October 29, 2019

Olwyn J. Trask (?-1836)

Trask was born in Essex County, Massachusetts circa 1818 and arrived in Texas sometime between May 2, 1835 and March 2, 1836. He enlisted in the Texas Army and was attached to Captain William H. Smith's Cavalry Company. On the morning of April 20th, the day before the main battle, Colonel Sherman made an attempt to capture the Mexican's twelve-pounder long brass cannon; several horses were killed and wounded, and Trask had his thigh-bone broken, probably by a bullet. The wound was ministered to on the battlefield by Dr. Nicholas Labadie before he was conveyed with ad interim President Burnet to the hospital at Galveston, where he died three weeks later. On a joint monument erected in 1881 on the battlefield at the graves of those who fell in the battle, Mr. Trask's name is included among those buried there.

Note: This is a cenotaph. In 1881, a decision was made to place permanent memorials at the graves of those men who had been killed in the Battle of San Jacinto and buried on the battlefield. It was discovered, however, that all of the original wooden grave markers, except for Benjamin Brigham's, had rotted away and no one could remember exactly where the others rested. As a compromise, since the soldiers had been buried closely together, it was decided to place a cenotaph over Brigham's grave as a memorial to all of them.

29° 45.232
-095° 05.363

San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
La Porte

October 1, 2019

John R. Johnson (?-1852)

John R. Johnson, soldier of the Republic of Texas, was born in Virginia and immigrated to Texas in 1834. He served at the siege of Bexar and on March 31, 1836, enlisted in Sam Houston's army at Jared Groce's plantation on the Brazos River. At the battle of San Jacinto he served as a private in Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers. In 1838 Sam Houston used Johnson as a trusted courier for army dispatches; it was during this time Johnson began working as the deputy surveyor for Liberty County. In August 1842 Johnson was a major in the Texas militia at Swartwout. During the Mexican War a John R. Johnson served as a private in Capt. Robert A. Gillespie's Company I of Col. John Coffee Hays's First Regiment, Texas Mounted Riflemen, and later in Capt. Walter P. Lane's Company A of Maj. Michael H. Chevallie's battalion of Texas Mounted Volunteers. In the latter company Johnson was elected second sergeant, promoted to first sergeant on September 1, 1847, and reduced to private on March 1, 1848. He served a third enlistment in Capt. Mirabeau B. Lamar's company of Col. Peter H. Bell's regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers. On October 14, 1845, Johnson received his Donation Certificate No. 1211 for 640 acres of land for having participated in the Battle of San Jacinto. He was living near Coldspring in San Jacinto Country when he died in 1852. His grave is unmarked.


Oakwood Cemetery

September 24, 2019

Joseph "Papoose" Fritz (1924-1983)

Blues saxophonist Papoose Fritz was born in Houston on November 13, 1924. He allegedly earned his nickname "Papoose" because he thought he might have some Native American in him. His whereabouts and early life are somewhat of a mystery, although it is known he was on the road and in studios following big Texas blues names like Junior Parker, Huey Smith and Albert Collins, learning the performance side of the music business. Splitting his time between playing the saxophone onstage and in the studio as well as singing in front of his own band, his reputation grew among blues fans and fellow musicians. Sometime in the 40s he was drafted into the Navy to fight in World War II, and he left the service as a Steward 3rd Class. Back on the road in Texas, he recorded more than twenty tracks under his own name for labels Modern, Sittin' In With, Peacock or Jet Stream from 1950 to the late 1960's.

29° 55.826
-095° 26.153

Section I
Houston National Cemetery

September 17, 2019

Harry John "Jitterbug" LaSane (1924-1984)

Jitterbug LaSane was born in Houston on September 30, 1924. At fifteen, he lied about his age and joined the Army in 1939 for a five-year period, serving nearly his entire enlistment during World War II. It was during this period he met Marcus Lockman, a pro/am boxer who went by the odd nickname "Kid Chicken". Lockman saw something in LaSane and guided him into boxing, with Lockman serving as his manager. Once LaSane finished his enlistment, he and Lockman began training in a small club in Asbury Park, New Jersey. His first professional match (as a featherweight) was on March 27, 1946, taking his opponent Darnell Carter to a six round draw. Two weeks later, he beat Carter by points, again in six rounds.

Jitterbug (he got his nickname for the way he bobbed and weaved), also briefly known as "The Houston Hurricane", was not a big puncher and depended on speed and defense for his success. The strategy worked, and by the age of 21 LaSane had a record of 26 fights, 24 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw. LaSane sustained his dominance well through 1950, and  by the end of the year his record was a very impressive 57 wins, 16 losses and 3 draws. For some reason, however, after that date he only managed a dismal record of 0 wins, 17 losses and 1 draw - no wins in eighteen bouts. He continued to struggle for the rest of his professional career, and at the time of his retirement in April 1954, his final record was 57 wins, 33 losses and 4 draws.

29° 55.849
-095° 26.153

Section 1
Houston National Cemetery