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The “Twin Sisters” and Dr. Henry North Graves

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“Twin Sister” replicas at San Jacinto Battleground (image in public domain)

The “Twin Sisters” refers to two field pieces (artillery pieces) donated by ladies of Cincinnati, Ohio to the cause of the Texas Revolution.  According to an article in the Austin American-Statesman from 1874, they were two identical six pound rifle cannon that were built by a Mr. Tatum at a foundry in Cincinnati and shipped by riverboat to Texas.  They were delivered in person by Mr. Tatum himself in time to be used by General Sam Houston in the Battle of San Jacinto.  Following the Revolution they became prized relics and were known to have been fired at ceremonial occasions including the fifth anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto and the inauguration of Houston as President of the Republic of Texas.

After 1845, their history becomes somewhat murky, but they were reportedly reunited again during the Civil War and used in the Battle of Galveston in defense of the port in 1863.  By the end of the war though, they had disappeared.  Some believe that they were buried in the general area of Buffalo Bayou near Harrisburg (now Houston), rather than have them be turned over to Union forces.

Dr. Henry North Graves believed that he was the last living person to know the whereabouts of the two historic cannon.  Much of what we know about Dr. Graves comes from an obituary published in the Dallas Daily Times Herald and elsewhere around the state on June 28, 1921.

Dr. Graves was born in Plains Hill, Tennessee to Methodist minister Rev. Harrison A. and Rachel Bond Graves.  At around the age of fourteen, Graves moved with his parents and family to Texas in 1860, settling near Gonzales.  He joined the Confederate Army and as one of his postings, he served in the defense of Galveston Island during the war.  In late 1869, Graves married the former Susan Davidson, a minister’s daughter.  He then took up the study of medicine after which he practiced in Gonzales, Seguin and Georgetown.  The couple were married almost twenty years until Susan died in 1888.  Dr. Graves became known as an expert on anti-toxins.  His obituary stated that he traveled throughout Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas where he taught serum-therapy.

During the Civil War, it is believed that Graves and four other individuals slipped away from the garrison at Galveston and buried two cannon in a field, rather than risk the field pieces falling under the control of Union forces.  Graves fully believed them to be the Twin Sisters, but they have never been recovered, so it cannot be proven with certainty whether or not they were the two legendary field pieces.

Near the end of his life, Dr. Graves lived with his daughter Mrs. J. N. Bigbee and her family in Dallas, Texas on North Haskell Avenue, just out of downtown.  Dr. Graves had desired to travel to Houston to assist in the recovery of the field pieces but had not been in good enough health to make the trip and died before it could happen.  The obituary went on to state that he intended to make a search for the cannon if money could be raised for the effort.  A resolution for the next session of the Texas Legislature was planned to secure funding for the project.  Dr. Graves had however participated in a reunion of Confederate veterans about a year before his death.  He had accompanied a group of the old veterans to a field that he identified as being the one where the cannon were buried, but did not give the exact location.  Before the recovery effort could take place, Dr. Graves died in Dallas in late June of 1921 at the age of 74.  He was buried along side his wife at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Georgetown, Williamson County, Texas.

There have been numerous attempts to document the fate of the Twin Sisters.  Some accounts have them being used up to the end of the Civil War, up to and including the final Texas battle at Palmito Ranch.  As of this writing however, their ultimate fate and location is considered to be unknown.

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Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley to Lawrence Odell and Ella Pauline Drake Holley on September 7, 1939 in Lubbock, Texas.  He began to perform in the country music genre in Lubbock at high school dances.  He had won a singing contest at age five but got his first guitar when he was fourteen.  Buddy and a former junior high school friend named Bob Montgomery formed a duo they called Buddy and Bob and played anywhere they could get a foothold.  They also were the opening act when other artists would tour the area and two different times, they opened for Elvis Presley in 1955 and one time the same year for Bill Haley and the Comets (“Rock Around the Clock”).  Buddy and some high school friends then formed a group they called Buddy Holly and the Crickets and were known around Lubbock for playing dances and also spots on local radio.  The Crickets were Jerry Allison on drums, Joe Mauldin and Nicky Sullivan on guitars.  Buddy did the lead singing.

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Posted by on June 6, 2019 in biography, entertainers

 

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Governor Beauford H. Jester

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(Image credit: lrl.texas.gov, the Legislative Reference Library)

Governor Beauford Halbert Jester was born in Corsicana, Texas on January 12, 1893.  His parents were George Taylor and Francis Paine Gordon Jester.  His father George Jester had served as Lieutenant Governor of Texas under Governor Charles Allen Culberson.  Beauford was also descended from the Hampton McKinney family, thought to be the earliest settlers in Corsicana in the 1840s, as his great grandfather was Hampton McKinney and his grandmother was Diadema McKinney, the daughter of Hampton McKinney.  Beauford graduated from Corsicana High School in 1911 and University of Texas in Austin in 1916.  He had attended Harvard Law School for around two years but enlisted in the United States Army when the U. S. entered World War I in 1917.  He was only a month or so from being eligible to graduate when he enlisted.

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Posted by on May 30, 2019 in biography, governor

 

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Walter Cronkite, Jr., World War II Correspondent

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. is not a name that most people would associate with the State of Texas, but he had Texas roots.  Walter, Jr. was born November 4, 1916 to Dr. Walter L. and Helen Lena Fritsche Cronkite in Missouri.  The surname Cronkite is thought to be derived from a similar sounding Dutch name.  However, traditional genealogical sources show that this particular Cronkite family had resided in the United States as far back as the middle 1600s with similar spelling, though for a time it was spelled “Cronkhite,” with an h after the k.  Dr. Cronkite was a dentist like his own father had been.  The family moved to Houston, Texas when Walter, Jr. was ten years old when Dr. Cronkite had accepted an offer to teach at a local dental school.

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Posted by on May 23, 2019 in biography, world war 2

 

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Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher, as it was known, was set up for a short time on the west bank of the Brazos river near the settlements that would give rise to Waco.  It was established by the Texas Rangers to provide security for settlers in 1837 and to the best of our knowledge, it was also abandoned the same year.  The outpost was named for William S. Fisher, Secretary of War of the Republic of Texas at the time.  Fisher was a long time member of the Texas Army.  He would later become a participant in the ill fated Meir Expedition after which he would be captured and imprisoned in Mexico.  Fisher passed away around two years after being released from his confinement in Mexico.

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Posted by on May 16, 2019 in forts, texas rangers

 

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Rufus Higginbotham, Co-founder of Higginbotham Brothers

The Higginbotham family founded a chain of what became hardware stores a decade and a half after the Civil War.  When the business matured, they had locations in many towns across Texas.  Hardware stores and lumber yards with Higginbotham in the name were common in Texas.

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Posted by on May 9, 2019 in biography

 

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Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Mildred Ella Didrikson was born June 26, 1911 to Ole and Hannah Marie Olsen Didriksen in Port Arthur, Texas.  Her father was a carpenter in the maritime industry.  When she was three years old, the family moved to Beaumont, Texas where she went to public school.  She was a gifted athlete and excelled at about every sport she participated in.  She picked up her nickname “Babe” (after Babe Ruth, the baseball star) after slugging five home runs in a baseball game, though her mother said her nickname had been “Baby” earlier on.  She adopted the spelling Didrikson when she was an adult.

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(Image credit: ancestry.com)

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Posted by on May 2, 2019 in biography, texas women

 

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