October 30, 2012

Francis "Salty" Parker

   Francis James "Salty" Parker, baseball player, coach and manager, was born July 8, 1912 in East St. Louis, Illinois. He played in the major leagues for only one month (August 13, 1936 - September 16, 1936), appearing in eleven games for the Detroit Tigers. After a lengthy minor league managerial career, including a stint managing Leones de Escogido in the Dominican Republic (1957-59), Parker coached for the San Francisco Giants (1958-61), Cleveland Indians (1962), Los Angeles/California Angels (1964-66; 1973-74), New York Mets (1967) and Houston Astros (1968-72) and served brief stints as manager of the Mets and the Astros. After his MLB coaching career, Parker scouted for the Angels and remained active in Houston-area baseball, coaching in the Karl Young League for many years. He died July 27, 1992 at the age of 80 in Houston, Texas, and was buried in Forest Park Westheimer.

29° 44.434, -095° 36.617

Section 409
Forest Park Westheimer Cemetery

October 23, 2012

Macario Garcia

   Macario García, recipient of the Medal of Honor during World War II, was born on January 2, 1920, in Villa de Castaño, Mexico, to Luciano and Josefa García, farm workers who raised ten children. In 1923 the family moved to Texas; they eventually settled in Sugar Land. Like the rest of his brothers and sisters, he contributed to the family's support by picking crops. He was working on the Paul Schumann Ranch near Sugar Land when he was drafted into the army on November 11, 1942. García distinguished himself on the battlefield. He was wounded in action at Normandy in June 1944, but after his recovery he rejoined his unit, Company B, First Battalion, Twenty-second Infantry Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division. On November 27, 1944, near Grosshau, Germany, he single-handedly assaulted two German machine-gun emplacements that were blocking his company's advance. Wounded in the shoulder and foot, he crawled forward alone towards the machine-gun nests, killed six enemy soldiers, captured four, and destroyed the nests with grenades. Only after the company had secured its position did García allow himself to be evacuated for medical treatment. He was awarded the Medal of Honor with twenty-seven other soldiers at a White House ceremony on August 23, 1945, by President Harry S. Truman. García also received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge, as well as the medal of Mérito Militar, the Mexican equivalent to the Medal of Honor, during a ceremony in Mexico City on January 8, 1946. After three years of active service, one of which was overseas, García received an honorable discharge from the army with the rank of sergeant. He returned to Sugar Land and found that he had become a celebrity around the state. Newspapers published accounts of his heroism, and he was asked to appear at meetings and banquets. The League of United Latin American Citizens Council No. 60 in Houston, presided over by president Fernando Salas Aldaz and vice president John J. Herrera, honored him at a special ceremony at the courthouse.

   In September 1945, shortly after his return to Texas, García again attracted media attention when he was denied service at a restaurant in Richmond, a few miles south of Houston, because he was Hispanic. Outraged that he was treated like a second-class citizen after having risked his life for his country, García fought with the owner until police were called in. He was arrested and charged in the incident. His case immediately became a cause célèbre, symbolizing not only the plight of Hispanic soldiers who returned from the war, but the plight of the Hispanic community as a whole. Numerous groups and private citizens rallied to his aid. LULAC Council No. 60 and the Comité Patriótico Mexicano sponsored benefits in his honor to raise money to pay for his defense. Garcia’s legal defense was headed first by John J. Herrera and later, James V. Allred. During 1945-46, the case was repeatedly postponed, until all charges were finally dropped. On June 25, 1947, García became an American citizen. He earned a high school diploma in 1951, and married Alicia Reyes on May 18, 1952. They raised three children. Like other GIs who returned from the war, García encountered many difficulties in finding employment. He eventually found a job as a counselor in the Veterans' Administration, and remained with the VA for the next twenty-five years. In 1970 García and his family moved to Alief. He died on December 24, 1972, in a car crash and was buried in the National Cemetery in Houston. At the graveside ceremonies an honor guard from Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio performed the military rites. In 1981 the Houston City Council officially changed the name of Sixty-ninth Street to Macario García Drive. This 1½ mile thoroughfare runs through the heart of the city's east-side Mexican-American community. In 1983 Vice President George Bush dedicated Houston's new Macario García Army Reserve Center, and in 1994 a Sugar Land middle school was named in García's honor. Source

While an acting squad leader of Company B, 22d Infantry, on 27 November 1944, near Grosshau, Germany, he single-handedly assaulted 2 enemy machine gun emplacements. Attacking prepared positions on a wooded hill, which could be approached only through meager cover, his company was pinned down by intense machine gun fire and subjected to a concentrated artillery and mortar barrage. Although painfully wounded, he refused to be evacuated and on his own initiative crawled forward alone until he reached a position near an enemy emplacement. Hurling grenades, he boldly assaulted the position, destroyed the gun, and with his rifle killed 3 of the enemy who attempted to escape. When he rejoined his company, a second machine gun opened fire and again the intrepid soldier went forward, utterly disregarding his own safety. He stormed the position and destroyed the gun, killed 3 more Germans, and captured 4 prisoners. He fought on with his unit until the objective was taken and only then did he permit himself to be removed for medical care. S/Sgt. (then private) Garcia's conspicuous heroism, his inspiring, courageous conduct, and his complete disregard for his personal safety wiped out 2 enemy emplacements and enabled his company to advance and secure its objective.
29° 55.858, -095° 27.066

Section Ha
Houston National Cemetery

October 16, 2012

Joseph White

   Joseph White, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born in Georgia. He received title to a sitio of land in the area of present Brazoria County on August 16, 1824. The census of 1826 classified him as a farmer and stock raiser, aged between twenty-five and forty. His household included his wife, two sons, a daughter, and five slaves. White was elected alcalde at San Felipe on December 21, 1828. In December 1829 he bought several lots in San Felipe de Austin and took over a debt owed by Horatio Chriesman to the ayuntamiento. White died in San Felipe de Austin on June 14, 1830. In October 1830 alcalde Thomas Barnett published notice that Zeno Philips, administrator of White's estate, would have a public sale at White's last residence, of half a league of land on Clear Creek, west of Galveston Bay; two lots; a negro woman slave; household and kitchen furniture; and personal property. Sources indicate that a Joseph White served with the artillery corps at San Jacinto. Source

Note: Joseph White's grave is 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 Joseph White 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.


San Felipe de Austin Cemetery
San Felipe

October 9, 2012

John Wheeler Bunton

   John Wheeler Bunton, patriot and statesman, son of Joseph Robert and Phoebe (Desha) Bunton, was born in Sumner County, Tennessee, on February 22, 1807. He was educated at Princeton College, Kentucky, and studied law in Gallatin, Tennessee. He arrived in Texas in 1833 and settled first in Austin's colony in San Felipe; soon thereafter he moved to Mina (Bastrop), where, on May 17, 1835, he was elected secretary of the local committee of safety. Such committees, newly organized for protection against the Indians, became the first step toward Texas independence. Bunton represented Mina at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos, signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, and was a member of the committee to draft the constitution of the new republic.

   Bunton was first sergeant of Robert M. Coleman's company of Mina Volunteers. For the siege of Bexar on December 5-10, 1835, he was transferred to Capt. John York's company. After being honorably discharged, he rejoined the army, on March 28, 1836. At the battle of San Jacinto he served on the staff of Gen. Sam Houston in Capt. Jesse Billingsley's company of Mina Volunteers. Afterward, Bunton returned to his home, and from October 3 to December 21, 1836, he represented Bastrop County in the House of Representatives of the First Congress of the Republic of Texas.

   In the spring of 1836 Bunton returned to Gallatin, Tennessee, and married his sweetheart, Mary Howell. In April the Buntons, accompanied by 140 friends and slaves, left for Texas. At New Orleans they boarded the Julius Caesar carrying a cargo valued at $30,000. Near the Texas coast on April 12 the vessel was captured by Mexicans and taken to Matamoros, where all of the passengers were imprisoned for three months. After release, the Buntons and other passengers returned to Tennessee. Bunton soon headed another group that traveled by boat and entered Texas at Indianola on Matagorda Bay. While residing in Austin County, he was elected to the House of Representatives of the Third Congress. He is credited for the bill that established the Texas Rangers, the bill providing postal service, and the bill outlining the judiciary system. In 1840 he settled on a farm on Cedar Creek in Bastrop County, where he resided for seventeen years. In 1857 he moved to Mountain City, where he engaged in the cattle business. Bunton originated the famous Turkey Foot brand, which was registered in Hays County.

   He joined the First Christian Church at Lockhart and was baptized in Walnut Creek in Caldwell County. He was a very tall man, and family members said it was necessary to dam the creek to get sufficient water to immerse him. He was a member of the Texas Veterans Association and a charter member of the Philosophical Society of Texas. The Buntons had five sons and a daughter. On September 16, 1862, Mary Bunton died. Bunton was married again on July 26, 1865, in Bastrop County to Hermine C. Duval. He died at his home on August 24, 1879, and was buried in the Robinson Cemetery beside his first wife. In recognition of his patriotic services in behalf of Texas, on Texas Independence Day, March 2, 1932, the remains of John Wheeler and Mary Howell Bunton were moved and reinterred in the State Cemetery in Austin under the auspices of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Source

30° 15.925, -097° 43.617

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

October 2, 2012

Louis Trezevant Wigfall

   Louis T. Wigfall, secessionist, was born in Edgefield, South Carolina, on April 21, 1816, to Levi Durand and Eliza (Thomson) Wigfall and educated at South Carolina College and the University of Virginia. Wigfall believed in a society led by the planter class and based on slavery and the chivalric code. As a young man he neglected his law practice for contentious politics that led him to wound a man in a duel (and be wounded himself) and to kill another during a quarrel. In 1846 Wigfall arrived in Galveston, then moved with his wife, Charlotte, and three children to Nacogdoches, where he was a law partner of Thomas J. Jennings and William B. Ochiltree. Soon Wigfall opened his own law office in Marshall. He was active in Texas politics from the month he arrived, "alerting" Texans to the dangers of abolition and growing influence of non-slave states in the United States Congress. At the Galveston County Democratic convention in 1848 he condemned congressional efforts to prohibit the expansion of slavery into the territories and expressed sorrow that Texas would not take the lead in opposing such unconstitutional actions.

   Named in 1850 to the Texas House of Representatives, Wigfall attacked United States Senator Sam Houston as a coward and a traitor to Texas and the South. Wigfall played a major role in organizing Texas Democrats and fighting the American (Know-Nothing) party and Sam Houston in 1855-56. Wigfall was one of the few men in Houston's opposition who rivaled him as a stump speaker, and he was widely credited with Houston's defeat for the governorship in 1857. That year Wigfall was elected to the Texas Senate, and in 1858 he had a strong voice in the state Democratic convention that adopted a states' rights platform. With the breakup of the Know-Nothings, many moderates moved back into the Democratic party, and it appeared that Wigfall`s radicalism was repudiated and that Houston and moderates were ascendant. But Wigfall capitalized on the fear that John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry caused in the slave states and was elected to the United States Senate in 1859. In the Senate Wigfall earned a reputation for eloquence, acerbic debate, and readiness for encounter. In the forefront of southern "fire-eaters," Wigfall continued his fight for slavery and states' rights and against expanding the power of national government. Nevertheless he tried, unsuccessfully, to get federal funds to defend the Texas frontier against Indian attacks and to build the Southern Pacific Railroad into Texas.

   After Abraham Lincoln was elected president, Wigfall coauthored the Southern Manifesto, declaring that any hope for relief in the Union was gone and that the honor and independence of the South required the organization of a Southern Confederacy. Wigfall helped foil efforts for compromise to save the Union and urged all slave states to secede. He stayed in the Senate after Texas seceded, spying on the Union, chiding northern senators, and raising and training troops in Maryland to send to South Carolina. With the assistance of Benjamin McCulloch, he bought revolvers and rifles for Texas Confederates. Wigfall made his presence felt when the Civil War began at Fort Sumter, rowing under fire to the fort and dictating unauthorized surrender terms to the federal commander. Between April and July 1861, when he was finally expelled from the Senate, Wigfall was a member of the Provisional Congress of the Confederacy, an aide to President Jefferson Davis, and a United States Senator. He was commissioned colonel of the First Texas Infantry on August 28, 1861, and on November 21 Davis nominated him brigadier general in the Provisional Army, a move later confirmed by the Confederate Congress. Wigfall commanded the Texas Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia (Hood's Texas Brigade) until February 1862, when he resigned to take a seat in the Confederate Congress.

   At the beginning of the war Wigfall was a friend and supporter of President Davis. But soon after Wigfall's election to the Confederate Senate they quarreled over military and other matters. During the last two years of the Confederacy Wigfall carried on public and conspiratorial campaigns to strip Davis of all influence. Despite his public advocacy of states' rights, Wigfall did little for Texas. In the Confederacy he worked for military strength at the expense of state and individual rights. But he opposed the arming of slaves and was willing to lose the war rather than admit that blacks were worthy of being soldiers. After the fall of the Confederacy, Wigfall fled to Texas for almost a year and then, in the spring of 1866, to England, where he tried to foment war between Britain and the United States, hoping to give the South an opportunity to rise again. He returned to the United States in 1872, lived in Baltimore, moved back to Texas in 1874, and died in Galveston on February 18, 1874. Source

29° 17.590, -094° 48.695

Trinity Episcopal Cemetery