December 29, 2009

Roy Perez Benavidez

   Medal of Honor recipient Roy Benavidez was born Raul Perez Benavidez at Cuero, Texas, August 5, 1935. His father was Salvador Benavidez, a Mexican American, and his mother was Teresa Perez, an American Yaqui Indian. Raul's parents died when he was a child, and he and his younger brother were then raised by their Uncle Nicholas and Aunt Alexandria at El Campo, Texas. He dropped out of school during the seventh grade and enlisted in the Texas National Guard at age seventeen. At nineteen he joined the Regular Army as Roy Perez Benavidez and got his infantry training at Fort Ord, California. By 1958 he had served in South Korea and Germany. Returning to the United States he married a childhood sweetheart, Lala Coy on June 7, 1959. They had three children. In 1959 he attended military police school at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

   He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division and in 1965 was in Vietnam as a military adviser to the Vietnamese Army. While on patrol he was badly wounded after stepping on a land mine and was evacuated to Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, with serious bone and cartilage damage to his spine. After a long period of treatment and rehabilitation he volunteered for a second tour in Vietnam, this time in the Special Forces as a Green Beret. On the morning of May 2, 1968, Sergeant Benavidez was in the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh, when rescue helicopters returned from Cambodia after an unsuccessful attempt to extract a Special Forces team. Benavidez volunteered for another rescue attempt, an event that would become "six hours in hell" in his own words. Reaching the pick-up zone, Sergeant Benavidez jumped from the helicopter and ran about eighty yards through withering fire to the embattled team. He was wounded in the right leg, face, and head. In spite of his injuries he directed the landing of the extraction helicopter and assisted in the loading of dead and wounded team members, and he then proceeded to collect classified papers and a radio from the dead team leader. During this action he continued to receive wounds from small arms fire and shrapnel. When the chopper pilot was shot and the rescue helicopter crashed Benavidez assisted the wounded and dazed men out of the overturned machine, and facing increasing enemy opposition, he called in tactical air strikes and directed supporting gunfire to attempt another rescue. He then began assisting the wounded aboard another helicopter. He sustained more injuries during hand-to-hand combat with an enemy soldier and also killed two others during the frantic rush to secure all the wounded. Benavidez received a total of seven bullet wounds to his legs and torso as well as numerous other bayonet and shrapnel cuts. His brave and decisive actions during the rescue attempt resulted in saving at least eight soldiers. He received four Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Service Cross. He was released from the hospital in 1969 after a year of intensive medical treatment and therapy and was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. In 1972 he was transferred to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where he served out the duration of his military career until his retirement on September 10, 1976.

   The unselfish devotion of Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez to his comrades, and to his country, was deserving of the Medal of Honor. Many of his comrades thought the recommendation for the MOH was submitted, but the award was not made at that time. Efforts were made on his behalf, sufficient witnesses were finally located, and the award was presented on February 24, 1981, by President Reagan, in the White House. Because this action, for which the award was made, took place in Cambodia, there has been some speculation that political embarrassment may have contributed to the delay. Benavidez retired with total disability from the United States Army in 1976 and moved to El Campo, Texas. After being notified in 1983 that his disability was being questioned by the Social Security Administration, he became a spokesperson for others who were being denied benefits. He was called to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Aging. His testimony contributed to the restoration of benefits to many recipients. Master Sergeant Benavidez died at the age of sixty-three on November 29, 1998, at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He was buried with full military honors in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. On July 21, 2001, the U. S. Navy christened the USNS Benavidez, a roll-on/roll-off cargo ship in honor of the military hero. Source

Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team's position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team's position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy's fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader's body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy's fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez' gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.

29° 28.586, -098° 25.976

Section AI
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio

December 25, 2009

Woodward Maurice "Tex" Ritter

   Tex Ritter, country singer and movie star, son of James Everett and Elizabeth (Matthews) Ritter, was born Woodward Maurice Ritter on January 12, 1905, in Murvaul, Panola County. Ritter's signature as a student at the University of Texas shows that he spelled his first name Woodard (not Woodward), and a delayed birth certificate filed in Panola County in 1942 also shows the spelling Woodard; however, all printed sources use the spelling Woodward. He moved to Nederland in Jefferson County, to live with a sister, and graduated from South Park High School in nearby Beaumont. He attended the University of Texas from 1922 to 1927, spending one year in the law school there, 1925-26. As a student he was influenced by J. Frank Dobie, Oscar J. Fox, and John A. Lomax - who encouraged his study of authentic cowboy songs. Ritter, more interested in music, did not take a degree; for a time he was president of the Men's Glee Club at the university. He also attended Northwestern University for one year in 1929 before he began singing western and mountain songs on radio station KPRC in Houston in 1929.

   The following year he was with a musical troupe touring the South and the Midwest; by 1931 he was in New York and had joined the Theatre Guild. His role in Green Grow the Lilacs (predecessor to the musical Oklahoma) drew attention to the young "cowboy," and he became the featured singer with the Madison Square Garden Rodeo in 1932. Further recognition led to his starring in one of the first western radio programs to be featured in New York, The Lone Star Rangers. His early appeal to New Yorkers as the embodiment of a Texas cowboy, in spite of his roots in the rural southern music tradition, undoubtedly led to his first movie contract in 1936.

   Tex appeared in eighty-five movies, including seventy-eight Westerns, and was ranked among the top ten money-making stars in Hollywood for six years. Although his movies owed much to the genre begun by other singing cowboys such as Gene Autry, Ritter used traditional folk songs in his movies rather than the modern "western" ditties. Films such as Arizona Frontier (1940), The Utah Trail (1938), and Roll Wagons Roll (1939) earned him a reputation for ambitious plots and vigorous action not always found in low-budget Westerns. Tex Ritter's successful recordings, which began with Rye Whiskey in 1931, included over the years High Noon (1952), Boll Weevil (1945), Wayward Wind, Hillbilly Heaven, and You Are My Sunshine (1946). Ranch Party, a television series featuring Ritter, ran from 1959 to 1962. His version of High Noon from the highly-acclaimed movie High Noon won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1953.

   He was married to Dorothy Fay Southworth on June 14, 1941; they were the parents of two sons. His younger son, John, became well-known through his television shows, Three's Company and Hearts Afire. In 1964 Tex Ritter was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, only the fifth person to be so honored; he also served as president of the Country Music Association from 1963 to 1965 and joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1965. In 1970 he made an unsuccessful bid for the United States Senate seat from Tennessee. He died in Nashville, Tennessee, on January 2, 1974; funeral services were held in Nederland, Texas, near Port Neches, and he was buried at Oak Bluff Memorial Park in nearby Port Neches.

   In 1980 he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The Texas Ritter Museum opened on October 18, 1992, in Carthage, Texas, (in Panola County) and contained memorabilia from his career. In 1998 he was an inaugural inductee into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, also located in Carthage, and in 2003 both the Texas Ritter Museum and Texas Country Music Hall of Fame were housed together. Ritter has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is also honored in the Museum of the Gulf Coast’s Music Hall of Fame in Port Arthur. Source

30° 00.096, -093° 57.759

Section 8
Oak Bluff Memorial Park
Port Neches

December 22, 2009

William Joseph Stafford

   William Stafford, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was a native of Tennessee. His first wife, Martha Donnelle, died in 1818; they had four children. He soon married Martha Cartwright, with whom he had four children. He had operated plantations in both Mississippi and Louisiana before moving to Texas in 1822 as an original member of the first Austin colony. On August 16, 1824, he received title to 1½ leagues and a labor now in Fort Bend and Waller counties. The census of March 1826 listed him as a farmer and stock raiser aged between forty and fifty. That year his family consisted of his wife, a son, a daughter, two servants, and eight slaves. Two of his sons by his first marriage, Harvey and Adam Stafford, were grown by that time, and their sisters had married Clement C. Dyer and William Neal. The Fort Bend County plantation called Stafford's Point had a cane mill and a horse-powered gin. Because the Staffords feared that the Mexican government would free their slaves, the second Mrs. Stafford spent much of her time moving them back and forth across the Sabine River. In June 1835 Stafford killed a man named Moore and fled to the United States. On April 15, 1836, while the family was away, a detachment of Mexican soldiers led by Antonio López de Santa Anna halted at Stafford's plantation. Upon resuming their march, the soldiers burned the Stafford residence and the gin houses. In October 1836 Stafford appointed his wife his agent and attorney in Texas and gave much of his Texas property to his four grown children. In December 1838 fifty citizens of Fort Bend County petitioned Congress to permit Stafford to return home and be exempt from judicial prosecution on the grounds that Moore, the man he had killed, had been "destitute of character" and was "much addicted to brawls." Stafford, the petitioners argued, was ordinarily a peace-loving and enterprising citizen and had killed Moore only after much provocation. On December 27, 1838, the House recommended executive clemency. Stafford returned to live at Stafford's Point until his death, sometime before September 25, 1840, when Clement Dyer was appointed administrator of his estate. Source

Note: Unmarked. Originally this small piece of land was part of William Joseph Stafford's plantation grounds, which had a small family cemetery. The specific location of this cemetery is uncertain, but in the 1960s local historians deemed this spot as the most likely area for the graveyard and several historical markers have been erected here denoting it so. The GPS coordinates given below are taken from the Texas-shaped memorial shown below.

29° 36.349, -095° 35.158

William J. Stafford Cemetery

December 18, 2009

Frederick Deetline

   Frederick Deetline was born in 1846 at Offenheim, Germany and enlisted in the U.S. Army from Baltimore, MD in the 1870s. He was one of twenty-four soldiers of the 7th Cavalry to earn the Medal of Honor during the Battle of the Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876, often called "Custer's Last Stand." Four brave troopers exposed themselves to the enemy for four hours from a position ahead of the line while Private Deetline and fourteen of his comrades slipped out of the right wing of Captain Benteen's line to cross eighty yards of fire-swept ground to reach a deep ravine. With camp kettles, the fifteen men made repeated trips to the river while under protective fire from the four troopers in the front of the line. Despite the great danger, and Indian warriors who concealed themselves in bushes along the river in order to ambush the party, only one of these men was wounded. Had not the critical supply of water been obtained, many more of the wounded would have died. He attained the rank of Quartermaster Sergeant before leaving the Army and died in Bexar County on December 13, 1910.

Voluntarily brought water to the wounded under fire.

29° 25.281, -098° 28.031

Section F
San Antonio National Cemetery
San Antonio

December 15, 2009

James Jarrell Pickle

   James Jarrell (Jake) Pickle, who styled himself as one of the "LBJ Boys," served thirty-one years in Lyndon Johnson's Central Texas Congressional seat and became one of the nation's foremost experts and defenders of Social Security and a supporter of civil rights and tax reform.

   Pickle was born on October 11, 1913, in the small West Texas ranching community of Roscoe. He was one of five children of Joseph Binford Pickle, who was born in Tennessee, and Mary Theresa Duke Pickle, who was born in Lampasas County. Both parents taught school, and his father engaged in numerous, often unsuccessful business ventures. Jake, as he was nicknamed at age four, spent most of his youth in Big Spring where his father owned the White House grocery store and served as mayor in the 1930s. Jake graduated from Big Spring High School and enrolled at the University of Texas in 1932. Pickle lived at the university's Little Campus, held a part-time job at the Capitol, and joined the university swimming and wrestling teams. He won election as student body president, befriended future Texas governor John Connally, and graduated in 1938. During his campaign at the university, Pickle first used his "Pickle Pins," small lapel pins in the shape of a pickle. These became a trademark of all his future campaigns.

After graduation Pickle worked for the National Youth Administration (NYA) as an area supervisor and NYA district director in Austin and corresponded with newly elected congressman and former NYA director Lyndon Johnson. The two finally met when Johnson summoned Pickle to Washington, D.C., to discuss a proposed highway project from the Highland Lakes to Austin. From this point on, Pickle became one of Johnson's closest associates. Later in life Pickle considered Johnson and Connally the two men who had had the greatest impact on his political career.

   In 1942 Pickle married Ella "Sugar" Nora Critz, daughter of Judge Richard Critz, and then enlisted in the navy for three and a half years of service during World War II. He served in the South Pacific as a gunnery officer on the USS St. Louis, which was torpedoed, and the USS Miami. The navy discharged him as a lieutenant senior grade in September 1945. When he returned to Austin, he joined radio station KTBC, which was owned by Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. Pickle joined other Johnson supporters at the station, including Connally, Ed Syers, Edward Aubrey Clark, Walter Jenkins, J. C. Kellam, Sherman Birdwell, and others with whom he would forge lifetime friendships and working relationships. He went on to co-found radio station KVET. In 1949 Pickle became a partner in the Syers-Pickle and Winn advertising firm in Austin.

   During the 1950s Pickle became embroiled in the struggle between the liberal and conservative wings of the Texas Democratic party. Pickle sided with conservative governor Allen Shivers against his more liberal challenger Ralph Yarborough. Working for Shivers's reelection in 1954, Pickle's advertising firm produced one of the first negative television advertisements in American history, The Port Arthur Story, which was a turning point in the closely contested election. Pickle later denied his direct involvement, saying the ad "left a bad taste in my mouth," and once elected to public office said that "I never ran another negative, misleading campaign ad." Pickle worked with Johnson and Sam Rayburn to maintain control over the party during the tumultuous 1950s. Governor Price Daniel appointed Pickle as a board member of the Texas Employment Commission. In 1952 Pickle lost his wife Sugar to breast cancer. He married Beryl Bolton McCarroll in 1960.

   In 1963 Tenth District Congressman Homer Thornberry resigned to accept an appointment by President John Kennedy to the Federal bench. With Vice President Lyndon Johnson's support, Pickle won the special election only days after President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. In the aftermath of the Kennedy Assassination, Pickle was sworn in on Christmas Eve 1963. Congressman Pickle cast his first vote that same day for the sale of wheat to Russia.

   When Congress convened in 1964 it faced a volatile issue in the Civil Rights Act. Pickle was one of five southern Democrats in Congress to vote for the historic legislation, and President Johnson called after the vote to congratulate his protégé. Pickle later described the vote as the most difficult one he ever made. Throughout the next few years, Pickle consistently voted for Johnson's Great Society programs.

   Pickle became a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee in 1975. As his seniority and knowledge increased, Pickle worked long hours on tax reform, health care, welfare, and Social Security legislation. He worked to broaden the student loan program to ensure more citizens could obtain financial support for higher education. He became a leading advocate for federal funding for scientific and energy research, especially at the University of Texas. He also worked to establish federal support for rural water systems. In 1979 he became chairman of the Social Security subcommittee. As chairman, he became an outspoken leader in the fight to preserve the solvency of the nation's largest federal program. "We raised the rates, we cut out some of the welfare, we extended the benefits. We did a lot of things," Pickle remarked after passage of the landmark Social Security Reform Bill of 1983. He also preserved Social Security benefits for people with disabilities after thousands had lost their disability benefits during the Reagan administration.

   As a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, Pickle challenged many of the nation's largest corporations and religious organizations and fought for more scrutiny of tax-exempt organizations. He confronted American businesses for under funding pension funds. The Pension Reform Act of 1994 provided for more disclosure and more stringent requirements for privately funded programs that disallowed excessive bonuses, equipment, and other provisions to protect employee-funded programs.

   During his more than thirty years in the Congress, Pickle's popularity increased steadily. His special chili, served on Independence Day or San Jacinto Day, became a favorite of his Congressional colleagues. He seldom faced serious opposition, and in the few elections in which he was challenged he handily defeated both Democratic and Republican opponents. He continued his support for research and development and assistance to technology companies who found a home in his Central Texas district. In 1994 the University of Texas System Board of Regents renamed the Balcones Research Center in Austin the J. J. Pickle Research Campus for his longtime support of the university and scientific research. A major scholarship fund in Pickle's name was established at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and a chair in the UT government department was named in his honor. The J. J. "Jake" Pickle Federal Building was named in his honor in Austin. Pickle ended his long career in public office when he announced that he would not seek reelection in 1994.

   Pickle and his wife retired to Austin where he remained active in civic and university affairs. He frequently ate lunch at Luby's Cafeteria and participated in the Founders Lions Club of Austin. In 1997 he and his daughter Peggy Pickle published Jake, an autobiography. He died at his Austin home on June 18, 2005, of lymphoma and prostate cancer. Pickle is buried in the State Cemetery in Austin. Source

30° 15.933, -097° 43.637

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

December 11, 2009

Warren DeWitt Clinton Hall

   Warren D. C. Hall, early settler, was born in Union County, South Carolina, in 1794, the son of Warren and Mary Sims Hall. As a youth, he moved with his family to Louisiana. He studied law in Natchitoches and in 1812 joined the Mexican Republican Army of the North, under José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara and Augustus W. Magee. He was elected a captain in the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition and participated in the opening engagements, including the battle of Rosillo in 1813. He resigned his command and returned to Louisiana in protest against the butchery of royalist prisoners, reportedly ordered by Gutiérrez, at Alazán Heights. In November 1814, Hall volunteered to serve six months with a company of Louisiana volunteers and participated in the defense of New Orleans against the British as the War of 1812 ended. He received a bounty land warrant for 160 acres for his service.

   In 1816-1817 Hall participated in filibustering expeditions, including one led by Francisco Xavier Mina and Gen. Louis Michel Aury that occupied Galveston Island. He also supported the revolutionary movement headed by Gen. James Long in 1819-1820. Though he allegedly befriended Jean Laffite on Galveston Island, Hall took no part in the buccaneer’s sometimes questionable activities.

   In November 1828 Hall and his wife, Julietta, a native of New York, settled near Columbia in Brazoria County. After taking an oath of allegiance to the Mexican government on December 21, 1829, Hall quickly became active in colonial affairs. In 1832 he was second in command of the Texans at Anahuac in the protest against John Davis Bradburn and participated in the battle of Velasco. In October he attended the Convention of 1832 at San Felipe as a delegate from Liberty Municipality. Affairs were for a time quiet, and Hall retired to his farm. He was among the charter members of the first Masonic lodge in Texas, organized at Brazoria by John A. Wharton in 1834, and helped train William T. Austin for a duel with Wharton that year.

   In 1835 Hall was made a member of the committee of safety at Columbia, and in November represented Columbia at the Consultation. After the revolution broke out he was able to advance Stephen F. Austin $500 in an 1835 campaign for "expresses, spies, corn, beeves, etc." Hall was appointed adjutant general by David G. Burnet early in 1836 and later acted as secretary of war of the Republic of Texas while Thomas J. Rusk was with the army. Hall held the rank of colonel and commanded the post at Velasco until May 26, after independence had been won at San Jacinto. He again served the republic in September 1842, when he joined the forces that expelled Adrián Woll.

   After 1836 Hall practiced law in Brazoria County for several years and served three years (1843-46) as justice of the peace. He established China Grove Plantation, fourteen miles south of Houston, and raised sugar. Tax rolls for 1840 showed that he owned more than 17,000 acres of land and ninety slaves. In 1843, however, financial difficulties, which plagued him throughout his years in Texas, forced him to sell China Grove to Albert Sidney Johnston. He continued to reside in Brazoria County during the early 1850s when he surveyed and speculated in choice bottomland in Harris County and helped finance the building of the Columbus Tap Railroad.

   By January 1853, Hall moved to west Galveston Island where is resided at a home called “Three Trees” and maintained a ferry to Velasco. He died of a stroke in Galveston in April 1867 and was buried in the Trinity Episcopal Cemetery there. His wife Juliette lived in Galveston until her death in March 1878. Hall County, which was created in 1876 and organized in 1890, was named in honor of Warren D. C. Hall. Source

29° 17.617, -094° 48.728

Trinity Episcopal Cemetery

December 8, 2009

Frederick W. Ogden

   Frederick W. Ogden, lawyer and political figure, was born in Kentucky about 1808. He had arrived in Texas by 1839, and ultimately settled in San Augustine, where he became the district attorney of the First Judicial District. He later moved to Jefferson County; there he secured a land certificate in 1842. Voters from that county elected him to the House of the Eighth Congress of the Republic of Texas, 1843-44. During that assembly Ogden was known as an advocate of annexation. He returned to Jefferson County and was appointed a notary public on February 1, 1850. Although trained in both medicine and law, he practiced only the latter while in Texas. He and his wife, Mary, a native of New York, had at least five children. According to the 1850 census Ogden's real estate was valued at just over $1,500. A brother, James Ogden, was killed on the Mier expedition after drawing a black bean. Frederick Ogden died in Beaumont about 1859. Source

30° 06.104, -094° 06.042

Magnolia Cemetery

December 4, 2009

Lost Burial Place of the Alamo Defenders

   About a mile from the site of the Alamo and Pompeo Coppini’s grand cenotaph, is a modest plot in one of the old San Antonio city cemeteries. Only a thick chain and a recently erected historical marker delineates the plot from nearby civilian tombstones.

   There are several accounts of what happened immediately after the Alamo fell. Since victors usually write the history, Mexican historians have their take (the official but widely-believed-to-be-inflated report sent to Mexico City by Santa Anna). Historians in the United States seem a little more concerned with what happened to the men who were taken prisoner that morning, or indeed, if there were any prisoners. All accounts say that the bodies were burned and the site of Coppini’s cenotaph is a logical place for the pyre to have been. In Lone Star, historian T.R. Fehrenbach stated: “The charred remains of the Alamo dead were dumped in a common grave. Its location went unrecorded and was never found.” The story of this tiny 10 X 10 plot, surely the least-frequented site in the whole Alamo epic, is best told by the text on the historical marker. Source

Lost Burial Place of the Alamo Defenders
San Antonio Express
July 6, 1906
August Beisenbach, city clerk of San Antonio states that when he was an 8 year old boy playing on the Alameda (Commerce St.) he witnessed the exhuming of bodies or remains consisting of bones and fragments of bones, of victims of the siege of The Alamo that had been interred near the place where the bodies had been burned and originally buried, and saw their transfers from that place to the old cemetery, on Powder House Hill (Oddfellows Cemetery) this, he states happened in 1856. The fragments of the bodies had first been buried in 1836 and some in 1837. Mr. Beisenbach states that these bodies are buried midway between the monuments of Capt. R.A. Gillaspie and Capt. Samuel H. Walker.
29° 25.277, -098° 28.182

Odd Fellows Cemetery
San Antonio

December 1, 2009

Cameron Hill

   Cameron Hill was born Maurice Cameron Hill (he later dropped his first name) on February 7, 1919, in Rusk, Texas, to Annie V. and Henry T. Hill. Both parents were music lovers and encouraged their son to sing and play the guitar. The eldest of seven children, Hill began playing when he was nine. By 1930 he was playing guitar and singing on KLUF radio in Galveston; his father accompanied him on mandolin.

   While still a teenager, Hill joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the mid-1930s and helped build roads and parks in East Texas. His cousin Truman Welch, also a guitarist, also joined the CCC, and together they played music at any venue where they could earn money. Hill and Welch performed with the Vance Brothers in Palestine, and in 1939 they joined Moon Mullican's outfit, the Night Riders. Later, Hill and fiddle player Leo “Micky” Lane moved to Illinois for several months, then returned to Texas and played beer joints with Shelly Lee Alley in Houston.

   In December 1939 Hill joined the Texas Wanderers who were being heard on Houston’s KXYZ radio. His first recordings were with the Texas Wanderers for Decca in April 1940. The band included pianist and singer Moon Mullican. When Mullican left the Texas Wanderers, most of the band, including Hill, left with him and they headed for Beaumont, where they played on KFDM radio as Moon Mullican's Texas Wanderers. When this band broke up in 1941, Hill went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and joined his cousin Truman Welch to work with Pee Wee Roberts & His Skyliners on KTHS radio.

   In 1942 Hill joined the Village Boys, broadcasting on Houston’s KTRH radio during the day and playing at clubs in the evenings. While in Houston, he met fellow guitarist Jimmy Wyble, and the two became firm friends and headed for the West Coast in 1943. They were strongly influenced by the newly-emerging swing jazz form which gave a voice to the electric guitar, particularly that of Charlie Christian. Hill and Wyble recreated Charlie Christian’s solos, which Hill could play note for note.

   Hill, Wyble, and noted steel guitarist Noel Boggs were playing in a small Los Angeles club where they met pianist Millard Kelso, who was playing with Bob Wills. Kelso suggested that they audition for Wills and set up the meeting. The three played with Wills at the Santa Monica Ballroom. Hill and Wyble made such an impression that they were hired on the spot; Boggs joined shortly after. At the time, Hill and Wyble set the standard for electric twin guitar leads and solos in western swing.

   From 1944 until 1945, Cameron Hill played and recorded with the Texas Playboys and can be heard on Armed Forces Radio transcriptions. He also worked in movies with Wills, including Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys (1944), Rhythm Round-Up (1945), Blazing the Western Trail (1945), and The Lawless Empire (1945).

   In spring 1944 Wills organized his largest band to date, with seventeen instrumentalists and two vocalists. Hill and Wyble were the guitarists. But this version of the Playboys only lasted about six months. While with the Playboys, Hill met and married Wills's first female vocalist, twenty-four-year-old Laura Lee Owens. In December 1945 Hill and Owens left the Playboys and returned to Houston. Cameron joined the military, and Laura joined Dickie McBride's band. In 1946 they were divorced.

   Hill worked and recorded with Dickie Jones and the Skyliners in Houston, but by 1947 he had moved back to Los Angeles, where he played on Roy Rogers’s recordings of With A Sweep of My Sombrero, Old-Fashioned Cowboy, and Betsy. Hill was then hired by Spade Cooley and reunited with Jimmy Wyble, who was also in the Cooley band. While playing with Cooley in 1948, Hill met vocalist Becky (Mary Ruth) Barfield, who had performed at the Grand Ole Opry and reportedly taught Eddy Arnold how to yodel. Hill and Barfield were married in 1949.

   Bob Wills’s vocalist Tommy Duncan left the Texas Playboys in 1948 and joined forces with his brother, bassist-vocalist Glynn Duncan. They recruited Cameron Hill, Jimmy Wyble, Millard Kelso, Noel Boggs, Joe Holley, and Ocie Stockard to form the Western All Stars. Hill, Wyble and Boggs left the All Stars in July 1949. Hill then worked with his wife in the Wade Ray Band, before moving on to lead his own band, the Texas Sundowners. The Texas Sundowners worked in Los Angeles and made regular trips back to Houston, where Hill, between 1951 and 1954, played recording sessions and worked with local bands. He moved back to Houston in 1954.

   In May 1955 at ACA Studios in Houston, Hill played on a session with Slim Whitman, which produced the hit, I'll Never Stop Loving You. In 1955 he played on Floyd Tillman’s recording, Baby, I Just Want You, which Hill co-wrote with Tillman.

   Returning to California in 1956, Hill rejoined Wade Ray’s western swing band and played on radio and television and worked in clubs. Becky Hill joined the band some time later. In 1958 Cameron Hill played on what were to be his last recording sessions, with piano player Merrill Moore. These tracks were a mix of light jazz and popular music, recorded for Capitol, and included Music, Music, Music and Back Home in Indiana.

   Becky Hill passed away in 1958 in California. Hill left the West Coast, returned to Texas, and then went to Las Vegas to work in the Golden Nugget’s house band. He returned to Houston in 1961. In 1962 Hill, dogged by illness, moved in with his sister and brother in-law, Colleen and E. B. Wheeler, in Pasadena. His children, Rebecca and Cameron, went to live with family members in Pearland. Cameron Hill died in Houston, on June 22, 1962. He was buried at Rosewood Park Cemetery near Humble. Source

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Section 19
Rosewood Funeral Home and Cemetery