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Johnny Preston, Entertainer

A number of popular performers have come from the Port Neches and Port Arthur area. Singer Johnny Preston was born John Preston Courville, Jr. in Port Arthur, Texas on August 18, 1939 to John Preston Courville, Sr. and Margaret Schexnayder Courville. As a youth, he sang in high school choirs and around the state. Johnny attended Port Arthur College as he began his singing career. Using the stage name Johnny Preston, he formed a vocal group called The Shades and was appearing in a local club in Port Neches at the time he was noticed by club owner J. P. Richardson, who recorded under the name “The Big Bopper.” Richardson was a singer/songwriter and had written a teenage tragedy song (a somewhat popular genre at the time) called “Running Bear” that that tells the story of two Native American youths who drown in a swollen river as they attempted to get together. The tune was recorded in a Houston studio and became a hit record for the nineteen year old Preston in 1958. By the time of its release, Richardson had been tragically killed in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa in 1959 along with the aircraft’s pilot, singer Richie Valens and fellow Texan and singer Buddy Holly.

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Posted by on January 7, 2021 in biography, entertainers

 

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Branch Tanner Archer

Branch Tanner Archer was born in Virginia to Peter Field Archer and Frances Tanner Archer. Archer’s grandfather was Colonel William Wharton Archer, who had fought in the American Revolution as had Archer’s father. As a young man, Archer had received his education at William and Mary College. He then studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia before returning to Virginia to set up a medical practice. He also served several terms in the Virginia State Legislature.

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Posted by on December 31, 2020 in biography, county names, texas revolution

 

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José Antonio Menchaca

For many years, there was a road in south Austin called Manchaca Road. After some legal issues, in 2019 the name was finally changed to Menchaca Road. Some of the objections were voiced by local residents and businesses from a group known as Leave Manchaca Alone, and possibly others. The objections included arguments that Manchaca Road was perhaps not named for the individual who fought in the Texas Revolution, rather that instead it was derived from a Chocktaw word or had some other origin, that the name change would disrupt business, that property owners did not receive the proper notice of the proposed change, etc. An opposing group named Justice for Menchaca was in favor of the name change. Ultimately the judge’s decision favored renaming the street Menchaca rather than Manchaca in honor of José Antonio Menchaca.

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Posted by on December 24, 2020 in biography, hispanic heritage, texas revolution

 

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Bonnie Parker’s Family

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker was born October 1, 1910 in Rowena, Runnels County, Texas to Charles Robert Parker and the former Emma Krause. She was the third child born to Charles Robert and Emma. The first was a brother named Coley who was born and died in 1905, possibly of sudden infant death syndrome, while the couple was living in Young, Freestone County, Texas. Coley’s burial place is unknown.

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Frank James in Texas

Former bank robber Frank James lived in Dallas, Texas for a while. In an Associated Press newspaper article out of Dallas in The Indiana Gazette issue of April 26, 1957, it was reported that James’ former personal barber, an African American by the name of Johnny Dickson, had died at the age of 89. Dickson had said that James was a regular customer at his Dallas shop. A barber since the age of 14, when he started cutting hair, Dickson had to stand on a box or a stool to see the top of his customers’ heads. Dickson had come to Dallas in 1887 and began working at the Bird Cage Barber Shop. The barber shop got its name for the two caged canaries that were kept inside and sang for customers. Dickson said that Frank James would ride up to the shop on a handsome sorrel horse and just drop the reins, trusting the mount to wait for him. Dickson added that James was usually quiet and did not have much to say.

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Posted by on December 9, 2020 in biography, outlaws and crimes

 

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