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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.

Early on, he tried to establish himself in several  businesses including becoming a merchant, but he was unsuccessful.  His father helped him to secure a job as secretary to the governor of Georgia, George M. Troup.  He traveled the state speaking on behalf of Gov. Troup.  During this period he met his first wife, Tabatha Burwell Jordan.  Lamar and Tabitha were married in 1826 and two years later, when Troup failed to be reelected, he and Tabitha moved to Columbus, Georgia.  There he established a newspaper called the Columbus Enquirer.  While living in Columbus, Lamar made a successful run for the Georgia Senate and served one term.  His wife Tabitha passed away in 1830, leaving him with one daughter, Rebecca Ann.  Lamar then studied law and was admitted to the Georgia bar three years later.  In 1934, he suffered another personal loss as his brother Lucius committed suicide, after which he came to Texas.

He was personal friends with James W. Fannin and upon learning of the death of Fannin at the hands of the Mexican Army, he decided to stay in Texas and join the Texas Army.  He served under Sam Houston in the events leading up to the Battle of San Jacinto.  He distinguished himself as a soldier and was given command of a cavalry regiment which he led in the Battle of San Jacinto.

He succeeded Thomas Rusk as Secretary of War of the Republic when he was appointed by interim President David G. Burnet.  A few months later, Lamar was appointed Vice President of the Republic by interim President Burnet.  While serving as Vice President under Burnet, Lamar began to promote the establishment of schools in each district. His interest in education led him to follow through and as a result, a number of schools were established.

Houston won the election as the first President of the Republic of Texas in 1836 and served his two year term.  Presidents were limited to one term in succession, and in the next election Lamar was nominated for the post.  He won the election, succeeding Houston and was inaugurated in December 1838.  In his attitude toward war with Mexico, fiscal spending and treatment of the native tribes, Lamar was the polar opposite of Houston.  Lamar favored driving the Comanche and Cherokee tribes from the settled areas, whereas Houston had been more conciliatory towards them.  There was some sentiment within the Republic in favor of annexation of Texas into the United States.  This position was opposed by Lamar who felt that, if anything, Texas should instead expand and take action to become recognized by European countries as well as its long time foe, Mexico.  He also felt that the Republic needed to establish a national bank.

Lamar took steps to gain recognition from Mexico and sent delegations to try and forge an agreement that would stop the continual skirmishes the Mexican Army.  He authorized military action against the Cherokee, culminating in the Battle of the Neches in 1839, which was the last major battle with the tribe.  Houston’s Cherokee friend Chief Bowles was killed, which greatly angered Houston.  Houston and Lamar never reconciled.

Lamar attempted to reestablish the capital from Houston to a place on the Colorado River called Waterloo, now part of Austin.  He promoted the establishment of two universities, but no construction took place during his administration.  His various plans were ambitious, but Texas lacked the financial stability to accomplish everything, spending more money that it could raise with taxes.

In 1841, Lamar authorized the Santa Fe Expedition that ended in defeat.  His term as president ended and he was succeeded by Houston, who became the only president of the Republic to serve two terms.

Lamar then returned to service in the Texas Army, which he did for a number of years.  During this time, he participated in the Mexican-American War.  He lived to see Texas be admitted to the United States in 1845 during Anson Jones’ term as president of the Republic.

In his later years, he married Henrietta Moffitt in 1851.  He successfully ran for the Texas Legislature when he was in his 50s.  He was appointed Minister to Nicaragua in 1857 and served for about two years.  Lamar suffered a heart attack in December, 1859 and passed away the next day at his home in Richmond at the age of 61.

MBLamar

Lamar’s legacy will include his ambitious plans for the Republic in the areas of territorial expansion, education and the creation of a climate for the settlers that was safe from attacks from the native tribes.  He was not able to achieve everything he set out to do, but is recognized for his efforts.

He was survived by his second wife, Henrietta and one daughter, Loretta Evelina.  Lamar is interred in Morton Cemetery in Richmond, near his home.  He was well-read and during his lifetime, he published a number of poems, some of which have previously been printed here in the early days of this blog.  It reveals a literary side of him that is not often discussed.

To a Mexican Girl
My Isabel-dear Isabell
Oh, take the flowers I send thee;
And with the gift, the donor’s prayers,
All blessings to attend thee.
With health , and wealth, and lengthened life,
And many friends around thee,
Oh, be this world a world of flowers,
Without a thorn to wound thee.

Sweet girl, these flowers are like thyself,
Thy native vales adorning,
In all the lovely lights arrayed
Iris and the morning;

But brighter far than any rose,
That blooms by Bravo’s water,
Is that which decks thy father’s hall
Don Lopez’ smiling daughter.

Too oft, alas! unfeeling man
Is viper in the roses-
And many a tear the maid may shed,
Who on his faith reposes;

But wo betide the ruthless one,
By earth and Heaven rejected,
Who woos and wins so sweet a flower,
To leave its bloom neglected!

Full soon the bright bouquet will fade,
For beauty hath a fleetness;
But when the flowers have lost their hues,
They still retain their sweetness:

So will it be dear maid, with thee,
And all the gentle-hearted-
The power to please will linger still,
When beauty hath departed.

Oh, by-and-by, when I am old,
And thou in all thy glory,
Some gayer bard will sing to thee
His love-inspiring story;

And should he be, as I have been,
Still true to love and duty,
Then be the minstrel’s high reward
The hand and heart of beauty.

–by Mirabeau B. Lamar

© 2017, all rights reserved.

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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, history, rodeo, texas

 

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Harry McArdle, Artist

Henry Arthur “Harry” McArdle was an American artist who painted historical scenes of particular interest to Texans.  Since two of his works now hang in the Texas Capitol Building, some have probably seen examples of his work without knowing the name of the artist.

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Posted by on September 28, 2017 in artists, biography, history, texas

 

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The Goodnight Ranch

Goodnight is a name that calls to mind cattle drives from North Texas to Wyoming or Montana and also the start of ranching in the Panhandle.  Charles Foxwing Goodnight, Jr. was born in Illinois, not too far north of St. Louis, Missouri to farmers Charles and Charlotte Collier Goodnight in 1836.  His father died five years after this and his mother married Hiram Henry Daugherty, a farmer who lived nearby.  A few years later in 1845, the family headed for Texas, settling between what is now Milam County between College Station to the east and Austin to the west.  Charles did not receive much formal schooling and began working as a cowboy to help the family get by.  His first stepfather Daughterty also died not long after arriving in Texas.  His mother then married a minister by the name of Adam Sheek in 1853.  Goodnight and a step brother, John Wesley Sheek, began a ranching operation and around 1857 they relocated it further up the Brazos to what is now Palo Pinto County.  Once they got settled, they brought the family with them.

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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in history, ranch families, texas

 

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George Bernard Erath

george_bernard_ erath

(Image credit: Waco Tribune Herald)

George Bernard Erath was born in Vienna, Austria in 1813.  He was educated at Vienna Polytechnic Institute where he studied liberal arts.  Young Erath lived on his own and worked for a few years in Europe, eventually setting sail for America.  One of the reasons given for his departure was that he did not want to be drafted into service for the Austrian Army.  Whatever his justification for not wanting to serve in Austria, he would show no reluctance whatsoever to fight for the State of Texas.  In fact, he spent years doing just that.  He arrived in America in the summer of 1832 in New Orleans.  He then worked in Cincinnati, Ohio before returning to the South again in Florence, Alabama for a short time.  Erath then relocated to Texas in 1833 where he would remain for the rest of his life, entering at Brazoria on the Gulf and settling in Robertson County.

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Dale Evans, born in Uvalde

daleevans_gettyimages

(Image credit: gettyimages.com, showing Dale Evans between the actor Jimmy Stewart and Dale’s husband Roy Rogers.)

Dale Evans was born Lucile Smith (later changed to Frances Octavia Smith) on October 31, 1912 in Uvalde, Texas to Walter Hillman Smith and Bettie Sue Coln, according to published genealogy records.  The family later moved to Osceola, Arkansas where she attended high school.  When she was 14, she eloped and married Thomas Frederick Fox with whom she had her first born son, Tom Fox, Jr.  The marriage ended shortly thereafter and two years later, she married August W. Johns.  In 1936, she married Robert Dale Butts, which relationship lasted about nine years.  She had no children from the latter two marriages.  In her early years, she struggled as a single parent and supported herself by working as a secretary, a singer and working in radio in Chicago, Memphis, Dallas and Louisville.  She was given the stage name of Dale Evans by a radio station manager who suggested it because it was easier to pronounce than Frances Octavia Smith.

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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in biography, history, texas, texas women

 

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