow Wilson and William Jennings Bryan backfired when Ferguson also asserted that national politicians should stay out of Texas politics. Ferguson won the nomination in July. Ball lost because of his refusal to embrace other prohibitionist demands, growing uneasiness about his legal service for large corporations, his friendship with Joseph Weldon Bailey, his own lackluster campaigning, and Ferguson's skillful demagogy.

   In addition to Ball's prohibitionist activities, he was also a lifelong, vigorous promoter of publicly owned port facilities in Texas. As a member of the Rivers and Harbors Committee in the United States House of Representatives, he secured the first federal aid for development of the Houston Ship Channel in 1899. After leaving Washington he lobbied the state legislature and the United States Congress heavily, determined to facilitate local, state, and federal efforts to upgrade Houston port facilities. Both bodies soon passed measures significantly aiding local navigation districts. Following the development of Buffalo Bayou, Ball served as general counsel to the Port Commission of Houston.

   He married Minnie F. Thomason in 1882. They had three children and adopted three more. In 1907 the community of Peck, just northwest of Houston, was renamed Tomball in Ball's honor. Ball died in Houston on May 7, 1944. Source

29° 43.164, -095° 18.239

Mimosa Section 11
Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery

March 21, 2017

Benjamin Franklin Terry

   Benjamin Franklin (Frank) Terry, organizer and first commander of the Eighth Texas Cavalry (Terry's Texas Rangers) in the Civil War, was born on February 18, 1821, in Russellville, Kentucky, the son of Joseph R. and Sarah D. (Smith) Terry and the older brother of David Smith Terry. His grandfathers, Nathaniel Terry and David Smith, had been officers in the Revolutionary War, and the latter also served under Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. While Terry was still a child his parents moved to Mississippi and separated. The 1830 census of Hinds County, Mississippi, enumerated the Terry household as Sarah Terry, five male children, and eight slaves. In 1833 or early 1834 Sarah Terry moved to Texas and settled with her brother, Maj. Benjamin Fort Smith, in Brazoria County. Sarah Terry died a few years later; in 1837 her brother was appointed guardian of the children and administrator of her estate, which consisted of over 2,000 acres of land fronting the Brazos River and eighteen slaves. Ben F. Smith then died in 1841, and young Frank Terry assumed responsibility for managing the family plantation. On October 12, 1841, Terry married Mary Bingham, daughter of Francis Bingham, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists in Texas. The couple had three sons and three daughters. On March 6, 1844, the Houston Telegraph reported that two insurgent slaves attacked Terry on his plantation with knives and axes, but "with admirable courage" he defended himself and managed to disable both men. Terry formed a partnership with William J. Kyle, and in 1851 they were awarded a contract to construct the first railroad in Texas, the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway, from Harrisburg, a small hamlet five miles from Houston, to the Brazos River and beyond to Richmond. Terry and Kyle used slave labor in the construction, which cost $18,400 per mile, but it was not until January 1856 that the tracks reached the Brazos some thirty miles from Harrisburg. Due to the railroad, however, a brisk trade began to move to Harrisburg. Houston was not to be outdone and received authorization from the state to finance a railroad and approval from its taxpayers to build the Houston Tap, as it was called, to connect with the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway at a point eight miles from Harrisburg. Terry and Kyle were also awarded the contract to build the Houston Tap. Terry had also purchased the Oakland sugar plantation in Fort Bend County in 1852 and became a prosperous sugar planter. In 1860 he and Kyle had real and personal property worth almost $300,000.

   By reason of his wealth, large physical size, and popularity, Frank Terry became a leader in Fort Bend County, and on January 9, 1861, he was elected a delegate to the Secession Convention in Austin. Terry and two fellow delegates, Thomas S. Lubbock and John A. Wharton, conceived the idea of organizing at least one company of Texas cavalrymen for the new government. In February and March of 1861 Terry was one of the senior officers aiding John Salmon Ford and Ebenezar B. Nichols in the campaign to disarm the federal troops at Brazos Santiago. In June 1861 Terry, Lubbock, Wharton, and perhaps as many as fifty other Texans sailed from Galveston to New Orleans and then caught the train to Richmond to offer their services to the Confederate Army. In Richmond Terry and Lubbock secured positions as volunteer aides to Gen. James Longstreet. Both men were appointed colonel, a term attached as a courtesy for their volunteer service, and participated with distinction in the battle of First Manassas or Bull Run. Afterward, the Confederate War Department granted the authority to organize a cavalry regiment. At Houston on August 12, 1861, Terry and Lubbock issued a call for volunteers that was answered by 1,170 men. The rangers were sworn into service in September, but Terry delayed their final organization until late November, when they were officially designated the Eighth Texas Cavalry. The regiment started immediately for Virginia but en route was diverted to Nashville and then later ordered to Bowling Green, Kentucky. Terry was killed in the first battle fought by the rangers near Woodsonville, Kentucky, on December 17, 1861. The battle, however, abruptly ended in a Confederate victory. Terry's body was sent by train to Nashville, Tennessee, where the legislature adjourned and joined in a procession escorting the remains to be held in state at the Tennessee Capitol. The body lay in state in New Orleans and then Houston, where the funeral procession was described as "the most imposing ever seen in this state." Governor Lubbock lauded Terry in the state Senate: "no braver man ever lived-no truer patriot ever died." Terry County was later named in his honor. Source

29° 45.897, -095° 23.142

Section E1
Glenwood Cemetery

March 3, 2017

James Austin Sylvester

   James Austin Sylvester, captor of Antonio L√≥pez de Santa Anna, was born at Baltimore, Maryland, in 1807. At an early age he moved with his parents to Newport, Kentucky. Later he became a printer's devil with the Cincinnati Enquirer, where he continued to work until the beginning of the Texas Revolution. On December 18, 1835, Sylvester and fifty other men joined Capt. Sidney Sherman to form a company of Kentucky riflemen to fight for Texas independence. The newly formed company arrived in Nacogdoches early in 1836. On January 10 the provincial governor of Texas, Henry Smith, commissioned Sylvester a captain in the reserve army. Sylvester and his company left Nacogdoches on February 26 for Gonzales, where the Texas army was reorganized. Sylvester was appointed second sergeant and color bearer in the active army, but he still maintained his captain's rank in the reserves.

   After the Alamo fell on March 6, 1836, Sylvester marched with Gen. Sam Houston's army from Gonzales to San Jacinto. Meanwhile, Santa Anna, after his victory in San Antonio, marched to Harrisburg, which he burned to the ground before proceeding to San Jacinto. According to one account, the Mexicans captured Sylvester at Harrisburg, but he managed to escape. On April 21, during the decisive battle of San Jacinto, Sylvester carried the flag of the Kentucky volunteers that the women of Newport had presented to them. The day after the battle, the Texans began looking for members of the Mexican army who had not yet been captured. Sylvester was with the main body of men under Gen. Edward Burleson. With a small party of men, he left the main group at Vince's Bayou to hunt. He was alone when he found a Mexican dressed in a private's uniform. Not realizing he had captured the president of Mexico, he escorted the leader to the main camp of the Texas army. Not long after the battle of San Jacinto, Governor Henry Smith commissioned Sylvester a captain in the cavalry. He served under Gen. Thomas Jefferson Chambers. He remained in the army until June 1837, when he was discharged from the service. He moved to Texana in Jackson County and became the deputy county recorder. In 1842 he participated in the Somervell expedition. The next year Sylvester, who never married, left Texas and took a position on the New Orleans Picayune. He remained with that newspaper until his death on April 9, 1882. His remains were later removed from the Odd Fellows Rest Cemetery in New Orleans and reinterred at the State Cemetery in Austin. Source

30° 15.917, -097° 43.637

Monument Hill
Texas State Cemetery