Posts Tagged ‘Sam Houston’

 “Why is it trivia? People call it trivia because they know nothing and they are embarrassed about it.” Robbie Colrane

Sign of the Times

Travels With Maggie

With my canine traveling companion, Maggie, snoring softly in Gypsy Lee’s co-pilot seat, and 300 miles of highway in front of me yesterday, I loosed my brain to digest the passing sights.

Sitting behind the wheel of my RV frees my mind to seek answers to insightful, puzzling and stupid questions.

The googling of my mind began this misty morning when a great egret floated down to land beside Highway 288 near the 72-foot tall statue of Stephen F. Austin.

The Austin image, located south of Angleton, is less

Statue of Sam Houston visible from Interstate 45 south of Huntsville. -- Photo by Pat Bean

impressive than the 77-foot one of Sam Houston, which sits beside Interstate 45 south of Huntsville. Both men were Texas history-makers and both statues were created by the same artist, David Addicts.

The Austin statue, I remembered as I passed it, has become somewhat of a joke to locals. From a distance looking north, Austin appears to be picking his nose. Looking south, he kinda looks like he’s peeing.

And then my mind shifted gears. I suspected that a lot more people knew who Houston was than knew who Austin was. Houston avenged the Alamo and became president of the Republic of Texas. Austin merely colonized the state and was considered the Father of Texas .

Statue of Stephen F. Austin located south of Angleton.

What makes some people stick in our minds while others fade into oblivion, I asked my wandering/wondering brain. And then a list of names popped into my head.

I remember Edgar Allan Poe because he frightened me. Harriet Beecher Stow, author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” because she shamed slave owners. John F. Kennedy because he charmed us; Charles Manson because he horrified us; and Mae West because she scandalized us.

I then wondered what names might pop in the heads of others if asked the same question.

And so the next six hours went.

On passing a Walmart semi, I decided this was the new sign of the times. A red Corvette pulled over to the side of the road with a police car’s swirling red, white and blue lights flashing behind it made me think that sometimes it was better to drive a plain brown wrapper.

I laughed at the sign outside the small city of Buffalo, which announced a Buffalo Stampede the third Saturday in September. That explained the herd of buffalo I had just passed, which was a brand new sight for me on this often traveled stretch of interstate that connects one of my sons with one of my daughters.

Another first for me was a sign promoting the Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club. Huh?

I looked that one up on the Web and discovered there were clubs with this name all over the place, including Las Vegas and Australia. Another sign of the times, I suspected.

Of course, as always, my eyes were seeking out birds along the way. Red-tailed hawks sitting in trees and turkey vultures flying overhead were the most common. I saw a great blue heron in a marshy area, and a snowy egret nearby. Eastern meadowlarks flew up from some roadside weeds, and a flock of crows flew into the air, leaving their road kill behind temporarily.

All too soon, Gypsy Lee, Maggie and I were pulling up in front of my daughter’s home.

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“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents, and all generations of your ancestors. All of them ae alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Travels With Maggie

Antonio Joseph was born in 1789 in Lisbon, Portugal. He was my great-great-great-grandfather. Most likely he was an illegal alien, having jumped ship, on which he was a cook, in Connecticut in 1822, shortly thereafter marrying Annis Rogers. At some point, Annis left Antonio, and she and their son, Thomas Miller Joseph, moved to Texas.

I’m sure there’s a juicy story about the family breakup, but of course there are no records so all I can do is use my writer’s imagination. I do know, according to records traced down by my son, that Antonio stayed behind in Connecticut, where he worked as a cook for an insane asylum, and that he died in Hartford in 1868.

This historical marker in Galveston does not mark the grave of my great-great-grandfather, Thomas Miller Joseph. His grave, like many others, was relocated somewhere during hurricanes that hit Galveston Island. -- Photo by Karen Bean

Young Thomas, meanwhile, became a prominent lawyer in Galveston, served the city as its mayor for five consecutive terms, was a chief justice, a Democratic leader and both a Texas State representative and senator. In other words, my great-great grandfather, the son of a sea cook, was important enough to have made it into Texas history books and to be honored by a historical marker.

One of his, and Mary Trueheart’s eight children, was Lucian Minor Joseph, my great-grandfather. His only child, with Annie Rutledge, was Robert Rutledge Joseph, my grandfather, who with Iva Mae Andrews, had eight children, of which my father, Richard Wilkinson Joseph, was the seventh, according to census records.

From all that I know and can learn, the Josephs were a prominent family in Cleburne, Texas.

While Thomas Miller Joseph isn't as important in Texas history as Sam Houston, his name can still be found in Texas History Books as a prominent man in Galveston circles. This giant sculpture of Houston, if you're interested, can be found along Interstate 45 near Huntsville, Texas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

You would have thought I would have heard at least bits and pieces of this family history growing up. Not so. For some reason, I never was told, my father broke off all connections with his family, and would not talk about them at all.

Looking back now, I realize that we were the family’s poor relations . And poor we were. One of my dad;s older sisters took it upon herself to send a box of hand-me-downs to our family a couple of times a year. It came to my mother, not my father, however.

Since my unknown aunt had a daughter a couple of years older than me, the box was like Christmas, better even because what came in the box was always ever so much better than what I would get for Christmas.

An older brother of dad’s also kept in touch with the family through my mother. And I know that during a few hard times he helped out. But again I never met him.

Families are funny things. It’s love and hate, and jealousies and quarrels all mixed up together. It’s sad because when my mother died, all contact with my father’s family ceased. I never knew any of them. It’s a whole big part of my genes and history that were never a part of my life, and never will be. .

Perhaps that’s why I find this story of the son of a sea cook history so fascinating. Perhaps I even get a bit of my wanderlust from that Portuguese sailor who was born in Lisbon but ended up in America.

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