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John Camden West

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John Camden West, Jr. was a lawyer, a judge, an educator and an author in Waco, Texas. He was born on April 12, 1834 in Camden, South Carolina from which he and his father got their names.  He was 20 years old when he graduated from the University of South Carolina. He had a brother, Charles S. West, who by that time was already practicing law in Austin, Texas, and John joined him there in 1855.

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Posted by on March 30, 2017 in biography, civil war, history, texas

 

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Mollie Bailey, Circus Owner and Former Confederate Spy

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In Houston, Texas on the I-45 access road and North Main outside Historic Hollywood Cemetery is a roadside marker dedicated to Mollie Arline Kirkland Bailey who has to be one of the most colorful Texas women who ever lived.

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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in biography, civil war, history, texas women

 

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Governor Richard Coke (1829-1897)

Governor Coke 15th Governor of Texas, serving from January 15, 1874 to December 21, 1876.  Coke was the husband of Mary Evans Horne of the pioneer McLennan County Horne family in 1852 and was the brother-in-law of Ophelia Jenkins Horne. Coke was born in Virginia and after graduating from William and Mary, he moved to Waco, Texas in 1850 to practice law.

In the tumultuous early years of Texas statehood that followed, Coke established his law practice and began to venture into public office. Coke served as a delegate to the convention that was to vote for succession from the United States in 1961. Shortly thereafter, the Civil War began and he joined the Confederate Army in 1862, serving as Captain in the 15th Texas Infantry for the duration of the war. His only known injury was on November 3, 1863 in a battle near Opelousas, Louisana. At the close of the war, he returned to McLennan County.

Almost immediately, Coke accepted an appointment as a District Court Judge in Texas. He was elected to the Texas Supreme Court the following year, only to be fired by Gen. Phillip Sheridan along with four other justices in an effort to advance reconstruction. In the intervening years, there was a strong backlash to reconstruction, leading to his successful Democratic campaign for Governor in 1873, defeating the incumbent Edmund J. Davis, only to have his election ruled invalid by the Texas Supreme Court. After several contentious months, former Governor Davis resigned and Coke was allowed to take office, serving from 1874 to 1876.

Significant accomplishments during his terms as Governor of Texas included a strong focus on balancing the state budget and the establishment of the college now known as Texas A&M University. Coke later was elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas serving in that capacity from 1877 to 1895.

He retired to his home in Waco and his nearby farm. He became ill after suffering exposure while fighting a flood of the Brazos River on the family farm near Waco in April, 1897. After a short illness, he died at his home in Waco and, after a state funeral, was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Coke County in West Texas is named in his honor.

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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in biography, civil war, county names, governor, texas

 

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Poetry – Joseph Warren Speight

A Soldier’s Prayer

“Taps” have sounded and all is still,
Deep silence reigns, no light no sound
Disturbs the stillness of the camp;
The watchful sentries make their round.
Though night moves on, no sleep for me,
My thoughts are winged, they fly they roam,
Far, far away to those I love,
My wife, my children, and my home.

And here beneath my soldier’s tent,
Though midnight’s solemn hour it be,
There is an eye that sees us all—
My prayer ascends, O God, to Thee;
God of the faithful, of the strong,
God of the weak, God of the brave,
My native land, O God protect
My home, my wife, my children save.

At Thy behest do nations rise;
Let Thy right arm our cause defend,
The right secure, our country bless,
For this, O God, our prayers ascend;
Extend the shadow of thy wing,
Thou who seeist the sparrow’s fall,
And those for whom I live,
My wife, my children, country—all.

And where the din of battle comes,
Be thou, O God, a shield and friend,
Oh, nerve my arm; be Thou our strength
Our homes, our altars to defend,
And swiftly speed the day, O Lord,
When war shall cease and peace shall reign,
When with our loved ones far away,
We’ll all unite at home again.

Joseph Warren Speight (1825-1888)

This poem appeared in the Waco Morning News on 31 Oct 1911. The article said that the poem was written on the back of a piece of discarded wallpaper and had been recently picked up in a Confederate camp.

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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in civil war, history, poetry, texas

 

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