Tag Archives: biography

Joshua Houston


(Image credit: Texas State Historical Association)

Joshua Houston (1822-1902) was born near Marion, Alabama and was a slave in the household of the wife of Sam Houston, Margaret Lea.  In the custom of the day, Joshua and his family were left to Margaret after the death in 1834 of her father, Temple Lea.  Margaret moved to Texas in 1840 after marrying Sam Houston in May.

Joshua travelled with Sam Houston as his personal servant during the days of the Texas Republic.  During this time, he was taught to read and write and learned the skills of blacksmithing and wheel building.  When Houston learned of the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln, he emancipated all of the slaves in the family, although Texas law did not change for several more years.  Joshua and several others stayed on with the family of Sam Houston after Sam died in 1863.  Margaret died of yellow fever in 1867.  Late in life, Margaret Lea Houston fell on difficult financial times and Joshua is known to have offered his personal savings to help her.

After the end of the Civil War, Joshua married, had a family and became a blacksmith in Huntsville, Texas.  Joshua built a two story home there on 10th Street and set up his shop across the street from it.  He was a church leader and held several city and county offices in government.

He and two friends bought land near downtown and built the first church for freedmen, the Union Church, which operated at various times both as a Baptist and Methodist congregation.  Union Church continued to blossom, grew large and eventually split into at least three separate entities.  Joshua followed one of them and helped found the First Baptist Church on 10th Street in Rogersville, Texas.

His political life began when he was appointed as the first Black alderman in 1870.  He was first elected to office when he became a county commissioner of Walker County, Texas serving for a number of years beginning in 1878.  He is credited for helping to change former racially discriminatory Texas laws.  He helped found a college, Bishop Ward College, in 1882 although it remained in business for only two years and suffered from a lack of financial resources.  Joshua remained active in politics into his senior years, serving as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

During his lifetime, Joshua was married to Annieliza (last name unknown), Sylvester Baker and Mary Green and had eight children including Thomas Houston (1866-1888), Lucy Houston Gardner (1841-1916), Joseph Houston (1836-1938) who was a farmer and land owner near Huntsville and a member of the Union Chapel Methodist Church and Samuel Walker Houston.

Samuel was born in 1864 and received his education at Hampton Institute in Virginia and Howard University in Washington, DC.  His is known to have been a clerk at Ford’s Theater and also to have worked for the War, State and Navy departments of the U. S. Government in Washington, DC.  Around 1900, he returned to Texas and taught school in Grimes County.  Samuel was a gifted musician and could sing, read and write music.  He died in 1945 and his headstone reads “In honor and memory of Samuel Walker Houston, founder of the Houston Industrial Training School and late principal of the Sam Houston High School… His life was devoted to welfare and happiness of others.”

Joshua Houston’s legacy included churches that he helped to found, being involved in politics and helping to change laws that promoted racial equality and a family of educated children and grandchildren.  He died in January, 1902 and is buried with his wife, Sylvester not far from the grave of Sam Houston at Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville.

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Posted by on January 11, 2018 in biography, black history, history, sam houston


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Mary Martin


(Image credit: Playbill)

An eight foot tall bronze statue of Peter Pan was dedicated to Mary Martin on July 4, 1976 and is located on the south side of the Weatherford Public Library at 1014 Charles Street, near Soldier Spring Park in Weatherford, Texas.  It was dedicated as part of Weatherford’s American Bicentennial celebration.  Martin was depicted in a pose as Peter Pan, her 1954 Broadway character.  An earlier stylized statue of Peter Pan was dedicated in her honor in Weatherford’s Cherry Park recreation area, 300 S. Alamo Street, not far from her childhood home.

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Posted by on January 4, 2018 in biography, entertainers, texas, texas women


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Buffalo Hump

Buffalo Hump was a formidable Comanche war chief, thought to have been born around 1790.  He lived until around 1870 and was one of the most influential Comanche leaders during his lifetime.  His native name was Pachanaquarship and he was a respected leader among the Comanche tribe almost his entire adult life.  His band were called the Penetekas which is roughly translated “honey eaters” and though they ranged widely in Texas, they spent a considerable amount of time in the general area that is now Abilene.

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The Flying Stinsons

Eddie Stinson had begun his career in aviation in San Antonio, Texas and was the brother of pioneer aviatrix, Katherine Stinson.  Katherine was a prodigy in the new world of aviation.  The youngest of four children, she had been captivated by the lure of airplanes, so much so that she sold her piano to raise the money for flying lessons.  The year was 1912, only a few short years after the Wright Brothers made their first powered flight in 1903.  Her first solo flight was in a similar-looking aircraft to the Kitty Hawk plane, which more nearly resembled a box kite than what we know as an aircraft.  She said that at the time, it was supposed to take 250 minutes of flying lessons to learn how to fly.  Katherine quickly took to it and indeed soloed after four hours of flying lessons.  Licensing requirements were not as strict back then.  Katherine said that all she had to do was climb to 800 feet, do some figure-eights, glide with the power off and make a smooth landing.  She was the fourth woman ever to obtain a pilot’s license.

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Posted by on November 9, 2017 in biography, history, texas, texas women


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Mirabeau B. Lamar

Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar was the second president of the Republic of Texas. He was born in Georgia in 1798 to John Samuel III and Rebecca Lamar.  One of the youngest of eight children, Lamar was self educated, having been accepted to Princeton University, though he declined.

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Kate Ross Padgitt and Steamboats on the Brazos

Kate Ross Padgett was born January 6, 1851 and was the first white child born in Waco.  Her parents were Shapley Prince and Catherine Fulkerson Ross and they lived in a log cabin built near the Brazos River.  Her older brother was Lawrence Sullivan (Sul) Ross who was a young child when the family moved to Texas.  The exact location of the home is thought to be on the west side of the Brazos near downtown Waco, near the intersection of what was then Bridge Street and First Street, roughly where the Waco Suspension Bridge meets the river today.  There was a natural spring nearby.  The cabin was later replaced by a hotel, the first hotel in Waco, when the Ross family moved to a home near 12th and Dutton streets.

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Posted by on October 12, 2017 in biography, history, texas, texas women


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Bill Pickett

Bill Pickett was born to Thomas Jefferson and Mary Gilbert Pickett in Jenks-Branch, Williamson County, Texas in 1870, one of 13 children.  His heritage was African-American and Cherokee.  He is credited for having invented the method of steer wrestling commonly called “bulldogging.”  For this, his showmanship and his other skills he became the first person of African-American descent to be inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, among his other honors.

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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in biography, black history, entertainers, history, rodeo, texas


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