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. MartĂ­n 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