June 28, 2011

George Whitfield Terrell (1803-1846)

George Whitfield Terrell, early settler, jurist, and diplomat, was born in Nelson County, Kentucky, in 1803, the son of Col. James Terrell. As a youth he moved to Tennessee, where he was admitted to the bar in 1827 and in 1828 was appointed district attorney by Sam Houston, then governor of Tennessee. Terrell was Houston's attorney general when Houston resigned the governorship. He served in the Tennessee legislature from 1829 to 1836 and moved to Mississippi, where he met financial reverses that caused him to move to Texas in 1837. Mirabeau B. Lamar appointed him district attorney of San Augustine County in 1840; he later served as district judge. In December 1841 Terrell was made Attorney General of the Republic by Sam Houston. From 1842 to 1844 Terrell was Indian commissioner and as such negotiated the Indian treaty at Bird's Fort on September 29, 1843. He was appointed chargé d'affaires to France, Great Britain, and Spain in December 1844 and continued in that capacity under President Anson Jones. Upon his return to Texas in 1845, Terrell was again made Indian commissioner. He was known as an opponent of annexation. He died on May 13, 1846. Source

Note: His stone is incorrect in stating that he came to Texas in 1840, as he actually arrived on December 20, 1839. It is also incorrect in that he served as Secretary of State in 1841. He was nominated and confirmed by the Senate for the position, but he declined it for personal reasons.

COORDINATES
30° 16.589
-097° 43.691

Section 4
Oakwood Cemetery
Austin

June 24, 2011

Eli Noland (1803-1841)

As is often the case with early Texas settlers, little is known of Eli Noland's history. He was born in Ohio, December, 1803, and arrived in Texas sometime in 1835. He enlisted in the Texas army as a member of William S. Fisher's Company of Velasco Blues and fought at the Battle of San Jacinto, where he was slightly wounded. Noland was married to Elizabeth Shewmaker at the time of his death on December 17, 1841, and was buried in Houston's City Cemetery.

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.

COORDINATES
29° 45.428
-095° 22.734


Founders Memorial Park
Houston

June 21, 2011

James Thompson Collinsworth (1806-1838)

James Collinsworth, lawyer, jurist, and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, in 1806, the son of Edmund and Alice (Thompson) Collinsworth. He attended school in Tennessee, studied law, and was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1826. He was an ally of Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, and other leading Tennessee politicians. From April 30, 1829, until early 1834, Collinsworth served as United States district attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. By 1835 he had moved to Matagorda, in the Brazos Municipality, Texas, and begun the practice of law. Along with Asa Brigham, John S.D. Byrom, and Edwin Waller he represented Brazoria in the Convention of 1836. At the convention Collinsworth signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, introduced and guided to adoption a resolution making his fellow Tennessean Sam Houston commander in chief of the Texas army, became chairman of the military affairs committee, and served on the committee appointed to draft a constitution for the new Republic of Texas. After the convention adjourned, Houston, on April 8, 1836, appointed Collinsworth his aide-de-camp with the rank of major. After the battle of San Jacinto Gen. Thomas J. Rusk commended him for his bravery and chivalry.

From April 29 to May 23, 1836, Collinsworth served as acting secretary of state in President David G. Burnet's cabinet. On May 26, 1836, because of his intimacy with President Andrew Jackson, he was designated a commissioner to the United States to seek assistance and possible annexation. The mission failed. Later in the year Collinsworth declined Houston's offer to make him attorney general of the Republic of Texas. Instead, on November 30, 1836, he was elected to a term in the Senate of the republic. When the judiciary of the republic was organized, Collinsworth, on December 16, 1836, was appointed the first chief justice, a post he held until his death. Also in 1836 he helped organize the Texas Railroad, Navigation, and Banking Company, and the following year he helped found the city of Richmond. He was a charter member of the Philosophical Society of Texas, founded in 1837. In 1838 Collinsworth was a candidate, along with Mirabeau B. Lamar and Peter W. Grayson, for the presidency of the republic. The first published report of his candidacy was on June 30, 1838. On July 11, however, after a week of drunkenness, he fell or jumped off a boat in Galveston Bay and drowned. Most assumed he committed suicide. His body was recovered and taken by boat up Buffalo Bayou to Houston, where it lay in state in the capitol. Chief Justice Collinsworth was buried in the City Cemetery, Houston, under the direction of Temple Lodge No.4; his was "the first Masonic funeral ever held in Texas." On August 21, 1876, Collingsworth County, its name misspelled in the act of the legislature establishing the county, was named in his honor. A state monument was placed at Collinsworth's grave in the old City Cemetery in Houston in 1931. 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. 

COORDINATES
29° 45.465
-095° 22.750


Founders Memorial Park
Houston

June 17, 2011

James Gillaspie (1805-1867)

James Gillaspie, prison superintendent and army officer in the Texas Revolution, the Mexican War, and the Civil War, son of William and Elizabeth Gillaspie, was born in Virginia on January 5, 1805. He traveled to Texas in 1835 and on January 14, 1836, enlisted in the volunteer auxiliary corps for the Texas army at Nacogdoches. On February 1 he was elected first lieutenant in Joseph L. Bennett's volunteer company. On April 8 Gillaspie became captain of the Sixth Company, Second Regiment of Texas Volunteers, which he commanded in the battle of San Jacinto. He was discharged from the army on May 29, 1836. Gillaspie married Susan Faris of Walker County; they had seven children. During the Mexican War he raised a company for the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers, for service under John C. (Jack) Hays. With the outbreak of the Civil War Gillaspie again raised a Walker County company for the Fifth Regiment, Texas Infantry Volunteers, and was stationed on Galveston Island. Gillaspie was superintendent of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville from 1850 to 1858 and again from May 1867 until his death, on October 3, 1867. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Huntsville. The monument at his grave lists the personnel of the various units that he commanded during three wars. Source

COORDINATES
30° 43.641
-095° 32.806


Oakwood Cemetery
Huntsville

June 14, 2011

John McFarlan (?-1826)

John McFarlan (McFarlane or McFarland), one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, with his brother Achilles McFarlan, owned a cabin at the Atascosito Crossing of the Brazos River as early as May 1823; he was thus apparently the first settler at the site of San Felipe de Austin. McFarlan was judge of the alcalde election in December 1823 and was issued a life-time license by Stephen F. Austin and the Baron de Bastrop to operate the ferry at San Felipe, with the condition that he render an account every six months. On August 10, 1824, McFarlan received title to 1¼ sitios of land that later became part of Waller County. The census of March 1826 classified him as a single man aged over fifty, a farmer and stock raiser who owned five slaves. He apparently died before December 1826, when Samuel C. Hady wrote Austin that McFarlan`s estate lacked sufficient funds to pay his debts. In March 1827 John Sibley asked Austin to settle his accounts against the John McFarlan estate. Source

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

COORDINATES
N/A


San Felipe de Austin Cemetery
San Felipe

June 10, 2011

George Duncan Hancock (1809-1879)

George Duncan Hancock, soldier of the Republic of Texas, merchant, legislator, and civil leader, was born in Tennessee on April 27, 1809, the son of John Allen and Sarah (Ryan) Hancock. He moved with his family to Alabama in 1819 and was educated there. In 1835 he moved to Texas. At the battle of San Jacinto he served as a private in Capt. William Kimbro's company of Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers. He was one of the five men who accompanied Erastus (Deaf) Smith in the destruction of Vince's Bridge. For his military service, which lasted from March 15 through November 15, 1836, Hancock received a total of 1,280 acres in Lampasas County. Subsequently he worked as a surveyor, locating lands on the frontier. In 1840 he was residing in Bastrop County, where he owned 5,907 acres of real estate, a saddle horse, and a watch. On October 26, 1842, after Adrián Woll's capture of San Antonio, Hancock enlisted in Capt. Bartlett Sims's company of Col. James R. Cook's regiment of the South Western Army, and marched with Gen. Alexander Somervell to the Rio Grande. He returned to San Antonio with Somervell and was discharged on November 21, 1842, thus avoiding the Mier expedition.

In 1843 he opened a highly successful retail store in La Grange, Fayette County, which he later moved to Bastrop and then in 1845 to Austin, where he established himself at the corner of Congress and Pecan (now Sixth) Street. There he was regarded by the editor of the Texas State Gazette as "an experienced merchant of acknowledged good taste in the selection of goods," and as offering "as large and complete a stock...as has ever been brought to the city." By 1850 Hancock owned assets valued at $40,000 and was residing in an Austin boardinghouse. On September 5 of that year the state legislature granted him, Thomas J. Hardeman, John Rabb, John W. S. Dancy, and nine other men a charter to incorporate the Colorado Navigation Company to promote Colorado River traffic and commerce, and on February 16, 1852, Hancock and six other men were granted corporate rights for the Brazos and Colorado Railroad Company to link Austin and Houston. Hancock was married to Eliza Louisa Lewis, the daughter of Ira Randolph Lewis, on November 2, 1855. In 1861 Hancock, an ardent Unionist like his brother, John Hancock, retired from business. At the end of the Civil War Hancock was a member of a committee that welcomed Governor A. J. Hamilton to Austin in August 1865, and later that month Hamilton appointed him to the board of trustees of the State Lunatic Asylum (later the Austin State Hospital). In 1866 he was elected to the Eleventh Texas Legislature. In 1872 he served as chairman of a committee formed to keep Austin the capital of Texas. Hancock died on January 6, 1879, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin. He was survived by his wife, who died on April 27, 1890, and a son, Lewis, who became mayor of Austin. Hancock was an active member of the Texas Veterans Association, which he helped to organize in 1873, and a vestryman at St. David's Episcopal Church. He was also a Mason and in 1852 took an active role in establishing Austin Masonic High School. Source

COORDINATES
30° 16.515
-097° 43.616

Section 1
Oakwood Cemetery
Austin

June 7, 2011

Lightnin' Hopkins (1912-1982)

Sam (Lightnin’) Hopkins, blues singer and guitarist, was born in Centerville, Texas, on March 15, probably in 1911. Though some sources give his year of birth as 1912, his Social Security application listed the year as 1911. He was the son of Abe and Frances (Sims) Hopkins. After his father died in 1915, the family (Sam, his mother and five brothers and sisters) moved to Leona. At age eight he made his first instrument, a cigar-box guitar with chicken-wire strings. By ten he was playing music with his cousin, Texas Alexander, and Blind Lemon Jefferson, who encouraged him to continue. Hopkins also played with his brothers, blues musicians John Henry and Joel. By the mid-1920s Sam had started jumping trains, shooting dice, and playing the blues anywhere he could. Apparently he married Elamer Lacey sometime in the 1920s, and they had several children, but by the mid-1930s Lacey, frustrated by his wandering lifestyle, took the children and left Hopkins.

He served time at the Houston County Prison Farm in the mid-1930s, and after his release he returned to the blues-club circuit. In 1946 he had his big break and first studio session - in Los Angeles for Aladdin Recordings. On the record was a piano player named Wilson (Thunder) Smith; by chance he combined well with Sam to give him his nickname, Lightnin’. The album has been described as “downbeat solo blues” characteristic of Hopkins’s style. Aladdin was so impressed with Hopkins that the company invited him back for a second session in 1947. He eventually made forty-three recordings for the label. Over his career Hopkins recorded for nearly twenty different labels, including Gold Star Records in Houston. On occasion he would record for one label while under contract to another. In 1950 he settled in Houston, but he continued to tour the country periodically. Though he recorded prolifically between 1946 and 1954, his records for the most part were not big outside the black community. It was not until 1959, when Hopkins began working with legendary producer Sam Charters, that his music began to reach a mainstream white audience.

Hopkins switched to an acoustic guitar and became a hit in the folk-blues revival of the 1960s. During the early 1960s he played at Carnegie Hall with Pete Seeger and Joan Baez and in 1964 toured with the American Folk Blues Festival. By the end of the decade he was opening for such rock bands as the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. During a tour of Europe in the 1970s, he played for Queen Elizabeth II at a command performance. Hopkins also performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In 1972 he worked on the soundtrack to the film Sounder. He was also the subject of a documentary, The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins, which won the prize at the Chicago Film Festival for outstanding documentary in 1970. Some of his biggest hits included Short Haired Women, Big Mama Jump! (1947); Shotgun Blues, which went to Number 5 on the Billboard charts in 1950; and Penitentiary Blues (1959). His albums included The Complete Prestige /Bluesville Recordings, The Complete Aladdin Recordings, and the Gold Star Sessions (two volumes). Hopkins recorded a total of more than eighty-five albums and toured around the world, but after a 1970 car crash, many of the concerts he performed were on his front porch or at a bar near his house.

He had a knack for writing songs impromptu, and frequently wove legends around a core of truth. His often autobiographical songs made him a spokesman for the southern black community that had no voice in the white mainstream until blues attained a broader popularity through white singers like Elvis Presley. In 1980 Lightnin’ Hopkins was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. Hopkins died of cancer of the esophagus on January 30, 1982, in Houston. He was survived by his caretaker, Antoinette Charles, and four children. His funeral was attended by more than 4,000, including fans and musicians. In 2002 the town of Crockett in Houston County, east of the birthplace of Hopkins, erected a memorial statue honoring the bluesman in Lightnin’ Hopkins Park. He is also honored in the Houston Institute for Culture's Texas Music Hall of Fame. In the 2010s a documentary, Where Lightnin’ Strikes, was in production. Source

COORDINATES
29° 43.184
-095° 18.159

Section 23
Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery
Houston

June 3, 2011

John Montgomery (1796-1863)

John Montgomery, San Jacinto veteran, was born in 1796, Baker's Creek, Blount, Tennessee, the son of William and Mary Polly (James) Montgomery and brother of fellow San Jacinto soldier Andrew Jackson Montgomery. He first arrived in Texas in 1831, after traveling through Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas and settled in what is now Montgomery County. He entered the Texas army on March 1, 1836, as a soldier in Captain James Gillaspie's Company, fought at San Jacinto on April 21 and left the service on May 13, 1836. On October 12, 1838, while living in Walker County, he married Elizabeth Julia Robinson and the couple had three children before she died in 1845, possibly from complications after having their last child. He remarried in 1848 to Sarah Allen in Collin County, and the two had five children. John continued his habit of moving often throughout his life, living in Walker County in 1850 and Trinity County in 1861, until finally settling in Grimes County, where he died in 1863. He was buried next to his brother Andrew in Stoneham Cemetery.

COORDINATES
30° 21.468
-095° 55.373


Stoneham Cemetery
Stoneham