An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Sixty-Two

Above, Gathering the Dead in Vera Cruz, Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Sixty-One

Andrew Stevens, April 1914

“Failure to fire a twenty-one-gun salute to the American flag?” fumes Mr. K. “After all the damage to property owned by American interests in Mexico? After all the seized assets?”

The Colonel interrupts. “After the continuous transgressions all along the border from Brownsville to El Paso? Governor Colquitt has begged and begged Washington to let him take action. Secretary Bryan kept telling him to turn the other cheek.”

Mr. K strides back and forth, back and forth. “Now President Wilson,” is using the flimsy excuse of the Tampico incident, tantamount to nothing, to invade Vera Cruz. The seven seized sailors were released as soon as the Mexican commander realized the error of his subordinates. He sent a formal written apology to Admiral Mayo. But the war-hungry admiral demanded the American flag be raised and a twenty-one-gun salute.”

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Sixty-Two”

Walking among the dead seeking hints about our past

Let us endeavor to live our lives that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.

Words of Mark Twain engraved on the memorial for Bertie Lee Hall (1926-1999), member of the Texas House of Representatives, storyteller and writer

Getting to the cemetery first is not a race you normally want to win, but, when General Edward Burleson (1798-1851) died, leaders of the Republic of Texas realized they were caught flat-footed as to where to honor their heroes. Burleson had served with Ben Milam in San Antonio; fought at San Jacinto; and served as Vice President of the young republic. House member Andrew Jackson Hamilton (1815-1875) offered his own property in East Austin, with the state assuming responsibility for the burial ground in 1854.

Other prominent figures from the early days of the Republic of Texas gradually were reinterred in places of honor in the Texas State Cemetery. The remains of Stephen F. Austin (1793-1836) were moved from Peach Point to a commanding spot by Governor Oscar Colquitt in 1910. The statue of him was made by San Antonio sculptor Pompeo Coppini (1870-1957), creator of the currently controversial Cenotaph in Alamo Plaza.

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An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Fifty-Four

october 1913 flood

Above, spectators stand on the Navarro Street Bridge with the floodwaters lapping just below. Photograph from UTSA Libraries Special Collections

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Fifty-Three

Emma Bentzen Koehler, October 1913

“Sophie,” asks Bettie Stevens, “however did you manage to return your house to normal in time for this beautiful wedding? We still don’t have the mud cleared out of the first floor.”

“Many hired hands. The Colonel posted a notice at the brewery offering double pay to any worker willing to shovel, scrub and paint by lamplight after their shifts ended. I cried myself to sleep every night thinking that, after all the planning, we would have to ask Otto and Emma to host the celebration at their house.”

“And, of course,” says Emma, “you know we would have been more than happy to have Jennie wed there. But I understand the sentimental reasons for holding the wedding in your own home.”

John shakes his head. “Eight inches of rain. It was the most frightening night of my life. One day people were whining about not enough water in the river. The next night our whole household is huddled in the attic, hoping not to get washed away.”

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Fifty-Four”