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Joshua Houston

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(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

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(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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Sam Houston and Santa Anna

Santa Anna (Antonio López de Santa Anna) was born in Vera Cruz in 1794 and began serving in the Army in Spanish Mexico when he was a teenager.  He was said to have first fought in support for the Spanish against Mexican independence before joining the movement in 1821 in support of an independent Mexico.  He continued to be near the forefront of leadership in the young country of Mexico and helped defeat the Spanish effort to reclaim Mexico in the late 1820s.  Santa Anna was himself elected President in 1833.  The previous two decades had seen chaotic changes in the country of Mexico with the form of government varying from a constitutional republic to a centralist form with Santa Anna at the head, supported by the military.  The country was vast with the Central American part being largely populated and the North American portion being sparsely populated by Native American tribes and an increasing number of American settlers.  Under Santa Anna, its policy changed from encouraging settlements to being more restrictive toward them.

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Posted by on December 28, 2017 in history, republic of texas, sam houston, texas

 

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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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Chepita Rodriguez

Josefa “Chepita” Rodriguez ran an inn on the old Cotton Road between Refugio and Aransas Pass around the time of the Civil War.   Sometimes her name is spelled Chapita or Chipita, but Chepita appears to be the most common spelling.  Her story began when the body of John Savage, a cotton dealer and horse trader, was found dead, wrapped in burlap in the Aransas River near San Patricio.

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Posted by on December 14, 2017 in folklore, texas, texas women, unsolved mystery

 

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The Many Lives of the Texas Clipper

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(Image credit: Navsource.com)

The ship last known as the Texas Clipper began her life as a Windsor Class Attack Transport.  One of a class of seven ships, her hull was laid down March 2, 1944 in Sparrows Point, MD and she was launched September 12, 1944 for the United States Maritime Commission.  The United States was three years into World War II.  The Maritime Commision was a government agency created in 1936 to see to the creation of 500 merchant cargo ships to replace the aging World War I era fleet that made up the Merchant Marine.  It offered a subsidy system to support some of the building costs.  She was transferred to the United States Navy on December 16, 1944 and commissioned the USS Queens (APA-103) and went on to serve eighteen months in World War II, mostly for service in the Far East.  She was not named for royalty, but rather the burrough of New York by the same name.

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Posted by on December 7, 2017 in history, texas

 

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Buffalo Soldiers in Texas

The concept of all-black regiments had originated during the Civil War when northern states organized regiments of free blacks from the north and former slaves from the south.  This concept was met with resistance in the north, which resistance is generally accepted to have been racially oriented in nature.  However, by 1863 the U. S. Colored Volunteers had been organized into a cavalry regiment, an artillery regiment and almost two dozen infantry regiments.  It is estimated that about one out of ten Union soldiers serving in the American Civil War were black.

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Posted by on November 30, 2017 in black history, history, texas

 

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