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and the South. Their influence is powerfully felt
in every profession, every occupation, and every
political, educational and religious movement in
Texas. Some one has said that man is greatest
whose influence enters as a constructive power into
the life and character of other men. Measured by
this standard, few men are entitled to a higher
rank than Dr. Burleson. He was born near
Decatur, Ala., August 7, 1823. He entered Nash-
ville University in 1840, and was licensed to preach
by the First Baptist Church the same year. He
was married to Miss Georgia Jenkins, at Independ-
ence, Texas, January 2, 1853.

At seventeen years of age Dr. Burleson decided
to devote his life to preaching the gospel and edu-
cating the Baptists, especially the Baptist ministry,
to a higher plane of zeal and intelligence, and that
he might be fully prepared for his life work he
spent seven years in arduous study, first in Nash-
ville University, then as a teacher in Mississippi,
and then in the Literary and Theological Institute,
at Covington, Ky. He graduated in 1847. He
then wrote down in his note-book the outline of the
work which he has now most successfully and zeal-
ously pursued for forty-nine years. Thus fully
equipped, he entered Texas in 1848, and three
years and a half after his arrival, became president
and organized the first college classes in Baylor
University, which now, after the many years of his
management, has the finest buildings and the most
beautiful campus in the South. It employs twenty-
six able, efficient, professional teachers, and matric-
ulated, in 1892, eight hundred and sixty-nine
students. It is the pioneer co-educational university
in the South, the second in America, and the third
in the world, and one hundred and ninety of the
greatest institutions in America and Europe have
followed its example in adopting co-education, so
much ridiculed thirty years ago. Dr. Burleson has
been equally successful as a preacher. He has
preached in every town, except new railroad
stations, in the Empire State of Texas. He

baptized the heroine of the Alamo and the hero of
San Jacinto ; such eminent men as Judges A. S.
Lipscomb, W. E. Donley, Gen. James Davis, Judge
William E. Davis, Col. James W. Anderson, and
scores of others, not only among the great and
learned, but among the most humble of all
classes. In addition to his great work as a
teacher and preacher, Dr. Burleson has been
a leading and influentiai advocate of railroads,
prohibition, and everything looking to the material
growth of Texas. He never forgets his duty
as a citizen on the day of election. He votes
invariably for every officer from Constable to Presi-

Though an ardent Southerner and a former slave-
holder, he is a devoted lover of the Union. In
the stormiest days of secession he often said: " I
would gladly wrap myself in the Stars and Stripes,
and lay my head on the executioner's block and die
to perpetuate the Union of the States as founded by
Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and our Revolu-
tionary fathers." Though an ardent Baptist, he is
a sincere lover of all Christians. He has never
used tobacco or intoxicating drinks, was never seen
in a ball room, a theater, nor on a race track,
knows nothing of cards, billiards or chess, and
never swore but one oath in his life. His habits of
temperance have given him his remarkable health
and vigor of mind and body. He toils daily from
7 o'clock in the morning to 12 at night, reserving
only thirty minutes for each meal, interspersed
with good jokes and hearty laughter, and another
thirty minutes for an afternoon siesta, and he will
keep on working to the end. He confidently hopes
to live to see Texas the grandest State between the
oceans, and the greatest Baptist State in the world.
He will then be able to say, like old Simeon, "Now,
Lord, let Thy servant depart in peace, for mine
eyes have seen Thy salvation." His early thorough
preparation, and undying devotion for over fifty
years to one great life purpose, presents a grand
model for all young men who desire great and hon-
orable success.



The late lamented L. A. Abercrombie was a
native of Alabama, born in Montgomery County in
December, 1832. His father, Milo B. Abercrom-
bie, was a Georgian, descended from the Aber-


crombies of England. His mother, whose maiden
name was Sarah L. Haden, was a daughter of
Robert G. Haden, of North Carolina, and a niece
of Hon. Albert Fisher, of Florida.



The subject of this memoir completed his educa-
tion in Alexandria, Va., and read law under
Judge William P. Chilton (whose daughter he
afterwards married) and Hon. David Clopton,
in Tuskegee, Macon County, Ala. He was
admitted to the bar before the Supreme Court of
Alabama, in 1854, and moved immediately to
Madison County, Texas. Here he formed a part-
nership with Messrs. Yoakum (the historian) and
Branch, with whom he practiced law about eighteen
months. In the fall of 1856 he moved to Hunts-
ville, where he afterwards resided until the time of
his death. His practice grew upon him with the
extension of his acquaintance and experience, until
his business circuit embraced not only Walker, but
the adjoining counties.

In 1860 he was elected Prosecuting Attorney .for
the district composed of Walker, Grimes, Harris,
Montgomery and Galveston counties, J<ftd in the
same year he was chosen a delegate to the seces-
sion convention that met at Austin. In 1861 he
resigned his office and entered the Confederate
army, enlisting in Gillespie's company of Nichol's
regiment, and served throughout the war. In 1862
be was made Lieutenant-Colonel of Elmore's regi-
ment, and held that position until the close of the
conflict. He commanded the regiment in the siege
and recapture of Galveston, Col. Elmore being
absent on furlough, but the regiment, being
infantry, was not actively engaged in the fight,
which was conducted by the artillery.

He was a Master Mason. In politics he was a
thorough-going Democrat, and several times repre-
sented his county in the State conventions of his
party. He conducted his business affairs with
prudence, industry and economy, and acquired a
large and valuable estate. His record as a lawyer
and citizen is without a blemish. By his profes-
sional brethren he was beloved and honored. One
of them, his esteemed friend. Judge Norman G.
Kittrell, has furnished the writer with the following
concerning him : —

" He came to Texas in 1853, and entered upon
the practice of law in 1855, and the year following
moved to Huntsville. He was elected a member
of the secession convention, and also District
Attorney of the district, which then included Harris
and Galveston counties, and resigned the latter
office to enter the Confederate army, in which he
served as Lieutenant-Colonel. After the war,
poor, burdened with debt, and witLi only a local
reputation as a lawyer, he set about overcoming the
ditflculties that surrounded him and emerged witli
a competency, his debts discharged and with a
reputation as a lawyer among the profession co-

extensive with the limits of the State. As a civil
pleader, his work was as near proof against suc-
cessful assault as that of any lawyer in Texas, and
as an • all around lawyer,' in large cases and small,
civil and criminal, as they came in the course of a
miscellaneous nisi prius practice, he had few, if
any, superiors at the bar in the State.

"He had but little confidence in what men call
genius, and never depended for success upon the
inspiration of the moment. Work, work unceas-
ing, was the touchstone of his success. He was
a born fighter. He asked no favor for himself from
either court or counsel, while his courtesy to both
was uniform and unfailing.

" No development in the course of a trial, how-
ever unexpected, or however much it militated
against him, ever disconcerted him. No temporary
defeat discouraged him. He prepared at every
step for future battle, and fought on with dogged
persistence, and, if he finally lost, which in pro-
portion to the extent of his practice was an exceed-
ingly rare occurrence, his adversary felt that he had
indeed won at the ' very end of the law.'

" As a Senator from the Ninth District he was a
statesman in wisdom and counsel. In sunshine and
storm he was safe to trust. As a jurist he was
learned and patient, a lover of justice, absolutely
fearless in the discharge of duty, and without re-
proach ; a patriot in whose heart a love of country
reigned supreme, and who counted no sacrifice too
great for the welfare of his State and country."

Col. Abercrombie was married at Tuskegee,
Macon County, Ga., January 1st, 1860, to Miss
Lavinia Chilton, daughter of the Hon. Wm. P.
Chilton, who for fourteen years served as a member
of the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama,
and as CLief Justice for a number of years. He
was also a member of the Confederate Congress,
first at Montgomery and afterwards at Richmond.
The Chilton family have furnished some of the
most distinguished men known to our national
history. She was the first graduate of the East
Alabama College. In her education she received
the most careful training. A most accomplished
lady, she was a leader of the best society, and
made a model wife and mother. The Abercrombie
home at Huntsville has been long famous for its
hospitality. The following children were born of
the marriage, all born in Walker County, viz. :
Mary, widow of Henry Finch, a prominent lawyer
of Fort Worth ; Lavinia, wife of Robert 8. Lovett,
a leading railroad attorney at Houston ; Ella Haden,
wife of John H. Lewis, of North Texas ; Francis
A. ; William Chilton, who is now at Harvard Uni-
versity studying law ; Leonard A., also studying at

Erigrave-i'l-v 'T T Bather




tiarvard University ; Corinne R. , who is attending Col. Abercrombie died at the University Hospital,

Wellesly College. Philadelphia, on the 23d of December, 1891, and

Col. Abercrombie died at Philadelphia, Decem- his remains were brought to Huntsville, where they

ber 23d, 1891, and is buried at Huntsville. now rest.



The most distinguishing characteristic of Gover-
nor John Ireland was his uncompromising devotion
to duty, private or public. That was the guiding
star of his life, and he steered his course in all the
relations of life by that Polar Star. It gave him a
most exalted appreciation of justice, and no man
can complain that he was ever unjust in any of his
transactions. This may not have been a difficult
task for him, as his principles were fixed and of a
high standard, and his temperament was serene.
He had, therefore, a perfect control over himself,
and when a man attains that power over self and he
is conscientious, as he was, he will rarely err in his
decisions of what is just.

Governor Ireland's mind was singularly free
from the embarrassments of any kind of environ-
ment ; emergencies that always arise in the life of
a professional or public man found him equal to
them, and well may it be said of him that he had a
mind and character equal to any emergency. He
was by no means a brilliant man ; everything that
he attained he worked for with unrelenting assidu-
ity. There was no problem, either of law or states-
manship, that appalled him. He knew his powers
and he had them at his command. John Ireland
was the architect of his own fortunes, or, according
to the popular expression, he was a self-made man.
He did not come from the poorer class of society
that has furnished so many eminent men to this
country, but his father was a Kentucky farmer of
limited means, and educational facilities were not
then what they are now in that part of the State of
which he was a native and in which he was reared.
He obtained at the old field schools of his native
county the rudiments of an English education, and,
early in life, appreciating the importance of an edu-
cation, he made that more accurate than his fellows,
with the same opportunities, for he was an earnest
boy as he was an earnest man.

He went through the best kind of training for the
profession of law, which he early, chose for a life

occupation, and the first office he held was that of
Constable. While in this way he became, through
the discharge of his duties in this inferior ofllce,
familiar with writs and court papers, at the same
time he was at night digging into the mine of legal
wealth that any country lawyer's office then
afforded of the most profound legal writers. He
worked earnestly and hard, and while he was stor-
ing away the great principles of the Common Law
the mental exercise strengthened and enlarged his
intellectual perceptions. It might have seemed
from his practical association with statutory law
that he would have become a " case lawyer," but
he was not ; he was a broad-gauged lawyer, built
upon the strictest logical reasoning; nothing was
valuable to him that had no reason for it. He had
no respect for a decision of a Supreme Court unless
it was based upon reason and bolstered by the clear-
est logical reasoning.

The life of John Ireland, however, was not des-
tined to be confined to the practice of law. There
was too much of that old Roman virtue of integrity
and patriotism about him not to have been appre-
ciated by his fellow-ciiizens and his services were
demanded by them in the legislative halls, in the
Judiciary, and the highest executive ofiice of the
State of Texas.

He came to Texas while a j'oung man, he was in
fact a pioneer, and became intimately associated
with those great men who molded the organic law
of the State, and who endured the hardships of
an unequal warfare to establish and maintain a
separate nationality as the "Lone Star State," and
from them he caught the spirit of the institutions of
the State and brought his strong mind to bear upon
its development.

It would be impossible in such a brief sketch as
this to follow John Ireland through the detail of
his legislative, judicial and executive career. He
first settled in Seguin and after that place had ad-
vanced to the dignity of an incorporated town he



was chosen Mayor, the duties of which he executed
with all the care and conscientiousness that he
brought to bear on the weightier offices that meet
him later in life.

James D. Lynch, of the Bench and Bar of
Texas, has given the following brief resume of Gov-
ernor Ireland's career: — ,

" At the approach of the foreboding clouds of
the Civil War he ardently espoused the cause of
his section and the State, and favored the prompt
resumption of sovereignty by the latter, and its
withdrawal from the Union. He was a member of
the Constitutional Convention of 1861, and as soon
as the status of political affairs was settled in his
State, he enlisted as a private in the volunteer
army of the Confederacy. The same purpose and
devotion to duty which characterized his profes-
sional career marked him as an efficient soldier and
invited promotion. He was made successively
Captain, Major and Lieutenant-Colonel. His services
extended through the campaigns in the Trans-
Mississippi Department, and at the close of the war
he returned to the practice of law at Seguin. In
1866 he was a member of the convention assembled
to form a constitution for the State in conformity
with the Johnson policy of reconstruction, and was
soon after elected Judge of his judicial district, but
was removed on the usurpation of military power in
1867. In 1873 he served as a member of the House
in the Thirteenth Legislature, and in the Four-
teenth he was a member of the Senate, and was
elected and served as president jpro tern of that
body. In 1875 he was elected Associate Justice of
the Supreme Court. He was retired by the new
constitution of 1876, which required the court to
consist of only three judges. His decisions are
found in the forty-fourth and forty-fifth volumes of
Texas Eeports. His assiduous habits and fond-
ness for close analytical investigation, his natural
inquisitiveness of mind, firm and well grounded
' convictions, thorough legal training, and ample
resources of both principle and precedent made
him an excellent Supreme Judge, and his decisions
manifest a steady and profound search for truth
and justice. So confirmed and justly recognized
was his character for integrity, executive ability
and perfect devotion to the interests of his State,
that in 1882 he was nominated by the Democracy
and in November of that year elected Governor of
Texas by more than 100,000 majority of the popu-
lar vote. His advent to the executive office was at
a period of comparative prosperity, when the spirit
and pride of the people were ardently enlisted for
the advancement of the various public Institutions
of the State, in which he also shared. The suc-

ceeding legislature made large appropriations for
that purpose, which he indorsed and carried out.

" The so-called free grass system in the State,
had resulted in the enclosure of large bodies of
land by the leading stock men of the State, and in
often surrounding and shutting in the smaller
herdsmen and excluding them from the use of
water-courses. This produced an alarming system
of " fence cutting," which was extended to lawful
owners as well as to intruders upon the public
lands, and so outrageous and universal had this
evil grown, that the Governor convened an extra
session of the legislature in January, 1884, to
devise a remedy for this species of lawlessness.
Stringent and efficient laws were enacted for its
suppression, which the Governor executed with his
characteristic promptness and vigor. This was
sought to be used to his prejudice and to impair his
popularity, but the innate justice of the people ap-
proved and appreciated alike his motives and
his official acts, and at the Houston Convention in
August, 1884, he was unanimously renominated
without call of the roll, and by acclamation. Later
he was re-elected by a majority vote of more than
100,000. During his administration important
measures were enacted for the promotion of the
cause of education. The office of State Superin-
tendent of Public Instructions was created. The
permanent school fund was safely invested in bonds
at six per cent rate of interest, and the sale of
school lands at the exceedingly low rate of fifty
cents per acre was prohibited. He was the first
Governor of Texas who attempted to make anything
out of the wild lands of the State. Not one foot of
university or any other public lands were sold
except for good prices ; generally more than the law
demanded. The sales notes are bringing good inter-
est. The surplus proceeds were well invested,
instead of allowing them to remain in the treasury
to boast of as a cash surplus. Taxes under his
administration were reduced to the lowest possible
point. All the State institutions were left in a
splendid condition. The new Insane Asj'Ium was
erected and put in successful operation at Terrell.
The laws were well executed and the State left in a
prosperous condition at the end of Governor Ire-
land's administration.

" Governor Ireland never once swerved from his
principles or the line of his conscientious rectitude
to conciliate his enemies or soften opposition. He
at all times boldly proclaimed his views and fear-
lessly followed the dictates of his judgment. His
career was characterized by incessant labor; at
the bar he sedulously pursued the interests of his
clients, giving all his cases thorough preparation.



He had an abiding faith and a lofty pride in the
great destiny of his State, and as Governor, he
fought to harmonize the varied and often conflicting
interests of the great commonwealth over which he
presided. Governor Ireland was a life-long Dem-
ocrat 'of, the'Jeffersonian school.

" He was a'man who cared little for external ap-
pearances, show, or ceremonious effect, and at his
second inauguration, his address, which he read
from a smairsheet of paper, was in dignified and
modest contrastwith the vain display which modern
usage ^has introduced into inaugural exercises.
Texas had no statesman of sounder judgment, or
of more approved fidelity in thapromotion and pro-
tection of its interests and rights.

"As a public speaker. Gov. Ireland was forcible
and argumentative rather than fluent and eloquent.
His illustrations were plain and practical, his figures
of speech, apt and striking. In manner he was quiet
and rather reserved, but genial to those who knew
him intimately. As a citizen, he was ever temper-
ate in his habits of life, moral in his convictions,
just in his judgments and liberal in his views."

Governor Ireland's policy in the matter of the
great railroad strike of 1887 and the manner of its
prompt and vigorous suppression, was characteristic
of the man, and at the time attracted wide attention
and received the highest commendation and indorse-
ment of the press and the people throughout the
country. This great strike, owing to the heavy
railroad interests at Fort "Worth, seemed to have
established its base of operations in this State at
that point, and all lines running in and out of that
city were tied up. The strikers were belligerent,
business paralyzed, and life and property were in
jeopardy. The status of affairs was wired to the
Governor at Austin, soliciting the protection of the
State government, and the dispatch found him tem-
porarily at Seguin. He returned immediately to
Austin, and with a detachment of State troops pro-
ceeded forthwith to the scene of the difficulty. In
the Governor's arrival the strike leaders found
cause for reflection, which speedily resulted in
overtures to him for a settlement. They were, in
unmistakable terms, advised that all disorderly
strikers must promptly disperse, return to work, or
peaceably allow others to take their places, and
that trafBc must resume before any terms of settle-
ment could be discussed ; that unless they immedi-
ately complied and ceased to unlawfully block the
wheels of business and avenues of trade, he would
open fire on them and that no blank cartridges
would be used. The Governor's action had the
desired effect ; order was restored ; in three hours'
time the strike was at an end and trains were run-

ning. It was but a short time later that Governor
Eusk, of Wisconsin, emulated Governor Ireland's
example in subduing the strikers and mobs, in Mil-
waukee, in precisely the same way. In November,
1885, another diflSculty of almost a precise nature
arose at Galveston, and the Governor's interven-
tion was solicited. He responded with a charac-
teristic disapproval of the policy pursued, and a
proposition to defend the laws and maintain the
peace and dignity of the State even by force of
arms. The following communication in this con-
nection is significant : —

" Galveston, Texas, Nov. 8th, 1885.
" Hon. John Ireland,

' ' Governor of Texas.
' ' Dear Sir : Your telegram of last night received .
I beg to state that the vessels with cargoes, wharves
and other property of this company (Galveston
Direct Navigation Co.), were voluntarily abandoned
at noon to-day, by those who had forcibly held
them until that time. The result, I believe, is at-
tributable to the prompt and emphatic assurances
given by you, that the law should be vindicated and
the rights of property maintained in this Stkte. I
respectfully tender you, in behalf of this Company,
its thanks for the protection thus afforded it, and
through it, the commerce of Texas.

" Respectfully yours,

"J. J. Atkinson,


In other matters, notably that of the selection of
stone for the exterior walls of the new State capitol.
Governor Ireland's discriminating sense of justice,
pride of State and excellent backbone did his peo-
ple of the Commonwealth a lasting and invaluable
service. It was in 1885 the foundation for the
structure had been laid, according to terms of the
contract, of Texas limestone. The contractors were
under bond to furnish, at their own expense, the very
best material for the entire structure. A sentiment
had been created, in certain circles, strongly favor-
ing granite in lieu of limestone as the best material.
The Governor, hearing rumors of a change of the
material decided upon, called a meeting of the
capitol board. The contractors here affirmed that
the crying demand for granite would be gratified,

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 116 of 135)