August 18, 2017

Thomas August Graves

Thomas Graves came to Texas in 1831 as part of Robertson's Colony (located in present-day Milam County) and worked as a surveyor while waiting for his application for citizenship and land to be approved. Four years later, he finally received his title to one-fourth of a league of land on November 10, 1835. On January 14, 1836, he enlisted in Captain Sterling C. Robertson's Company of Rangers, but the company shortly afterward disbanded. He re-enlisted April 8, 1836 as a member of Captain Jesse Billingsley's Company of Mina Volunteers and was with them at the Battle of San Jacinto. His enlistment ended on July 8, 1836, and he returned to his estate. He married in April 1837, and later that year was elected the first County Surveyor of Milam County. Several years later, for his service in the Texas army and for fighting at the Battle of San Jacinto, he was granted an additional three-fourths of a league and one labor of land near his homestead in Milam County. Graves died in Washington County in 1861 and was buried in the cemetery in Independence.

Note
Graves' burial site is unmarked and its exact location has been lost, but it is likely he is buried somewhere in the photo below where the majority of those who died in 1860-1864 rest.

GPS Coordinates
N/A


Old Independence Cemetery
Independence

August 15, 2017

William Bacon Wright

William Bacon Wright, Confederate legislator, was born in Columbus, Georgia, on July 4, 1830, the son of John Wright and a relative of George Walton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. According to his obituary in the San Antonio Daily Express he graduated from Princeton at the age of seventeen, but the university has no record of his attendance. He is also said to have established a law practice in Georgia in 1849. After residing briefly in Eufaula, Alabama, he moved to Texas in 1854 and established a law practice in the Lamar County community of Paris, where he soon became one of the region's foremost attorneys. In 1857 he helped to found a male academy in Paris.

Wright was elected as an alternate Democratic statewide elector for the 1860 presidential election. In December of that year he was appointed chairman of a committee to draw up a plan of secession for the state. In October 1861 he was elected to represent the Sixth Congressional District in the first regular session of the Confederate House of Representatives, where he served on the Patents, Claims, Enrolled Bills, and Indian Affairs committees. Although an opponent of taxation, in general Wright supported the policies of the Jefferson Davis administration. His most significant contributions to Confederate legislation were the exemption from conscription of all militiamen serving in frontier defense and the exemption from impressment of all slaves employed in the cultivation of grain. He was defeated in the congressional race of 1863 by Simpson H. Morgan and served for the remainder of the war as a major in the quartermaster corps on the staff of Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith.

After the war Wright practiced law for a time in Clarksville before returning to Paris in 1873. He is said to have defended the accused in ninety-three murder trials without losing a single case. He also remained active in politics, serving as a member of the Judiciary Committee of the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1875. Wright married a Miss Greer of Georgia in 1849, and they had four children. After her death he married Pink Gates of Mississippi in 1868; they had six children. In 1885 Wright moved to San Antonio, where he engaged in banking until his death on August 10, 1895.


GPS Coordinates
29° 25.416, -098° 28.047


Dignowity Cemetery
Austin

August 11, 2017

Francis E. Brookfield

Francis Brookfield was born in 1820 in what is now Fayette County, Texas, the son of William and Lalliet Brookfield, who had come to Texas in 1831 as part of Austin's Second Colony. He participated in the Battle of Gonzales, the first battle of the Texas Revolution, on October 2, 1835. He enlisted in the army on March 16, 1836, and was with Captain William J.E. Heard's Company of Citizen Soldiers at San Jacinto. Brookfield left the army on April 27, then re-enlisted in Captain William Scurlock's Company from July 4 to October 4, 1836, after which he was sent by his parents "to Beardstown in the United States to receive his education".

After his return to Texas, he enlisted in the army once again, this time as a member of Captain Nicholas M. Dawson's Company, who were all killed on Salado Creek in Bexar County, September 18, 1842. His remains and those of his comrades were later placed in a single vault at the top of a hill, since called Monument Hill, overlooking the town of La Grange.

GPS Coordinates
29° 53.339, -096° 52.618


Monument Hill State Historic Site
La Grange

August 8, 2017

James Shannon Mayfield

James S. Mayfield, lawyer, legislator, and soldier, was born in Tennessee in 1809 and moved to Texas in 1837. In January 1839 he was practicing law in Nacogdoches with J. M. White and later that year was chosen to go with Albert Sidney Johnston to propose to the Cherokee Indians that they leave Texas upon payment for their improvements by the republic. 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 September 16, 1842, Mayfield assembled a company of 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. In 1842 Mayfield was a member of the Somervell expedition but did not join the subsequent Mier expedition. 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 during the same year challenged Burleson to a duel but did not go through with the engagement.

In April 1846 Mayfield helped organize the Democratic party in Texas. He was living in La Grange in 1849, the year he killed Absolom Bostwick in a political argument. In July 1850 Mayfield was one of a committee appointed in a meeting at La Grange to consider insurrectionary movements in Santa Fe County.

GPS Coordinates
29° 54.643, -096° 52.109


Old La Grange City Cemetery
La Grange

August 4, 2017

Alfred Henderson Wyly

Alfred H. Wyly, soldier, presumably joined the Texas army at Groce's Retreat on the Brazos River, where he organized and was elected to command of a small company from the "Redlands" about April 6, 1836. The company was assigned to Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers, and served at the battle of San Jacinto. Wyly was discharged on July 24, 1836. He was married to a widow named Josephine Louise (Burk) Williams, and they had five children. His family lived in Rusk County from 1848 until at least 1855. He died on May 11, 1867, at Hempstead, where he is buried.

GPS COORDINATES
30° 05.054, -096° 04.075


Hempstead Cemetery
Hempstead

August 1, 2017

William Bluford DeWees

William Bluford DeWees, pioneer settler and public official, was born in Virginia on September 8, 1799. He first visited Texas on a keelboat excursion up the Red River in 1819. In late 1821 he accompanied a group of four families from Arkansas to the Austin colony; the party arrived on the lower Brazos River on January 1, 1822. On August 3, 1824, DeWees and his partner, James Cook, who constituted one of the Austin colony's Old Three Hundred households, received title to a league of land on the Colorado River in the southern part of what is now Colorado County, about ten miles below Columbus. DeWees then obtained title to a second half league on the west bank of the river at the site of the Columbus township, on April 28, 1831. As property owner, developer, and early settler of the site he became known as a founder of Columbus. The census of 1825 listed him as a gunsmith, and he appears as a blacksmith in the census of 1826. In 1840 he held title to 1,207 acres, claimed another 887 acres under survey, and possessed a personal estate that included eleven slaves, thirty cattle, nine horses, and a carriage.

DeWees traveled in Mexico in 1826 and 1827, then took up residence in San Antonio, where he lived for almost two years before returning to his home on the Colorado. Beginning in 1837 he held a series of public offices in Colorado County, including justice of the peace, associate land commissioner, and associate justice of the county court. In 1865 he was again elected justice of the peace for Precinct 1 of Colorado County. Later that year he was appointed to a term as county treasurer by provisional governor A. J. Hamilton. But DeWees's political career and reputation were ruined in 1866 when he was charged by his successor with misappropriating $1,200 in county funds and was successfully sued for that amount in district court. His appeal of the decision was denied in 1870.

DeWees married a daughter of Austin colonist Benjamin Beeson, probably named Lydia, in 1823 and eventually became the father of two children. His wife apparently died before 1850, and DeWees probably married a German immigrant named Angelica. In the early 1850s he covertly collaborated with writer Emmaretta Cara Kimball Crawford in producing a journal of his pioneering experiences that purported to be a compilation of his letters to a Kentucky resident named Cara Cardelle; this volume of dictated reminiscences, actually written by Emmaretta Kimball, was published in 1852 under the title Letters from an Early Settler of Texas to a Friend. DeWees died in Colorado County on April 14, 1878.

GPS Coordinates
29° 42.328, -096° 33.071


Old City Cemetery
Columbus