(A part of the TXGenWeb project and the USGenWeb Project.)
Dr. James Belvarde Pope January was born on May 27, 1811, in Maysville, Kentucky. After attending Transylvania University, he moved to Mississippi where in December of 1835, he enlisted in the Texas Army. In January, 1836, he came to Texas with the “Red Rovers” organized by Dr. John Shackelford in Alabama. Illness forced him back to New Orleans but he returned in April. While stationed at Camp Independence (present Jackson County), he attended Albert Sidney Johnston after the famous general was severely wounded in a duel with Felix Huston. He later fought in the western campaign against the Comanches, returned to Jackson County and was elected to the 8th Congress of the Republic. He also served in the Mexican War and during the Civil War was captured in Louisiana. He would live out his life as a physician in Victoria until his death on April 10, 1890.
Jesse Obediah Wheeler was one of Victoria’s early movers and shakers. Born in Rutland, Vermont, on Feb. 24, 1814, little is known of his life before he moved to Victoria in 1840 and opened a mercantile store. He participated in the fight against the Comanche Indians at Plum Creek following the raid on Linnville. He dealt in cotton, real estate, livestock, and managed toll bridges on the Guadalupe River. He served at various times as city alderman and mayor and helped establish Victoria’s first property tax. He also started river commerce on the Guadalupe with the steamboat William Penn and was instrumental in the establishment of the San Antonio and Mexican Gulf Railroad. At one time, he was the wealthiest man in Victoria. While in France for his health, he died on Feb. 14, 1867, and his body was returned to Victoria labeled as a marble block to circumvent superstitions of the sailors.
Born in Bedford, Pennsylvania in February, 1818, Thomas Sterne began practicing the printer’s trade when he was only 12 years old. He drifted south as a journeyman printer on the Lewisville City Gazette, and worked in Arkansas for a time before starting the first newspaper in Van Buren, the Arkansas Intelligencer. He and John D. Logan would later publish the Western Frontier Whig before the two men decided to move to Victoria and establish the Texan Advocate, later known as the Texian Advocate, the newspaper we know today as the Victoria Advocate. The two men had purchased a new Washington hand press and brought it by water and ox cart to Victoria. They arrived in time to publish their first edition on May 8, 1846, the day that General Zachary Taylor won the first battle of the Mexican War on the Rio Grande at Palo Alto. Sterne sold his interest in the newspaper in 1853 and retired to his ranch on Spring Creek. He died Nov. 29, 1906, at the age of 89.
Adam Stafford, one of Stephen F. Austin’s “Old 300” colonists, came to Texas to join his father William Stafford and received a labor of land in Waller County on Aug. 24, 1824. Single, Adam would settle into farming in Fort Bend County where his father had a cane mill and the first horse-powered cotton gin in the colony. Stafford was handicapped and couldn’t fight during the Texas Revolution but helped by furnishing supplies to the Texas Army. In 1846, at the time of the Mexican War, he moved his family to Victoria where he became a breeder of fine horses. Considered somewhat eccentric in disposition, he was also considered warm hearted and kind – and, to his friends, was indeed a true friend. He died on Nov. 21, 1880, at the age of 74.
Victoria Marion Rose, historian, editor and poet, was born on Jan. 1, 1844, in Victoria, third of 12 children of Margaret Scott and John Washington Rose. In 1866, Rose married Julia Hardy, who after giving birth to a daughter died during the city’s yellow fever epidemic of 1867. Rose himself almost succumbed. Rose was admitted to the bar in 1870 and was co-editor and publisher of the Victoria Advocate from 1869 to 1873. He moved to Laredo in the early 1880s, following a supposedly scandalous love affair, and became editor of the Laredo Times. He wrote a number of volumes of poetry and historical books, including Victor Rose’s History of Victoria. Before his death of pneumonia on Feb. 5, 1893, he was editor of a newspaper in Myrtle Springs.
Born in New Orleans, Jan. 15, 1839, Isaac A. Reed was the Signal Service (weather station) observer at Indianola during the 1886 storm that was the final blow to the once flourishing port on Matagorda Bay. He was in the office with several others and was reluctant to leave his post as they began to vacate the building as the winds grew stronger and water deepened in the streets outside. He delayed his departure long enough to screw down the instruments measuring wind velocity, but failed to extinguish a kerosene lamp as he left. This would cause a fire that consumed much of the downtown area. Reed reached the sidewalk but was caught by falling timbers and drowned in waist deep water. It was August 20, 1886.
While his small tombstone is simply inscribed “Von Roeder, USA 1861-1865 – G.A.R.” in recognition of his service to the Grand Army of the Republic, his name might best be listed as George Otto H. Herold von Roedern, perhaps the only Yankee to be buried in a Confederate plot in Texas. Born March 20, 1837, in Trebnitz, Prussia, as Georg Otto Hoppe, he was serving in the Union army as Otto Hoppe when he came to Texas during the Civil War. He was at Gaines Mill, Manassas, Harper’s Ferry and Lynchburg, among other places after joining the Union army in New York on March 11, 1862. He also served as a cavalry clerk at old Fort Concho, later lived for a time at Chappell Hill in Washington County, and taught music at Indianola from 1876 until the 1886 storm that finally destroyed the old seaport. He had lived for a time in England before coming to the United States. Considered something of a character during his later years, the “Professor” died in poverty on the streets of Victoria on Nov. 3, 1917. He was provided with a proper burial and final resting place by the William P. Rogers Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the William R. Scurry Camp, United Confederate Veterans.
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