June 28, 2011

Horton Foote

   Horton Foote, Jr., distinguished Texas dramatist, was born Albert Horton Foote, Jr., on March 14, 1916, in Wharton, Texas. Horton Foote was the son of Albert Horton Foote and Harriet Gautier Brooks Foote and a descendent of the first lieutenant governor of Texas, Albert Horton. He grew up in Wharton with his two brothers Tom Brooks and John Speed. Foote finished high school at age sixteen, then lived a year in Dallas with his grandmother while working as an usher at the Majestic Theater and taking elocution lessons. Foote had dreams of being an actor, so he moved to California and enrolled in acting school at Pasadena Playhouse in 1933.

   After completing acting school, Foote lived in New York City as a struggling thespian while taking acting classes from Tamara Daykarhanova, Andrius Jilinsky, Maria Ouspenskaya, and Vera Soloviova. Jilinsky, Soloviova, and Daykarhanova had studied with Constantin Stanislavsky and taught his “system” called “method acting.” Foote’s classmate Mary Hunter Wolf formed the American Actors Company to promote American talent in the theater and he joined in 1939. He began writing plays, the first of which was a one-act entitled Wharton Dance. His first three-act play was Texas Town. Only the Heart was Foote’s first play on Broadway at the Bijou Theatre in 1944. While working at Doubleday Book Store in Penn Station, he fell in love with Lillian Vallish and they married in 1945. After the American Actors Company disbanded in 1945, Foote became disappointed by the commercialism in post-World War II New York theater, so he and Lillian moved to Washington, D.C., and together they managed the acting school and theater productions at King-Smith School for the next four years. Foote returned to New York City in 1949 and was hired as a television writer for the children’s program The Quaker Oats Show, which debuted October 15, 1950. After fifty-four episodes, Foote focused on writing television plays. The Trip to Bountiful aired in 1953 on Goodyear Television Playhouse and was so well-received that it moved to Broadway and has been the most produced play of Horton Foote’s work. Twenty-four television plays written by Horton Foote aired between 1951 and 1964.

   In 1955 Foote moved to Nyack, New York, and began raising a family with Lillian. Although he was brought up in the Methodist Church, he and Lillian converted to Christian Science shortly after his mother and sister converted in Texas. That same year Foote’s first screenwriting credit was the Cornel Wilde film, Storm Fear. The Chase, Foote’s only novel, was published in 1956 and was based on an earlier play. In 1961 Alan Pakula asked Foote to write the screenplay for Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The film was released a year later, and Foote won an Oscar for the screenplay. Baby the Rain Must Fall, starring Steve McQueen and Lee Remick, premiered in 1965 and was filmed entirely in Columbia and Wharton, Texas. In the mid-1960s, Foote moved to New Boston, New Hampshire. He continued to write for Hollywood. His screenplay Tomorrow, based on a short story by William Faulkner, premiered to critical acclaim in 1972 and starred Robert Duvall. Next, Foote wrote the book for the musical adaptation of Gone With the Wind, which was produced in Los Angeles, London, and Dallas from 1973 to 1976.

   After Foote’s parents passed away in the mid-1970s, he gathered all the family papers from Wharton and poured over them in his New Hampshire home. The various stories and conflicts of his family inspired him to write The Orphans’ Home Cycle, a collection of nine plays about three families in fictional Harrison, Texas. The plays in chronological order are Roots in a Parched Ground (1902); Convicts (1904); Lily Dale (1910); The Widow Claire (1912); Courtship (1915); Valentine’s Day (1917); 1918 (1918); Cousins (1925); and The Death of Papa (1928). HB Playhouse began producing the The Orphans’ Home Cycle plays in the late 1970s, and Foote moved back to New York City. HB Playhouse did not pay for plays, so Foote supported himself by writing for television again. Titles included Flannery O’Connor’s The Displaced Person; William Faulkner’s Barn Burning; and Keeping On. Foote continued to write and direct for the theater, but he also continued to make films. During the 1980s, Foote lived in his childhood Wharton home and filmed three of the The Orphans’ Home Cycle works (1918, Courtship, and Valentine’s Day), as well as The Trip to Bountiful, Tender Mercies, and The Habitation of Dragons in Texas. Convicts, the second work in The Orphans’ Home Cycle, was released as a film in 1990 and Foote’s screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was released in 1992. After his wife Lillian passed away in 1992, Foote lived with his daughter Hallie, and her husband in Pacific Palisades, California.

   Foote continued to write for theater, television, and film for almost two decades while receiving critical acclaim for his body of work. Most notable are the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Young Man From Atlanta (1995) and the Emmy-winning Old Man, based on a story by William Faulkner. In early 2009, Horton stayed in Hartford, Connecticut, with his daughter Hallie and her husband, Devon Abner, while he worked on completing the scripts for The Orphans’ Home Cycle for the Hartford Stage Company. Horton Foote passed away in his sleep on March 4, 2009 at the age of ninety-two. Unfortunately, he did not get to see his last two works completed. The Orphans’ Home Cycle was staged in its entirety at Hartford Stage Company in the 2009-10 season and moved to Signature Theater in New York in 2010. Foote’s screenplay for Main Street, a film starring Colin Firth and Orlando Bloom, was completed in 2010 and released in the fall of 2011.

   Frank Rich, the New York Times chief theater critic in the 1980s, described Foote as “a major American dramatist whose epic body of work recalls Chekhov in its quotidian comedy and heartbreak and Faulkner in its ability to make his own corner of America stand for the whole.” Foote’s theatrical honors include a Pulitzer Prize for The Young Man From Atlanta (1995); Lucille Lortel Awards for The Orphans Home Cycle (2010) and The Trip to Bountiful (2006); and an OBIE award for Dividing the Estate (2008). His screenwriting honors include Oscars for To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and Tender Mercies (1983); an Emmy for Old Man (1997); an Independent Spirit Award for The Trip to Bountiful (1986); and the Writers Guild of America awards for To Kill a Mockingbird (1963) and Tender Mercies (1984). Foote was also a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and a recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 2000 by President Bill Clinton.

   Horton and Lillian Foote had four children: Barbara Hallie, Albert Horton Foote III, Walter, and Daisy. In 1992, DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University acquired Horton Foote’s extensive personal papers. The library held an exhibition on Foote’s career during the 2011 Horton Foote Festival in Dallas, Texas, which presented seventeen works by Horton Foote. Source 

29° 18.689, -096° 05.556

Wharton City Cemetery

June 21, 2011

Lloyd Herbert Hughes

   Lloyd Herbert Hughes, Jr., Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, on July 12, 1921, the son of Lloyd Herbert Hughes, Sr., and Mildred Mae (Rainey) Hughes. Hughes’s parents divorced sometime after his birth. Mildred Hughes found employment as a postmaster in Onalaska in Polk County, Texas, in November 1923. In 1924 his mother married John Raymond Jordan. Between 1927 and 1931 the Jordan family lived in Oak Hurst in San Jacinto County, Huntsville, Josserand, and Refugio, Texas. By 1931 the Jordan family added four sons in addition to young Lloyd who was called “Pete” by family and friends.

   Lloyd Hughes experienced success in academics and athletics in school. After beginning school in Oak Hurst in 1927, he spent most of his early years in the Refugio school system. Hughes was valedictorian of his seventh-grade graduation class. In high school, he served as the captain on both the football and basketball teams. He also found employment as a roughneck in the oil industry and with a newspaper and ice route during the summers and after school. After graduating from Refugio High School in the spring of 1939, Hughes enrolled at Texas A&M in the fall as a petroleum engineering major.

   Assigned to the infantry in the Corps of Cadets, Hughes experienced academic problems during his first semester and withdrew at the end of the term. He then moved to Corpus Christi (where the Jordan family had moved in early 1939) and attended Corpus Christi Junior College (now Del Mar College) for two terms where his grades improved. He enrolled at Texas A&M in September 1941 and remained there until leaving school on December 3, 1941, due to his desire to assist his family and ailing stepfather.

   On January 28, 1942, Hughes enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet in San Antonio. After completing his primary pilot training in Tulsa and his basic pilot training at Enid, Oklahoma, he finished the advanced pilot training at Lubbock, Texas. On November 8, Hughes married Hazel Dean Ewing in San Antonio. He was assigned to the Four Engine Transition School, Combat Crew School at Tarrant Air Base in Fort Worth and finished his training and received his pilot’s wings and his commission as a second lieutenant on November 10, 1942.

   In early 1943 Hughes was assigned as a pilot to the newly-formed 389th Heavy Bombardment Group at Biggs Army Air Field, Texas. This group was designated as part of Operation Tidal Wave (a low level bombing attack by B-24 heavy bombers on the Nazi-held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania). After final instruction at Lowry Field, Colorado, and receiving crew formations and assignments to a B-24, the group arrived in England in June for flight training at treetop level. The group departed for Benghazi, Libya, on June 30, and in July Hughes’s unit flew four combat missions over Italy and the Mediterranean and spent ten days of intense low-level training for the raid on Ploesti.

   In the early morning of August 1, Hughes’s plane Ole Kickapoo departed Benghazi as part of the 179 loaded B-24 Liberators (divided into five groups) for the 2,400-mile roundtrip to Ploesti. The 389th (nicknamed the “Sky Scorpions”) flew in the rear with two other groups. With Hughes as the pilot, Ole Kickapoo in the last formation approached its target region with enemy defenders fully alerted. Flying through intense anti-aircraft fire, Hughes’s plane took several direct hits that caused gasoline leaks in the bomb bay and the left wing. Aware of the danger and unwilling to leave the formation, Hughes piloted the plane to his assigned target in a blazing area where the bomb load was dropped. Flying away from the target with the left wing aflame, Hughes sought to land the aircraft in a dry riverbed, but the plane “crashed and was consumed.” Only three men of the ten-man crew survived the crash, and one died from burns two days later. The two survivors remained prisoners of war until the end of the conflict. Romanian authorities retrieved the bodies of Hughes and the other crewmen and buried them in Bolovan Cemetery. Fifty-four B-24s did not make it back to Benghazi. Military reports indicated that Hughes’s target area was so damaged that it did not resume production during the war.

   For his “heroic decision to complete his mission regardless of the consequences in utter disregard of his own life,” the twenty-two-year-old Texan was recommended for the Medal of Honor; four other airmen also received the medal for their performance in Operation Tidal Wave. On April 18, 1944, Hazel Ewing Hughes was presented her husband’s posthumous Medal of Honor by Lt. Gen. Barton Yount in a ceremony at Kelly Field.

   Second Lieutenant Lloyd Herbert Hughes, Jr., was honored in a number of ways years after his tragic death. In 1950 his body was returned to Texas, and on April 12 he was buried with full military honors at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. Texas A&M renamed a dormitory Lloyd H. Hughes Hall in 1969. In Corpus Christi, Del Mar College added Hughes to its Wall of Honor in 1995. A portrait of Hughes hangs in the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M. The Sam Houston Sanders Corps of Cadets Center at Texas A&M also displays his original Medal of Honor beneath a bronze plaque of the former cadet. Hughes was the first Texas Aggie to receive the Medal of Honor. Source 

For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On August 1943, 2d Lt. Hughes served in the capacity of pilot of a heavy bombardment aircraft participating in a long and hazardous minimum-altitude attack against the Axis oil refineries of Ploesti, Rumania, launched from the northern shores of Africa. Flying in the last formation to attack the target, he arrived in the target area after previous flights had thoroughly alerted the enemy defenses. Approaching the target through intense and accurate antiaircraft fire and dense balloon barrages at dangerously low altitude, his plane received several direct hits from both large and small caliber antiaircraft guns which seriously damaged his aircraft, causing sheets of escaping gasoline to stream from the bomb bay and from the left wing. This damage was inflicted at a time prior to reaching the target when 2d Lt. Hughes could have made a forced landing in any of the grain fields readily available at that time. The target area was blazing with burning oil tanks and damaged refinery installations from which flames leaped high above the bombing level of the formation. With full knowledge of the consequences of entering this blazing inferno when his airplane was profusely leaking gasoline in two separate locations, 2d Lt. Hughes, motivated only by his high conception of duty which called for the destruction of his assigned target at any cost, did not elect to make a forced landing or turn back from the attack. Instead, rather than jeopardize the formation and the success of the attack, he unhesitatingly entered the blazing area and dropped his bomb load with great precision. After successfully bombing the objective, his aircraft emerged from the conflagration with the left wing aflame. Only then did he attempt a forced landing, but because of the advanced stage of the fire enveloping his aircraft the plane crashed and was consumed. By 2d Lt. Hughes' heroic decision to complete his mission regardless of the consequences in utter disregard of his own life, and by his gallant and valorous execution of this decision, he has rendered a service to our country in the defeat of our enemies which will everlastingly be outstanding in the annals of our Nation's history.

29° 28.688, -098° 25.822 

Section U
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio

June 14, 2011

Robert McAlpin Williamson

   Robert McAlpin Williamson, son of Peter B. and Ann (McAlpin) Williamson, was born in Georgia in 1804 or 1806. When he was fifteen years old, his school career was terminated by an illness which confined him to his home for two years and left him disabled for life. His right leg was drawn back at the knee; the wooden leg which he wore from the knee to the ground resulted in his widely-known title of "Three Legged Willie." Williamson read much during his illness, was admitted to the bar around the age of nineteen, and may have practiced law in Georgia for over a year. In the late 1820s he migrated to Texas and settled at San Felipe de Austin.

   In 1829, in association with Godwin B. Cotten, he established a newspaper called the Cotton Plant, which he edited from 1829 to 1831. For a short time Williamson edited the Texas Gazette and the Mexican Citizen. He made an early appeal for the Texas colonists to resist Mexican tyranny. He was sent as a delegate from Mina (Bastrop) to the Consultation, and the provisional government established there commissioned him major on November 29, 1835, and ordered him to organize a corps of rangers. He participated in the battle of San Jacinto in William H. Smith's cavalry company, his name appearing on the original muster roll, through error, as W. W. Williamson. He received 640 acres for participating in the battle of San Jacinto.

   On December 16, 1836, the First Congress of the republic elected Williamson judge of the Third Judicial District, automatically making him a member of the Supreme Court. The town of Columbus had been burned during the Runaway Scrape, and as there was no suitable structure to hold court proceedings, the first term of District Court, Republic of Texas, was convened by the Honorable R. M. Williamson, under a large oak tree next to the lot where the Colorado County Courthouse was later built in April 1837. In 1840 he was elected to represent Washington County in Congress. He served in the House in the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Congress, in the Senate in the Eighth Congress, and in the House again in the Ninth Congress. His Senate seat in the Eighth Congress was contested, and he eventually lost the seat. After annexation, which he had advocated so strongly that he even named one of his sons Annexus, he served in the Senate of the first two legislatures, retiring in March 1850. As judge and lawmaker Williamson became the subject of numerous legends inspired by his personal characteristics, his unique decisions, his adroitness as a campaigner, his amusing legislative manipulations, and the succinctness of his oratory.

   Williamson married Mary Jane Edwards, daughter of Gustavus E. Edwards of Austin County, on April 21, 1837. They were parents of seven children. After his defeat in the race for Congress in 1850, he retired to his farm near Independence and devoted himself to the education of his children and preparations of materials for writing a history of events in Texas leading up to the Texas Revolution. He was an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 1851. In 1857 an attack of illness affected his mental brilliance, which was further impaired by the death of his wife in 1858. From these combined shocks his mind never entirely recovered. He died at the home of his father-in-law in Wharton on December 22, 1859. Williamson County, established in 1848, was named for R. M. Williamson. In 1930, when his body was reinterred in the State Cemetery, the state of Texas erected a monument at his grave. The Texas Centennial Commission, in 1936, marked the site where he died. Source 

30° 15.933, -097° 43.632

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

June 7, 2011

James Monroe Goggin

   James Monroe Goggin, soldier and planter, son of Pleasant Moorman and Mary Otey (Leftwich) Goggin, was born on October 23, 1820, in Bedford County, Virginia. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point with the class of 1842, although he did not graduate. He moved to the Republic of Texas, where he served in the Texas army as a lieutenant in the First Infantry and acquired large landholdings, principally in Waller County. Goggin lived in Missouri, California, and Tennessee from 1844 until 1861, when he entered the Confederate Army as major of the Thirty-second Virginia Infantry.

   He was commended for gallantry and appointed brigadier general to rank from December 4, 1864, but probably because there was no vacant brigade at the time, the appointment was subsequently canceled, and he returned to staff duty at his former rank of major. After the war Goggin returned to Texas and was a planter in Waller County until about 1883, when he moved to Austin. He married Elizabeth Nelson Page on February 13, 1860, and they had several children. He died in Austin on October 10, 1889. He and his wife were buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin. Source 

30° 16.642, -097° 43.589

Section 3
Oakwood Cemetery