May 26, 2017

Moses Austin Bryan

Moses Austin Bryan, soldier, son of James and Emily (Austin) Bryan, was born in Herculaneum, Missouri, on September 25, 1817. After the death of James Bryan, Emily, sister of Stephen F. Austin, married James F. Perry, and the family moved to Texas in 1831. Bryan was employed for a time in the store of W. W. Hunter and Stephen F. Austin and then went to Saltillo, Mexico, as Austin's secretary. In 1835 Bryan clerked in the land office. He again became Austin's secretary when Austin became commander of the Texas army in the fall of 1835. After Austin retired from the army, Bryan joined as a private. He served in the battle of San Jacinto as third sergeant in Moseley Baker's company, as aide-de-camp on the staff of Thomas J. Rusk, and as interpreter for the conference between Sam Houston and Antonio López de Santa Anna.

In 1839 Mirabeau B. Lamar appointed Bryan secretary of the legation to the United States under Anson Jones. Bryan was a member of the Somervell expedition in 1842. During the Civil War he was a major in the Third Texas Regiment. He helped organize the Texas Veterans Association in 1873 and served as its secretary until 1886. Bryan married Adaline Lamothe of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, in 1840; she died in 1854. In 1856 he married Cora Lewis, daughter of Ira Randolph Lewis; they had four sons and a daughter. Bryan died in Brenham on March 16, 1895, and was buried at Independence.

GPS Coordinates
30° 19.709, -096° 21.685


Old Independence Cemetery
Independence

May 23, 2017

Frederick Norman "Pat" Ankenman

Born in Houston, Texas on December 23, 1912, Pat Ankenman was an American major league baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals (1936) and Brooklyn Dodgers (1943–1944). He made his MLB debut as a second baseman on April 16, 1936 for the Cardinals but after a few games was sent back down to the minors.

He served as manager in the minors for the New Orleans Pelicans (1942) and in 1943 was called back up to the majors as a second baseman/shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He remained with the Dodgers for only a year before returning to the minors in a coaching position. He managed the Oklahoma City Indians from 1947-1948 after which he left the sport entirely. He died on January 13, 1989 and buried in Houston's Memorial Oaks Cemetery.

GPS Coordinates
29° 46.853, -095° 36.937

Section 8
Memorial Oaks Cemetery
Houston

May 19, 2017

José Antonio Menchaca

Menchaca was born in Spanish Texas in January 1800 in the municipality of San Antonio de Béxar (present-day San Antonio, Texas). He was baptized as a Roman Catholic on January 17, 1800. His parents, Juan Mariano Menchaca and Maria Luz Guerra, were of Spanish descent. His great-great grandfather, Antonio Guerra, was one of the founders of Béxar, who settled in Texas in 1718. Menchaca was the sixth of ten children. He was well-educated and could speak and write both Spanish and English fluently.

In 1826 he married Teresa Ramon. They had four children together. At least three of their children were daughters (Joaquina, Antonio Manuela and Maria Antonio). Joaquina married John Glanton, a veteran of the Texas Revolution. Antonio Manuela married a Frenchman, Jean Baptiste Ducuron LaCoste. Maria Antonio married Maximilian Neuendorff. Menchaca's father died between 1820 and 1830, and his mother died in the 1840.

After the Texas Revolution began in October 1835, Menchaca joined the Texan Army of the People, enrolling in a cavalry company under Captain Juan Seguin. After the Mexican army was expelled from Texas in December 1835, he was stationed with other Texan forces at the Alamo Mission in Béxar. In February 1836, word came that Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was leading an army into Texas to reclaim the territory. Alamo co-commander James Bowie held a council of war with his officers, including Menchaca, to determine what steps to take next. Both Bowie and Seguin urged Menchaca to take a furlough and bring his family to safety; they were worried that Santa Anna would treat his family as traitors. Menchaca moved his family out of the town, to Seguin's isolated ranch.

On February 23, Santa Anna led a large army into Béxar and commenced a siege of the Alamo. Alamo co-commander William Barret Travis immediately began sending letters throughout the region, begging for reinforcements for his small troop. Men began gathering in Gonzales, a town about 70 miles east of Béxar.

After six days of hiding at Seguin's ranch, Menchaca moved his family to Gonzales. Immediately after his arrival on March 6, Menchaca went to the home of Green DeWitt, the empresario who had founded Gonzales. There he found Edward Burleson, who had led the Texan army in December 1835 and was now serving as a private in a volunteer company wanting to reinforce the Alamo. Assured that DeWitt was aware of the events in Béxar, Menchaca announced his intention to take his family further east, across the Guadalupe River. Burleson insisted that Menchaca stay, as all able-bodied men were needed to fight in the Texan army.

The following day, Seguin rode into Gonzales with 25 additional recruits. The 14 Tejano volunteers waiting in Gonzales, including Menchaca, joined Seguin's new company. The men voted on their officers, choosing Salvador Flores as their first lieutenant and Menchaca as second lieutenant. Among his duties, Menchaca served as a translator for the company members who could not speak English.

Sam Houston arrived in Gonzales about 4 pm on March 11. He announced that the Convention of 1836 had declared Texas an independent nation, and read the men the Texas Declaration of Independence. The new interim government had placed Houston in charge of the recruits gathered in Gonzales. That evening, two men arrived from Béxar with news that the Mexican army had retaken the Alamo, and the Texian defenders were dead; Houston promptly arrested the men as spies.

The following day, Houston organized the army. All of the companies gathered, including Seguin's were placed into the First Regiment of Infantry, with Edward Burleson in charge. Houston sent scouts to determine what had actually happened in Béxar. They returned on March 13 with Susanna Dickinson, who had been inside the Alamo during the battle. Dickinson warned that more than 2,000 Mexican troops were on their way to Gonzales. Local citizens panicked; Houston ordered an immediate retreat, promising that his new army would protect the citizens as they fled. Over the next month, the Texian army marched over 200 miles, retreating east and north.

On April 18, the Texian army reached the ashes of Harrisburg, arriving shortly after Mexican troops under Santa Anna had left. Later that day, a scouting party led by Deaf Smith and Henry Karnes captured three Mexican horsemen. One of the captured men was a courier, carrying mail for Santa Anna. Menchaca and Lorenzo de Zavala, Jr. were asked to translate the letters for Houston. The correspondence revealed the locations and strengths of the various Mexican forces in Texas, their strategies for the next few days, and the fact that the Mexican leaders had no idea of the location and size of the Texian army.

With this intelligence, Houston could now make a plan. He chose to act quickly and ordered his men to cross Buffalo Bayou and move to Lynchburg. Houston ordered that the sick remain behind with the baggage wagons in Harrisburg. Colonel Sidney Sherman brought Menchaca orders from Houston that Seguin's company should remain behind and guard the sick. Menchaca found Seguin, and together the men confronted Houston. Menchaca spoke loudly, telling Houston that "'he could not deprive me of my commission. ... I did not enlist to guard horses and would not do such duty." Houston was concerned that the Anglos in his army would not differentiate between the Mexican men in Santa Anna's army and those in Seguin's company. Seguin reminded him that his men had also died at the Alamo, and that they had more reasons than anyone else there to hate the centralists. Houston rescinded his orders, but, as a compromise, insisted that all of the men in Seguin's company place a piece of cardboard in their hatbands as a sign that they were part of the Texian army.

The Texian army made camp at Lynchburg, on the banks of Buffalo Bayou, on the morning of April 20. A few hours later, Santa Anna led his portion of the Mexican army to a campsite less than 1 mile away. There were two small skirmishes that day as each army tested the strength of the other. Santa Anna received approximately 400 reinforcements at 8 a.m. the following morning, bringing his army to 1,250 men. Texian troops were convinced that a Mexican attack was imminent. Santa Anna's men had spent much of the night preparing for a Texian attack, building makeshift breastworks around their exposed camp. The newly arrived troops were no better rested - they had marched continuously for 24 hours with no sleep or food. As the morning faded away with no sign that the Texians were preparing an attack, Santa Anna relaxed his guard. His troops, including those who had been standing guard, were given permission to rest.

At 3:30 pm, the Texian army lined up. Seguin's men, as part of Burleson's First Regiment, were in the center of the line. At 4 pm, the Texian army advanced, commencing the Battle of San Jacinto. They crept forward in silence, hidden by the tall grass. Houston ordered them to charge when they were about 200 yards from the Mexican camp. Mexican troops were taken completely by surprise. After firing the first volley, the Texian line fell apart. Many did not bother to reload, instead jumping over the breastworks and swinging their rifles as clubs. Mexican officers yelled orders, but were unable to get control of their men.

The battle lasted 18 minutes. Unable or unwilling to mount any sort of unified resistance, Mexican soldiers and officers fled for their lives. Texian commanders were unable to gain control of their troops, and the slaughter continued until dusk. Some sources claim that a Mexican officer approached Menchaca. The two had known each other in Béxar. The officer begged Menchaca to intercede for him, as a "brother Mexican". Menchaca yelled back at him "No, damn you, I'm no Mexican - I'm an American!" and shouted for Anglos nearby to shoot him.

Many Mexican soldiers fled towards Peggy Lake and attempted to swim to safety. Texan soldiers positioned themselves on the banks and shot those swimming. As the Texans tired, the killing slowed. The surviving Mexican troops were taken prisoner. Menchaca was put in charge of many of the prisoners taken near the lake. The prisoners were marched back to their original campsite. Battlefield debris was piled around the circle, and the 3 cannon were loaded and pointed at the prisoners to ensure their docility.

Later years After the Mexican army retreated from Texas, Menchaca accompanied Seguin and several other Tejanos to Nacogdoches to retrieve their families and return to Béxar. On their journey home, most of the other adults in the convoy became ill, and Menchaca took sole responsibility for nursing the sick. The Congress of the Republic of Texas passed a joint resolution in 1838 honoring his service in the Revolution and granting him a home in San Antonio.

Menchaca was given a military command in July 1842, leading a company to protect the frontier south of Béxar from Indian attacks. His company helped to defend Béxar in September 1842, when Mexican General Adrian Woll invaded the town. Menchaca was wounded when hit by a stone that had been struck by a cannonball. He was taken prisoner by Mexican troops and released within days after his family swore not to take up arms against Mexico again. He did not enlist during the Mexican-American War.

By 1850, he was established as a merchant. He also served as alderman and then as mayor pro tem from July 1838 through January 1839.

Menchaca became a spokesperson for Tejanos who felt they had been treated unjustly by the Republic, and later State, of Texas after the war ended. He frequently spoke up for Tejano veterans who thought they had been denied proper compensation for their service and was often a witness in legal proceedings. In the late 1870s he dictated his autobiography to an unknown person. The first half of his memoirs, covering his life through the Battle of San Jacinto, was first published in 1907 by James Pearson Newcomb.

Menchaca died on November 1, 1879 and was interred in San Fernando Cemetery in San Antonio.

GPS Coordinates
29° 24.930, -098° 30.691

Section 8
San Fernando Cemetery #1
San Antonio

May 16, 2017

John Allen Monroe

John Allen Monroe, born on August 24th, 1898 in Farmersville, Texas, played for eight seasons in the Pacific Coast League between 1926-1933 as a member of the Sacramento Senators (1926-29), Mission Reds (1930-31), and Portland Beavers (1931-33). After hitting .295 and .296 in his first two seasons in the PCL, the left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing second baseman never hit below .321 in his six remaining PCL seasons.

For his career, Monroe posted a .326 batting average in 1,295 PCL games while also collecting 1,621 hits, 309 doubles, 45 triples and 80 home runs. In 1930, at the age of 31, he set career-highs in hits and home runs with 241 and 28, respectively. The following season, in 1931, he posted a career-best .362 batting average - 6th best in the PCL that season - while splitting his season with Mission and Portland. During his first full season with Portland in 1932, he helped the Beavers win their first PCL Championship since 1914.

Monroe began his professional baseball career in 1920 and played in the big leagues for one season in 1921, beginning the year with the New York Giants, the World Series champion of that season, and ending it with the Philadelphia Phillies. He died on June 19th, 1956 in Conroe, Texas. He was 57 years old. In 2011, he was inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.

GPS Coordinates
30° 21.033, -095° 28.828


Garden Park Cemetery
Conroe


May 12, 2017

David G. Choate

David 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.

GPS Location
30° 11.515, 094° 11.121


Leatherwood Cemetery
Lumberton

May 9, 2017

James Augustus "Gus" Bailey

Gus was born in 1834 to carnival folk, and employed in his father's circus once he was grown enough to perform. In late 1857, he met Mollie Kirkland while working as a cornet player in the circus band. The two fell in love, and after her parents refused to let the two marry (Mollie was only fourteen, and her parents were well-off), they eloped. They swiped a few horses and a wagon from her family's plantation - for which Mollie was promptly disinherited - and married in March, 1858. With Mollie's sister Fanny and Gus' brother Alfred joining them, the young couple formed the Bailey Family Troupe, which traveled through Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas acting, dancing and singing, until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.

Gus enlisted in the Forty-fourth Infantry Regiment at Selma, Alabama, but was later transferred to Hood's Texas Brigade, where he served as the regiment's bandmaster. On the evening of August 28, 1862 the unit was marching through Thoroughfare Gap to the east slopes of the Bull Run Mountains, where they could see the flashes of Jackson's guns engaged at Groveton, only ten miles east. As they bed down for the night, a group of officers accidentally kicked over an empty oat barrel and sent it hurtling down the slope toward the Texas Brigade's bivouac. Frightened by the noise, a grey pack horse dashed up the hillside, still laden with frying pans, tin cups and other kitchen utensils. Aroused from their deep sleep, the veteran Texans panicked and scrambled several hundred yards downhill, tearing through a well-built fence in the process. Regaining their composure, the Texans laughed off their folly and Gus put the escapade to song. Originally called The Old Gray Mare (Came Tearing Out of the Wilderness), it became the brigade's marching song.

When the war was over, the couple traveled throughout the South and then by riverboat with the Bailey Concert Company. Bailey's circus was a success, and at its peak claimed 31 wagons and about 200 animals, including camels and elephants. The circus primarily toured small towns and became well known throughout the state for being free of the cheating and con games typical of other carnivals, as well as it's practice of giving free tickets to veterans, both Union and Confederate.

Gus became chronically ill, and, permanently weakened, was forced to retire from the day-to-day operations. He stayed at the circus' winter grounds in Blum while Mollie took over the business entirely. He died on November 10, 1900 and was buried with military honors in Houston's Evergreen Cemetery.

GPS Coordinates
29° 44.306, -095° 19.317

Section B1
Evergreen Cemetery
Houston

May 5, 2017

Nicholas Descomps Labadie

Nicholas Descomps Labadie, physician, pharmacist, and entrepreneur, was born on December 5, 1802, in Assumption Parish, Windsor, Ontario, the son of Antoine Louis and Charlotte (Barthe) Labadie. His father, a fur trader, died when he was five, and his older siblings helped send Nicholas to the parish school, where he did well. At about age twenty-one, hoping to escape the poverty of the area, he traveled to Perry County, Missouri, to become a priest at St. Mary's of the Barrens, a Lazarist college founded in 1820. He studied with John Timon and Jean Marie Odin, two priests who later led the Catholic Church in Texas. Labadie forsook the priesthood by 1828, decided to become a doctor, and moved to St. Louis, where he studied under Dr. Samuel Merry, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and supported himself by clerking for a merchant. Labadie mastered both medical and pharmacology practices of the day and in the spring of 1830 moved to Fort Jesup, Louisiana, where he clerked for Harrison and Hopkins and may have practiced medicine.

In January 1831 he visited San Felipe and decided that his best prospects lay at Anahuac, where a garrison had been established. He left the Brazos for New Orleans, where he bought medicines, and reached Anahuac in March. Col. John Davis Bradburn employed him as post surgeon and gave him a town lot on which to build his home and office, where he treated his civilian neighbors. He participated in a mercantile partnership with Charles Willcox from June 1831 through 1833. Angered because his sinecure as post surgeon was terminated on November 9, 1831, Labadie sided with the insurgents in June 1832 and joined in the attack against Bradburn. The doctor wrote about the events at Anahuac for the Texas Almanac for 1859.

Between 1833 and 1838 Labadie lived on his plantation on the shore of Lake Charlotte, a site that connected with the Trinity River north of Wallisville, where he raised hogs, corn, cattle, and honey for market and practiced medicine. He marched to join Sam Houston's army with the Liberty militia on March 11, 1836. At the Groce family's Bernardo Plantation he was appointed surgeon of the first regiment of regulars on April 6 and treated the various camp illnesses. He later fought under Gen. Sidney Sherman and tended the wounded at San Jacinto. He recorded his reminiscences of that campaign in the same volume of the Almanac. John Forbes, commissary general of the Texas army at San Jacinto, sued Labadie for libel in the district court of Nacogdoches County, and the suit was not finally dismissed until 1867. Labadie returned to his home in May 1836 to find it had been ransacked by looters, his wife and children having fled towards the Neches River.

In September 1838 under orders from Secretary of War Thomas J. Rusk he moved with his family to Galveston, where he continued to practice medicine and pharmacy and also sold such sundries as paint and paper. He invested in real estate, conducted a boarding house, and built the first Catholic church there. In 1851 he traded his plantation on Lake Charlotte to Michel B. Menard for Galveston wharf rights and built Labadie's Wharf near the foot of Twenty-sixth Street. Here he operated a line of sailing vessels to Pensacola, Florida, that imported lumber. During the Civil War Labadie served as examining physician for draftees in 1863 and as surgeon of the First Regiment, Texas Militia, in Galveston. His wife, Mary, whom he had married in November 1831 when Father Michael Muldoon visited Anahuac, died during the yellow fever epidemic in 1839. He married Mrs. Agnes Rivera, formerly of New York, in Galveston in December 1840 before his old acquaintance, Father Timon. She bore him a son in 1841, but she died in 1843 during another fever epidemic. Labadie was married a third time, to Julia A. Seymour, a native of Connecticut, in September 1846; they had no children. One of his sons-in-law, Ebenezer T. Barstow, became Labadie's business partner. The doctor died on March 13, 1867, and was buried in the Catholic Cemetery, Galveston.

GPS Coordinates
29° 17.600, -094° 48.779


Old Catholic Cemetery
Galveston

May 2, 2017

Margaret Moffette Lea Houston

Margaret Houston, wife of Sam Houston, was born near Marion, Alabama, on April 11, 1819, the daughter of Temple and Nancy (Moffette) Lea. On the death of her father in 1834, she moved with her mother from the family farm in Pleasant Valley, near Marion, into town, to the home of Margaret's elder brother Henry Lea, a successful businessman and state legislator. She was educated first at Pleasant Valley Academy and subsequently at Judson Female Institute.

In Mobile, Alabama, in 1839 she was introduced to Gen. Sam Houston at a party held by her sister Antoinette, Mrs. William Bledsoe. Despite an age difference of twenty-six years and Houston's well-known difficulties with drink, they were married on May 9, 1840, after a year-long courtship. Margaret's kin apparently opposed the marriage. Soon after the wedding, members of her family moved to Texas, where they moved in and out of the Houstons' lives for the next quarter century.

Margaret, a beautiful young woman, was utterly devoted to Houston through their twenty-three-year marriage. Some of his faults she openly battled, while others she had to learn to tolerate. Being deeply religious, she could not stand his drinking. Rather than nag him, she made him realize that his drinking hurt her and profaned the sanctity of their home; in this way she led Houston to declare total abstinence, which, with some difficulty, he kept to for the rest of his life. Convincing him to join the Baptist Church and be baptized proved a greater task, but one in which she succeeded, with the help of Rev. George W. Baines, on November 19, 1854, when Houston was baptized by Rev. Rufus C. Burleson in Little Rocky Creek, near Independence.

There were compromises: Houston's wandering she found herself helpless to curtail. Not long after moving to Texas Margaret realized that her health, particularly her chronic asthma, prevented her following him in his restless journeys from place to place; she determined then to make a home that would beckon him, but not to follow. During Houston's long years in the United States Senate, she never once went to Washington, nor did she travel his nearly endless campaign trails. Staying at home, she created a domestic circle on which he looked increasingly as a haven. Her letters to him reinforced the shrine of home. Her method worked, in a great measure, for in his absences he longed for her and the large household, which ultimately included eight children. The letters of husband and wife tell not only of a love of family but a deep love for one another.

The Houstons had numerous houses in Texas. Only one of these they kept continuously, Cedar Point, on Trinity Bay. It was a modest building, like most of the rest, built of logs, weatherboarded, with four or five rooms and the household services in separate buildings in the yard. Mrs. Houston, who loved gardening, maintained vegetable and flower gardens at all of her houses. Of their homes only the house at Huntsville, which is greatly remodeled, the rented Steamboat House nearby, and the Governor's Mansion in Austin are still standing. Raven Hill, Cedar Point, and the house in Independence, near old Baylor College, are gone. Surprisingly few of the Houstons' personal possessions survive.

The palmy days of the Houstons' life together were the years when he was in the Senate. Then they had money to spend and did not have to rely upon farming or land speculation, at which Houston was never successful. When Houston was in Texas the family was not likely to remain long in one place, but traveled about from house to house in a big horse-drawn carryall enclosed in canvas. Nearly every summer they spent time at Cedar Point. Autumn found them in Huntsville or Independence. Before 1853 Nancy Lea lived regularly with them, managing the household, a job that held no interest for Mrs. Houston. Of the fourteen slaves, about five were house servants, presided over by Mrs. Houston's maid, Aunt Eliza, also a slave, who was about ten years older than Mrs. Houston and devoted to her well-being.

Mrs. Houston's inquiring mind led her by the late 1840s wholly away from reading novels and plays into religious studies. Her letters to Sam contained long passages on religion and reflected her great insecurity about the beliefs she professed. Often ill, often pregnant, and often idle, for she was waited upon by others, she became subject to periods of depression. The idea of hell terrified her. Circumstances surrounding the death of her close friend Frances Creath at Huntsville in January 1856 led her to conclusions that finally gave her peace on the subject of religion and strengthened her through difficult times.

The unhappy climax of Houston's long political career in 1861 and his subsequent removal from the office of governor of Texas were followed by his two final years in retirement and relative obscurity. Living between Huntsville and Cedar Point, Mrs. Houston was with her husband constantly, assuming more duties than ever previously in her married life. Sustained by religion and her children, she saw Houston decline rapidly and gave him support where she could.

After his death in Huntsville in 1863, the widow was in serious financial straits. She moved to Independence to be once again near her mother, who had emerged from the war with some money. Mrs. Houston rented a house and labored to hold her family together. Her condition eventually eased when the state legislature voted to pay her the unpaid balance of Houston's salary as governor. In the fall of 1867, while preparing to move with her youngest children to Georgetown to live with her married daughter Nannie, she contracted yellow fever. She died at Independence on December 3, 1867, where because of health laws she was buried at once, next to the tomb that Nancy Lea had built to contain them both.

GPS Coordinates
30° 19.191, -096° 20.802


Lea-Houston Cemetery
Independence