General Sam Houston

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July 26 is the 150th anniversary of the death of General Samuel Houston, one of the most important figures in the history of Texas.  He commanded the decisive surprise attack, Battle of San Jacinto, that led to independence from Mexico, was elected the first and third president of the Republic of Texas, encouraged annexation into the United States, was elected Senator and Governor, was against secession prior to the Civil War and is the namesake for the country’s fourth largest city and many other Texas places and institutions.

Sam Houston is also my first cousin, six times removed, hence his appearance in this blog.

My great-great aunt, Lucy Lee Mahan (aka “Aunt Dude”), had often said we were related to Sam Houston (among other notables, who will be subjects of other blog posts).  After I began to take an interest in our family’s history, proving the veracity of such lore was one of my initial goals.

To start, all I had were Dude’s files, which were all hand-written, and included no mention of specific links to any of the famous folks to whom she’d said we were kin.

Proving our relation to Gen. Sam Houston, however, turned out to be pretty easy.

I saw in Dude’s files that the maiden name of my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother (that’s five “greats”) was Houston: She is Esther Houston, married to John McKee. Checking Sam Houston genealogies, I saw that our Esther was his aunt.  (The exact source documents are packed away … I’ll edit this post to include images & citations.)

Here’s the quickie lineage:

Robert Houston & Margaret (Mary) Davidson had six children, including Samuel (1745 – 1807) and Esther (1743 – 1847).

Samuel & Margaret Paxton had nine children, including Gen. Samuel Houston (1973 – 1863).

Esther & John McKee (1735-1808) had at least four children, including William Houston McKee (1771 – 1855)

William & Ann Van Lear (1781 – 1843) had at least four children, including Margaret Jane McKee (1813 – 1855).

Margaret & John Chesnut (1805 – 1878) had 14 children, including Arabella Evaline Chesnut (1838 – 1908)

Arabella & Lee Mahan (1836 – 1920) had 11 children, including Kate Mahan (1868 – 1947) … and Lucy Lee Mahan (Spilman) (1878 – 1962), whose genealogy files I have.

Kate and Dave Jackson (1856 – 1922) had six children, including my maternal grandfather, Walter Mahan Jackson (1898 – 1956).

If I were near Houston this weekend, I’d attend the commemoration of the General’s death and funeral, which will be held Friday and Saturday at the San Houston Museum in Huntsville, Texas.

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Walter M. Jackson’s military service during/after World War II

My grandfather, Walter M. Jackson, Sr., volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army after his 45th birthday.  His active duty began May 26, 1943. (Mom said that he’d been disappointed not to have been able to serve during World War I.  I don’t recall the reason, but will post that if I find it).  Here is a copy of his WWI draft registration:

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He started as a Captain and went to Military Government Schools at Fort Custer, Michigan,  and then Yale University. He reported to Camp Patrick Henry (Newport News, Va.) and went overseas Sept. 21, 1943, via the transport S.S. Pasteur (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Pasteur_(1939)). He served with the 2675th Regiment Allied Commission from Nov. 3, 1943 until Oct. 15, 1944, in North Africa, Naples and Rome.  He’s listed in the Finance Division of an Aug. 23, 1944, roster of officers of the Allied Military Government Headquarters, Region IV, APO 394. (I’ll know more about his specific duties after I transcribe letters that he wrote to his older sister, Edna Pearl Jackson Overstreet (aka “Bunchie”).)  He served in Foggia & Naples through Jan 21, 1944, and Rome-Arno into Fall 1944.

On Aug 22, 1944, Major Karl S. Cate commended Capt. Jackson: “For seven months we have been associated together in a common enterprise. During this time your services in many phases of our mutual task in planning implementing and executing the Rome supply program have been invaluable. Your contribution to the success of our efforts has been outstanding.”

Capt. Jackson moved to the Military Liaison Headquarters Balkans (Yugoslavia) on Oct. 25, 1944, through Apr. 29, 1945. During this assignment he was promoted to Major.

Below is an undated/uncaptioned photo showing Maj. Jackson (left).  I don’t know where it was taken, or who is in the photo with him.

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He was a member of the 2600th Specialist Detachment (Ovhd) in the European Civil Affairs Division in France, Germany and Austria from May 4, 1945 through July 12, 1945.

He was assigned to the Military Government Detachment E1A, 6824th HQ & HQ Co., of U.S. Forces in Linz, Austria, from July 12, 1945 through Feb. 2, 1946.

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A kind commentor (see below) said that the photo above was taken in Unterach am Attersee / Upperaustria, the view toward the Höllengebirge and a smale castel situated near Burgau-klamm, a location that is about 100 kilometers southwest of Linz.

On Aug. 14, 1945, his commanding officer, Col. Russell A. Snook, wrote: “When this detachment arrived in Linz on 11 May 1945, the conditions in Upper Austria were most unusual. It was here that the war had practically ended, the population of the country had been indiscriminately increased by displaced person from various parts of Europe, prisoners of war, disarmed enemies. The problem of feeding this increased population was to a great degree imposed upon the country.  There existed the problems of establishing a uniform and equatable system of distribution of local supplies, but it was evident that these supplies would not be adequate.

“The work of procuring supplies and organizing the local government as the machinery for distribution was begun immediately. While the rates of ration had fallen to a very low level, the effectiveness of the work accomplished is reflected in the steady increase of rations since the system was established. These results were due to your untiring efforts.

“I am sure the satisfaction you feel of having so capably performed your duties is a reward to you, but your work deserves a greater reward because it was contributed so materially to whatever success the Military government can claim during those difficult days following the collapse of the European war.  Therefore, as Commanding Officer of this detachment, intimately familiar with your work, I consider it my duty to commend you.”

His commanding officer, Col. Lloyd M. Hanna, wrote on his final day that “Major Jackson … ably directed and controlled the Food and Supply Division for the entire Land of Upper Austria. For his efforts and devotion to duty he has won the continuing appreciation of the Austrian civil government, the civil population, the respect of his fellow officers and my commendation.”

On June 7, 1946, Col. F.L. Whitley (Ret) recommended Maj. Jackson for a Bronze Star commendation.  “Major Walter M. Jackson, O-516911, AUS, for meritorious services as joint supply and Relief Officer and contingent forces inspector of the Military Liaison Force, Jugoslavia.

“By his careful application of approved practices of supply accounting, diligent inspection and careful instruction of the Jugoslavia Civil Supply agents and other organizational personnel charged with relief and rehabilitation duties, Major Jackson was able to set up and operate a commendable supply accounting system which saved many thousands of dollars and tons of valuable supplies of food and rehabilitation material and equipment from diversion into unauthorized use for purposed contrary to the policy for which they were allocated by the Allied Force commanders.  He rendered services of a high order and made a valuable contribution to the Allied effort in the Balkans.”

Our grandfather received the Bronze Star on Oct. 4, 1949:

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Below is a photo that I believe to be of the Bronze Star presentation, including his wife and two youngest children:

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Left to right are: Walter M. Jackson, Jr.; Walter M. Jackson, Sr.; Unnamed General; Edna Louise Jackson; Anna Bell Jackson.

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On June 11, 1945, Maj. Jackson requested an honorable discharge, in part because “my mother, now seventy-seven years old and in poor health — lived with me until I came into the service, when she went to live with my brother. have just heard this brother died first of May. Since he has no family there is no one there with mother.  … Now that the war in Europe is over there must be available some younger me with better training in the field in which I am working and who have not been over seas as long as I.”

He was discharged on May 31, 1946, from Fort McPherson, Ga.

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