January 25, 2011

Joseph Franklin Wilson

   Joseph Franklin Wilson, US Congressman, was born in Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas, March 18, 1901. In 1913, he moved with his family to the Texas Panhandle community of Memphis, Texas in Hall County. From September 1917 to June 1918, he was enrolled at Peacock Military College in San Antonio; from September 1918 to June 1919, Wilson attended the Tennessee Military Institute; and in 1923, Wilson graduated from Baylor Law School in Waco, Texas and was admitted to the bar the same year. He then moved to Dallas and began his law practice. He married Ruby Lee Hopkins in 1926. The couple later had a son, Joseph Franklin, and a daughter, Marion Sue.

   He began his political career as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1936 and later as chairman of the Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee (1942-1945). In the 1946 Texas Congressional election, Wilson defeated primary opponent Sarah T. Hughes by 14,000 votes, then defeated Republican L.W. Stayart in the 1946 general election. He was re-elected in 1948, 1950 and 1952, but was not a candidate for renomination in 1954.

   He served as district judge of the criminal district court of Texas in 1943 and 1944, being known as Judge J. Frank Wilson. He was appointed judge of Criminal District Court No. 1, Dallas, Texas, in 1955, in which capacity he served until September 1968. During the Jack Ruby trial in Dallas, Wilson was granted a vacation so that his larger courtroom could accommodate Judge Joe B. Brown for the Ruby Trial. Wilson interrupted his vacation to fill in for the ailing Judge Brown.  He retired due to illness and died in Dallas, Texas, October 13, 1968.

32° 52.017, -096° 46.734

Monument Garden
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery

January 18, 2011

Katie Webster

   Katie Webster, known as the "Swamp Boogie Queen," pianist, organist, "electric blues" vocalist, and harmonica player, was born Kathryn Jewel Thorne in Houston on January 11, 1936. She was the daughter of Cyrus and Myrtle Thorne. Her father was a ragtime pianist before becoming a Pentecostal preacher, and her mother played classical piano. The Thornes attempted to shield their young daughter from the evils of rhythm-and-blues music by locking up their piano when Katie was not taking her classical piano lessons. The girl, however, sneaked an old radio into her bedroom to listen to her favorite blues artists, Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Sam Cooke, on WLAC Radio, Nashville.

   In the early 1950s she moved to Beaumont to live with more open-minded relatives. Her new-found freedom allowed her to pursue a boogie-woogie musical career in Lake Charles, Louisiana, while she finished high school. Within a couple of years, she had married Earl Webster. The union lasted only five years; after it, she never remarried.

   Katie Webster had a long and very productive musical career, beginning with considerable popularity as a session pianist around Lake Charles. She blended a traditional boogie-woogie beat with barrelhouse rhythms to create her own style of "swamp blues." She played the piano on more than 500 recordings, primarily for Excello and Eddie Shuler's Goldband Records. She worked with such influential musicians as Guitar Jr., Lightnin' Slim, Lazy Lester, Lonesome Sundown, Juke Boy Bonner, Hop Wilson, and Ashton Savoy.

In 1964, while Otis Redding was playing at the Bamboo Club in Lake Charles, he asked the Swamp Boogie Queen to sit in with his band. Redding was so impressed by her talent that he asked her to join his tour. Katie Webster subsequently toured with Redding's band until he was killed in a plane crash in Lake Michigan in 1967. Webster, who was eight months pregnant, had overslept and missed the flight. She was so devastated by Redding's death that she gave up touring. In 1974 she moved to Oakland, California, to care for her ailing parents. Although she played at a few local venues, she was not very musically active during the 1970s.

   In the late 1970s, her old friend Eddie Shuler re-released two of her albums, thus helping to launch her comeback. Katie made the first of sixteen European tours in 1982, wowing the audiences with her boogie-woogie piano. She played at numerous prestigious jazz and blues festivals during the 1980s and 1990s. She did not have any significant solo recording success, however, until the late 1980s, when she signed with Alligator Records. With guest appearances by Robert Cray, Kim Wilson, and Bonnie Raitt, she cut three well-received albums: The Swamp Boogie Queen (1988), Two Fisted Mama (1990), and No Foolin! (1991). In the acclaimed No Foolin! she displayed her powerful blues vocals and her skillful two-handed piano solos.

   In 1993 Webster suffered a stroke, which hindered the use of her left hand and damaged her eyesight. Although she regained some use of her hand and played at a few festivals and other gigs, her musical career was essentially over. She moved back to Texas in the mid-1990s to live with two of her daughters. She died of a heart attack at her daughter's home in League City, Texas, on September 5, 1999. She left behind two sisters, three brothers, two daughters, eight grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. Source

29° 30.918, -095° 07.466

Section 211
Forest Park East Cemetery

January 11, 2011

David Bennes Barkley

   David Bennes Barkley, Medal of Honor recipient, was born, probably in 1899, to Josef and Antonia (CantĂș) Barkley in Laredo, Texas. When the United States entered World War I, Barkley enlisted as a private in the United States Army. Family records indicate he did not want to be known as of Mexican descent, for fear he would not see action at the front. He was assigned to Company A, 356th Infantry, Eighty-ninth Division. In France he was given the mission of swimming the Meuse River near Pouilly, in order to infiltrate German lines and gather information about the strength and deployment of German formations. Despite enemy resistance to any allied crossing of the Meuse, Barkley and another volunteer accomplished the mission. While returning with the information, Barkley developed cramps and drowned, on November 9, 1918, just two days before the armistice went into effect. His sacrifice earned praise from Gen. John J. Pershing, the commander of the American Expeditionary Force. Barkley was one of three Texans awarded the nation's highest military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, for service in World War I. He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre (France) and the Croce Merito (Italy). In 1921 an elementary school in San Antonio was named for him. He lay in state at the Alamo, the second person to be so honored. He was buried at San Antonio National Cemetery. On January 10, 1941, the War Department named Camp Barkeley for the Texas hero. Source

When information was desired as to the enemy's position on the opposite side of the Meuse River, Pvt. Barkley, with another soldier, volunteered without hesitation and swam the river to reconnoiter the exact location. He succeeded in reaching the opposite bank, despite the evident determination of the enemy to prevent a crossing. Having obtained his information, he again entered the water for his return, but before his goal was reached, he was seized with cramps and drowned.

29° 25.303, -098° 28.037

Section G
San Antonio National Cemetery
San Antonio

January 4, 2011

Anson Jones

   Anson Jones, doctor, congressman, and the last president of the Republic of Texas, son of Solomon and Sarah (Strong) Jones, was born at Seekonkville, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on January 20, 1798. He hoped to become a printer but was persuaded to study medicine, and in 1820 he was licensed by the Oneida, New York, Medical Society and began practice at Bainbridge. He met with meager success and soon moved to Norwich, where he opened a drugstore that failed. He subsequently started for Harpers Ferry, to begin business again in "the West," but at Philadelphia he was arrested by a creditor and remained to open a medical office and teach school until 1824, when he went to Venezuela for two years. Jones returned to Philadelphia, opened a medical office, qualified for an M.D. degree at Jefferson Medical College in 1827, and became a Mason and an Odd Fellow. He became master of his Masonic lodge and grand master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Pennsylvania, but his medical practice did not prosper. In October 1832 he renounced medicine and became a commission merchant in New Orleans, where he lived through cholera and yellow fever epidemics and a series of failures that left him despondent and broke.

   In October 1833, at the suggestion of Jeremiah Brown, Jones drifted to Texas. He had engaged passage back to New Orleans when John A. Wharton and other citizens of Brazoria urged him to "give Texas a fair trial." Jones soon had a practice at Brazoria worth $5,000 a year. As tension between Texas and Mexico mounted, he counseled forbearance and peace until the summer of 1835, when he joined in signing a petition for the calling of the Consultation, which he visited. At a mass meeting at Columbia in December 1835 he presented resolutions for calling a convention to declare independence but declined to be nominated as a delegate. When war came he enlisted in Robert J. Calder's company and during the San Jacinto campaign was judge advocate and surgeon of the Second Regiment. Nevertheless, he insisted upon remaining a private in the infantry. On the field of San Jacinto he found Juan N. Almonte's Journal and Order Book, which he sent to the New York Herald for publication in June 1836. After brief service as apothecary general of the Texas army, Jones returned to Brazoria, evicted James Collinsworth from his office with a challenge to a duel, and resumed practice.

   During the First Congress of the Republic, Jones became increasingly interested in public questions and critical of congressional policies. He was elected a representative to the Second Congress as an opponent of the Texas Railroad, Navigation, and Banking Company. As chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, he advocated a withdrawal of the Texas proposal for annexation to the United States. He was also chairman of the committee on privileges and elections and the committee on ways and means. He helped formulate legislation to regulate medical practice and advocated a uniform system of education and an endowment for a university. At the end of his congressional term, Jones planned to marry Mrs. Mary (Smith) McCrory and return to his practice at Brazoria. President Sam Houston, however, appointed him minister to the United States in June 1838 and authorized him to withdraw the annexation proposal. Jones's purpose as minister was to stimulate recognition from and trade relations with Europe in order to make the United States desire annexation or to make Texas strong enough to remain independent. Thus early he hit upon the policy of alternatives that characterized his management of foreign relations until Texas joined the Union and that gave him the title of "Architect of Annexation."

   He was recalled by President Mirabeau B. Lamar in May 1839 and resolved to retire from politics, but when he arrived in Texas he found that he had been elected to finish William H. Wharton's term in the Senate. As senator he criticized the fiscal policies of the Lamar administration and the Texan Santa Fe expedition. Jones was chairman of the committees on foreign relations and the judiciary and was president pro tem of the Senate during the Fifth Congress. On May 17, 1840, Jones married Mrs. McCrory at Austin and in the spring of 1841 returned to practice in Brazoria. He declined candidacy for the vice presidency in the election of 1841, in which Houston again became president. Houston appointed Jones his Secretary of State, and from December 13, 1841, until February 19, 1846, Jones managed the foreign relations of Texas through a series of crises. Both Houston and Jones later claimed to have devised the foreign policy followed by Texas after 1841, and it is impossible to determine which man originated its leading features. In the main they agreed on the purpose of getting an offer of annexation from the United States or getting an acknowledgment of Texas independence from Mexico. They preferred getting both proposals simultaneously, so that an irrevocable choice might be made between them.

   Jones was elected president of Texas in September 1844 and took office on December 9. He had made no campaign speeches, had not committed himself on the subject of annexation, and did not mention the subject in his inaugural address. After James K. Polk's election as president of the United States on a platform of "reannexation of Texas" and President John Tyler's proposal of annexation by joint resolution, Jones continued his silence. But the Texas Congress declared for joining the Union. Before Jones received official notice of the joint resolution, the charges of England and France induced him to delay action for ninety days. He promised to obtain from Mexico recognition of Texas independence and delayed calling the Texas Congress or a convention. Meanwhile, public sentiment for annexation and resentment against Jones mounted. He was burned in effigy, and threats were made to overthrow his government, but he remained silent until Charles Elliot returned from Mexico with the treaty of recognition. On June 4, 1845, Jones presented to the people of Texas the alternative of peace and independence or annexation. The Texas Congress rejected the treaty with Mexico, approved the joint resolution of annexation, and adopted resolutions censuring Jones. The Convention of 1845 considered removing Jones from office. He subsequently retained his title, though his duties were merely ministerial. On February 19, 1846, at the ceremony setting up the government of Texas as a state in the Union, Jones declared, "The Republic of Texas is no more." Then he retired to Barrington, his plantation near Washington-on-the-Brazos.

   Jones hoped to be elected to the United States Senate, but Houston and Thomas Jefferson Rusk were chosen. For twelve years Jones brooded over his neglect while he became a prosperous planter and accumulated a vast estate. After an injury that disabled his left arm in 1849, he became increasingly moody and introspective, and his dislike for Houston turned into hatred. While in this frame of mind, he edited his Republic of Texas, which contained a brief autobiography, portions of his diaries, and annotated selections from his letters. The book was published in New York in 1859, after his death.

   On March 1, 1835, with four other persons, Jones had established the first Masonic lodge in Texas, originally Holland Lodge No. 36 at Brazoria. He was its first head. He called the convention that organized the Grand Lodge of Texas on December 20, 1837, and was elected first grand master. He was a charter member and vice president of the Philosophical Society of Texas in 1837 and in 1853 helped found the Medical Association of Texas. In 1857 Jones believed that the legislature would send him to Washington as senator, but he received no votes. He committed suicide at Houston on January 9, 1858, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery at Houston. The Texas Centennial Commission erected a statue of him in Anson, Jones County, both of which were named after him. Barrington, his plantation home, is preserved in Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site as part of the Barrington Living History Farm. Source

29° 45.940, -095° 23.123

Section F1
Glenwood Cemetery