December 27, 2011

James Power

   James Power, empresario and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in 1788 or 1789 in Ballygarrett, County Wexford, Ireland. In 1809 he immigrated to New Orleans, where he lived for twelve years and worked as a merchant. In New Orleans he learned from Stephen F. Austin of the empresario contracts being offered by the Mexican government and, in 1821, moved to Matamoros. He subsequently moved to Saltillo and became a citizen of Mexico. There he dealt in mining equipment and formed a partnership with James Hewetson. In 1828 Power and Hewetson received an empresario contract to settle 200 Catholic families, half Irish and half Mexican citizens, on the coast of Texas between the Lavaca and Guadalupe rivers. The contract was subsequently modified many times; by the early 1830s the Power and Hewetson colony included lands between Coleto Creek and the mouth of the Nueces.

   In the fall of 1835 Power participated in the Lipantitlán expedition and could not take his seat at the Consultation, to which he had been elected as representative from Refugio. He represented Refugio at the Convention of 1836 and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. He used his influence to persuade the 1836 convention to seat Sam Houston and also served on the committee that drafted the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. As Gen. José de Urrea's army advanced into the state, Power was sent to New Orleans to raise supplies for the Texas army. In 1837 Power founded the town of Aransas City by his home on Live Oak Point in present-day Aransas County on the Gulf Coast. He opened a mercantile and post office, built a wharf, and established a customs operation. With his partner Henry Smith, Power promoted the town and became mayor after its incorporation in January 1839. The town declined, however, and ceased to exist by the mid-1840s. He represented Refugio in the Second Congress and at the Convention of 1845. Power was first married to Dolores de la Portilla, daughter of Felipe Roque de la Portilla, in 1832. They had two children. After her death he married her sister, Tomasita, and fathered five more children. Power died on August 15, 1852, at his home, where he was buried. Subsequently, his remains were reinterred in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Refugio. The site of his homestead, Live Oak Point, was marked by the Texas Centennial Commission in 1936. Source 

28° 18.132, -097° 16.978

Mount Calvary Cemetery

December 20, 2011

Edwin Hawley "Eddie" Dyer

   Edwin Hawley Dyer, baseball player and manager, son of Joseph Dyer, was born in Morgan City, Louisiana, on October 11, 1900. After attending public schools there, he enrolled in Rice Institute, Houston, where he played football and baseball. He was a member of the class of 1924 but did not graduate until 1936, after playing with various minor-league baseball teams. As manager of the Houston club of the Texas League he won league championships in 1939, 1940, and 1941, and in 1942 he was named minor-league manager of the year for his direction of the Columbus, Ohio, team. Thereafter, he joined the St. Louis Cardinals and was manager of that club when it won the World Series in 1946 by beating the Boston Red Sox four games to three.

   After twenty-three years as a player, manager, and coach, Dyer moved to Houston in 1948 and opened an insurance office. He relinquished managership of the Cardinals in 1950. On January 2, 1962, he suffered a stroke and on April 20, 1964, died of a heart attack. He was described in the Official Encyclopedia of Baseball as a "slow-speaking and quick-thinking Texan" and was considered one of the best teachers and developers of young baseball talent. Source 

29° 43.032, -095° 18.227

Section 53
Forest Park Lawndale

December 13, 2011

Robert Allan Shivers

   Allan Shivers, governor of Texas, was born on October 5, 1907, in Lufkin, Texas, the son of Robert Andrew and Easter (Creasy) Shivers, and spent his early childhood at Magnolia Hills, the family home near Woodville. By the age of thirteen he was "doing a man's job" after school and during the summer at a nearby sawmill. When his father moved to Port Arthur, Shivers completed his secondary schooling, graduating from Port Arthur High School in 1924. He then entered the University of Texas, intent upon becoming a lawyer like his father. At the end of his first year he dropped out of school to work at an oil refinery in Port Arthur. But by 1928 he had reentered the University of Texas, determined to participate fully in campus life and to graduate. He ran for and was elected president of the Students' Association and was a member of the Friars, the Cowboys, and Delta Theta Phi law fraternity. In 1931 Shivers graduated with a B. A. degree and also passed the state bar exam, although he did not receive his LL. B. degree until two years later. He engaged in private law practice in Port Arthur until 1934, when he was elected as a Democrat to the state senate, at age twenty-seven the youngest member ever to sit in that body. In 1937 he married Marialice Shary of Mission, whose father, John H. Shary, was a prominent citrus fruit grower, cattleman, banker, and realtor in the Rio Grande valley. In 1943 Shivers entered the United States Army and during the next 2½ years served with the Allied Military Government in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany.

   Upon his discharge from the army in 1945 with the rank of major (with five battle stars and the Bronze Star), Shivers became general manager of his father-in-law's business enterprises. But he soon decided to pursue an ambitious political career. In 1946 he ran for and was elected state lieutenant governor; he was reelected two years later. Together with Democratic Governor Beauford H. Jester, Shivers helped bring Texas into the twentieth century. As lieutenant governor he initiated the practice of appointing senators to specific committees and setting the daily agenda. Subsequently, the Senate passed a right-to-work law, reorganized the public school system with the Gilmer-Aikin Laws, appropriated funds for higher education, including the Texas State University for Negroes (now Texas Southern University), and provided monies for improvements of state hospitals and highways. On July 11, 1949, Beauford Jester died; subsequently Shivers assumed the governorship, which he held effectively for the next 7½ years. During his tenure he pushed through significant legislation as well as reforms of state government. He helped create the Legislation Council, which researches and drafts bills, and the Legislative Budget Board, which sets the budget for legislative consideration. Shivers also expanded state services by pushing tax increases through the legislature. His administrations thus augmented appropriations for eleemosynary institutions, retirement benefits for state employees, aid for the elderly, teacher salaries, and improvements for roads and bridges. During his terms of office the legislature also enacted laws pertaining to safety inspection and driver responsibility, legislative redistricting in 1951 (the first in thirty years), and the expansion of juries and grand juries to include women in January 1955. But Shivers was probably best known for defending state claims to the Tidelands against the Truman administration and his break with the national Democratic party over this issue. As a result, he was instrumental in delivering the state's electoral votes in 1952 to Republican nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower and the subsequent congressional approval in 1953 of the state's claim to the Tidelands.

   During the last years of his governorship, his popularity diminished. Because of his support of Eisenhower in 1952 he was accused of disloyalty to the Democratic party. He also lost support for his opposition to Brown v Board of Education, which legally ended segregation. And even though Shivers was never implicated in any way, his administration became tainted with corruption because of state scandals involving insurance and veterans' lands. After retiring from politics in January 1957, Shivers served in a number of capacities. He actively managed vast business enterprises in the valley, which his wife inherited. He served on the board of directors or as chairman for a number of banks, including the Austin National Bank (later Interfirst Bank Austin) and Texas Commerce Bank. He was president of the United States Chamber of Commerce and, for a time, chairman of the advisory board of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. In 1973 Shivers was a appointed to a six-year term to the University of Texas Board of Regents, whereupon he served as chairman for four years. During this time he donated his Austin home, the historic Pease mansion, to the university to help raise funds for the UT law school. In 1980 he was instrumental in securing a $5 million grant for the UT College of Communications, which soon thereafter established an endowed chair of journalism in his honor. On January 14, 1985, Shivers died suddenly from a massive heart attack. He was survived by wife Marialice, three sons and a daughter, and ten grandchildren. Source 

30° 15.908, -097° 43.640

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

December 6, 2011

Milton Arthur Lee

   Milton A. Lee, Medal of Honor recipient, was born on February 28, 1949, at Shreveport, Louisiana, to Mr. and Mrs. George Lee. He attended Harlandale High School in San Antonio, Texas, then enlisted in the army there. Lee arrived in Vietnam in January 1968. At the time of his death he was a member of Company B, Second Battalion, 502nd Infantry, First Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, United States Army. On April 26, 1968, near Phu Bai, South Vietnam, Private First Class Lee was serving as radio-telephone operator for the Third Platoon when the unit came under intense fire from North Vietnamese regulars. Lee's platoon suffered casualties of 50 percent and maneuvered to a position of cover to regroup and tend to the wounded. Lee rendered lifesaving first aid while under heavy enemy fire.

   During a subsequent assault on the enemy position he observed four enemy soldiers, armed with automatic weapons and a rocket launcher, lying in wait for the lead element of the platoon. He passed his radio to another soldier and with disregard for his safety charged through the heavy fire. He overran the enemy position, killed all the occupants, and captured their weapons. He continued his assault on a second enemy position. Grievously wounded, he delivered accurate covering fire until the platoon destroyed the enemy position. Only then did he succumb to his wounds. His heroic action saved the lives of the lead element and was instrumental in the destruction of the key position of the enemy defense. The Medal of Honor was presented to his grandmother and guardian, Mrs. Frank B. Campion, by President Richard M. Nixon at the White House, on April 7, 1970. Lee is buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery at San Antonio, Texas. Source 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Lee distinguished himself near the city of Phu Bai in the province of Thua Thien. Pfc. Lee was serving as the radio telephone operator with the 3d platoon, Company B. As lead element for the company, the 3d platoon received intense surprise hostile fire from a force of North Vietnamese Army regulars in well-concealed bunkers. With 50 percent casualties, the platoon maneuvered to a position of cover to treat their wounded and reorganize, while Pfc. Lee moved through the heavy enemy fire giving lifesaving first aid to his wounded comrades. During the subsequent assault on the enemy defensive positions, Pfc. Lee continuously kept close radio contact with the company commander, relaying precise and understandable orders to his platoon leader. While advancing with the front rank toward the objective, Pfc. Lee observed 4 North Vietnamese soldiers with automatic weapons and a rocket launcher Lying in wait for the lead element of the platoon. As the element moved forward, unaware of the concealed danger, Pfc. Lee immediately and with utter disregard for his own personal safety, passed his radio to another soldier and charged through the murderous fire. Without hesitation he continued his assault, overrunning the enemy position, killing all occupants and capturing 4 automatic weapons and a rocket launcher. Pfc. Lee continued his 1-man assault on the second position through a heavy barrage of enemy automatic weapons fire. Grievously wounded, he continued to press the attack, crawling forward into a firing position and delivering accurate covering fire to enable his platoon to maneuver and destroy the position. Not until the position was overrun did Pfc. Lee falter in his steady volume of fire and succumb to his wounds. Pfc. Lee's heroic actions saved the lives of the lead element and were instrumental in the destruction of the key position of the enemy defense. Pfc. Lee's gallantry at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, the 502d Infantry, and the U.S. Army.

29° 28.669, -098° 25.773

Section X
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio

November 29, 2011

Benjamin Modelle Green

   Benjamin Green was born on August 18, 1810 in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana to Richard M Green and Priscilla Reynolds. The Green family came to Texas prior to 1834 and settled in what is now Liberty County. He signed up with his older brother Reason for the Texas army during the revolution in 1836 and on April 21, fought at the Battle of San Jacinto with an unknown company. At some point between 1834 and 1840, Benjamin married Cynthia Riley Pruitt (Prewitt); the couple would go on to have seven children. On October 6, 1871, Cynthia died and was buried in the old French Cemetery. Tragedy again struck Benjamin in 1881 when, while out splitting logs searching for wild honey with his son Edmond, his axe slipped, partially decapitating his son. Despite Benjamin's best efforts, his son died the following day and was buried next to his mother. Benjamin himself died on July 7, 1895 at his home and buried alongside his wife and son.

30° 04.784, -094° 52.072

French Cemetery

November 22, 2011

Joanna Troutman

   Joanna  Troutman, designer of an early Texas Lone Star flag, was born on February 19, 1818, in Baldwin County, Georgia, the daughter of Hiram Bainbridge Troutman. In 1835, in response to an appeal for aid to the Texas cause, the Georgia Battalion, commanded by Col. William Ward, traveled to Texas. Joanna Troutman designed and made a flag of white silk, bearing a blue, five-pointed star and two inscriptions: "Liberty or Death" on the obverse and, in Latin, "UBI LIBERTAS HABITAT, IBI NOSTRA PATRIA EST" (Where Liberty dwells, there is our fatherland)" on the reverse. She presented the flag to the battalion, and it was unfurled at Velasco on January 8, 1836, above the American Hotel. It was carried to Goliad, where James W. Fannin, Jr., raised it as the national flag when he heard of the Texas Declaration of Independence. The flag was accidentally torn to shreds, however, and only its remnants flew above the battle.

   Joanna Troutman married Solomon L. Pope in 1839, and the couple moved to Elmwood, their prosperous plantation near Knoxville, Georgia, in 1840. They had four sons. Her husband died in 1872, and Joanna married W. G. Vinson, a Georgia state legislator, in 1875. She died on July 23, 1879, at Elmwood and was buried next to her first husband. In 1913 Texas governor Oscar B. Colquitt secured permission to have her remains taken to Texas for interment in the State Cemetery in Austin. A bronze statue by Pompeo L. Coppini was erected there as a monument to her memory; her portrait hangs in the state Capitol. Source 

30° 15.906, -097° 43.603

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

November 15, 2011

Isaac Herbert Kempner

   I. H. Kempner, millionaire investor and one of the originators of the commission form of city government, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the oldest son of eleven children of Elizabeth (Seinsheimer) and Harris Kempner. His father had emigrated from Poland, worked as a day laborer in New York, and eventually gone into the cotton warehouse business in Galveston. Kempner attended Washington and Lee University in Virginia until his father's death in 1894 forced him to drop out at age twenty-one and take over the family enterprises. He and his brother Daniel expanded the Kempner cotton business and branched out into real estate speculation. Kempner was elected a director of the Galveston Cotton Exchange and served continuously as either director, president, or vice president of that organization for nearly fifty years. He served as Galveston finance commissioner from 1901 to 1915 and as mayor from 1917 to 1919. In 1906 he and W. T. Eldridge acquired a 12,000-acre sugar mill, plantation, and refinery in Sugar Land. They operated under various names from that time, continually expanding their control over the sugar-refining industry, until they held a virtual monopoly by the 1930s. After Eldridge's death in 1932 the Kempners consolidated this venture under family ownership and the name Imperial Sugar Company. Kempner and his youngest brother, Stanley, also took over the Texas Prudential Insurance Company. The brothers were active in banking and held a controlling interest in United States National Bank in Galveston, where Lee Kempner was CEO. In 1902 Kempner married Henrietta Blum; they had five children. Kempner died on August 1, 1967, in Galveston and was buried in the Hebrew Benevolent Society Cemetery there. Source

29° 17.566, -094° 48.841

Hebrew Benevolent Society Cemetery

November 8, 2011

John Hemphill

   John Hemphill, jurist and Confederate congressman, was born in Blackstock, Chester District, South Carolina, on December 18, 1803, the son of John and Jane (Lind) Hemphill. His father was a Presbyterian minister. Hemphill attended Jefferson College (now Washington and Jefferson) in Pennsylvania from 1823 to 1825 and graduated second in his class. He taught school for a while in South Carolina and in 1829 began to study law with David J. McCord in Columbia. After admission to practice in the court of Common Pleas in November 1829 he established a practice in Sumter District, South Carolina. In 1831 he was admitted to practice in the Court of Chancery. As a staunch advocate of states' rights, Hemphill edited a nullification newspaper in Sumter in 1832-33. In 1836 he volunteered for service in the Seminole War, in which he achieved the rank of second lieutenant.

   In the summer of 1838 he immigrated to Texas and established a legal practice at Washington-on-the-Brazos. In early 1840 the Congress of the Republic of Texas elected him judge of the Fourth Judicial District, an election that automatically made him an associate justice of the republic Supreme Court. He was confirmed in the office on January 20, 1840. On March 19, 1840, he participated in the Council House Fight in San Antonio. In 1840-41 Hemphill joined several campaigns against the Comanches, and in 1842-43, during a period when the Supreme Court did not meet, he served as adjutant general of the Somervell expedition. On December 5, 1840, the Congress elected him chief justice of the Supreme Court, a position he held until 1858. He was elected a delegate from Washington County to the Convention of 1845, where he cast his vote in favor of statehood. Governor James Pinckney Henderson appointed Hemphill to a six-year term as chief justice, and he was confirmed on March 2, 1846. After the selection of Supreme Court justices was transferred to the voters, Hemphill was elected chief justice on August 4, 1851, and again in 1856.

   As a jurist he took a particular interest in cases involving Spanish and Mexican law, which he had studied intensively, as well as those concerning marital rights, divorce, and homestead and other exemptions. He was noted for the "liberal construction" he placed on married women's rights and for his championship of homestead rights. His decisions are credited with substantially shaping the "form and content" of community property and homestead exemption law. Hemphill regretted the adoption of common law by the Texas Congress in 1840 and managed, in his written opinions, to preserve "something of the liberal spirit of the civil law." He was called the John Marshall of Texas for the significant role he played in the development of Texas jurisprudence.

   In November 1857 Democrats, dissatisfied with Sam Houston, nominated Hemphill to succeed Houston when the latter's senatorial term ended in March 1859. Hemphill was subsequently elected by the Texas Senate and took office on March 4, 1859. In January 1861 he delivered an address expressing his belief in the right of states to secede, and on January 6, 1861, he was one of fourteen senators who recommended the immediate withdrawal of the southern states. On February 4, 1861, the Secession Convention elected him one of seven Texas delegates to the convention of Southern states in Montgomery, Alabama, which became the Provisional Confederate Congress. He was subsequently expelled from the United States Senate by resolution on July 11, 1861.

   As a member of the Provisional Confederate Congress, Hemphill served on the Commercial and Financial Independence, Finance, and Judiciary committees and on the special committee to digest the laws. He devoted much of his attention to the task of adapting United States laws to Confederate purposes. In November 1861 he ran for a seat in the First Regular Congress but was narrowly defeated by Williamson S. Oldham. Before the end of the Provisional Congress Judge Hemphill died in Richmond, on January 4, 1862. His body was returned to Austin for burial in the State Cemetery. Never married, Hemphill was characterized as a private and reserved yet generous individual. Hemphill County, established on August 21, 1876, was named in his honor. Source 

30° 15.925, -097° 43.646

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

November 1, 2011

Willie James "Devil" Wells

   Willie "Devil" Wells, baseball player in the Negro Leagues, was once called "the greatest living player not in the baseball Hall of Fame," though he was elected to the hall posthumously. He was born in Austin on October 10, 1905. Wells was a talented shortstop who was discovered on the Texas sandlots in 1925 and joined the St. Louis Stars of the first Negro National League. He established an outstanding reputation with a lifetime batting average of .358 in games for which there are confirmed records. In the Negro Leagues he played for the Stars, the Chicago American Giants, the Newark Eagles, and other teams. Wells had a reputation as a fierce competitor. At a time when batting helmets were very unusual, he chose to play for the Newark Eagles after suffering a concussion, but he put on a construction helmet for added protection. He was a clutch hitter and an extraordinary fielder called the "Shakespeare of Shortstops." His glove was known for a hole in its middle, which Wells claimed made his fielding easier.

   In 1929 Wells went to Cuba and played in the integrated Cuban league, where he competed and excelled against Cuban players and white major leaguers. In 1929 he was the most valuable player in the Cuban league. Wells was selected eight times for the East-West Classic, the Negro Leagues' all-star game, including the first game in 1933 and the 1945 game, in which he played second base for the East and Jackie Robinson, then of the Kansas City Monarchs, played shortstop for the West. When Robinson joined the major leagues, Wells worked with him on his second base position.

   Wells was a player-manager for the Chicago American Giants in the early 1930s and became famous as the player-manager of the Newark Eagles in the 1940s, at which time they were one of the very best black teams. He took particular pride in the success of Newark players Monte Irvin, Larry Doby, and Don Newcombe in the major leagues. In the 1940s Wells played in the Mexican league, where he again excelled and demonstrated that he was an outstanding player against the white major leaguers, who also played in the Mexican league. In 1941-42 he played in Puerto Rico. Wells was well known for his play in the California winter league, where a team of stars from the Negro Leagues competed. He also played frequently on the Satchel Paige All-Star team, a group of players selected by Satchel Paige to barnstorm against white major league players after the World Series. When his playing career ended he worked in New York for a number of years before returning to Austin. He had two children, one of whom, Willie Wells, Jr., also played briefly in the Negro Leagues, including one year with his father. Wells died of heart failure in Austin on January 22, 1989. His obituary was carried in the New York Times. In 1997 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, by the hall's Committee on Baseball Veterans. Source 

30° 15.972, -097° 43.592

Statesmans’ Meadow
Texas State Cemetery

October 25, 2011

Mickey Leland

   George Thomas (Mickey) Leland, legislator, was born in Lubbock, Texas, on November 27, 1944. Soon after his birth, his father abandoned the family, and his mother moved to Houston where she worked in a drugstore and later became a teacher. After enjoying a successful career as a high school sports star in Houston, Leland entered Texas Southern University in 1965. He received a pharmacy degree and practiced the profession for several years. Leland soon entered the public realm by utilizing the tense political environment of the 1960s to help Houston's poor. He pressured Houston health officials to set up community clinics. During this time, as an active member of the black Community Action team, he worked towards other reform measures. In north Houston, he worked with an archetype health system for Casa del Amigos. In the Fifth Ward, Houston, Leland helped initiate a free community health clinic called the Jensen Medical Referral Service.

   In 1972, supported by philanthropist John de Menil, Leland was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. He was reelected twice for two-year terms in the House. During this time he worked as the director of special development projects for Herman Hospital and functioned as the vice president of King State Bank. Leland is especially remembered in the Texas House for promoting legislation that allowed for the prescription of generic drugs and fostered state employment opportunities for minorities. In 1978 Leland constructed the National Black-Hispanic Democratic Coalition that drew attention at the Democratic midterm convention in Memphis. Leland took the congressional seat vacated by Barbara Jordan of Houston later that same year. Leland served actively for over ten years in the United States House of Representatives. Many members considered his style flamboyant with his dashiki, Afro haircut, and eccentric hats. Eventually Leland abandoned these more unconventional characteristics and made attempts to establish bipartisan relationships. However, his commitment to hunger and hopelessness did not waver.

   During his dedicated years in Congress, Leland chaired the Congressional Black Caucus; he served as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee; and in 1984 he helped in establishing the Select Committee on Hunger, which pushed Congress to approve $8 million annually for an incremental Vitamin A program in the Third World that is believed to have reduced child mortality. The committee has also fought for measures to improve hunger conditions for impoverished neighborhoods in the United States. However, Leland's trip to the Sudan in the spring of 1989 influenced him unlike any other previous experiences. That trip marked the beginning of tenacious efforts aimed primarily at aiding the Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia. On Leland's sixth visit to Africa on August 7, 1989, his plane crashed into a mountainside on the way to visit the Fugnido refugee camp. The camp held more than 300,000 Sundanese escaping famine and war in their adjacent country. The plane, carrying sixteen people, was found after a six day search in southwestern Ethiopia. Leland's dedication and service were honored at services throughout the state of Texas and in Washington, D.C., and he was buried in Houston's Golden Gate Cemetery. Leland's wife, Alison, survived him and was six weeks pregnant at his death. In January 1990 she gave birth to twin sons. Source 

29° 50.269, -095° 19.527

Block 1
Golden Gate Cemetery

October 18, 2011

Paul Francis Buskirk

   Paul Francis Buskirk, mandolin player and multi-instrumentalist, was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia, on April 8, 1923, the son of Lottie Mamel and John Everett Buskirk. He lived much of his life in the Houston area. Paul was a popular multi-instrumentalist who appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and at many other venues throughout the United States and around the world. He performed with a number of prominent musicians, including Chet Atkins, Tex Ritter, Roy Acuff, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Eddy Arnold, and Rex Allen. However, he is perhaps best-known for his close personal and professional relationship with singer-songwriter Willie Nelson.

   Paul began playing music at the age of eleven and performed with his parent’s family band. He learned violin and applied those lessons to learning the mandolin. He became an accomplished guitarist and later worked for Gene Austin. He also mastered the banjo and dobro. However, it was his skill on the mandolin that garnered him the greatest fame. He has been described by country music historian Bill Malone as a “superb mandolin player…who was one of the first ‘modern’ exponents of that instrument (that is, jazz-influenced) in country music….” Fellow mandolinist Red Rictor recalled “that during an era when bluegrass king Bill Monroe totally dominated the instrument, Buskirk had a reputation for actually having figured out a different way of playing on mandolin.”

   He was a member of the Blue Ridge Mountain Folk (in Texas), which included the Callahan Brothers (Joe and Bill), and toured the Southwest. The group recorded for Decca in 1941. During World War II he served in the United States Army. Back in Texas, reportedly while operating a music store in Pasadena, Buskirk gave a young Willie Nelson guitar lessons and later gave him a job teaching music lessons. Thus began a longtime musical association between Nelson and Buskirk, who is credited as having helped give Nelson his start in the music business. Paul purchased the rights to Nelson’s gospel song Family Bible for fifty dollars. They co-wrote the song Night Life. Originally recorded in Houston with Nelson and the band Paul Buskirk and His Little Men, the song went on to be a country hit for Faron Young and was covered by numerous other artists. At a number of his state fair performances, Buskirk's opening act was a young Elvis Presley.

   He helped produce and he performed on Nelson’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow album in 1981. In 1992 Nelson helped produce Buskirk’s record Nacogdoches Waltz. Later in life and after retirement, he lived in Nacogdoches. He was a Mason as well as a Shriner. Buskirk died of cancer in Nacogdoches on March 16, 2002, at the age of seventy-eight. Source 

31° 33.913, -094° 28.933

Lower Melrose Cemetery

October 11, 2011

Zeno Phillips

   Zeno Philips, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, on July 19, 1824, received title to a sitio of land in what is now Brazoria County. The census of March 1826 classified him as a farmer and stock raiser, a single man aged between twenty-five and forty, with one servant and twenty-two slaves. In March 1829 Philips and John R. Harris acted as partners in one of the first large contracts for cotton in Texas, when they bought about 100 bales from Jared E. Groce. Philips was a lieutenant colonel in the local militia in August 1829. The same year he was defeated as a candidate for regidor. In December 1830 he was administering the estate of Joseph White. Source 

Note: Unmarked. This small field was originally the site of the Phillips family cemetery and although there were once several tombstones, none exist now. Outside of the historical marker at the gate, nothing remains that denotes this as a burying ground. The coordinates below will take you to the gate shown below.

29° 09.202, -095° 42.439

Phillips Family Cemetery
West Columbia

October 4, 2011

Thomas Jefferson Gazley

   Thomas Jefferson Gazley, physician and legislator, was born in 1798 in Duchess County, New York. He established himself as a physician in Louisiana in 1828 but returned shortly to Baltimore, where he had received his medical training, to marry Eliza Boyce. They had four children. The family traveled to Texas from Ohio in November 1828 and settled in what is now Bastrop County. On April 29, 1829, Gazley applied for a license to practice medicine in San Felipe de Austin. On February 1, 1830, he was appointed clerk of the ayuntamiento. The Convention of 1832 appointed him a member of the subcommittee of safety and vigilance for the District of Bastrop. He was a delegate to the Convention of 1833. From September 28 to November 9, 1835, he was surgeon in Michael R. Goheen's company in the Texas army.

   Gazley was one of three representatives from Mina (Bastrop) at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and there signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. After the Texas Revolution he moved to Houston and on September 4, 1837, was elected from Harrisburg County to the House of the Second Congress of the Republic. At that time he was a law partner of John Birdsall. Gazley was senior warden of Holland Lodge No. 36 and a charter member of the Grand Lodge of Texas, organized on December 20, 1837. He moved from Houston to Bastrop County and settled near the site of present Smithville, where he died on October 31, 1853. In 1937 his body was reinterred in the State Cemetery in Austin. Source 

Note: The birth date on his stone is incorrect.

30° 15.918, -097° 43.645

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

September 27, 2011

Albert Bel Fay

   Albert Bel Fay, businessman, Republican party leader, and United States ambassador, was born on February 26, 1913, in New Orleans, the son of Charles and Marie Fay.  His father was vice president and traffic manager of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The family moved to Houston in 1928, and Fay graduated from the old San Jacinto High School there. In 1936 he earned a B. S. in geology from Yale University and received a commission as an ensign in the United States Naval Reserve. During World War II he commanded a submarine chaser in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. He next served on the staff of the Submarine Chaser Training Center in Miami and then as first lieutenant on the USS Yokes at Okinawa.

   In 1938 Fay and his brother Ernest founded the Seabrook Shipyard, which built submarine chasers and rescue boats during World War II. Fay was also founder and vice president of Eagle Lake Rice Dryer (Texas); founder of Lake Arthur Rice Dryer (Louisiana); co-founder, vice president, and director of the family-owned Bel Oil Corporation (Louisiana); a vice president and director of the Lacassane Company; a partner of Quatre Parish Company (Louisiana); a director of Gates Learjet Corporation; and a member of Lloyd's of London. In 1972 his petroleum interests included holdings in Texas, Louisiana, and several other states, as well as in Canada and New Zealand. He also had real estate interests in Nicaragua and the Little Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. In 1992 his business interests included ranching, timber, marinas, and banking.

   Fay's work with the Republican party began at the precinct level in 1952, during the presidential campaign of Dwight D. Eisenhower. By 1960 he had become a Republican national committeeman. In 1962 and 1966 he was the Republican nominee for Texas land commissioner. In the latter race he won the endorsement of the AFL-CIO executive board and the Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations. He lost both races to Jerry Sadler. One of the issues on which Fay distinguished himself from Sadler was in his support for national parks in Texas. He supported the movement for a park on Padre Island in 1962 and in the Guadalupe Mountains in 1966.

   In 1969 Fay was ousted as national committeeman. Three years later he ran against five other candidates for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. He made it into the primary runoff but lost in that election to Henry C. Grover, who was defeated in the general election by Dolph Briscoe. In the primary campaign Fay argued for a national park in the Big Thicket, a state park on Mustang Island, and a recreational area along Armand Bayou. He also urged the development of a comprehensive water plan and advocated reducing property taxes on the homes of the elderly. He served as chairman of the state Republican finance committee, a member of the national Republican finance committee (1968-76), a member of the state Republican executive committee, and a member of the executive committee of the Republican national committee.He was a delegate to the Republican national conventions of 1960, 1964, and 1968; he served as co-chairman of the state delegation in 1960 and vice chairman of the state delegation in 1964. In October 1969 President Richard M. Nixon appointed him to the thirteen-member board of governors overseeing the Panama Canal Company. He retained that position until 1976, when President Gerald R. Ford named him ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. He served in that capacity until 1977.

   Fay was a director and president of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, a director of the American Brahman Breeders Association, a vice president of the Houston Branch of the English Speaking Union, and a member of the Yale alumni board. He was also a licensed pilot and a yachtsman. He won the 5.5-meter world championship in HankØ, Norway, in 1983, defeating twenty-five other helmsmen from around the world. He was also a three-time winner of the Scandinavian Gold Cup and the United States Nationals. Fay served on the United States Olympic Yachting Committee, the United States Naval Academy Sailing Advisory Council, and the board of trustees of the Yale University Sailing Association. He married Homoiselle Randall Haden on February 3, 1935, and they became the parents of three children. He was a Presbyterian. Fay died in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, on February 29, 1992, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Houston. Source 

29° 45.973, -095° 23.014

Section J
Glenwood Cemetery

September 20, 2011

James Love

   James Love, jurist and legislator, was born in Nelson County, Kentucky, on May 12, 1795, and attended the common schools in Bardstown, Kentucky. He was orphaned at an early age and moved to Clay County, Kentucky, where he was employed in the office of the clerk of the courts. At the age of seventeen he volunteered for service in the War of 1812. After his military service he returned home to study law, was admitted to the bar, and established a practice at Barbourville, Kentucky. There he married Lucy Ballinger, daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Jennings Ballinger. Love served in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1819 to 1831 and was speaker of the House for at least one term. He served in the Twenty-third United States Congress from March 4, 1833, to March 4, 1835. Afterward he declined nomination for another term, moved south, and lived for a time in Helena, Arkansas, then in New Orleans.

   He moved to Houston in 1837 and settled in Galveston in 1838. He was a bitter enemy of Sam Houston and, with Mirabeau B. Lamar and David G. Burnet, a leader of the opposition. Houston, in a speech to militia volunteers in 1842, said these leaders should be executed as traitors. In a speech to the same volunteers Love threatened to put Houston on a ship to the United States. Love was a member of the first board of directors of the Galveston City Company and was elected in 1845 to represent Galveston County at the annexation convention, which framed the Texas constitution. When the state government was formed Love was appointed judge of the first judicial district; he resigned after two years. In 1850 he was appointed clerk of the federal court in Galveston, a position he held until the onset of the Civil War. He had been among the few to argue against secession and predicted its dire consequences; however, when only thirty Galvestonians voted against secession, he entered wholeheartedly into the conflict and served two years with the Eighth Texas Cavalry (Terry's Texas Rangers). When the war ended he was elected the first judge of the Galveston and Harris County Criminal District Court but was removed, with the governor and most Texas officials, by the military commander as an "impediment to reconstruction." Love was confined to his home by ill health for the last several years of his life. He died in Galveston on June 12, 1874, and was interred at Trinity Church Cemetery. Source 

29° 17.629, -094° 48.677

Trinity Episcopal Cemetery

September 13, 2011

David Thomas

   David Thomas, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, ad interim attorney general, and acting secretary of war for the Republic of Texas, was born in Tennessee about 1801, came to Texas in 1835, and he joined the United States Independent Volunteer Cavalry company, organized at Nacogdoches on December 10, 1835. At the request of Francis W. Johnson, the Military Affairs Committee of the General Council recommended a volunteer Matamoros expedition in January 1836, and Thomas was commissioned first lieutenant for the expedition. He was one of the four representatives of Refugio Municipality at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and there signed the Declaration of Independence. Apparently he was a lawyer, for on March 17 the convention elected him ad interim attorney general of the republic. Later, when Secretary of War Thomas J. Rusk left the cabinet to join Sam Houston's army, Thomas was named acting secretary of war. He thus held two government positions at the same time.

   On or about April 16, 1836, Thomas was mortally wounded by the accidental discharge of a firearm while aboard the steamship Cayuga en route from Lynch's Ferry to Galveston. Settler John J. Linn, who was at Galveston when the ship arrived, implied that Thomas died there three days after being shot. According to other claims, however, he remained on board the Cayuga and arrived at the San Jacinto battlefield about April 22. In a third version he died on board the Cayuga and was buried near the home of Vice President Lorenzo de Zavala on Buffalo Bayou, but it was also reported that he was taken off the ship and died in Zavala's home. In 1932 the state of Texas erected a monument to the memory of Thomas at a spot designated by Adina de Zavala, granddaughter of Lorenzo de Zavala, as the gravesite in the old Zavala cemetery. In 1936 Thomas's name was also included on a monument in Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site to the memory of "those courageous souls, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention held here on March 1-17, 1836, who declared Texas free, organized a republic, and framed a constitution." Source 

Note: This is a cenotaph. The Zavala family cemetery, where Lorenzo was laid to rest, was originally located on a curve of Buffalo Bayou, directly across from the San Jacinto battlefield. In the early 1900s, it was discovered that due to natural erosion the graves were slowly sliding into the water. The Zavala family decided against exhuming and relocating the bodies for religious reasons, so as a compromise the remaining headstones were transferred to the battlefield. No bodies were recovered.

29° 45.215, -095° 05.387

Zavala Plaza   
San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
La Porte

September 6, 2011

John Harrington

   John Harrington, Medal of Honor recipient, was born at Detroit, Michigan, in 1848. On September 12, 1874, Private Harrington was with Company H, Sixth United States Cavalry, at Washita River, Texas, when he was sent with Sgt. Zachariah Woodall, privates Peter Roth and George Smith, and scouts William (Billy) Dixon and Amos Chapman to carry dispatches for Nelson A. Miles to Camp Supply. They were attacked by 100 warriors, in what became known as the Buffalo Wallow Fight. Smith was killed, Chapman's leg was shattered, and Harrington was wounded in the hip. The men took refuge in an old buffalo wallow, which they deepened with their hands and knives. In the afternoon a cold rain began to fall, and by nightfall the Indians left. On the morning of the thirteenth Dixon left the wallow and made contact with troops commanded by Maj. William Price, who in turn notified Miles of their condition. Miles sent an ambulance on the fourteenth, which took the men to Camp Supply. All five were awarded the Medal of Honor. Harrington returned to duty and remained in service until at least 1898.

While carrying dispatches was attacked by 125 hostile Indians, whom he and his comrades fought throughout the day. He was severely wounded in the hip and unable to move. He continued to fight, defending an exposed dying man.

29° 25.279, -098° 28.038

Section F
San Antonio National Cemetery
San Antonio

August 30, 2011

Harold Franklin "Hal" Epps

   Harold Franklin "Hal" Epps was born in Athens, Georgia, on March 26, 1914. A lover of sports as a youth, he played both football and baseball and entered the University of Georgia on a football scholarship in 1934. One year later, however, he was convinced by a scout for the St Louis Cardinals to switch over to baseball, where he would remain for the next eighteen years. Signed to the Cardinals training camp, he honed his skills in numerous farm systems where he maintained a batting average of over .300. Despite this promising ability, it would be years before he made his major league debut on September 9, 1938 against the Chicago Cubs. Although he only made ten appearances as an outfielder during the season, his batting talents placed him at the forefront of pinch hitters, again averaging .300. He was sent back to the minors at the close of the season and didn't play with the Cardinals again until 1940. After eleven games he again returned to the minors and played for the minor league Houston Buffs.

   In 1943 he signed with the Toledo Mud Hens, the local affiliate for the St Louis Browns. Still hitting a respectable .300 to .301, he began shining in his role as outfielder as well, earning his nickname "The Reindeer" for the way he sprinted and dove to make catches. His improvement earned him a spot on the Browns where he would stay until June when he was picked up by the Philadelphia Athletics. Almost immediately after, he was called up by the Army to serve in the South Pacific during World War II. He left the service in 1947 and joined back up with the Houston Buffs in the Texas League, where he helped his team win the Dixie Series. Realizing that the call back to the majors would never come again, yet loving the game, he played for the Buffs until 1952 before he leaving to work for Armco Steel as a security guard for the next twenty-five years. Harold Epps would remain a local legend, however, receiving fan mail daily until his death on August 25, 2004 at the age of ninety.

29° 56.044, -095° 26.962

Section N3
Houston National Cemetery

August 23, 2011

James Gibson Swisher

   James Gibson Swisher, early Texas patriot, son of Henry and Annie (Gibson) Swisher, was born near Franklin, Williamson County, Tennessee, on November 6, 1794. His father, a German immigrant, participated in the organization of Tennessee Territory as a state. After receiving a good education in Tennessee, Swisher worked as a land surveyor and gained experience dealing with Indians in his native state. In the War of 1812 he served as a private in Capt. David Mason's company of Tennessee militia from August 18, 1813, to May 21, 1814, and in Capt. John Donelson's company of United States Mounted Rangers from September 2, 1814, to September 1, 1815. Swisher participated in the two battles of New Orleans.

   After hostilities ceased, he married Elizabeth Boyd in Knoxville, Tennessee, on September 14, 1815. In 1833 he arrived in Texas with his brother Harvey H. Swisher, who later participated in the battle of San Jacinto. Between January and October 1834 Swisher and his family settled at Tenoxtitlán in Robertson's colony, in what is now Burleson County. He successfully led a retaliatory attack after a Comanche Indian raid on the settlement in April 1834. By October 1834 Swisher and his family had moved to Chriesman Settlement in what became Washington County. On July 2, 1835, Swisher was one of the petitioners who requested a separate municipality for the area that later became Washington Municipality.

   Swisher was elected captain of a military company organized in Washington Municipality at the beginning of the Texas Revolution. His Texas military service began on October 8, 1835. His company participated in the siege of Bexar in December 1835. Gen. Edward Burleson appointed Swisher one of the three commissioners to negotiate the surrender of Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos on December 11, 1835. Swisher remained with the revolutionary army until he was elected one of four delegates from Washington Municipality to the Convention of 1836 on February 1, 1836. At the convention he participated in debates and urged payment of land bounties to reward military service as well as careful examination of all bounty claims. His proposals influenced future Texas land policy. Swisher also served on the defense committee; he opposed Sam Houston's policy of retreat and urged immediate engagement of the enemy. Swisher signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas.

   After the convention he accompanied his family in the Runaway Scrape and assisted in the evacuation of Washington-on-the-Brazos. Swisher later served in Capt. William W. Hill's company of rangers on the frontier from July to October 1836. Between 1839 and 1841 he served as a justice of the peace in Washington County. He was also an incorporator and trustee of Union Academy, a Washington County school chartered in February 1840. In 1846 Swisher moved to Austin, where he operated a tavern, a hotel, and after 1852 a ferry. In his later years he also farmed. In 1848 he was registrar of an Austin high school. He was a member of the building committee of the First Presbyterian Church in Austin in 1851 and one of five members of a vigilance committee formed by the Austin vigilante movement in October 1854 to enforce slave-control laws. After Swisher's death in Austin on November 14, 1862, his wife, Elizabeth, continued to operate the important ferry transportation link on the Austin-San Antonio Road. Swisher had four children who lived to adulthood, including John Milton Swisher, who held many appointive offices in the republic and state of Texas, and James Monroe Swisher, an Indian fighter and later a state legislator. Swisher County and a street in Austin were named for James Swisher. Source 

30° 16.608, -097° 43.625

Section 4
Oakwood Cemetery

August 16, 2011

Philip Singleton

   Phillip Singleton, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, received title to a league of land at the mouth of Yegua Creek on the west bank of the Brazos River in what is now southeastern Burleson and northeastern Washington counties on August 19, 1824. The census of March 1826 classified him as a farmer and stock raiser aged between forty and fifty. His household included his wife, Susanna (Walker), two sons, and three daughters. In 1828-29 Singleton settled on the north side of Buffalo Bayou and built a log house that was afterwards bought by Lorenzo de Zavala and became Zavala's first home in Texas. Source 

Note: This is a cenotaph. While the official details of his death are uncertain, family legend relates that he was killed by Indians while hunting and his body never recovered.

29° 43.210, -095° 16.523

Glendale Cemetery

August 9, 2011

Kenneth Lewis Anderson

   Kenneth Lewis Anderson, lawyer and vice president of the republic, son of Kennith and Nancy (Thompson) Anderson, was born on September 11, 1805, in Hillsborough, North Carolina. His early education consisted of self-learning, but he reportedly also attended William Bingham's school. He worked as a shoemaker at an early age. By 1824 he was living in Bedford County, Tennessee, where he became deputy sheriff in 1826 and sheriff in 1830.  From 1830 to 1837, Anderson worked as a local activist and regular correspondent with James K. Polk. Anderson was a disappointed applicant to become a U.S. Marshall in 1830 and 1834, but he was elected a colonel in the militia by 1833. About 1825 Anderson married Patience Burditt; the couple had three children. Two sons, Theophiles and Malcolm became prosecutors in San Antonio, while a grandson, William, became a state district judge in San Antonio.

   In 1837 the family moved to San Augustine, Texas, where Mrs. Anderson's brother-in-law Joseph Rowe had lived for five years. In 1838 Anderson served successively as deputy sheriff and sheriff. It was probably after he arrived in Texas that he studied to become a lawyer. President Mirabeau B. Lamar appointed him collector of customs for the district of San Augustine, and he was confirmed on November 21, 1839. He served until he became a candidate from San Augustine County for the House of Representatives of the Sixth Congress in 1841; he won with the largest majority in the county's history at that time. As a partisan of Sam Houston, Anderson was elected speaker of the House on November 1, 1841. He immediately led an unsuccessful attempt to impeach Lamar and Vice President David G. Burnet. Anderson declined a nomination for secretary of the treasury to spend more time with his family in San Augustine, and the post went to William Henry Daingerfield. In 1842 he helped convince Houston to veto the popular but dangerous war bill, which sought to force an invasion of Mexico.

   After one term, and despite President Houston's pleas, Anderson retired in 1842 to practice law in San Augustine with Royal T. Wheeler; he eventually formed a partnership with J. Pinckney Henderson and Thomas J. Rusk. In December 1842 Anderson became district attorney of the Fifth Judicial District. In 1844 Anderson was frequently mentioned as a candidate for president, but eventually he became the Houston party candidate for vice president, on a ticket headed by Anson Jones. Anderson's opponent, Patrick Jack, died before the election, and Anderson won nearly unanimously. He presided over the Senate at Washington-on-the-Brazos in June 1845, when the Texas Congress approved annexation. After adjournment he immediately left for home despite being sick. After only twenty miles, he was forced to stop at the Fanthorp Inn, where his bilious fever flared. He died of malaria on July 3, 1845, and was buried in the Fanthorp cemetery. The vice president had been considered the leading candidate to become the first governor of the state. His law partner, Pinckney Henderson, was instead elected governor in December. Anderson was a Mason. Fanthorp was renamed for him in 1846, and on March 24, 1846, Anderson County was established and named in his honor. Source 

30° 28.948, -095° 59.130

Fanthorp Cemetery

August 2, 2011

Ross Shaw Sterling

   Ross S. Sterling, governor of Texas, son of Benjamin Franklin and Mary Jane (Bryan) Sterling, was born near Anahuac, Texas, in February 1875. Biographical sources give different specific birthdates of February 11 and February 22, due to the change from the Julian (Old Style) to the Gregorian (New Style) Calendar. He attended public schools and farmed until about 1896. He opened a feed store at Sour Lake in 1903, and during the next several years he also entered the banking business by purchasing a number of banks in small towns.

   In 1903 he became an oil operator and in 1910 bought two wells, which developed into the Humble Oil and Refining Company. The company was officially organized in 1911, and Sterling was president. In 1918 he also was president and owner of the Dayton-Goose Creek Railway Company. In 1925 he sold his Humble interests and started developing real estate in the vicinity of Houston. He bought the Houston Dispatch and the Houston Post in 1925 and 1926 and subsequently combined them as the Houston Post-Dispatch, which later became the Houston Post. Sterling was chairman of the Texas Highway Commission in 1930 and was instrumental in highway development in Texas, including the implementation of the 100-foot right-of-way for highways. On January 20, 1931, he was inaugurated governor of Texas.

   In September 1931, during the Great Depression, he called a special session of the legislature to deal with the emergency in agriculture. The Texas Cotton Acreage Control Law of 1931-32 was designed to cut cotton acreage in the state, but it was declared unconstitutional and never went into effect. Because rulings of the Railroad Commission regulating oil proration in East Texas were being ignored, Sterling placed four counties under martial law and shut down all oil production temporarily. Later the courts ruled that he had exceeded his authority by the declaration of martial law. Sterling was defeated by Miriam A. Ferguson in his race for a second term as governor. In 1933 Sterling returned to Houston, where he appeared little in public life, but in a few years had built another fortune in oil. He was president of the Sterling Oil and Refining Company from 1933 to 1946. He was president of the American Maid Flour Mills and the R. S. Sterling Investment Company and was chairman of the Houston National Bank and the Houston-Harris County Channel Navigation Board. Sterling married Maud Abbie Gage on October 10, 1898; they were parents of five children. Among his philanthropies were the gift of his La Porte home to the Houston Optimist Club for a boys' home, establishment of a boys' camp in memory of Ross Sterling, Jr., who died in 1924, and the contribution of $100,000 to Texas Christian University. He was a Democrat and a Mason. Sterling died in Fort Worth on March 25, 1949, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston. Source 

29° 45 825, -095° 23.173

Section H2
Glenwood Cemetery

July 26, 2011

James H. Fields

   James H. Fields, Medal of Honor recipient, was born at Caddo, Texas, on June 16, 1920, the son of Mr. and Mrs. R. B. Fields. He graduated from Lamar High School in Houston and was drafted into the army in 1942. He was a member of the Tenth Armored Infantry, Fourth Armored Division, United States Army. First Lieutenant Fields was cited for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty" on September 27, 1944, at Réchicourt, France. He led his depleted platoon in a counterattack on an enemy position and exposed himself to enemy fire while attending to one of his wounded men. He himself was wounded in the face by a bursting shell. Badly injured and rendered speechless he continued to direct his platoon in the attack by hand signals. Two enemy machine-guns had the platoon in a deadly crossfire. Fields left his foxhole, picked up a light machine gun, and, firing from the hip, knocked out both the enemy positions. His action inspired his men to increase the pressure of the attack. Only when the enemy was scattered did Fields allow himself to be evacuated to the command post. There he refused further evacuation until he could brief the battalion commander. Only eleven of the fifty-five men in his platoon survived the day's engagement. Fields's heroism was largely responsible for the repulse of the enemy forces and was an inspiration to the entire command. After the war he became an independent oil operator. He died at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Houston (now the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston) on June 17, 1970, and was survived by his wife, Mathilde, and four children. He was buried in the VA Houston National Cemetery. Source 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, at Rechicourt, France. On 27 September 1944, during a sharp action with the enemy infantry and tank forces, 1st Lt. Fields personally led his platoon in a counterattack on the enemy position. Although his platoon had been seriously depleted, the zeal and fervor of his leadership was such as to inspire his small force to accomplish their mission in the face of overwhelming enemy opposition. Seeing that 1 of the men had been wounded, he left his slit trench and with complete disregard for his personal safety attended the wounded man and administered first aid. While returning to his slit trench he was seriously wounded by a shell burst, the fragments of which cut through his face and head, tearing his teeth, gums, and nasal passage. Although rendered speechless by his wounds, 1st Lt. Fields refused to be evacuated and continued to lead his platoon by the use of hand signals. On 1 occasion, when 2 enemy machine guns had a portion of his unit under deadly crossfire, he left his hole, wounded as he was, ran to a light machine gun, whose crew had been knocked out, picked up the gun, and fired it from his hip with such deadly accuracy that both the enemy gun positions were silenced. His action so impressed his men that they found new courage to take up the fire fight, increasing their firepower, and exposing themselves more than ever to harass the enemy with additional bazooka and machine gun fire. Only when his objective had been taken and the enemy scattered did 1st Lt. Fields consent to be evacuated to the battalion command post. At this point he refused to move further back until he had explained to his battalion commander by drawing on paper the position of his men and the disposition of the enemy forces. The dauntless and gallant heroism displayed by 1st Lt. Fields were largely responsible for the repulse of the enemy forces and contributed in a large measure to the successful capture of his battalion objective during this action. His eagerness and determination to close with the enemy and to destroy him was an inspiration to the entire command, and are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Armed Forces.

29° 55.828, -095° 27.041

Section Hb
Houston National Cemetery

July 19, 2011

Benjamin Lee "Benny" Boynton

   Ben Boynton, football player, was born on December 6, 1898, in Waco, Texas, the son of Charles Albert and Laura Bassett (Young) Boynton. He began his football career as quarterback at Waco High School, where he was an all-round sports star (1913, 1914, 1915). At a time when the sports focus was on eastern collegiate football, Boynton attended Williams College, where during his sophomore year his kickoff returns placed him high among top contenders for national recognition. He played quarterback on an undefeated Williams team and was selected as one of the members of the All-Eastern eleven.

   At the close of the 1917 season the International News Service placed him on its All-American team. He thus became the first Texan named to an All-American team. He left school in 1918 and became a gunnery sergeant in the marine aviation corps during World War I. In 1919 he returned to Williams, where he achieved legendary status in eastern collegiate football. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton all lost to Williams College in 1917, 1919, and 1920.

   Boynton was named to Frank Menke's All-American teams for three seasons. He was one of the few players listed as three-time All-American by the Official Football Guide in 1919 and 1920. He was described as one of the best drop-kickers ever and a fine field general and open-field runner. He tied an all-time record for the longest scoring run by any method (110 yards) when he ran out a long punt return in the 1920 game against Hamilton College. He was also classed as one of the first great passers in football. After graduation Boynton worked for Bethlehem Steel Company in Steeltown, Pennsylvania, and was on the professional football circuit for four years with five different teams. At one time he played on two teams at the same time - the Frankfort Yellow Jackets on Saturdays and the Buffalo All-Americans on Sundays. In professional football he was considered second only to Jim Thorpe in all-round football ability; he was also described as a "brainy" fellow who could do anything.

   Boynton organized the Southwest Football Officials Association in 1926 and officiated at college and high school games until 1939, when he became a sportscaster for Southwest Conference games. He served as a navy lieutenant commander during World War II. He was a longtime president of the Texas Golf Association and a Dallas insurance executive. He died in Dallas on January 23, 1963, and was survived by his wife, Katherine. Boynton was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1962. He was also named to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Source 

32° 55.564, -096° 44.361

Abbey Mausoleum
Restland Memorial Park

July 12, 2011

Sarah Emma Evelyn Edmundson Seelye

   Sarah Seelye was born Sarah Emma Evelyn Edmundson in New Brunswick province, Canada, in December 1841. To avoid an unwanted marriage, she ran away from home when she was seventeen, disguised as a boy. She continued her male masquerade as a publisher's agent in the midwestern United States and, on May 25, 1861, enlisted in Company F, Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment, under the alias Franklin Thompson. For nearly two years she served in the Union Army undetected, with assignments including male nurse, regimental mail orderly, and brigade postmaster, and on special assignments for the secret service. Ironically, in the secret service duty she penetrated Confederate lines "disguised" as a woman. Fearing her guise would be discovered when she became ill with malaria in 1863, she deserted and resumed a normal existence in Ohio as a female.

   After regaining her health she again volunteered as a nurse, but this time with the Christian Sanitary Commission at Harper's Ferry, and as a female. Under a shortened version of her maiden name, S. Emma E. Edmonds, she wrote a fanciful, but highly successful, account of her experiences in the army, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army (1865). The popularity and exposure she gained from the book and its revelation that she had deserted the army at one time led the government to cancel her pension. She later married a childhood neighbor, Linus Seelye, and reportedly had five children, three of whom died in infancy.

   A congressional bill in 1884 recognized her service to the Union and granted her a pension of twelve dollars a month. The charge of desertion from the army was removed by Congress in 1886. In the early 1890s the Seelye family moved to La Porte, Texas, and on April 22, 1897, Sarah Seelye became a member of the McClellan Post, Grand Army of the Republic, in Houston, Texas - the only woman member in the history of the GAR, though as many as four hundred women may actually have served in the Union army. At the time of her death Seelye was writing her memoirs of the Civil War. She died in La Porte, Texas, on September 5, 1898. Three years later, at the insistence of her fellow members of the McClellan Post, her remains were transferred to the GAR plot in the Washington (German) Cemetery in Houston. Source 

Note: Her last name is spelled incorrectly on her stone.

29° 45.873, -095° 23.307

Section B
Washington Cemetery