Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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to Texas, and lived in Bryan and at Calvert until 1872.
In that year his home was moved to Austin, and he re-
mained a resident of that city until his death on June
30, 1892. Col. Eobertson was soon prominent in public
affairs, served a term in the legislature, and for a short
time was district judge of the Austin District. The
older citizens also remember his two terms as mayor of
the city. In 1888, he was a delegate from the tenth
district to the National Democratic convention in St.
Louis, assisting in the nomination of Grover Cleveland
in that year.

As a lawyer Col. Eobertson possessed thorough learn-
ing, marked ability both as a counselor and advocate,
and gained a record of many important successes in the
Texas bar. Much of his time for a number of years was
taken up in important litigation in the courts of Austin
and in adjoining counties, in the state supreme court,
and in the United States circuit court. With his ability
to comprehend and work out the details of a complicated
case he united splendid powers as an effective pleader
and logical speaker, and attained a more than ordinary
reputation for his literary accomplishments, possessing
an incisive and fluent style which made all his work with
the pen valuable both from the literary standpoint and
for its effectiveness in reaching the object desired. At
the time of his first sickness he was attorney for the
English syndicate that built the state capitol. Col. Eob-
ertson was an honor to the Texas bar, and one of the
distingished figures in the state during his generation.
Mrs. Eobertson now lives at 1710 Pearl street in Austin.

Benjamin Kowalski. Conspicuous in business cir-
cles and prominent in the public affairs of Brownsville,
Benjamin Kowalski, an ex-mayor of the city, is a true
type of the energetic and enterprising citizens who have
been influential in advancing the best interests of this
part of Cameron county, his enthusiastic zeal, unques-
tioned ability and strong jjersonality making him a
leader among men. A son of Bernard Kowalski, he was
born, in 1S54, in New Orleans, Louisiana, of thrifty

Bernard Kowalski, a native of Poland, was born in
1821 in Inowrazlaw, where he received excellent educa-
tional advantages. Immigrating to the United States
in 1841, he located in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he
became highly successful as a business man and where
in 1847 he was naturalized as an American citizen. He
joined the Washington Artillery, a famous military or-
ganization of New Orleans, in which he was much inter-
ested. He subsequently enlisted for service in the Mexi-
can War, and went with General Taylor 's army into
Mexico, on the way passing through Brownsville, Texas.
He served with gallantry throughout the war, taking
part in many engagements. In 1849 he went with the
gold seekers to California, making an overland journey,
but not meeting with the success he anticipated in that
country he returned to New Orleans in 1850, and resumed
business in that city. In 1861, being burned out, he
came to Cameron county, Texas, and embarked in mer-
cantile pursuits in Brownsville. On the breaking out of
the Civil war he enlisted in the Confederate army, and
having been commissioned major of artillery under Gen-
eral Bee took an active part in the defense of Fort
Brown (Brownsville) and when the fort was captured
in 1864 by General Herron, Bernard Kowalski was taken
prisoner and carried to New Orleans where he was kept
a prisoner until the close of the conflict. Eeturning
then to Brownsville, he resumed bis business operations
in this city, and was here an honored resident until his
death, June 24, 1889.

While in California Mr. Kowalski was a member of
Terry Vigilantes of that state and helped drive bad
characters out of the state. He was intensely patriotic
to the cause of the south, and was never ' ' recon-
structed. " As a husband, a father, and a citizen, he
was a man of the finest type, charitable and unselfish
to an unusual degree, oftentimes taking greater interest
in the troubles and discouragements of others than he
did of his own. Beloved by all who knew him, his death
was a cause of general regret. The maiden name of his
wife was Sophia Bernstein. She was born at Posen,
Poland, and survived him but eleven months, dying in
May, 1890.

Acquiring his rudimentary education in New Orleans,
Benjamin Kowalski subsequently attended Soula Busi-
ness College and the Brothers' College in Brownsville.
At the early age of fourteen years he began his busi-


ness life, becoming a clerk in his father's store, and
later was engaged in mercantile pursuits on his own
account. Taking an interest in local affairs from early
manhood, he was for many years prominently connected
with various branches of the public service in Brownsville,
from 1SG9 until 1S77 serving as assistant postmaster
under Edward Downey. A'ine years later, upon the death
of Postmaster Hopkins, Mr. Kowalski was appointed
as his successor, his commission bearing date of Novem-
ber 27, 18S6. That was under President Cleveland's first
administration, and Mr. Kowalski has the distinction of
having been the first Democratic postmaster that ever
Brownsville had. He served in that capacity for four
years with conspicuous efficiency, and to the satisfaction
of the public.

When Mr. Kowalski left the postoffice the first time,
in 1877, he accepted a position at Fort Brown, first as
army quartermaster 's clerk, and later as paymaster 's
clerk. Subsequently he was employed as clerk to General
Sutton, United States Consul at Matamoras, Mexico. He
is quite talented and accomplished, and an excellent lin-
guist, having conversational knowledge of Spanish, French
and German, as well as of English. It was almost entirely
due to Mr. Kowalski that Brownsville obtained its Fed-
eral Building, his preliminary efforts in that direction
haviag been begun through a letter to Congressman Crane
in 1888, and continue until successful. He has likewise
served most acceptably as United States Commissioner,
and as deputy district clerk for the Southern District of

In 1910 Mr. Kowalski was elected mayor of Browns-
ville, and served the regular term of two years with
credit to himself, and to the honor of his constituents,
rendering the city service of inestimable value, his
achievements having been noteworthy in every respect.
Among those of especial value to the community are the
following named: The granting of franchise and build-
ing of spur line by the Saint Louis, Brownsville and
Mexico EaUway from West Brownsville, extending around
the northeastern part of the city, to the Little Indiana
Canal Company's property; the extension, improvement
and enlargement of the Municipal Water and Light Sys-
tem, putting in entirely new machinery with double units
for all motive power, including new and larger water
mains, fire hydrants and street lights, also new buildings
and sheds for water and light jilants and boiler sheds;
the building of an up-to-date Pilteriug Plant, water
ninety -eight pre cent pure; the building of a new market
and city hall, with sheds to Fire Department BuiLling;
the extension of water and hydrants to the City Cemetery;
the building of over twenty-five blocks of street paving,
and the levy of a tax of one-third on the first paving
district on all streets paved, to continue the street pav-
ing; the building of more than fifteen miles of concrete
sidewalks; the granting of a franchise, and the building
of the Robertson Street Railway; the granting of a
franchise, and building a new street railway on Twelfth
street, from the International Bridge to the Eio Grande
Railroad Depot ; the granting of a franchise, and building
a spur line of the Saint Louis, Brownsville and Mexico
Railway on Fronton street for the business houses; the
building of a drainage pipe line for surface and over-
flow water; the purchase of a fire wagon, and three thou-
sand feet of fire hose; and there is still on the docket,
and to be voted on, a measure for three thousand dollars
for the erection of a slaughter pen. During the two
years, from May, 1910, until May, 1912, that Mr. Kow-
alski was at the head of the municipal government, there
were more buildings erected in Brownsville, both for busi-
ness and residence purposes, than at any other equal
length of time in its history. The sewerage plant was
also completed under his regime.

Mr. Kowalski married Miss Corinne Wilson, a daugh-
ter of Dr. A. H. Wilson, who came to Brownsville from
Georgia, where she was born. A woman of culture and
refinement, whose purposes are in harmony with his, Mrs.

Kowalski has proved herself a worthy helpmate in every
sense implied by the term, cheering him in his hours
of discouragement, and aiding him by kindly words and
acts in the many struggles that inevitably come to every
enterprising, progressive and conscientious public serv-
ant. Six sons have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs.
Kowalski, namely: M. B., a graduate of the N. M. Col-
lege, is a civil engineer in Dallas, Texas; G. L., county
attorney of Kleberg county, is a university graduate;
Dave, in the abstract business; Paul O., teller in the
First National Bank of Brownsville, is a college gradu-
ate; Alexander, with Cooper Grocer Company of Waco,
is a college graduate, and Clarence, a student.

Fraternally Mr. Kowalski is a member, and past
master of Eio Grande Lodge, No. 81, Ancient Free and
Accepted Order of Masons; a member, and past patron
of Hope Chapter, No. 124, Order of the Eastern Star;
a member of Texas Consistory, No. 1, Ancient and Ac-
cepted Scottish Rite, of Galveston; of El Mina Temple,
Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine,
of Galveston; a member, past chancellor and commander,
of Brownsville Lodge, No. 339, Knights of Pythias ; and
a member, past consul, and commander of Acacia Camp,
No. 690, Woodmen of the World. Mr. Kowalski is promi-
nent and active in each of the orders to which he belongs,
being especially active in Masonry, in which he has
taken the thirty-second degree. All the sons are mem-
bers of the Masonic Order with the excejition of the

Rev. Ernest Severin. The one Swedish newspaper
in the state of Texas is under the management of Rev.
Ernest Severin, who came to Austin in 1911 to take
charge of the paper at the request of its proprietors, who
recognized in Rev. Severin those qualities that were best
calculated to bring enduring success to the paper. Rev.
Severin served in the ministry of the Swedish Methodist
Episcopal church for a number of years, until 1901, and
though his work among his people was effective and
highly creditable from every standpoint, it is generally
conceded that in his present position his influence is of
a more far reaching and penetrating character than ever
before, so that he is best serving the Scandinavian peo-
ple of the state as manager of the Texas Fasten.

Rev. Ernest Severin was born on September 7, 1872,
in Eoda, Sweden, and is a son of A. G. Peterson, an
architect of that place and a man of considerable promi-
nence. When young Peterson came to Chicago in 1892
he found so wide an array of men of his same family
name as his own that he considered it advisable to change
his surname, and he accordingly took the name of Sev-
erin, under which he has since been known. Eev. Severin
had his early education in the public and private schools
of Sweden, and his parents gave careful attention to the
matter of his training. He was twenty years of age
when he came to America and going at once to Chicago,
Illinois, he entered the Swedish Methodist Theological
Seminary at Evanston, remaining there for a year, when
illness prevented further attendance to his theological
studies. Soon after that time young Severin came to
Texas and entered Fort Worth University, which he at-
tended for three years. He was ordained to the ministry
of the Methodist Episcopal church in 1898, following
which he held pastorates in the Swedish Methodist
churches of Fort Worth, Hulto, and Taylor, all in Texas,
the time of his service being three years in the Fort
Worth church and one year in each of the others.

This service was discontinued by reason of his de-
clining health, and in 1901 he retired from the ministry,
and when he had recovered sufficiently to make it pos-
sible for him to resume work of any sort, he engaged
as a bookkeeper for a mercantile house in Taylor, Texas,
continuing thus for four years. His health again began
to play truant, and the young man withdrew from his
clerical activities and retired to a ranch in McCuUash
county, where, after a period of roughing it, he felt



himself so far renewed in physical well-being as to be
able to accept, in 1898, a call to his former Port Worth
pastorate. He resumed his work there in the year
named and continued in active and effective service for
three years, when he came to Austin and assumed charge
of the Texas Postoi, as has already been mentioned.
Concerning this popular and constantly growing publica-
tion, fuller details of an interesting character will be
found in the life sketch of Eev. John M. Ojerholm, of
this city, so that further details on that point are not
requisite at this writing.

l?ev. Severin was married on March 10, 1900, to Miss
Ida Christina Johnson, of Fort Worth, a daughter of
C. W. Johnson. She was born in Sweden, as was also
her husband, and she was but one year old when her
parents emigrated to these shores. They settled first in
Koekford, Illinois, but later moved to Texas, where they
still reside.

To Bev. and Mrs. Severin four children were born:
Evelyn Victoria, Ernest Oliver, Alice and Walter Henry.

Eev. Severin is interested in educational work along
various lines, and in addition to his other activities he
is a director of the Texas Wesleyan College, a Swedish
institution, of which more extended mention is made in
the sketch of Dr. Ole Olander, also of Austin. Eev.
Severin is a member of the Modern Woodmen of Amer-
ica, with affiliations in Congress Camp No. 11929 of
Austin. He has no other fraternal association, being
one who devotes his best attentions to his work and
having scant leisure for social activities. His work in
the state has been a praiseworthy one thus far, and it
is expected that he will make continued progress along
the line of his present endeavors.

Eev. John M. Ojerholm. The life and work of Eev.
John M. Ojerholm, editor of the Texas Fasten, the only
Swedish newspaper ever established in the state, was
devoted without a break to the ministry of the Swedish
Methodist Episcopal church, in which he began his serv-
ice as early as 1881, in his native land. He was born
in Nykoping, Sweden, on July 29, 1858, and is a son
of Andrew Ojerholm, who was long engaged in the iron
industry, and who came to America in the year 1882,
settling in Worcester, Massachusetts, in which place he
passed the rest of his life, death coming to him there
in the year 1910.

John M. Ojerholm had his early education in the
public schools of Sweden, followed by attendance at the
State College of Sweden, after which he began his
ministry in his native land in 1881. He continued
there for two years, and then followed his father to
America. He had been in America but a short time
when he entered the ministry of the Swedish M. E.
church and he fDled the following appointments in a
creditable and praiseworthy manner: Providence, Ehode
Island, one vear; Lindsborg, Kansas, one year; Eock-
ford, Illinois, two years. In the autumn of 1887 he
came to Waco, Texas, for a time filling the pulpit of
the Swedish M. E. church at that place, but later being
transferred to the Fort Worth church, and stUl later
to Georgetown, Texas. He was two years in the Decker,
Texas, M. E. church, and in 1896 came to Austin to
assume the editorship of the Texas Fasten which had
been established a short time before. Eev. Ojerholm is
still head of the editorial department, and has a finan-
cial interest in the paper as well. Under his editorial
direction the paper has grown in prominence and pop-
ularity with the Scandinavian population of the state,
and he is ably seconded in his work by the offices of
Eev. Ernest Severin, who is the manager of the publica-
tion, and who is mentioned at greater length in a sketch
devoted to him elsewhere in this work.

Rev. Ojerholm was married in 1881 to Miss Mathilde
Wiel, a daughter of Truls Wiel, a native of Norway.
She was one of thirteen children born to her parents,
and was highly educated. She was the author of a

number of Swedish poems which have been brought be-
fore the public in a volume that has met with consid-
erable favor among people of her nation. She died in
1903. In 1906 Eev. Ojerholm married Miss Olga Olsen
of Austin, Texas, who came to this country from Sweden
when she was about fourteen years old, in company with
her father, Ole Olsen, who is now a resident of Austin.
They have three children: Julia, Elizabeth and James.

The family home is at 807 East 14th street, Austin,

Et. Eev. George Herbert Kinsolving. The present
bishop of the Diocese of Texas of the Episcopal church
was elevated to this high position twenty years ago,
and is one of the best known and ablest churchmen of
his denomination m America. A member of an old
Virginia family which has stood high in professional,
business and public life in that state for generations,
Kinsolving was reared in an atmosphere of fine
and was liberally educated. His father before
him made a notable record as a minister in the same
church, and a half-brother, Lucien L. Kinsolving, has
for a numlier of years been missionary bishop of the
Brazilian Episcopal church.

George H. Kinsolving was born in Bedford county,
Virginia, April 28, 1849, and is a true son of the old
Dominion. His parents were Eev. Ovid A. and Julia
Heiskell (Krauth) Kinsolving. His father, who was
born in Albermarle county, Virginia, and was graduated
from Kenyon College, at Gambler, Ohio, was for over
fifty-three years an active clergyman of his church in
Virginia, and died in 1894. The Kinsolving family
dates back to the early Colonial epoch of Virginia. Mrs.
Kinsolving, mother of our subject, who died in 1858,
was of a family which originated in Germany. Her
father, Charles PhUip Krauth, who was of the second
or third generation in this country, was president of
the Pennsylvania College and of the Theological Sem-
inary of the Lutheran Church of Gettysburg, Pennsyl-
vania, while his son, Charles Porterfield Krauth, was
Vice-Provost of the University of Pennsylvania.

Bishop Kinsolving finished his literary education and
graduated from the University of Virginia, being a
student there from 1868 to 1870. In 1874 he gradu-
ated from the Protestant Episcopal Theological Semi-
nary of Virginia, and has since received, in 1892, the
degree of S.T.D. from Griswold College of Iowa, and
in 1893 the degree D.D. from the University of the
South. Made a deacon in 1874, he was assistant in
Christ church, Baltimore, Maryland, during 1874-75. In
the latter year he was ordained a priest, and was rector
in St. Mark's church in Baltimore from 1875 to 1878.
From the latter year to 1881 he was rector in St. John's
church at Cincinnati, and then became rector of the
Church of the Epiphany of Philadelphia, where he re-
mained from 1881 to 1892. He served as a member of
the Standing committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania,
and in 1892 was a delegate to the general convention of
the Protestant Episcopal church. WhOe at Philadelphia
he also served as Overseer of the Protestant Episcopal
Divinity school.

In 1892 he was elected assistant bishop of the Diocese
of Texas, and in that year removed to Austin, which
ci'ty has since been his home. On July 11, 1893, he suc-
ceeded the late Bishop Gregg as Bishop of the Diocese
of Texas, and his work has thus been continued in that
office for more than twenty years. The journal of the
church reports a steady progress and large growth of
the Episcopal church in Texas during his administra-
tion and probably no protestant bishop in the country
stands higher in the esteem of both the clergy and the
laymen than Bishop Kinsolving. He is the author of
both ' ' Church 's Burden, ' ' published at New York in
1902; and "Volume of Memorial Sermons," published
at Ogden in 1912, besides being author of various ad-


and notable sermons preacbed on speeial

Bishop Kinsolving was married at Cincinnati, Ohio,
October 8, 1879, to Miss Grace Jaggar, a daughter of
Walter Jaggar. Her father was a native of New York
and during his lifetime one of the prominent bankers
of that city. Mrs. Kinsolving is a sister of Bishop T.
A. Jaggar, of the Southern Ohio Diocese. To their
marriage has been born one son, Walter Ovid Kinsolv-
ing, who is now a curate at the Church of the Inter-
cession in New York City. Bishop Kinsolving "s resi-
dence is at 2607 Whitis avenue, Austin.

Hon. Charles H. Jenkins. Since 1910 an associate
justice of the court of Civil Appeals for the third
supreme judicial district of Texas, Judge Jenkins has
filled this high position with admirable eflficieney and
with credit to his long career as a lawyer and citizen.
Judge Jenkins still has his legal residence at Brown-
wood, where he was one of the early members of the
bar, and where he gained his reputation as a lawyer
and public official. At Brownwood Judge Jenkins is
regarded as one of the men who has done most for that
city, especially in the improvement and development of
its educational system. Before he gained recognition
as a lawyer he was a surveyor, did a great deal of
practical work in his profession in northern and west-
ern Texas, and there is probably not another member
of the higher state courts who possesses a more thor-
ough and exact knowledge of land boundary laws and
conditions than Judge Jenkins.

His was one of the pioneer families in north Texas.
Judge Charles H. Jenkins himself was born in Dallas
county May 17, 1852, a son of Colonel Jonathan E.
and Mahala E. (Bonner) Jenkins. His father, a native
of Alabama, was a surveyor and merchant in that state,
and while living there served with the rank of colonel
in the state militia. In 1851 he came to Texas, settling
first in Dallas county, and in 1854 moving to Parker
county, where he followed his profession as a surveyor,
and at the same time was one of the early ranchers and
stock raisers in that then frontier county. He moved
to Dallas county in 1861, and early in the war between
the states enlisted in the Confederate army and re-
mained with the forces of the south until the end of
the war. when he returned home broken in health and
died soon afterwards. His widow survived him nearly
half a century and died in November 1912 aged eighty-
two years.

Judge Jenkins as a boy attended a private school
conducted by Eev. Mr. Carlton in Dallas until the fall
of 1866. In that year, being fourteen years of age, he
was sent to Cedar Springs and placed under the instruc-
tion of W. E. Smith. While there he studied the pro-
fession previously followed by his father, of surveyor,
and perfected himself both in the theoretical and prac-
tical phases of this work. His ambition was soon
directed to the law, and in 1870 he began its study in
the office of Kendall & Ault at Dallas. His studies
were interrupted in 1871 when he was placed in charge
of the surveyor's office of Dallas county. The duties of
that office kept him quite busy for a year and a half,
and early in 1873 he was made city engineer of Dallas,
being associated in this work wtih Commodore S. W.
C. Duncan and Major John H. Brown. It will be re-
called that Dallas at that time had recently become the
terminus of its first railroad, and was rapidly develop-
ing as a commercial center, so that city engineer Judge
Jenkins had a great deal to do with the planning and
introduction of many municipal improvements. While
serving as surveyor and city engineer, he managed to
keep up and continue his studies in the law, and in
March, 1874, was admitted to the bar.

While Judge Jenkins began his practice in Dallas, he
remained there only about five years, and in 1879 moved
to Brownwood, which was then a frontier city, just

about to become a point on a railroad, and at the be-
ginning of its real growth and development. Judge
Jenkins has accordingly been identified with Brown-
wood through practically its entire progress from a
frontier hamlet to one of the best cities in central

Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 89 of 177)