Saturday, July 19, 2014

“There’s nothing in a name....”

         Yet another salvo in the ongoing name controversy, a defense from an Ima fan who knew her and family.

         Governor Hogg’s daughter was, unfortunately, called Ima by her mother, who had some sentimental attachment to the name, and her parents never realized the disadvantage of it until she went to school and the children began to make fun of it. But it would have been untrue to the characteristics of her family to retreat under fire, so Miss Hogg kept her name, and, in spite of all temptation, continues to keep it, and to prove that there’s nothing in a name as a handicap to the right sort of person. Her three brothers--none of whom has freak names, though the same class of wits that invented “Ura” have endowed them with a choice collection--are all men of mark in their communities and a credit to their father’s influence and upbringing.
         May I not in this conjunction sign myself, as one of our most picturesque politicians always did,
         Ellen Maury Slayden, “of and for Texas.”
--Charlottesville, Va., Nov.4, 1922.
         Who was she?

          Ellen Maury Slayden (1860–1926). was born at the Maury family home, Piedmont, in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1860; she received her education from tutors at home. On June 12, 1883, she married James Luther Slayden, a merchant and rancher in San Antonio; they had no children. Mrs. Slayden served for a time in 1889 as society editor of the San Antonio Express. Upon her husband's election to Congress in 1896, they moved to Washington, where they maintained a residence for the next twenty-one years. She continued her writing, contributing to various magazines and newspapers, and was a tireless record keeper and diarist. Her notebooks concerning observations of the social and political life in Washington from 1897 to 1919 were left to her nephew F. Maury Maverick. Maverick's widow, Terrell Webb, with her second husband, Walter Prescott Webb, had the journal published in 1962 as Washington Wife. Ellen Slayden died in San Antonio on April 20, 1926.

Accessed 5/5/14.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

“In Justice to Gov. Hogg.”


         This letter from a Texas woman who had known James Stephen Hogg appeared in The New York Times, in 1922.

         I am surprised to see in The Times a repetition of that cheap and vulgar myth that “Governor Hogg of Texas called one twin daughter ‘Ima’ and the other ‘Ura.” It appears in an article by Mary Fisher Torrance in the Magazine Section of Oct. 16. The story might be dismissed by a simple statement of the fact that Governor Hogg had but one daughter, but when a man has done as much for his State and reflected such credit upon it as Governor Hogg did upon Texas it is not fair to let flippant writers go unchallenged when they pervert history and do injustice to a good and wise man for the sake of making a “snappy” article.
         The story gives a wrong impression of the Governor. Hogg, whom I knew well personally, was a man of good family and right traditions, a relative, I believe, of the “Ettrick Shepherd” (James Hogg) to whose portrait he bore a marked resemblance.

          James Hogg (1770-1835), James Stephen Hogg (1851-1906)

          Look-alikes??



Saturday, July 5, 2014

"Who Gave You This Name?"

Ima had to put up with stories like this for most of her life:

THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 15, 1922

"Who Gave You This Name?" By MARY FISHER TORRANCE

Worthy old 'Archbishop Peckham . . . thought it expedient to Issue a warning that " Minister shall take care not to permit wanton names to be give to children baptized; and if otherwise It be done, same shall be changed by the Bishop at confirmation."

What would his Worship have said, I wonder, had he sat in judgment in the case of Governor Hogg of Texas, who called one twin daughter " Ima," the other, " Ura"? But one never hears that the girls themselves took any exception in later years: probably because they were too thankful in the possession of a papa with a sense of humor. "

Twins? A new twist! 

But someone--not Ima, who shrugged off such items--responded. 
Log in next week.





Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ima Revisits Germany in 1910. Why?

In  the summer of 1910, Ima and her brother Mike toured Europe. They sailed from Galveston, Texas, to Bremen, Germany, arriving July 18. They visited Berlin. Did Ima introduce Mike to her German friends? Did she share her “secret” with her brother?

(This is a research work in progress, but it’s summertime, and I may take some blogtime off.) Stay tuned.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

A wedding and perhaps a secret....

        Meanwhile, what about Ima’s love life? When she was thirteen, Aunt Fanny had told her that because her mother had died of tuberculosis, that she would be a carrier of the disease--and therefore must never marry and have children. Did Ima really believe that?
         Was she reconciled to a single life? In those days the worst thing that could happen to a young woman was not to find a husband, and to become an “old maid.”
         Ima must surely have thought about that when she traveled to Lampasas, Texas, to attend a wedding in April 1909. When R. Lee Blaffer, a founder of the Humble Oil Co., married Sarah Campbell, daughter of the late W.T. Campbell, a founder of the Texas Co. (Texaco) in Lampasas, Texas, Ima was the maid of honor. She would soon be 27 years old. Perhaps she thought of the “secret” she had in Germany.         
         Back in Houston, Ima threw herself into the cultural scene, and she began to teach music to a select number of pupils. She was a founding member of the Chatauqua Study Club in 1909. The next year she joined the Episcopal Church in Houston, a decision she had been thinking about for some time.
        
         Then, for reasons that to this day remain unknown, she suddenly decided to return to Germany in 1910.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend: Remembering World War I, 1914-18

The "Great War," they called it, because in 1914 no one could imagine a greater one.

World War I killed over 8 million men and wounded another 21 million.

Ima Hogg may have lost the love of her life in this war. (I am an incurable romanticist.)




Saturday, May 17, 2014

"The great sorrow of my life...."

         Ima Hogg returned to Houston in October of 1908, having reached a life-changing decision. Somewhere along the way, this intrepid, talented young woman, who had been aiming for a career as a concert pianist since she began her studies in New York in 1901, who had studied with fine teachers in Europe, decided that the concert stage was not for her. Did a teacher discourage her? Did she decide for herself? No one knows.
        
         A close friend of Ima’s said that Ima once told her that she regretted having small hands, because they limited her keyboard reach. Although she came home with “a bone-crushing grip,” as one friend said, Ima feared that no matter how much she practiced, no matter how fine her technique, she could be a good pianist, but never a great one.
        
         But she said years later to another friend, “The great sorrow of my life is that I was never a concert pianist.”
         When Ima was ninety-two, recording an interview for an oral history project, she had a different view: “I studied in Europe, with very great teachers, and they all encouraged me to become a professional concert pianist. I never wanted to do that.”
        
         What did she want?