Finnigan, Annette (1873-1940) – Suffragette – Born in West Columbia, TX, her family moved to Houston when she was three years old. Finnigan attended Wellesley College (fine arts) and Columbia University (philosophy). In 1903 she and her two sisters established suffrage leagues in Houston and Galveston. By 1906 the sisters had founded the State Woman (sic) Suffrage Association where she served a president from 1904 until 1906. Unfortunately in 1916 Finnigan’s right arm became paralyzed resulting in her retiring from most of her activities. She was a very generous woman contributing funds to the Houston Public Library, Museum of Fine Arts and donating 18 acres of land north of downtown for a park for the city’s black community. It is named Finnigan Park in her honor.
Fox, Henry S. (1833-1912) – Banker – He was a very important person in early Houston’s development. Among his many achievements were: dredging the original Houston Ship Channel (1868), expanding the Port of Houston at the foot of Main Street (1870s), director of the Houston Cotton Exchange & Board of Trade (1874) and founder of Houston National Bank (1885), the city’s second oldest charted financial institution. A strong supporter of the Confederacy, Fox volunteered ships that he owned to run cotton through the Union naval blockade of Texas during the War Between the States.
Fondren, Walter William III (1936-2010) – Sportsman & Conservationist – He was born in Houston, a scion of the Humble Oil & Refining Company ( now Exxon Mobile.) Fondren attended Lamar High School where he excelled in sports. In 1953 he led Lamar to the High School State Championship and was named Outstanding High School Football Player of the Year in 1954. At the University of Texas, he was a First Team All-Southwest Conference player and All Southwest Conference Halfback in 1955 and since he played both offence and defense, he still holds the record for most minutes played in a season. Upon graduation Fondren was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams. Back in Houston, he became a respected businessman, investor and board member of the Fondren Foundation. His greatest civic contribution was as leader of the Coastal Conservation Association. Fondren was inducted into the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame (2004) and named one of 50 legends of fishing by Field & Stream Magazine (2005.) Marks had the good fortune to know Walter well and call him a friend.
Gearing, Mary Edna (1872-1946) – Home Economics Teacher – Born in Pennsylvania, her family moved to Houston where she attended high school. Gearing received a degree from Columbia University. In 1906 she was hired by the Houston School Board to establish a home economics program, one of the first in Texas. In 1912 Gearing joined the faculty at the University of Texas where she established another home economics venue. She became the first woman to be named professor and department chairman at UT. Gearing’s next civic project focused on child welfare. In 1976 the Home Economics Building at the University was renamed in her honor.
Gray, William Fairfax (1787-1841) – Soldier & Lawyer – He was born in Virginia. In 1811 Gray was commissioned a captain in the Virginia Militia and fought in the War of 1812. In 1821 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel (although everyone called him “Colonel”). Gray came to Texas in 1836 and attended the Convention at Washington-on-the Brazos. He moved his family to Houston in 1837 and opened a law practice. During his life Gray held a number of important offices including: clerk of the Texas House of Representatives (1837), secretary of the Senate (1838) and district attorney (1840.) Upon his death he was interred in the Old City Cemetery but was reburied in Glenwood when it opened in 1872.
Gunn, Ralph Ellis (1908-1976) – Landscape Architect – Following World War II, modernism arrived on the scene in Houston’s landscaping business. Among other features were the addition of tropical plants in our city’s landscaping. Gunn was prominent in this movement. He is remembered for beatifying St. John’s the Divine Church, First Christian Church, Rienzi Mansion and oil baron Glenn McCarthy’s phenomenal Shamrock Hotel (razed in 1987.) The modernist movement also had a great impact on the design of Glenwood Cemetery beginning in the mid-1940s.
Harris, DeWitt Clinton (1814-1861) – Politician & Railroad Man – Born in New York, he was the son of John Richardson and Jane Birdsall Harris, founders of Harrisburg, Texas. Harris and his mother moved to Texas in 1833. He was the first county clerk of Harrisburg County (1837-41), alderman of the town (1842), director of Harrisburg Town Company (1839-47). Harris was involved with the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos & Colorado Railroad (1850-61) holding such positions as director, secretary and conductor. Originally buried in Glendale Cemetery (see Glendale) his remains were moved to Glenwood in 1913.
Hobby, Oveta Culp (1905-1995) – Soldier, Newspaper Publisher & Politician – A native Texan, she began her political career as the parliamentarian of the Texas House of Representatives (1926). Hobby became a journalist with the old Houston Post in 1930, marrying the publisher, William P. Hobby, in 1931. During World War II she was the director of the Woman’s Army Corps. Hobby was the first woman to receive a Distinguished Service Medal for her military service. President Eisenhower appointed her the first female secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (1953). In 1955 Hobby returned to Houston to replace her ailing husband as the president and editor of the Post. Eisenhower tried to get her to run for president on the Republican ticket in 1960 against John F. Kennedy. Hobby declined.
Holland, Margaret Ellen (1847-1921) – Physician – Born in Illinois, she was orphaned at a young age and adopted by a wealthy neighbor who paid her tuition at Woman’s Medical College in Chicago. Holland moved to Houston and established a practice in 1871. She was a strong supporter of education and was active in the PTA and Public School Art League.
Johnson, Rienzi Melville (1849-1926) – Newspaperman – A Georgia native, Johnson served in the Confederate Army as a soldier and drummer. Following the War Johnson started his career as a newspaperman. He worked for papers in Crocket, Corsicana and Austin prior to joining the Houston Post where he rose through the ranks to become Editor-in-Chief. Johnson was active in the Democratic Party. Texas senator Joseph W. Bailey resigned his seat in 1913 and Governor Oscar B. Colquitt asked Johnson to fill out his term. His duty in Washington D.C. was short – only 25 days. After which he returned to Houston and the Post. He eventually served as state senator from Houston and as chairman of the state prison commission.
Kendall, Belle Sherman (1847-1919) – Civic Leader – She was the daughter of the heroic Texas Revolution General Sidney Sherman and wife of William E. Kendell. Born in Harrisburg, Kendall moved to Houston in 1878. She was instrumental in establishing our first lending library by obtaining a donation from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The new Houston Lyceum Library and Carnegie Library Association were chartered in 1900. Active in civic affairs Kendall was an important member of the Ladies Reading Club, Woman’s Club and Shakespeare Club as well as a founder of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
Law, Caroline Wiess (1918-2003) – Philanthropist – She was one of Houston’s most generous donors, especially to the arts. Following her death, Law’s estate willed over $400 million worth paintings and other precious objects to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. In 1998 the main building was renamed in her honor.
Lovett, Edgar Odell (1871-1957) – Educator – Born in Ohio he was an excellent student earning his first PhD from the University of Virginia (1895) and the second from the University of Leipzig (1896). Lovett took a position at Princeton University in 1897, rising to the head of the Department of Mathematics & Astronomy by 1908. The Board of Trustees at the nascent Rice Institute (now University) invited him to be school’s first president following a recommendation by Woodrow Wilson. Lovett served in that capacity from 1907 until 1946. Lovett Boulevard, Lovett Hall and Lovett College at Rice as well as Lovett Elementary School are named in his honor.
Lubbock, Francis Richard (1815-1905) – Politician – A native of South Carolina, following the death of his father he quit school at 14 to work in a hardware store. Lubbock continued his business career in New Orleans prior to moving to Texas in 1836. A year later he opened a general store in Houston. In the 1840s Lubbock turned to ranching. However, politics was calling Lubbock and he was named comptroller of the Republic of Texas. He served as the clerk of Harris County district court from 1841 until 1857. In 1861 he was elected Governor in a very close race, winning by only 124 votes. When Lubbock ended his term he joined the military as a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate army. In 1864 he was appointed aide-de-camp to CSA President Jefferson Davis. Lubbock was captured at the end of the War Between the States and Imprisoned in Delaware. Upon his release he returned to ranching. In 1878 he was named treasurer of Texas, an office he held until 1891.
Lubbock, Thomas Saltus (1817-1862) – Soldier – A South Carolina native, he moved to New Orleans in 1835 working as a cotton factor. When the Texas Revolution broke out that year Lubbock joined the Texas Army and fought at the Siege of Bexar. Following independence he volunteered for the Santa Fe Expedition as a lieutenant. Lubbock was captured in New Mexico and imprisoned in Mexico. However, he managed to escape and returned to Texas. A supporter of the Confederacy, Lubbock enlisted in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and fought in the War Between the States. Later he helped organize B. F. Terry’s Texas Rangers where he was named commander when Colonel Terry was killed in battle in 1861. Lubbock contracted typhoid fever and died in 1862. He was the younger brother of Texas Governor Francis R. Lubbock (see above.) Lubbock County is named in his honor.
McAshan, Samuel Maurice (1829-1904) – Businessman – He was born in Virginia, moving to Texas with his family in in 1844. McAshan’s business career started as a clerk at a bank in Columbia, TX. He enlisted in the Confederate Army but was forced to resign his commission due to poor health. Unable to bear arms, McAshan was hired by T. W. House to export cotton and import fire arms for the Confederates. Following the War, House hired him as a cashier at his bank, where he worked for more than 30 years. McAshan was a very generous man donating money to numerous causes as well as supporting Shearn Methodist Church. One of Marks best friends at St. John’s School was his grandson who is named for him.
Mohl, Aurelia Hadley (1833-1896) – Journalist – Born in Mississippi, she moved to Houston with her parents in1840. In 1851 she married Frederick Mohl. Mohl’s journalism career began when she went to work for E. H. Cushing’s Houston Telegraph. From the mid-1870s until 1891 the Mohl’s lived in Washington D. C. where she served as a correspondent for a number of Texas newspapers including the San Antonio Herald, Waco Examiner and Dallas Herald to mention a few. While in D. C. she was the corresponding secretary for the Women’s National Press Association and later vice president of its Texas division. Mohl returned to Houston and was society editor for the Houston Post. In 1893 she was a founder of the Texas Woman’s Press Association. In addition Mohl was a member of the Ladies’ Reading Club and the Texas Woman’s Congress. Her tombstone was the first in Texas honoring a professional woman.
Rice, Julia Elizabeth Baldwin (1822 or 1827-1896) – Second Wife of William Marsh Rice (See Rice Institute.) This is a rather nasty tale. William Marsh Rice was a very wealthy Houstonian who among other things established Rice Institute (now University.) Following the death of his first wife, Rice remarried Elizabeth (aka Libbie) in 1867. At that time the city was in the midst of a yellow fever epidemic so the newlyweds moved to their second home in New York City. It didn’t take long for things to go bad. Elizabeth contacted a lawyer about a divorce. By 1896 her health began to decline. So they moved back to Houston. Unbeknownst to William she hired another lawyer to draw up a new will in an attempt to gain more of his estate for herself and not Rice Institute as Texas is a community property state. Shortly thereafter Elizabeth died in an insane asylum in Wisconsin. William returned to Houston to learn that Elizabeth’s lawyer had instituted probate. Fortunately, he had better lawyers and following a lengthy court battle the will was declared null and void. As a result all the funds did go to the Institute.
Runnels, Hiram George (1796-1857) – Politician – He was a native of Georgia but moved to Mississippi as a youngster with his family. Runnels served in the U. S. Army during some of the Indian Wars that raged during the 1820s. Politics caught his attention and he was named state auditor of Mississippi (1822-30) and state legislator (1829.) Runnels lost a race for governor of the state in 1831 but was elected in 1833, serving one term. For unknown reasons he had a serious disagreement with Volney E. Howard, editor of the Mississippian newspaper and was involved in a duel (both survived.) In 1845 Runnels moved to Texas where he established a plantation on the Brazos River. He died in 1857.