Ann Miller was the stage name of Johnnie Lucille Collier, born April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Nacogdoches County, Texas. Her father was John A. Collier, a criminal defense lawyer known for representing clients such as Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly and the Barrow Gang. Her mother was the former Clara Emma Birdwell. As a young girl, Johnnie suffered from rickets and took dance classes to help strengthen her legs. She also studied piano and violin. The family moved to Houston, Texas where she lived until she was nine years old. Eventually her parents divorced and she moved with her mother to Los Angeles.
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Paul Neal Adair, better known by his nickname “Red” Adair, was born in 1915 in Houston, Texas to Charles Edward and Mary Emeline Smith Adair. Charles was a carpenter and blacksmith. Both he and Mary had been born in Kansas where they married. By 1910, they were living in Houston. Red got his nickname from being red headed and was the middle child of at least five siblings. When he was young, the family lived northwest of downtown Houston in an area known as The Heights, where Red attended school through the 9th grade at Houston Reagan High School. He as a good athlete and student, but dropped out of high school to help support his family in the midst of the Depression.
Judge Harold Barefoot Sanders was born on February 5, 1925 to attorney Harold Barefoot Sanders, Sr. and May Elizabeth Forrester Sanders in Dallas, Texas. Sanders told of growing up during the Depression, working odd jobs to raise money for the family. He and his father were both named for Dennie Barefoot, Judge Sanders’ paternal grandmother. She was the granddaughter of Daniel Barefoot, of Tennessee, who had settled in Montague County, Texas in the 1800s. Dennie’s father Jonathan Barefoot had served in the Civil War. Judge Sanders talked about the name Barefoot and explained in a 1971 newspaper article that it was not a nickname and was his grandmother’s maiden name. He also clarified that it was not a Native American name, as some might have supposed.
After the success of the book and film Hidden Figures which generated much deserved recognition for NASA employees Katherine Jonson, Dorothy vaughan and Mary Jackson, the book with the eye catching title of Hidden Genius: Frank Mann, the Black Engineer Behind Howard Hughes came to our attention. It is the story of Frank Calvin Mann, as told by H. T. Bryer.
Wiley Hardeman Post was born November 22, 1898 near Grand Saline, Van Zandt County, Texas to William Francis and Mae Quinlan Post. His family were cotton farmers and moved to Oklahoma when Wiley was five years old, finally settling close to Maysville. He was exposed to flying at a local county fair when he was about twenty years old. It inspired him to take flying lessons, though he did not begin flying on his own until later but took a construction job.
(Image credit: FreddyFender.com)
Freddy Fender was born Baldemar Garcia Huerta in San Benito, Cameron County, Texas on June 4, 1937. His parents were Serapio and Margarita Garcia Huerta, who were migrant farm workers. Huerta was the oldest of four children and was raised around music, including lively “conjunto,” a traditional style of music that includes a blend of Tejano and references to German polka, including the use of an accordion. He performed as early as the age of ten on a Harlingen, Texas radio station. He dropped out of high school and lied about his age to join the United States Marine Corps. He served from 1954 to 1956. Huerta married in 1957 as he began to perform as “El Be-Bop Kid” and other stage names, doing covers of popular American hits of artists like Elvis Presley but singing them in Spanish. He and his wife Evangelina had five children. They divorced and remarried at one point, but otherwise were married for about forty-five years.
Sarah Horton was born in Virginia on 13 January 1819 to Enoch and Martha Stinson Horton. She moved with her family to Dallas County, Texas near Eagle Ford in 1844, becoming one of the pioneer families in the area. In September of 1847, she married Alexander Cockrell.