(Image credit: Houston Museum of Fine Arts)
One of the more unique and recognizable names in Texas was Miss Ima Hogg. Her father was James Stephen Hogg, the first native born governor of Texas, who served as governor from 1891 to 1895. James and Sarah Ann Stinson Hogg had three sons and Imogene, their only daughter. It is not known for certain who Imogene was named for, but the story is told that James had a brother named Thomas Elisha Hogg, a Confederate Captain, who had written a Civil War poem “The Fate of Marvin.” The poem was about a Southern girl named Ima who had cared for a Union soldier. There are some stories floating around that she had a sister named Ura, but according to published genealogy records, Ima was the only daughter of Jim Hogg and Sarah Stinson Hogg.
Jim Hogg’s father was General Joseph I. Hogg who had helped draft the 1845 Texas Constitution. Both Jim’s father and mother, the former Lucanda McMath, died when he was young and he was raised by an aunt. Jim started out in the newspaper business as a type setter for his local paper in Rusk and later published his own newspapers in Longview and Quitman from 1871 to 1873. Some of the early causes he supported were to oppose the radical reconstruction of the South following the Civil War and more particularly to comment on the activities of state police force of the last reconstruction governor, Edmund J. Davis. He also served as justice of the peace in Quitman from 1873 to 1875. Jim also spent the two years studying law and was admitted to the Texas bar in 1875. He made an unsuccessful run for the State Legislature in 1876, which was his only defeat in an election.
Jim was elected County Attorney in 1878 and then served as Disrict Attorney of Wood County from 1880 to 1884. For the next several years, he practiced law in East Texas. He publicly opposed the poll tax and was a proponent of allowing all adults to vote regardless of race or sex before amendments were passed to put both into law. Ima was born July 10, 1882 in Mineola, Texas while Jim Hogg was serving as district attorney.
He served two terms as Governor of Texas, from 1891 to 1895. While governor, Jim worked with the newly created Railroad Commission to monitor and oversee the development of railroads in Texas. He helped counteract the policies of unscrupulous railroad operators having to do with excessive shipping rates being charged within the state, alleged manipulation of stock prices and he helped to guard citizens against unfair land practices of the railroad companies. Hogg died in 1906 when he was only 56 years old. About a year earlier, he had been injured in a railroad accident and never was completely healthy thereafter. His wife, Sarah Ann, had predeceased him a decade earlier. In 1913, Jim Hogg County in far south Texas was named for the late governor when it was created out of Duvall and Brooks counties.
Hogg left his estate to his family. His daughter Ima became a well known and respected philanthropist. She had studied music when she was young and wanted to become a concert pianist. Although that dream was never realized, she retained her interest in music and was instrumental in the founding of the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1913. The new symphony played its first concert on June 21 of that year. Ima had been treated for a nervous disorder while she was still relatively young, leading to her interest in mental health. She founded the first child guidance clinic in the United States and the Hogg Mental Health Foundation, among her other activities.
She restored the first home of the Jim Hogg family, donating it to Jim Hogg State Park in Quitman, Texas and also donated another family home, the Varner Plantation, along with many historical documents to the state as part of the Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site. She was also known for her support for the preservation of Texas historical sites.
“Miss Ima” died at the age of 93 while on a trip to London, England to visit museums and enjoy concert performances. She fell while exiting a taxi, breaking her hip, and died from complications of the fall. Her remains were returned to Texas and she was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin. Ima never married and it is believed that the bulk of her estate, including her Houston home Bayou Bend, was given to charities, including the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
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