October 28, 2016

William C. Swearingen (?-1839)

William C. Swearingen, soldier of the Republic of Texas, enlisted at Velasco on February 13, 1836, "for two years or the duration of the war." He joined Sam Houston's army on the Colorado River, and at the battle of San Jacinto he fought in Capt. Amasa Turner's Company B of Lt. Col. Henry W. Millard's Regular Infantry battalion. From the battlefield on April 23 Swearingen wrote a lengthy and detailed account of the campaign and battle to his brother Lemuel in Scottsville, Kentucky. The letter ends with the poignant request that his brother "kiss William for me and tell him pappy will be there in the fall and stay with him always." With the reorganization of the army after San Jacinto, Swearingen was transferred to Company A of the First Regiment, Regular Infantry, under Capt. John Smith, formerly Millard's first sergeant. He was posted to Galveston Island but served a part of his enlistment period on detached duty aboard the schooner Apollo out of Cedar Bayou. He received a promotion to sergeant on March 17 and resigned from the army on November 4, 1836, but reappeared on the muster roll of February 28, 1837. He died in Houston on December 24, 1839. Swearingen was most likely a kinsman of Elemeleck Swearingen, who also fought in Turner's company at San Jacinto, and of Elemeleck's brother V. W. Swearingen, who served in Capt. John York's company at the siege of Bexar and with Capt. Moseley Baker's company at San Jacinto. He subsequently took part in the Mier expedition and was incarcerated at Perote prison. Elemeleck and V. W. Swearingen moved from Kentucky to Milheim, Austin County, Texas, in 1830. Source

Note: This is a cenotaph. Founders Memorial Park, originally founded in 1836 as Houston's first city cemetery, was rapidly filled due to a yellow fever epidemic and closed to further burials around 1840. The cemetery became neglected over a period of time, often vandalized and was heavily damaged by the 1900 hurricane. In 1936, despite a massive clean up effort, a century of neglect had taken its toll. The vast majority of grave markers were either destroyed or missing and poor record keeping prevented locating individual graves. Several cenotaphs were placed in random areas throughout the park in honor of the more high-profile citizens buried there, but a great number of graves go unmarked to this day.

COORDINATES
29° 45.436
-095° 22.769


Founders Memorial Park
Houston

October 25, 2016

Henry Lee Lucas (1936-2001)

Henry Lee Lucas was born on August 23, 1936, in Blacksburg, Virginia. One of nine siblings, Lucas was raised by abusive alcoholic parents. His mother ruled the household with an iron fist and prostituted herself in their backwoods community to make money. As a teenager, Lucas's sexual deviance became increasingly pronounced, and he reported having sex with his half-brother and with dead animals. Lucas spent his teen years in and out of jail. In March 1960, he was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison for murdering his mother. He was sent to Jackson State Penitentiary in southern Michigan, but after two attempted suicides, he was admitted to Ionia State Mental Hospital. He was paroled in 1970 after serving 10 years. A year after his release, Lucas was sentenced to five years for attempting to kidnap a fifteen-year-old girl at gunpoint. After his second release in 1975, he traveled to Michigan where he teamed-up with a petty thief named Ottis Toole. They shared an unhealthy interest in rape and death. In October 1979, Lucas traveled the country accompanied by Ottis and his young niece, Becky Powell, who was mildly retarded. According to Lucas, he and Powell became romantically involved, filling one another's lifelong need for love and respect. Despite this romance, however, he eventually killed Powell, along with Katharine Rich, an elderly woman with whom they had been staying. In June 1983, Lucas was arrested for possession of a deadly weapon. In his cell, he began confessing to hundreds of murders. Egged on by investigators from around the country, Lucas's confessions became increasingly farfetched. It is unclear how many murders he actually did commit, but some believe it was just three: his mother, Becky Powell and Katharine Rich. He was sentenced to death, but the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment by Texas Governor George W. Bush. He died in a Huntsville, Texas prison from natural causes on March 12, 2001. Source

COORDINATES
30° 42.732
-095° 32.158


Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery
Huntsville

October 21, 2016

Elias E. Hamilton (1816?-1840)

Elias E. Hamilton was born in Clarksville, Georgia, in about 1816 to William and Nancy (Hallums) Hamilton. He left Clarksville, Georgia in the fall of 1835 with his family. Shortly after having arrived in Texas, he enlisted in the company recruited in Nacogdoches by Captain Thomas J. Rusk and left with that organization for Bexar, then under siege (October 12 - December 11, 1835). He was later transferred to Captain Hayden Arnold's "Nacogdoches Company" and fought at San Jacinto. Hamilton was killed by his horse falling on him in Douglass, Nacogdoches County, September 30, 1840. He was originally buried beside his father and sister in the "old Mexican cemetery", but has since been relocated to Oak Grove Cemetery in Nacogdoches.

COORDINATES
31° 36.190
-094° 38.959


Oak Grove Cemetery
Nacogdoches

October 18, 2016

Albert Sidney Johnston (1803-1862)

Albert Sidney Johnston, Confederate general, son of John and Abigail (Harris) Johnston, was born at Washington, Kentucky, on February 2, 1803. He attended Transylvania University before he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated in June 1826. He served at Sackett's Harbor, New York, in 1826, with the Sixth Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, in 1827, and as regimental adjutant in the Black Hawk War. On January 20, 1829, he married Henrietta Preston. Because of his wife's illness, he resigned his commission on April 22, 1834, and farmed near St. Louis in 1835. She died on August 12, 1835. In 1836 Johnston moved to Texas and enlisted as a private in the Texas Army. On August 5, 1836, he was appointed adjutant general by Thomas Jefferson Rusk and on January 31, 1837, he became senior brigadier general in command of the army to replace Felix Huston. A duel with Huston resulted; Johnston was wounded and could not immediately take the command. On December 22, 1838, he was appointed secretary of war for the Republic of Texas by President Mirabeau B. Lamar, and in December 1839 he led an expedition against the Cherokee Indians in East Texas. On March 1, 1840, Johnston returned to Kentucky, where, on October 3, 1843, he married Eliza Griffin, a cousin of his first wife. They returned to Texas to settle at China Grove Plantation in Brazoria County.

During the Mexican War he was colonel of the First Texas Rifle Volunteers and served with W. O. Butler as inspector general at Monterrey, Mexico. On December 2, 1849, Johnston became paymaster in the United States Army and was assigned to the Texas frontier. He went with William S. Harney to the Great Plains in 1855, and on April 2, 1856, he was appointed colonel of the Second Cavalry. In 1858 Johnston received command of a Utah expedition to escort a new territorial governor and three judges to Salt Lake City and to establish a military presence, due to Morman resistance of federal authority. He set up Camp Scott near the ruins of Fort Bridger in the fall of 1858, and later selected a site southwest of Salt Lake City for a permanent camp - Camp Floyd which was dedicated in November of 1859. Johnston remained in charge of Camp Floyd until 1860 when he was sent to the Pacific Department and stationed at San Francisco. At the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, he resigned his commission in the United States Army, refused the federal government's offer of a command, and returned overland to Texas. In Austin 1861 Jefferson Davis appointed Johnston a general in the Confederate Army and in September assigned him command of the Western Department. Johnston issued a call for men and formed and drilled an army, but it lacked men and organization, had a huge area to defend, and could not control the rivers that were vital to military success in the region. In February 1862, following Federal victories on the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, he moved his line of defense to the vicinity of Nashville, Tennessee, and later to Corinth, Mississippi. On April 6, 1862, he was killed while leading his forces at the battle of Shiloh. He was temporarily buried at New Orleans. By special appropriation, the Texas Legislature, in January 1867, had his remains transferred to Austin for burial in the State Cemetery. In 1905 a stone monument executed by noted sculptor Elisabet Ney was erected at the site. Source

COORDINATES
30° 15.913
-097° 43.597

Confederate Field
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

October 14, 2016

William Jarvis Cannan (1808-1881)

William Jarvis Cannan, soldier at the battle of San Jacinto, was born in Edgefield, South Carolina, in 1808 and moved to Texas in 1835. He was in the Texas army from March 1 to November 1, 1836, and took part at San Jacinto as a private in Company H, First Regiment of Texas Volunteers, under Robert Stevenson. For his service Cannan was granted a bounty warrant for 640 acres in Brazoria County. In 1837 he married Matilda Jane Lonis. They had four sons and a daughter. After his wife's death at Brazoria in 1850, Cannan married Parmelia A. Wilcox; they became the parents of three sons and a daughter. Throughout the Civil War and Reconstruction era, the Cannan family figured prominently in the Texas cotton trade. Cannan died in September 1881 and was buried in the Oyster Creek Cemetery four miles from Velasco. Source

COORDINATES
29° 00.477
-095° 18.986


Hudgins Cemetery
Oyster Creek

October 11, 2016

Reuben White (1795-1847?)

Reuben White, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred, was the son of William and Amy White and was born in 1795 in what is now Vermilion Parish, Louisiana. In the War of 1812 he served in Capt. Shadrack Porter's Company, Baker's Regiment, Louisiana Militia. He married Christina Faulk on June 15, 1818. They had at least eight children. The family was Catholic. He moved to Texas in 1824 with his widowed mother and received his grant of one league on the east bank of the San Jacinto River. He was listed with his family in the Atascosito Census in 1826 as a farmer and stock raiser. Reuben and his brother Henry White were on the grand jury of Harris County in 1837. In 1838 he appeared before the Board of Land Commissioners of Harris County to petition for one labor of land due him as a colonist. He appeared on the Ad Valorem Tax Rolls of the Republic of Texas in 1837 and in subsequent years. His taxable property (after considerable exemptions) was 2,214 acres of land, two pleasure horses, 150 cattle, and one clock. He was a successful farmer-rancher of the period. Reuben White died before October 1848, as proven by a probate court record of his estate in Harris County in 1848. After White died, his widow married Hervey Whiting. In 1854 she married Isaac Curtis, and in the 1860 census she and her two youngest sons were living with a son-in-law, Thomas W. McComb, at Lynchburg. Source

Note: Unmarked. The modern-day White Cemetery evolved from the original White family cemetery, now located to the rear left of the grounds. Although Reuben White's grave location has been lost, he is likely buried in the area shown in the photo below, as this site contains the oldest graves and the still-standing tombstone of his youngest brother William.

COORDINATES
N/A

1824 Lawn Crypts A-B Section
White Cemetery
Highlands

October 7, 2016

James Gore Wilkinson (1805-1848)

James G. Wilkinson, Jr., Republic of Texas veteran, was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, March 5, 1805, a son of Captain James G. Wilkinson. His father received title to a league of land in Austin's Fifth Colony, situated in Fayette County, October 14, 1835. James G., Jr., did not arrive in Texas until 1835, as is shown in the headright certificate issued to him in 1838 by the Milam County Board. On an original roll of Captain William W. Hill's Company at muster, April 11, 1836, Wilkinson is shown as having been born in Hardin County, Kentucky in 1805. He was recruited at the home of Asa Mitchell in Washington County by Captain Joseph P. Lynch. He is shown as being 5 feet, 10 inches in height, fair complexion, with blue eyes and light hair. He was a farmer. Mr. Wilkinson was issued Bounty Certificate No. 803 for 320 acres of land, December 7, 1837 for having served in the army from March 1 to May 30, 1836. He was First Sergeant in Captain William W. Hill's Company at San Jacinto and on May 15, 1838 he received Donation Certificate No. 65 for 640 acres of land for having participated in the battle. Mr. Wilkinson died in Burleson County on August 15, 1848. His widow, Mrs. Amanda Wilkinson, was appointed administrator of his estate. He left two minor children. Wilkinson and his wife were buried beneath a huge post-oak tree on a knoll overlooking the Yegua Creek, about five miles east of Dime Box, Lee County, in Burleson County. The tombstone at the grave of Mr. Wilkinson was of marble and bore an inscription. The grave of Mrs. Wilkinson was marked only by a rough stone and there was no inscription on it. An iron fence, fashioned by hand, enclosed Mr. Wilkinson's grave. The graves in 1938 were on land owned by Mr. August B. Kubena. The State of Texas had the remains of Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson removed and on April 8, 1938 reinterred in the State Cemetery at Austin where a new joint monument was erected at their graves.

COORDINATES
30° 15.921
-097° 43.644

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

October 4, 2016

"Blind" Willie Johnson (1897-1945)

Willie Johnson, known as the “Sightless Visionary” and bluesman and virtuoso of the "bottleneck" or slide guitar, was born near Brenham, Texas, on January 22, 1897 (according to his death certificate). He was the son of Willie and Mary (Fields) Johnson. The family moved to Marlin when he was a small child. Reportedly his mother died, and his father remarried. According to one legend, young Johnson was blinded when his stepmother threw lye at his father and some of it got in Willie’s eyes. Johnson had aspirations to be a preacher. His father made for him a cigar box guitar, and he taught himself to play. He performed at Baptist Association meetings and churches around Marlin and nearby Hearne, Texas. At some point Johnson moved to Dallas. He may have married Willie B. Harris, though no marriage certificate has been found. They had one daughter. Willie B. Harris sang accompaniment with Johnson on some of his recordings for Columbia Records between 1927 and 1930. A second woman, Angeline (listed as Anna in the 1920 census), sister of blues guitarist L. C. “Good Rockin’” Robinson, claimed to have married Johnson in 1927. According to Johnson’s daughter, her father lived with the family in Marlin, Texas, until the late 1930s. Eventually he settled in Beaumont.

Blind Willie made his professional debut as a gospel artist. It total, he made thirty recordings for Columbia during four sessions. He was known to his followers as a performer "capable of making religious songs sound like the blues" and of endowing his secular songs with "religious feeling." Johnson's unique voice and his original compositions influenced musicians throughout the South, especially Texas bluesmen. He sang in a "rasping false bass," and played bottleneck guitar with "uncanny left handed strength, accuracy and agility." So forceful was his voice that legend has it he was once arrested for inciting a riot simply by standing in front of the New Orleans Customs House singing If I Had My Way I'd Tear This Building Down, a chant-and-response number that stimulated great audience enthusiasm. Johnson's celebrity career ended with the Great Depression, after which he continued to perform as a street singer but did no further recording. A 1944 Beaumont city directory listed him as operating the House of Prayer in that city.

He died in Beaumont on September 18, 1945, and was buried in Blanchette Cemetery in that city. Anna Johnson was listed as his widow in a 1947 Beaumont directory. Johnson left behind a legacy of musical masterpieces, some of which have been rerecorded on Yazoo Records. His work includes such classics as Nobody's Fault but Mine, God Don't Never Change, Mother's Children Have a Hard Time, Bye and Bye I'm Going to See the King, God Moves on the Water, Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed, and I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole. His recording Dark was the Night (Cold was the Ground) was among the musical selections placed on board Voyager 1 in 1977 as a representative sampling of music on Earth. Johnson’s recordings were released by Sony/Legacy in 1993 on a double CD titled Complete Blind Willie Johnson. A Texas Historical Marker honoring Johnson was dedicated at Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church (the site of Johnson’s residence and House of Prayer during the 1940s) on December 15, 2010. Johnson was also recognized as a music legend in the Museum of the Gulf Coast’s Music Hall of Fame in Port Arthur. Source

Note: This is a cenotaph. Although Willie Johnson is known to be buried in this cemetery, the exact location has been lost over time due to neglectful record keeping.

COORDINATES
30° 03.062
-094° 06.206


Blanchette Cemetery
Beaumont