May 25, 2010

William Joseph Stafford (?-1840?)

William J. 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

May 18, 2010

Robert Barr (1802-1839)

Robert Barr, soldier and first postmaster general of the Republic of Texas, was born in Ohio in 1802 and arrived in Texas before December 5, 1833. At the battle of San Jacinto he served as a private in Capt. William H. Patton's Fourth Company of Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers. On December 22, 1836, Sam Houston appointed Barr postmaster general. Mirabeau B. Lamar reappointed him, but Barr died in Houston on October 11, 1839, soon after the Lamar administration was inaugurated, and was buried with Masonic and Odd Fellows honors. Source

Note: This is a cenotaph. Founders Memorial Park, originally founded in 1836 as Houston's first city cemetery, was rapidly filled due to a yellow fever epidemic and closed to further burials around 1840. The cemetery became neglected over a period of time, often vandalized and was heavily damaged by the 1900 hurricane. In 1936, despite a massive clean up effort, a century of neglect had taken its toll. The vast majority of grave markers were either destroyed or missing and poor record keeping prevented locating individual graves. Several cenotaphs were placed in random areas throughout the park in honor of the more high-profile citizens buried there, but a great number of graves go unmarked to this day.

29° 45.450
-095° 22.768

Founders Memorial Park

May 11, 2010

Frederick Deetline (1846-1910)

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

May 4, 2010

James Jarrell "Jake" Pickle (1913-2005)

J. J. 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