March 26, 2013

James Hope

   James Hope, pioneer settler, moved to Texas from Alabama before July 10, 1824, when, as one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, he received title to 1¼ leagues and two labors of land on the east bank of the Brazos River in what is now southwestern Brazos County. By March 26, 1825, he had exchanged his league for that of Bluford Brooks and was trying to secure vacant land on Mill Creek. Hope's daughter, Augusta, married Horatio Chriesman in 1825. The census of March 1826 listed Hope as a farmer and stock raiser aged between forty and fifty. His household included his wife, Althea, three sons, six daughters, and one servant. In January 1827 at Mina, Hope signed a declaration of loyalty to the Mexican government and a protest against the Fredonian Rebellion. He bought garden lots in 1829 and in May 1830 advertised his Connecticut garden seed and fruit trees for sale at San Felipe. In August 1830 he and Gail Borden, Jr., were nominated commissioners to superintend surveying of town lots at San Felipe. Hope in December 1831 advertised that he was going to England and leaving his son Richard in charge of his 15,000 to 20,000 peach and nectarine trees. According to Worth S. Ray's Austin Colony Pioneers, the tax rolls of 1840 indicate that James Hope died about 1836. His sons took part in the battle of San Jacinto and later had a saddle shop at Washington-on-the-Brazos. Source

Note: 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 James Hope 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

March 19, 2013

Martin Parmer

   Martin Parmer, legislator, judge, and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in Charlotte County, Virginia, on June 4, 1778. After first moving to Kentucky, in 1798 Parmer settled in Dickson County, Tennessee, where he became superintendent of the Montgomery Bell iron works. About 1816 he moved to Missouri, where in 1820 he was elected to a two-year term in the Missouri General Assembly (1820-21). While serving in this office Parmer was named as a delegate to the Missouri Constitutional Convention of 1821. Three years later he represented Clay County for a term in the Missouri State Senate (1824-25). Partly as a result of his military service in the War of 1812, he was chosen colonel of the Missouri militia, where, after 1821, he led four military companies against the Indians.

   In 1825 Parmer went briefly to Arkansas and then to Texas, where he settled near Mound Prairie (now in Cherokee County). The next year he joined Haden Edwards and fought for Benjamin Edwards in the Fredonian Rebellion. On November 25, 1826, Parmer presided over the court-martial that tried and convicted Samuel Norris, the alcalde of Nacogdoches, and his attorney, José Antonio Sepulveda. When the rebellion collapsed in defeat, Parmer fled first to Gonzales and then later to Louisiana. He attempted to return to Texas in 1831 but was expelled by Mexican authorities. After being pardoned in 1835 he returned to East Texas in time to be elected as a delegate from Tenaha (now Shelby County) to the Consultation of 1835. The same year he was elected to the General Council. The following year San Augustine County selected Parmer as one of its delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1836. At Washington-on-the-Brazos he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and was assigned to the committee to draft the new constitution. In 1839 President Mirabeau B. Lamar appointed Parmer chief justice of Jasper County. He held this post for less than a year.

   Parmer married Sarah Hardwick about 1798 in Kentucky. They had ten children. Sarah Parmer died in Texas in 1826. In later years her ten children spelled their surname "Palmer." About 1827 Parmer married Margaret Griffin Neal; they had one daughter. About 1830 Parmer married Louisa Lout, who had at least six children by a previous marriage. They had one son. Finally, about 1839 Parmer married Zina Kelley; they had five children. Parmer died on March 2, 1850, in Jasper County and was buried twelve miles southeast of Jasper on the A. C. Parmer survey. Later his body was moved to the State Cemetery in Austin. Parmer County, organized on August 21, 1876, was named in his honor. Source

30° 15.971, -097° 43.643

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

March 12, 2013

Benjamin W. Wightman

   Benjamin W. Wightman was born in Norwich, Connecticut on August 31, 1755, and served with the Tyron County Rangers of New York in the American Revolution. He married Esther Randall and became a Baptist minister. Benjamin and Esther had nine daughters, Jerusha, Lydia, Eunice, Lucy, Susan, Esther, Margaret, Amy and Clarissa, and two sons, Elias and Dimmis. In 1828 Elias, a surveyor for Stephen F. Austin, brought a group of colonists from New York to Matagorda - including his parents, Benjamin and Esther, and his sisters, Jerusha and Margaret. They traveled down the Mississippi River by flatboat to New Orleans. From New Orleans they sailed on the schooner Little Zoe to Matagorda, where they landed on January 1, 1829, the first sailing ship to enter the port. The first year they lived in a small stockade built by Stephen F. Austin. Esther Randall Wightman died of typhoid fever on June 20, 1830 becoming the first person buried in the Matagorda Cemetery. Six weeks later, on August 1, 1830, Benjamin Wightman followed her.

28° 42.082, -095° 57.346

Section B
Matagorda Cemetery

March 5, 2013

Peter W. Gray

   Peter W. Gray, legislator and jurist, one of the six children of Milly Richards (Stone) and William Fairfax Gray, was born on December 12, 1819, at Fredericksburg, Virginia. His father moved to Texas in 1835, and his family followed him in the winter of 1838 to Houston, where young Gray studied in his father's law office. As a captain in the Army of the Republic of Texas, Peter Gray participated in the campaign to remove the Shawnee Indians from East Texas in 1839. In 1842 he was elected second lieutenant of the Milam Guards and aided in repulsing the raid of Rafael Vásquez on San Antonio. Upon his father's death in 1841, Gray was appointed district attorney of Houston by Sam Houston. He held this position from April 24 until annexation. On January 25, 1843, he married Abby Jane Avery. He failed in an election bid for city secretary on January 20, 1840, but was elected alderman on November 1, 1841, and was appointed a member of the board of health on May 20, 1844. He was elected in 1846 to the first state legislature, where he was author of the important Practice Act regulating Texas court procedures. In 1848 he became a founder of the Houston Lyceum, which became the Houston Public Library. Largely through his financial support, Henderson Yoakum was able to complete his classic History of Texas (1855), which is dedicated to Gray. Gray was elected to the fourth Senate in 1854 and subsequently served as judge of the Houston district, a jurisdiction stretching from the Sabine to the Brazos, until the outbreak of the Civil War.

   Although he had been a strong advocate of annexation to the United States, Gray was a strong states'-rights Democrat and was elected as a delegate to the state Secession Convention, where he voted in favor of taking the state out of the Union. In November 1861 he was elected to represent the Houston district in the first Confederate House of Representatives. There he served on the House Currency and Judiciary committees and the special committee on homesteads for disabled soldiers. As a vigilant guardian of Texas financial interests, Gray secured a separate branch of the Treasury Department for the Trans-Mississippi region. Like most Texans, he favored direct taxation and heavy export duties to support the government and took a keen interest in the Sequestration Acts owing to the fact that much Texas land was owned by absentee Northern interests. At the same time he supported a strong central government, favoring, for example, nationalizing of the Confederate railroad system. He was a friend and confidential advisor of Jefferson Davis, as well as a supporter of conscription and exemption from the draft of overseers of slaves. Gray was defeated in his 1863 reelection campaign by Anthony Martin Branch. At the end of his term he became a volunteer aide to Gen. John B. Magruder and served at the battle of Galveston. In 1864 President Davis appointed him fiscal agent for the Trans-Mississippi Department, a position that he accepted with some reluctance. He was unsuccessful in raising funds to retire the Confederate debt in the region and thus left Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith's army virtually without financial means through the final months of the war.

   After the war Gray returned to his Houston law practice, which he built into one of the largest in the South, and was elected first president of the Houston Bar Association in 1870. In 1873 he toured Europe. In 1874 Gov. Richard Coke appointed him associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court, upon the resignation of William P. Ballinger, but Gray resigned within two months, on April 18, due to worsening pulmonary tuberculosis. He died in Houston on October 3, 1874, and was buried in the Glenwood Cemetery. In 1876 the Texas legislature named Gray County in his honor. Gray reportedly assumed his middle initial, which stands for no other name, in later life. He was a devout Episcopalian, a charter member of Christ Church in Houston, and an active Mason. Source

29° 45.879, -095° 23.219

Section E2
Glenwood Cemetery