September 25, 2012

Asa Brigham (1790-1844)

Asa Brigham, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, first treasurer of the Republic of Texas, and mayor of Austin, was born in Massachusetts about 1790. With his wife, Elizabeth S., two sons, a daughter, and a son-in-law, he arrived in Texas from Louisiana in April 1830. In December the ayuntamiento of San Felipe de Austin announced his election as síndico procurador for the precinct of Victoria (Brazoria), and in December 1831 he was elected comisario for the same precinct. He was one of those who signed a document on June 20, 1832, indicating readiness to participate in military operations in the interest of Texas independence. On October 6, 1832, he was elected treasurer for the Brazoria district. Brigham was appointed a member of the Brazoria board of health in 1831. After 1832 he kept a ferry at Brazoria, where he ran a mercantile business with his son-in-law, and later he was a stockholder in the San Saba Colonization Company and receiver of stock for the Brazos and Galveston Railroad. He acquired leagues of land at Hall's Bayou in Brazoria County and in Galveston and Bastrop counties, and raised sugar, cotton, corn, and cattle. By 1833 his daughter, wife, and son-in-law had all died. Though he held slaves for a time, Brigham later signed petitions for free blacks.

As one of those instrumental in establishing a Masonic lodge at Brazoria, he served as junior warden there and was also a charter member of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, organized at Houston on December 20, 1837. Brigham was elected Brazoria alcalde in 1835. He served as one of four representatives from Brazoria to the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. He remained at the convention until at least March 16, 1836. David G. Burnet appointed him auditor of the Republic of Texas, and President Sam Houston named him treasurer on December 20, 1836. He was the first to hold the latter office and was re-appointed by Mirabeau B. Lamar in January 1839. On February 16, 1839, Brigham became a Houston alderman while serving as national treasurer. He left the treasury on April 12, 1840; later that year he was charged with using state funds for private purposes but was cleared. Houston re-appointed him treasurer on December 31, 1841, and in 1842 Brigham became mayor of Austin. After the death of his first wife he married Mrs. Ann Johnson Mather, on July 8, 1839. He died on July 3, 1844, at Washington, Texas, where he is buried. A monument was erected by the state of Texas at the burial site in 1936, and Brigham's remains were removed to a site in Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site sometime later. Source 

30° 19.566
-096° 10.165

Washington Cemetery

September 18, 2012

Francis Marcus Weatherred (1781-1854)

Francis Marcus Weatherred, son of Francis and Agnes Weatherred, was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, on July 15, 1781. On December 23, 1806, while living in Tennessee, he married Nancy Dowell. He fought in the Creek War under Andrew Jackson before moving to Texas in December 1835, where he settled in Robertson's Colony. During the Texas Revolution, Francis joined William Patton's Columbia Company, but was on leave of absence during the battle of San Jacinto. On October 3, 1836, he was elected to Congress of the Republic as a representative from Milam County, but resigned on the 31st when it was discovered he had actually lost. In 1837 he was living in what is now Sabine County, where he operated a hotel in Milam. He ran for office again in 1843, but was defeated. Francis died on December 4, 1854 at his home and was buried in the town cemetery.

31° 26.190
-093° 51.004

Milam Cemetery

September 11, 2012

James Albert Michener (1907-1997)

James A. Michener was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, on February 3, 1907, and soon after abandoned by his parents. His foster mother, Mabel Michener, a poor widow who made a scant living by taking in laundry and sewing, took him in and raised him to young adulthood. At fourteen, Michener began what would become a lifelong inclination toward travel when he went on a hitchhiking tour that took him through 45 states. That fall he entered Doylestown High School, where his chief interest was sports, especially basketball. Upon graduation in 1925, he won a scholarship to Swarthmore College. He graduated from college summa cum laude in 1929 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. His first job was as an English teacher at Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where he worked from 1929 to 1931. He then received a Lippincott Travel Fellowship and, for the next two years, traveled in Europe. He studied in Scotland, England, and Italy, worked on a Mediterranean cargo ship, and toured Spain with a troupe of bullfighters. Upon returning to the United States in 1933, Michener accepted a teaching position at George School in Doylestown. While there he met Patti Koon; they were married in 1935. The following year, Michener was offered an associate professorship at the Colorado State College of Education in Greeley, where he taught until 1939. He also obtained his master's degree in English in 1937. His next move was to Harvard University's School of Education, where he was a visiting professor from 1939 to 1940. In 1940, he began a nine-year stint as a social studies editor at Macmillan.

In 1943, an event occurred that would drastically change Michener's life, although perhaps not in the way he expected. He had enlisted as an apprentice seaman in the United States Naval Reserve when World War II broke out and, in 1943, was called to active duty. He was sent to the South Pacific in 1944, where he traveled from island to island, learning about local culture and history and hearing stories from the residents. Michener developed an idea for a book and began to spend his nights tapping it out with two fingers on an old typewriter, using the backs of letters from home, old envelopes, and official Navy correspondence. Ultimately the recording of his experiences became his first well-known book, Tales of the South Pacific, published in 1947. It paid off - Tales of the South Pacific won a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and was adapted by Rogers and Hammerstein into the popular musical comedy, South Pacific in 1949. In 1948, Michener and his first wife were divorced and he married Vange Nord, an aspiring writer. The couple bought some property and built a new house, and Michener proceeded to publish several more books, including The Fires of Spring (1949), Return to Paradise (1951), The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1953), and Sayonara: The Floating World (1954). In addition, Michener began working as a roving editor for Readers Guide, an endeavor he continued until 1970. In 1955, he and his second wife divorced and Michener married Mari Yoriko Sabusawa. Although they had no children of their own, throughout their 39-year marriage Michener and his third wife housed and cared for many underprivileged children.

With the publication of his first historical novel, Hawaii, in 1959, Michener's writing career took on greater challenges. Like many such novels that were to follow, Hawaii was based on extensive research into the social, cultural, economic, and political history of a particular region and spanned generations of a family. Others of this kind included Caravans, about a romantic American girl in Afghanistan (1963); Centennial, which presented the history of Colorado from prehistory through the twentieth century (1974); Chesapeake, a depiction of 400 years of history on Maryland's eastern shore (1978); and The Covenant, a full history of South Africa (1980). Poland (1983), Texas (1985), Alaska (1988), and Caribbean (1989) were others among the more than 40 books Michener published. Space, published in 1982, dealt with NASA and space exploration and was one of Michener's most popular books. His novels sold an estimated 75 million copies worldwide. Several were made into motion pictures, including Tales of the South Pacific, Hawaii, Texas, and Space. Despite the popularity of his novels, Michener received mixed critical reviews. Some called him mediocre and long-winded, relying too much on trivial historical detail and not enough on imaginative language and subtlety. Others praised his ability to mold the vast amount of research into a story that taught about cultural diversity. Michener first became active in politics when he was chairman of the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, campaign for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election. In 1962, he lost his run for Congress as a Democrat. He served as secretary of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention in 1967-1968, during which a new state constitution was written. Michener also served as a correspondent for President Richard Nixon during his 1972 trips to the Soviet Union and China.

Although Michener was best known for his novels, they were not his only products. His earliest work, which consisted of 15 articles on teaching social studies published between the years 1936 and 1942, provided examples of the way in which Michener used fiction as a teaching device. In his book Return to Paradise (1951), Michener alternated essays about Asia with stories designed to exemplify the essays. The Novel (1991), though fiction, taught about art and the craft of writing. Michener also wrote books about Japanese art, the electoral college, sports and the 1970 shooting at Kent State. He published his memoirs, titled appropriately The World is My Home, in 1992. In 1994, he wrote Recessional, about retirement life in Florida and gave readers insight into Michener's own thoughts and feelings at that point in his life. Michener is known for his generous contributions to various organizations, estimated to be at least $100 million. Examples include $7.2 million to his alma mater, Swathmore College; $64.2 million to the University of Texas at Austin; and $9.5 million to the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. In addition, Michener designated the royalties from many of his books to various charitable organizations. In 1997, Fortune magazine listed Michener as the previous year's twenty-first most generous philanthropist. Throughout his long career, Michener received numerous awards. Some of the most noteworthy include the Einstein Award from Einstein Medical College in 1967, the Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford in 1977, the Pennsylvania Society Gold Medal in 1978, the Franklin Award and Spanish Institute Gold Medal in 1980, and an award for Outstanding Philanthropist by the National Society of Fund Raising Executives in 1996. Another honor came in the form of a television series on PBS called The World of James A. Michener, a program that explored some of the regions in which his novels were set.

In the midst of his professional achievements, Michener suffered a severe loss when his wife died of cancer in 1994. By this time Michener himself was in poor health; he had undergone hip surgery, major bypass surgery, and suffered from severe kidney problems which required dialysis treatments three times a week. Despite these ailments, Michener continued to write, publishing This Noble Land: My Vision for America in 1996 and A Century of Sonnets in 1997. He died in his home in Austin, Texas, on October 16, 1997, at the age of 90. Source

30° 19.949
-097° 45.192

Section 11
Austin Memorial Park Cemetery

September 4, 2012

Benjamin Beeson (?-1837?)

Benjamin Beeson (or Beason), one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, received title to his land in Colorado County on August 7, 1824. He operated a ferry on the Colorado River at the site of present Columbus, where his wife, Elizabeth, kept an inn. In April 1836 the Beeson family was at Harrisburg, where Mrs. Beeson operated a boarding house. Benjamin Beeson died before March 9, 1837; the Telegraph and Texas Register of March 14, 1837, carried a notice that William B. DeWees, Leander Beeson, and Abel Beeson were administrators of his estate. Source

Note: Beason's grave location has been lost over time, but he is known to have been buried in this cemetery. The photograph below is of the oldest section where he most likely rests.

Old City Cemetery