June 25, 2013

John Wheeler Bunton (1807-1879)

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

June 18, 2013

Clement Clinton Dyer (1799-1864)

C. C. Dyer, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born at Dyersburg, Tennessee, on January 29, 1799. He moved to Texas in 1822 and, on June 5, 1824, married Sarah Stafford, daughter of William Stafford. They had twelve children. On August 10, 1824, Dyer received title to a league of land in what is now Colorado County; on August 24 of that year he received title to 1½ labors of land in what is now Waller County. In 1825 Indians frightened Mrs. Dyer away from their home, and in April 1826 Dyer made affidavits concerning Indian hostilities. In 1833 he became the manager of the Stafford plantation. Soon afterward he was appointed to oversee the records of the Department of the Brazos. Sometime before March 28, 1835, he sold a half league to his father-in-law. On November 7, 1835, as a delegate to the Consultation from Harrisburg Municipality he was one of the signers of the declaration that cited the causes for taking up arms against the Centralist forces of Antonio L√≥pez de Santa Anna. After the Texas Revolution, Dyer was justice of the peace in Harrisburg (later Harris) County. He moved to Fort Bend County in 1837 and from 1838 to 1841 was justice of the peace in the lower precinct of that county. He was also actively involved in the Methodist church organized in 1839 in Richmond. In 1843 he was elected county chief justice, a post he held until August 1856. On January 15, 1845, he was appointed to a committee that was to draft resolutions expressing the sentiments of Fort Bend County citizens regarding the annexation of Texas to the United States. The census of 1860 listed him as a wealthy planter with an estate worth $40,000. He died near Richmond in 1864. Source

29° 34.654
-095° 45.423

Dyer Cemetery

June 11, 2013

Raymond Lee Knight (1922-1945)

Raymond L. Knight, Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Timpson, Texas, on July 15, 1922. His family later moved to Houston, where he graduated from John Reagan High School in 1940. He entered the United States Army Air Corps at Houston in October 1942 and received his pilot's wings and commission at Harding Field, Louisiana, in April 1944. After further training in the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber, 2d Lt. Knight was assigned to the 350th Fighter Group, Twelfth Air Force, in Northern Italy, where he completed eighty-two combat missions. During his first year of combat he won the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts, and the Air Medal with five oak-leaf clusters. His most notable exploits, however, came in action against heavily defended German airdromes at Ghedi and Bergamo, Italy, in April 1945.

On the morning of April 24 he led two other pilots, each flying a single-engine P-47 Thunderbolt, against the heavily defended airdrome at Ghedi. He ordered the other aircraft to stay aloft while he descended to low altitude through heavy antiaircraft fire and located eight German aircraft under heavy camouflage. After rejoining his flight, Knight led the attack and destroyed five of the enemy aircraft, while his teammates shot down two others. After returning to base he volunteered to lead a reconnaissance mission of three other aircraft to the airbase at Bergamo. He ordered his flight to remain out of range of enemy guns while he flew through the fire at low level. Although his Thunderbolt was badly damaged by intense ground fire he observed a squadron of enemy aircraft, heavily camouflaged, and led his flight to the attack. After this strafing, he made ten more passes over the field, and although hit by enemy fire twice more he destroyed six heavily loaded twin-engine aircraft and enemy fighters. He safely returned his damaged aircraft to base. He returned to Bergamo the next morning, April 25, 1945, with a flight of three and attacked an aircraft on the runway. Three more twin-engine aircraft were destroyed. His plane was heavily damaged and virtually unflyable, but he chose to attempt to return the valuable equipment to base for repair. He crashed in the Appennini Mountains and was killed. His gallant action eliminated enemy aircraft that were set to attack the Allied forces in their attempt to establish the first firm bridgehead across the Po River. He personally destroyed fourteen grounded enemy aircraft and led attacks that wrecked ten others. The Medal of Honor was presented to his widow, Johnnie Lee Knight, and his 2½-year-old-son on the stage at Reagan High School, where Raymond and Johnnie had graduated five years earlier. His remains were buried in Woodlawn Garden of Memories in 1949 and reburied in the Houston National Cemetery in a special section for Medal of Honor recipients on April 25, 1992. Source

He piloted a fighter-bomber aircraft in a series of low-level strafing missions, destroying 14 grounded enemy aircraft and leading attacks which wrecked 10 others during a critical period of the Allied drive in northern Italy. On the morning of 24 April, he volunteered to lead 2 other aircraft against the strongly defended enemy airdrome at Ghedi. Ordering his fellow pilots to remain aloft, he skimmed the ground through a deadly curtain of antiaircraft fire to reconnoiter the field, locating 8 German aircraft hidden beneath heavy camouflage. He rejoined his flight, briefed them by radio, and then led them with consummate skill through the hail of enemy fire in a low-level attack, destroying 5 aircraft, while his flight accounted for 2 others. Returning to his base, he volunteered to lead 3 other aircraft in reconnaissance of Bergamo airfield, an enemy base near Ghedi and 1 known to be equally well defended. Again ordering his flight to remain out of range of antiaircraft fire, 1st Lt. Knight flew through an exceptionally intense barrage, which heavily damaged his Thunderbolt, to observe the field at minimum altitude. He discovered a squadron of enemy aircraft under heavy camouflage and led his flight to the assault. Returning alone after this strafing, he made 10 deliberate passes against the field despite being hit by antiaircraft fire twice more, destroying 6 fully loaded enemy twin-engine aircraft and 2 fighters. His skillfully led attack enabled his flight to destroy 4 other twin-engine aircraft and a fighter plane. He then returned to his base in his seriously damaged plane. Early the next morning, when he again attacked Bergamo, he sighted an enemy plane on the runway. Again he led 3 other American pilots in a blistering low-level sweep through vicious anti-aircraft fire that damaged his plane so severely that it was virtually nonflyable. Three of the few remaining enemy twin-engine aircraft at that base were destroyed. Realizing the critical need for aircraft in his unit, he declined to parachute to safety over friendly territory and unhesitatingly attempted to return his shattered plane to his home field. With great skill and strength, he flew homeward until caught by treacherous air conditions in the Appennines Mountains, where he crashed and was killed. The gallant action of 1st Lt. Knight eliminated the German aircraft which were poised to wreak havoc on Allied forces pressing to establish the first firm bridgehead across the Po River; his fearless daring and voluntary self-sacrifice averted possible heavy casualties among ground forces and the resultant slowing on the German drive culminated in the collapse of enemy resistance in Italy.

29° 55.831
-095° 27.041

Section Hb
Houston National Cemetery

June 4, 2013

John Joseph "Johnny" Keane (1911-1967)

Johnny Keane, major-league baseball manager, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 3, 1911. His mother died when he was young, and he was raised by his grandmother. As a youth, he studied six years to become a Catholic priest but cut seminary classes on occasion in order to play semiprofessional baseball and soccer. He also played as the first-string quarterback at a St. Louis high school under an assumed name. At the age of seventeen he was about to sign a professional soccer contract, when the St. Louis Cardinals signed him and sent him to the minor leagues. He moved to Houston in 1935 to play for the Houston Buffs and appeared headed for the major leagues when he was struck in the head by a pitched ball. He was unconscious for six days and was hospitalized for six weeks. Although he played ball again after his recovery, the Cardinals decided to make him a manager in 1938. Keane managed teams in Albany, Georgia, Rochester, Minnesota, Columbus, Ohio, and Omaha, Nebraska.

In 1946 he returned to Houston as manager. The next year the Buffs won the Texas League pennant and the Dixie Series. In the seventeen years that Keane managed in the minor leagues, his teams finished third place or higher eleven times and won five pennants. Keane joined the Cardinals as coach in 1959 and became manager of the team midway through the 1961 season. The Cardinals barely missed winning the pennant in 1963, after a streak of nineteen victories in twenty games. In 1964 they won the National League pennant and defeated the New York Yankees in a seven-game World Series; Keane, hailed as Manager of the Year, startled the baseball world by leaving the Cardinals immediately for the Yankees, where he replaced Yogi Berra as manager. His teams were plagued by injuries, however, and Keane was released in 1966, after the Yankees lost sixteen of their first twenty games. He next worked as a special-assignment scout for the California Angels, the job he held at the time of his death. Keane was noted for being soft-spoken and mild-mannered but also for being a strict disciplinarian. Sports writers observed that he drank little but smoked about fifteen small cigars a day, which he inhaled. He died of a heart attack in Houston on January 6, 1967. He was survived by his wife, Lela, whom he had married in 1937, and by one daughter. He was buried in Houston at Memorial Oaks Mausoleum. Source

29° 47.009
-095° 36.871

Chapel of the Oaks Mausoleum
Memorial Oaks Cemetery