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

April 21, 2017

Erastus "Deaf" Smith

   Erastus (Deaf) Smith was born in Duchess County, New York, on April 19, 1787, the son of Chilaib and Mary Smith. At the age of eleven or twelve he moved with his parents to Natchez, Mississippi Territory. A childhood disease caused him to lose his hearing. Smith first visited Texas in 1817 but did not remain long. He returned in 1821 and settled near San Antonio, where he married a Mexican widow, Guadalupe Ruiz Durán, in 1822. The couple had four children, three of whom, all daughters, survived to adulthood. In the fall of 1825 Smith and five other men settled on the claim of James Kerr, the surveyor for the new colony of Green DeWitt, about one mile west of the site of present Gonzales. This tiny community was the first in DeWitt's colony and one of the first American settlements west of the Colorado River. Although his loyalties were apparently divided at the outbreak of the Texas Revolution, when a Mexican sentry refused to allow him to enter San Antonio to visit his family, Smith joined Stephen F. Austin's army, which was then besieging the town. On October 15 Charles Bellinger Stewart wrote to Austin that Smith had learned that the troops of Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos were "disaffected to the cause which they are serving". Stewart assured Austin that he knew Smith well and found him to be "perfectly disinterested" and trustworthy "to any extent his abilities and infirmity may warrant." After reporting to Richard R. Royall, president of the council at San Felipe, who found him to be "very importantly useful," Smith returned to Austin's army and took part in the battle of Concepción on October 28, 1835. He was responsible for the discovery of the Mexican supply train involved in the Grass Fight. During the siege of Bexar Smith guided Col. Francis Johnson's men into the town. On December 8 he was wounded on top of the Veramendi Palace at almost the same moment that Benjamin R. Milam was killed at its door. Smith, whom Governor Henry Smith called "well known to the army for his vigilance and meritorious acts," remained with the army despite his severe wounds, "as his services as a spy cannot well be dispensed with."

   After regaining his health, Smith served as a messenger for William B. Travis, who considered him "`the Bravest of the Brave' in the cause of Texas." Smith carried Travis's letter from the Alamo on February 15, 1836. On March 13 Gen. Sam Houston dispatched Smith and Henry Karnes back to San Antonio to learn the status of the Alamo garrison. "If living," Houston reported to Thomas Jefferson Rusk, Smith would return with "the truth and all important news." Smith returned with Susanna W. and Angelina E. Dickinson. Houston first assigned Smith to the cavalry but later placed him in charge of recruits with the rank of captain. During the San Jacinto campaign he captured a Mexican courier bearing important dispatches to Antonio López de Santa Anna, and on April 21, 1836, Smith and Houston requisitioned "one or more axes," with which Houston ordered Smith to destroy Vince's Bridge, reportedly to prevent the retreat of the Mexican army. Smith accomplished the mission and reported to Houston before the battle of San Jacinto. It was to Smith that Houston entrusted Santa Anna's order to Gen. Vicente Filisola to evacuate Texas. After San Jacinto, General Rusk continued to send Smith out as a scout, and after having been absent from the army for the first two weeks of July he was incorrectly reported as captured by the Mexicans. During this period his family, rendered destitute by the war, was living in Columbia, where it apparently had some dealings with Santa Anna, who was then being held at the nearby port of Velasco. On November 11, 1836, the Texas Congress granted Smith the property of Ramón Músquiz on the northeast corner of San Antonio's Military Plaza as a reward for his military activities. Nevertheless, Smith and his family remained in Columbia. He resigned his commission in the army but raised and commanded a company of Texas Rangers that on February 17, 1837, defeated a band of Mexicans at Laredo. Soon thereafter he resigned from ranger service and moved to Richmond, where he died at the home of Randal Jones on November 30, 1837. On hearing of his death, Sam Houston wrote to Anna Raguet, "My Friend Deaf Smith, and my stay in darkest hour, Is no more!!! A man, more brave, and honest never, lived. His soul is with God, but his fame and his family, must command the care of His Country!" A monument in Smith's honor, paid for by the Forty-first Legislature, was unveiled at his grave in Richmond on January 25, 1931. Smith was the father-in-law of Hendrick Arnold, a free black who served in his spy company. Deaf Smith County is named in his honor. Source

Note: This is a cenotaph. The small Episcopal cemetery that Erastus Smith was buried in was originally located on this site, but in the late 1800s it was razed in order to develop the property for housing. His specific grave location has thus been lost, but is known to be somewhere in the immediate area.

COORDINATES
29° 34.810, -095° 45.738


Long-Smith Cottage grounds
Richmond

April 11, 2017

Charlotte Marie Baldwin Allen

   Charlotte Marie Baldwin Allen, called "the mother of Houston," was born on July 14, 1805, in Onondaga County, New York, the daughter of Eliza (Warden) and Jonas Cutler Baldwin. On May 3, 1831, she married Augustus Chapman Allen, a New York businessman. The following year Allen and his brother, John Kirby Allen, came to Texas and settled at San Augustine, then at Nacogdoches. Charlotte Allen probably arrived in Texas in 1834, and her inheritance helped the brothers to speculate in land.

   In August 1836 the Allen brothers purchased a half league of land on Buffalo Bayou for $5,000. Four days later they advertised the establishment of a prosperous new city called Houston, which may have been so named at Charlotte's suggestion. In any event, the name apparently attracted settlement to the area and influenced the decision to make Houston the capital of the Republic of Texas, a role it held from 1837 to 1839. The Allen brothers built the first statehouse, near Charlotte and A. C. Allen's home at Prairie and Caroline streets. Sam Houston lived next door to the Allens, and from their home Mary Austin Holley drew the first sketches of the capitol. When John Allen died in 1838 Charlotte and Augustus disagreed over the estate settlement, and they separated in 1850. Augustus moved on to Mexico and Washington, D.C., where he died in 1864; Charlotte remained in Houston and became one of the city's best-known citizens over the next forty-five years. In 1857 she sold the capitol site, which had become the location of the Capitol Hotel, for $12,000. The following year the hotel was the scene of Anson Jones's suicide; the land eventually became the site of the Rice Hotel.

   After the Civil War Charlotte Allen's home became the headquarters for the commanding general of federal troops in Houston. She deeded property, eventually called Market Square, to the city for a city hall and markethouse; because the original deed was lost she deeded it a second time, in 1895. In 1890, the day after her eighty-fifth birthday, the Houston Daily Post referred to her as the "connecting link between Houston's past and present history." Charlotte Allen had four children, but only one, daughter Martha Elizabeth, survived to maturity. She died on August 3, 1895, in Houston, at the age of ninety and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery. Charlotte Baldwin Allen Elementary School was named in her honor in 1907; it was the first public school in Houston to be named for a woman. In 1911 her home was razed to provide a site for the Gulf Building. A Texas Historical Marker was erected in her honor in Glenwood Cemetery in 2009. Source

COORDINATES
29° 45.890, -095° 23.231

Section E2
Glenwood Cemetery
Houston

April 4, 2017

Shadrack Edmond "Shad" Graham

   Shadrack Edmond (Shad) Graham, filmmaker, was born in New York City on April 24, 1896, the son of Charles Edmond and Edith (Craske) Graham. His father and uncle (Robert E. Graham) were professional actors, and his mother was a well-known ballerina. Shad Graham began his association with the film industry as a child actor in The Great Train Robbery (1903), but his main interest through the years was in the technical phase of the new art form. He spent fifty years with major motion-picture companies in New York and Hollywood and later with his own company, Shad E. Graham Productions. His Our Home Town series, documentaries of small towns in many parts of the United States, especially in Texas, is of historical significance for the period following World War II.

   Graham moved after the war to Houston, where he continued making documentary films while serving as Texas representative for Twentieth Century Fox Movietone News. His Texas City Disaster 1947 won awards for that studio and focused international attention on disaster needs. Graham was a charter member of the Film Editors of New York City and Hollywood and a gold-card member of the Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation. He was first married to Helen May in New York City on January 11, 1920; they had two children, and they were divorced in 1927. His second marriage was to Ruth Esther McLain of Houston on July 17, 1947, in New York City; they lived in Missouri City, Texas. Graham died on January 28, 1969, in Houston and was buried there. His documentary films were donated to the University of Texas at Austin, where the Shad E. Graham Memorial Student Film Fund and Memorial Film Library were established in 1969. Source

COORDINATES
29° 43.340, -095° 18.226

Abbey Mausoleum
Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery
Houston