October 31, 2017

Neal Vernon Baker (1904-1982)

Neal Baker was born in Harlingen, Texas, on April 30, 1904, and attended school at the University of Texas in Austin. A promising baseball player in college, he was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics as an amateur free agent in 1927. He made his major league debut as a pitcher for the Athletics on April 30, 1927 but played in only five games, his last being on July 26, 1927, before being sent back down to the minors for further training. He continued in the minors until 1936, his best season being 17-10 with the C Class East Texas League Longview Cannibals, before he left the sport entirely. He passed away on January 5, 1982 and buried in Houston.

29° 47.228
-095° 28.636

Block 53
Woodlawn Garden of Memories

October 24, 2017

Edwin Leonard Waller (1800-1881)

Edwin Waller, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in Spottsylvania County, Virginia, on November 4, 1800. In April 1831 he arrived in Texas from Missouri, where his family had moved. A few months later, on July 20, 1831, Waller received one league of land from the Mexican government in what is now Brazoria County. Soon thereafter, as owner of the Sabine, a vessel used to transport cotton from Velasco to New Orleans, he refused to pay custom duties at Velasco and was arrested by Mexican authorities. After being held but a short time he was released without punishment. He participated as a member of Henry S. Brown's unit in the battle of Velasco on June 26, 1832, and was wounded. In 1833 Waller became alcalde of Brazoria Municipality. He represented the municipality of Columbia at the Consultation in San Felipe de Austin in 1835 and was chosen by its members to serve in the General Council of the Provisional Government of Texas. Waller was elected on February 1, 1836, as a delegate from Brazoria to the Convention of 1836, which met at Washington-on-the-Brazos and adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence. As a member of the convention he served on the committee that framed the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. Afterward Waller returned to his plantation in Brazoria and in 1838 served as president of the board of land commissioners for Brazoria County.

In 1839 he was chosen by President Mirabeau Lamar to supervise the surveying and sale of town lots and the construction of public buildings at the new capital at Austin, located on the fringe of the Texas frontier. After being bonded on April 12, 1839, Waller, protected by a group of armed citizens, began in earnest to carry out his new duties. While in Austin he helped organize Austin Masonic Lodge No. 12 at his residence in 1839. In December of that year he was appointed Texas postmaster general; the Senate confirmed him on December 10, and he resigned the next day. Waller was elected Austin's first mayor on January 13, 1840, but gave up that position before his term expired. On August 12 of that year he participated in the battle of Plum Creek. Afterward he moved to Austin County and engaged in farming and merchandising. In addition to his private economic endeavors, Waller served as chief justice of Austin County from 1844 to 1856. Meanwhile, he campaigned unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1847. In 1861 Waller was elected to represent Austin County at the Secession Convention. Because he was the only delegate present who had signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, the members voted to allow him the honor of signing the ordinance of secession immediately after the president of the convention signed. The delegates also elected him major of the mounted defense regiment mandated by the secession ordinance. Waller returned to Austin County after the conclusion of the convention. In 1873 the legislature formed a new county from Austin and Grimes counties and honored Waller by naming it for him. When the Texas Veterans Association was organized in 1873, he was elected its first president. At the time of his death Waller was in Austin working as a commissioner to submit names of Texas Revolution veterans entitled to special recognition by the state. Waller married Juliet M. de Shields, a native of Virginia. They had seven children, including Edwin Waller, Jr. Waller died on January 3, 1881, and was buried in the family cemetery in Waller County. In 1928 his remains, along with his wife's, were moved to the State Cemetery in Austin. Source 

Note: The place of death on his stone is incorrect, he did not die in Waller County - he died in Austin.

30° 15.924
-097° 43.645

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery

October 17, 2017

Aubrey Wilson "Moon" Mullican (1909-1967)

Moon Mullican, "King of the Hillbilly Piano Players" was born Aubrey Wilson Mullican near Corrigan or Moscow in Polk County, Texas, on March 29, 1909. He was the son of Oscar Luther and Virginia (Jordan) Mullican. He lived on his family's eighty-seven-acre farm at Corrigan during his childhood and developed his musical skills on a pump organ his father purchased around 1917. The elder Mullican, a deeply religious man, wanted his children to learn sacred music. Though Moon served as a church organist during his teens, he developed an interest in blues music and learned to play the guitar with instruction from a black farmer. Impressed also by pianists who performed in local juke joints, Mullican developed a distinctive two-finger right-handed piano style that became his trademark. Much to the chagrin of his father, he began to play for dances as a teenager and aspired to become a professional musician. When he was about sixteen years old he moved to Houston and worked as a piano player for establishments that some observers characterized as "houses of ill repute." Sleeping by day and working evenings, Mullican may have received his nickname for his nocturnal habits during this period. For a time in the 1930s he performed with his own band in clubs and on the radio in Southeast Texas and Louisiana.

Later in that decade and in the 1940s he became associated with bands that performed the western swing music made famous by Bob Wills. Mullican played and sang this music with the Blue Ridge Playboys, a band that included such pioneers as Pappy Selph, Floyd Tillman, and Ted Daffan; he later worked with Cliff Bruner's bands, the Texas Wanderers and the Showboys. While with Bruner, a former member of Milton Brown's Musical Brownies, Mullican sang the lead vocal on the classic Truck Driver's Blues in 1939. That same year he traveled to Hollywood, where he played a role in the movie Village Barn Dance. He also led the band that performed with James Houston Davis during the latter's successful campaign for the Louisiana governor's office in 1944. By 1947 Mullican, who had made his first recording in 1931, had signed a contract with King Records of Cincinnati, Ohio. With King he recorded two songs, Harry Choates's New Jole Blon (1947) and I'll Sail My Ship Alone (1950), that sold over a million copies each. The King recordings, which numbered 100, featured Mullican's smooth vocals and a piano style that merged swing, blues, honky-tonk, Cajun, ragtime, pop, and country music. During his years with the King label (1947 to 1956), Mullican had great success with such best-selling recordings as Sweeter than the Flowers (1948), Huddie Ledbetter's Goodnight Irene (1950), Mona Lisa (1950), and Cherokee Boogie (1951), which he coauthored with W. C. Redbird. He was less successful commercially with Foggy River, Sugar Beet, Well Oh Well, Moon's Tune, Good Deal Lucille, You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry, Rocket to the Moon, A Thousand and One Sleepless Nights, and others. In some of the King recording sessions Mullican was accompanied by a rock-and-roll band that featured a saxophone player.

In 1949 he joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was probably the first singing piano player to perform as a solo act on a regular basis. He remained with the show until 1955. During his career he traveled and performed across the United States as well as in Europe and Vietnam and entertained with such well-known artists as Hank Williams, Ernie Ford, and Red Foley. At one stage in his career, Mullican had his own radio show on station KECK in Odessa. He also appeared as a guest on the ABC television program Jubilee U.S.A. and entertained periodically on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas. Mullican, who in conjunction with partners owned several nightclubs in Texas, served as a supporting musician on more than 200 recordings by other performers. The legendary singer Jim Reeves was a member of a Mullican band that played in the Beaumont region during the late 1940s. In 1958-59 Mullican recorded in Nashville for the Coral label, a subsidiary of Decca Records. His records for Coral were remakes of songs that he had previously performed for King, as well as such new releases as Moon's Rock, I Don't Know Why (I Just Do), Jenny Lee, Sweet Rockin' Music, and The Writin' on the Wall. Hoping to benefit from the ascendancy of rock-and-roll in the United States, Coral sought to incorporate this style with the more traditional honky-tonk, swing, and blues forms that had made Mullican a star. However, the Coral recordings achieved virtually no commercial success and little critical acclaim. Some observers believe that Mullican's strongest performances for Coral consisted of the songs that he performed in the more conventional country style, as opposed to the newer sound. From 1960 to 1963 Moon was a member of Jimmie Davis's band. He recorded for several minor companies at various times in his career. He made his final hit record, Ragged but Right, on the Starday label in 1961. He also recorded a few songs such as Quarter Mile Rows, Colinda, Mr. Tears, Make Friends, and This Glass I Hold, for the Hall–Way label in Beaumont between 1962 and 1964. Though his health declined in the 1960s, when he underwent several illnesses, he continued to perform. On January 1, 1967, he died of a heart attack at his home in Beaumont. Source

30° 06.338
-094° 06.080

Section 19
Magnolia Cemetery

October 10, 2017

James Seaton Lester (1799-1879)

James Seaton Lester, early settler, legislator, and official, was born in Virginia on April 21, 1799. He was admitted to the bar in 1831 and moved to Mina, Texas in 1834. In 1835 he represented the Mina or Bastrop District at the Consultation and was a member of a committee appointed to plan organization of the provisional government. Lester was recruiting agent at Bastrop for the army to attack Bexar in 1835 and later fought in the battle of San Jacinto. He served as senator from Bastrop and Gonzales in the First and Second congresses, as representative from Fayette County in the Third Congress, and as senator from Fayette, Bastrop, and Gonzales in the Fourth and Fifth congresses. He was one of the first trustees of Baylor University, chief justice of Fayette County, 1844-48, and a member of the Texas Veterans Association. He lived at Winchester until his death in December 1879 and was buried at La Grange. Source

29° 54.629
-096° 52.118

Section 1
Old La Grange City Cemetery
La Grange

October 3, 2017

Gilbert Leroy "Buddy" Dial (1937-2008)

Buddy Dial was born January 17, 1937 in Ponca City, Oklahoma, but grew up in Magnolia, Texas where he played high school football. After graduation, he played as a two-way end at Rice University. In 1956 he had 21 receptions, averaged 17 yards on each, made five touchdowns, and was selected sophomore lineman of the year in the Southwest Conference. In 1957 he had 21 receptions and was named All-SWC. He helped Rice to the conference championship in the Cotton Bowl, and was named to the All-Bowl All-Star team. In 1958 he caught 19 passes. He was the team’s co-captain and named Most Valuable Player. Dial also received consensus All-American and the Columbus Touchdown Club Lineman of the Year honors. For his career at Rice he had 13 touchdowns, tying the school record. Dial was drafted in the second round of the 1959 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, but was cut by the team before the season started. He signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he became a star after being teamed with quarterback Bobby Layne. He held the team record for touchdown receptions in a season and was an All-Pro three times. While playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dial recorded an album of inspirational songs called Buddy Dial Sings on Word Records. In 1964, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded him to the Dallas Cowboys, in exchange for the rights of their first round draft choice Scott Appleton. However, Appleton ended up signing with the Houston Oilers of the AFL, who had also drafted him in the first round. The transaction became known as the "Buddy Dial for Nothing" trade. His three-year career with the Dallas Cowboys was a disappointment, where injuries and addictions to prescription drugs, limited his playing time. In 1966, while still assigned to the Dallas Cowboys, Buddy Dial recorded a single with Challenge Records 59352, called Baby/Back In The Old Days. Baby became a huge hit in various regional areas, topping the Dallas radio charts in 1966-1967, but failed to make the national charts. Dial finished his career with 261 receptions for 5,436 yards, and 44 touchdowns, and 14 yards on four rushes. He was selected to the Pro Bowl twice, in 1961 and 1963 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Injuries during his NFL career led to significant health problems brought on by the abuse of painkilling drugs, before receiving treatment in the late 1980s. He died on February 29, 2008 at the age of 71, of complications with cancer and pneumonia.

Note: As of May 2015, Dial's grave is unmarked. It can be found between the graves of Gene Ray Austin and Theresa Elizabeth Moody.

30° 08.256
-095° 39.507

Section B
Klein Memorial Park