March 30, 2010

Julissa D'Anne Gomez (1972-1991)

Julissa D'anne Gomez was born in San Antonio, Texas, the younger of two daughters born to a pair of former migrant farm workers from Laredo. Her parents, Otilia and Ramiro, worked their way up from their farm working days to become a teacher and a welder, respectively, and struggled to keep their family together while giving 10-year-old budding gymnast Julissa a chance to train with renowned gymnastics coach Béla Károlyi in Houston. At the 1986 U.S. Championships, she placed fourth in the all-around in the junior division and won a place on the U.S. National Team. By 1987 she was representing the United States in international meets. Especially strong on the uneven bars and balance beam, Gomez was considered a legitimate contender for the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.

In mid-1987, Gomez, wanting to move further up the rankings and reportedly frustrated with Károlyi's sometimes abusive training methods, decided to leave the Károlyis. After briefly training at US Acrosports in Webster, Texas, Gomez's search for a new coach led her to select Al Fong, who was the trainer of another up-and-coming gymnast eager to make the 1988 Olympic team, Christy Henrich. Though her parents had vowed to keep the family together no matter where Julissa's career took her, they decided that Ramiro would move with Julissa to Blue Springs, Missouri, where Fong's gymnastics club, Great American Gymnastics Express, was located, while Otilla would remain behind until Julissa's older sister Kristy finished school for the year. In May 1988, several months before the Olympics, she traveled with her coach to Tokyo, Japan, to compete in the World Sports Fair. During the all-around competition, Gomez qualified for the vault finals. However, observers had noticed her struggle with the apparatus over the months leading up to the competition, including her former coach Béla Károlyi, past and present teammates, and even her present coach Al Fong. Gomez's technique on the extremely difficult Yurchenko vault had been described as shaky at best, and Gomez was unable to perform the vault with any consistency during practices, sometimes missing her feet on the springboard. However, Julissa's coaches insisted that she needed to continue training and competing the Yurchenko vault in order to achieve high scores.

During warmups for the final, held on May 5, 1988, Gomez continued to practice the Yurchenko. As she raced toward the vault on one of her practice runs, her foot slipped off the springboard and her head hit the vaulting horse at high speed. The resulting impact instantly paralyzed her from the neck down. A subsequent accident at a Japanese hospital, in which she became disconnected from her ventilator, resulted in severe brain damage and left her in a catatonic state. Her family cared for her for three years before she succumbed to an infection and died in August 1991 in Houston, just three months shy of her nineteenth birthday. The tragedy stands as one of the most serious accidents ever to occur in artistic gymnastics, and helped prompt changes in the sport. In 1989, the International Gymnastics Federation decided to increase vaulting safety by allowing U-shaped springboard mats, traditionally utilized in practice to give all gymnasts a greater margin of error in preflight, to be used during competitions. The mat is now mandatory: as of the 2006 Code of Points, performing a Yurchenko-style vault without the safety mat results in an automatic score of zero. In 2001, the traditional horse was completely phased out and replaced by a larger, more stable vaulting table to provide gymnasts with additional safety.

COORDINATES
29° 47.283
-095° 28.755

Block 1
Woodlawn Garden of Memories
Houston

March 23, 2010

Cecil Hamilton Bolton (1908-1964)

WWII Medal of Honor recipient Cecil Bolton was born on October 7, 1908 in Crawfordville, Florida. He joined the Army from Huntsville, Alabama in July 1942, and by November 2, 1944 was serving as a first lieutenant in Company E, 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division. On that day, near the Mark river in North Brabant, the Netherlands, he was seriously wounded in the legs by a German artillery shell. Despite these wounds, he took two men and led them in a successful assault against three German positions which were firing on his company. Wounded a second time, he ordered his two companions to leave him behind and head for the safety of the American lines. He then crawled the rest of the way back to his company. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor ten months later, on September 1, 1945. Bolton reached the rank of colonel before leaving the Army. He died at age 56 and was buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio.

CITATION
As leader of the weapons platoon of Company E, 413th Infantry, on the night of 2 November 1944, he fought gallantly in a pitched battle which followed the crossing of the Mark River in Holland. When 2 machine guns pinned down his company, he tried to eliminate, with mortar fire, their grazing fire which was inflicting serious casualties and preventing the company's advance from an area rocked by artillery shelling. In the moonlight it was impossible for him to locate accurately the enemy's camouflaged positions; but he continued to direct fire until wounded severely in the legs and rendered unconscious by a German shell. When he recovered consciousness he instructed his unit and then crawled to the forward rifle platoon positions. Taking a two-man bazooka team on his voluntary mission, he advanced chest deep in chilling water along a canal toward 1 enemy machine gun. While the bazooka team covered him, he approached alone to within 15 yards of the hostile emplacement in a house. He charged the remaining distance and killed the 2 gunners with hand grenades. Returning to his men he led them through intense fire over open ground to assault the second German machine gun. An enemy sniper who tried to block the way was dispatched, and the trio pressed on. When discovered by the machine gun crew and subjected to direct fire, 1st Lt. Bolton killed 1 of the 3 gunners with carbine fire, and his 2 comrades shot the others. Continuing to disregard his wounds, he led the bazooka team toward an 88-mm. artillery piece which was having telling effect on the American ranks, and approached once more through icy canal water until he could dimly make out the gun's silhouette. Under his fire direction, the two soldiers knocked out the enemy weapon with rockets. On the way back to his own lines he was again wounded. To prevent his men being longer subjected to deadly fire, he refused aid and ordered them back to safety, painfully crawling after them until he reached his lines, where he collapsed. 1st Lt. Bolton's heroic assaults in the face of vicious fire, his inspiring leadership, and continued aggressiveness even through suffering from serious wounds, contributed in large measure to overcoming strong enemy resistance and made it possible for his battalion to reach its objective.

COORDINATES
29° 28.697
-098° 25.960

Section PC
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio

March 16, 2010

Ernest Anyz "Chief" Koy (1909-2007)

Chief Koy was born in Sealy, Texas on September 17, 1909. While attending the University of Texas he was a fullback on the football team from 1930 to 1932. He played as an outfielder on the baseball team from 1931 to 1933 and served as captain in 1933. After signing with the New York Yankees, his contract was sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1938. He hit a home run in his first at bat with the Dodgers on April 19, and played 142 games that season as an outfielder and one game as a third baseman. He finished the year ranking second in the NL with 15 stolen bases, and ninth with a .468 slugging average. He appeared in 125 games during the 1939 season, and 24 during the 1940 season as an outfielder. In 1940 he batted .301 for the Dodgers.

He was traded on June 12, 1940 to the St. Louis Cardinals with Bert Haas, Sam Nahem and Carl Doyle and $125,000 for Curt "Coonskin" Davis and Joe "Ducky" Medwick. He played 91 games as an outfielder with the Cardinals in 1940, and 12 games of the 1941 season with the Cardinals. He was traded from the Cardinals to the Cincinnati Reds on May 14, 1941. He played 49 games of the remaining 1941 season in a Reds uniform. He was sold by the Reds to the Philadelphia Phillies on May 2, 1942. He appeared in 78 games with the Phillies, and was eventually released from his contract May 27, 1946 after serving in the Navy during World War II. He ended his career with a .279 batting average, 36 home runs, 260 runs batted in, 238 runs, 515 hits and 40 stolen bases in 558 games. In 1960, he was inducted into the University of Texas Longhorn Hall of Fame. Koy died on January 1, 2007 at age 97 at his home in Bellville, Texas, one month after breaking his hip.

COORDINATES
29° 56.744
-096° 14.997


Oak Knoll Cemetery
Bellville

March 9, 2010

Jonathan C. Peyton (?-1834)

Jonathan C. Peyton, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was probably the son of John E. Peyton of Tennessee. He was living in Nashville when he married Angelina Belle, later known as Angelina Belle Eberly. The Peytons lived for a time in New Orleans, then on June 2, 1822, left there on the ship Good Intent and on June 18 landed at Matagorda, Texas. They lived for brief periods at Hawkins Landing and at McCluskey's Tanyard and made a crop in 1823 on land near Jesse Burnam's In late 1823 and in 1824 Peyton was at Nacogdoches and at Natchitoches, Louisiana. He finally settled at San Felipe de Austin in October 1825. The census of March 1826 listed him as a farmer and stock raiser, aged between twenty-five and forty. His household included his wife, a young son, and two servants. Peyton was not altogether satisfied with his treatment by Stephen F. Austin but applied for land in the Austin colony; in 1827, as one of the Old Three Hundred settlers, he received title to a league on the east bank of the Colorado River, about three miles northwest of what would become Lake Austin, in an area that became Matagorda County. Peyton operated a ferry and freighting service and had a tavern at San Felipe. He died in San Felipe in May 1834, leaving his widow and two children, Alexander and Margaret. An inventory of his property at the time of his death included eight slaves and four town lots in San Felipe. Mrs. Peyton operated the tavern until San Felipe was burned in 1836. Subsequently she moved to Columbia, where she married Jacob Eberly. Source

Note: Unmarked. During the Texas Revolution, the town of San Felipe was largely destroyed by Mexican troops chasing after the Texan army. Nothing was spared, not even the town graveyard. The majority of those buried here prior to 1836 are no longer marked, so although Jonathan Peyton is known to be buried here, the exact location has been lost. The photo below shows the oldest section of the cemetery where it is possible he still rests.

COORDINATES
N/A


San Felipe de Austin Cemetery
San Felipe

March 2, 2010

Ira Ingram (1788-1837)

Ira Ingram, soldier, legislator, and member of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred, was born in Brookfield, Vermont, on August 19, 1788, the son of Phillip and Rachael (Burton) Ingram. After sojourning for a time in Tennessee he seems to have moved to New Orleans, where he married Emily B. Holt of Tennessee on March 13, 1823; she died in October 1824. They had one daughter. At the instigation of his brother Seth Ingram, Ira moved to Texas in January 1826 and settled in the Austin colony in the area that became Waller County. In 1828 he and his brother were partners in a merchandising establishment in San Felipe de Austin. Although defeated by Thomas M. Duke in the election for alcalde in 1832, Ingram represented the Mina District at the Convention of 1832 and San Felipe in the Convention of 1833. He also served as secretary of the local committee of public safety, organized to resist Mexican Centralist authority. In 1834 he was elected the first alcalde of Matagorda and wrote the Goliad Declaration of Independence, signed on December 22, 1835.

During the Texas Revolution, Ingram participated in the capture of Goliad as commissary and secretary to commandant Philip Dimmitt. In November 1835 he requested a transfer from Stephen F. Austin. He served in Capt. Thomas Stewart's company of Matagorda Volunteers in 1836. On April 5, 1836, Gen. Sam Houston ordered Ingram, then commissioned as a major, to return to East Texas and the United States to recruit volunteers for the Texas army. Ingram was Matagorda representative in the First Congress of the Republic of Texas and was elected speaker of the House. He resigned from the legislature on May 1, 1837, possibly because of the disclosure that he had once been convicted of forgery and imprisoned in New York. He was again elected mayor of Matagorda, but died on September 22, 1837, before his inauguration. Ingram was present at the first meeting of the Masonic fraternity in Texas on January 11, 1828. In his will he left $70,000 to the Matagorda schools. Source

COORDINATES
28° 42.030
-095° 57.282

Section E
Matagorda Cemetery
Matagorda