Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year's Day at the Governor's Mansion

12/29  New Year’s Day at the Governor’s Mansion

         On January 1, 1892 there was the traditional New Year’s Day reception at the Governor’s Mansion, with hundreds of guests and a lavish buffet.

As Ima remembered years later:

These called for great preparations. Men came in to cover the carpets with white canvas and everything was elaborately decorated. It was the day when people festooned the windows and pictures and door openings with smilax. The large crystal chandeliers in the two parlors were also delicately outlined with smilax which could not be put too near the lights because they were gas and as I recall it, did not have any shades over the flames. The mantels were always banked with flowers.

Table decorations were entirely different from those now. They were usually quite low with forms made of tin and filled with wet sand. In these, flowers were packed very closely together to give a clear outline with a special motif and color. I cannot remember how the tables were covered, but I believe, having seen my Mother’s interest in qualities of damask, that the damask of fine Irish linen was used.

Young men in Austin who were interested in social functions came in to assist with the decorations. Neighbors arrived to do what they could to help in the kitchen and dining room. There was a colored porter at the Capitol named Bill Boulding who always came to stand at the door and announce the guests as they entered the parlor.

But receptions were always a trial for the frail Governor’s Lady:

Finally Father got her a high stool which she sat on or leaned against so that she could get through receptions without being too fatigued. She was entirely too conscientious and should have delegated a great deal more than she did to the servants.

         A letter Sallie wrote in 1892 to her son Will, who had gone back to boarding school after the holidays, shows her bravely carrying out her duties as mother and hostess:

         Don’t think your Mother has forgotten her boy you know I have been very busy ever since you were here getting ready for another reception, and oh! I am so glad it is over. The flowers you sent Mama were so pretty. Many thanks for them, I sent you a small box [of treats from the reception] it was the only size I had. I could have sent you other things but they would not keep long enough to get to you. Everything passed off very nicely (so everybody says).

         Brava, Salllie Hogg.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"A very artistic temperament"

Ima Hogg had fond memories of her mother as First Lady of Texas:

Mother was quite small, about five feet, two inches tall, and never weighed over 108 pounds. Her distinguishing feature, everyone said, was her tiny, beautifully formed hands. Her little feet never gave her enough support for I remember her complaining of them after standing any time, She had dark brown hair, gray eyes, and fair skin with little color. Without being a beauty, her even features gave her a sweet and refined appearance.
         She was of a very artistic temperament, exceedingly fastidious, well read and accomplished in all the arts of homemaking. She must have had some executive ability for our house ran smoothly and rather lavishly for our means. We seemed to have everything that we could desire though we knew that we should not ask for much spending money.
         I often wonder now how she managed on my father’s small salary. [The attorney general of Texas made $2,000 per year; the governor, $4,000. But a dollar then was worth about 20 of today’s dollars.] I can look back upon many small economies which she practiced. . . . Buttons on our clothes were always taken off to be used on the next garments; even hooks and eyes and bones were removed from old dresses.
         Somewhere mother learned to be an exquisite needlewoman. She always had ready a piece of embroidery, or hand work, which she could take up while talking with visitors. It was the style when I was a child for little girls to wear white aprons over gingham and woolen dresses and my aprons were the most exquisite hand-made creations made of finest muslin, dimity or swiss with rolled and hand-whipped ruffles edged with real lace trimming or eyelet embroidery. She did not always make these herself but she would have felt disgraced if I had worn anything made on a machine. . . .
         There were no extravagances outside of the household but my mother always had a few very fine gowns made each year. . . . Mother would have been happy to make her own dresses had she had the time but, of course, she did not. She spent much time overseeing the work of a seamstress who came into the house to make the boys’ shirts, my clothes, and perhaps some of her housedresses.
         I have been trying to remember what Mother’s first reception dress was like. . . . I remember we thought it was very beautiful and I am still confused as to whether it was black taffeta with large orchid brocaded figures outlined with some kind of tinsel and beads or whether it was orchid color with orchid brocade on it. I know we all went into ecstasies over her appearance.

         Brava, Sallie Hogg.

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Austin was awesome."

When Attorney General Hogg first moved his family to Austin in 1887, they found a bustling place with a population of nearly 15,000. State politics was its main business. Dallas, with 38,000 people by 1890, was Texas’s largest city, but to Jim and Sallie and their children, who had grown up in rural East Texas, Austin was awesome. The city had thirty mule-drawn streetcars clacking along on ten miles of track. Streets were not paved, but many were lit by gas lamps. It was a small city, with its grid of streets laid out between Shoal Creek and Waller Creek, bounded by the Colorado River to the south and 15th Street to the north. There were gentle hills and an abundance of trees—live oak and cottonwood, pecan and walnut. (Before his death in 1906, ex-Governor Hogg requested that a pecan tree and a walnut tree be planted on his grave.)

On Sixth Street, a cattle baron named Jesse Lincoln Driskill had just built a grand 60-room hotel. (Years later ex-Governor Hogg would occupy a suite there, and one day the Driskill Hotel would have a suite named for him.)
         Ima remembered that Austin was elegant: "It was quite the fashion for ladies and gentlemen to drive up and down Congress Avenue and over the Colorado bridge, [and] around the Capitol grounds, especially on Sunday afternoons. Many Victorias [light, open carriages] drawn by fine horses with the driver on the seat above made a beautiful picture."

By the time the Hoggs left the Governor's Mansion in 1895, Austin had electric streetcars, an underground sewage system, waterworks, and electric lights.

And there were the railroads: The first one—the Houston and Texas Central Railway--had come to Austin in 1871, and the International and Great Northern in 1876. By the 1890s Austin passengers could go by train (at the breath-taking speed of 30 miles an hour) to St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, with journeys of two or three days eased by Pullman sleeper cars and dining car buffets.
And there was the University of Texas. It had opened its doors on September 15, 1883 with 13 faculty members and 218 students, and graduated its first class of 32 seniors on June 15, 1887.

Three of the Hogg children--Will, Ima, and Mike--would one day call UT their alma mater.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"He always ate dessert first."

J. S. Hogg, who used to order a hundred pounds of ham at a time, and lard by the barrel, enjoyed every bite he took.
Ima recalled lavish menus for parties at the Governor’s Mansion:
         Chicken salad, baked turkey and baked ham, and beaten biscuits, of course, were the main dishes for receptions. Green olives were just being introduced, that is, as far as I remember. Celery was a scarcity but was served and lettuce was very different from what we have now. Salted nuts, especially almonds, were always used. There were many varieties of cakes – marble cake was beautiful and delicious. Spice cake seemed to be another favorite. In season, fruit cakes were made. But I recall Lady Baltimore Cake as being very frequently made with lemon layer cake as second best. Pies were ever ready and I imagine they were never allowed to become stale. The cookie jar was never empty and beaten biscuits were a necessity. I can remember hearing the beating of the biscuit dough and used to take a great delight in taking my turn with the wooden mallet. The Saratoga potatoes fascinated me more than almost anything because our cook took the greatest pains with them cutting them large and very thin then letting them soak in water for a long time, then carefully draining them and dropping them into a deep iron pot of hot grease.

Saratoga potatoes became better known as potato chips. They were first served in the 1880s at Moon Lake House, a well-known resort in Saratoga, New York.

         There was another thing which was very difficult to make and I do not know where they can be found anymore – a very delicate crisp sweetened waffle made on a kind of lacy waffle iron, This we often had for parties and it took a long time to make them. Father was very fond of salt rising bread and we always had this as well as light bread and hot rolls. Then there was a bread which he enjoyed, called Steam Boat bread, not a yeast bread, something similar to that which is now called Sally Lunn, I think.        

J. S. Hogg loved a good meal. He could never forget going hungry in his youth (when he was 16 and traveling across Texas, he once went without food for three days). When he was a young county attorney in Wood County in 1878, he was “thin and muscular,” but he soon began to put on weight. When he ate at the boarding house in Tyler he became famous for his appetite. He always ate dessert first, so as not to be too full for it at the end of his meal. 
By the time he was Governor in 1890 he weighed about 300 pounds. With his 6’4” frame, he was an imposing figure. As one Wood County resident remembered him, “Governor Hogg was a very large and powerful man, requiring four large napkins to cover him while he was eating, sitting well back from the table; he was always very jolly, very affable, and ate with a great deal of gusto.”

But then, J. S. Hogg did everything with gusto.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Housekeeping was a rugged occupation."

After every Sunday there was a Monday, and a work-week to follow. At the Mansion, household tasks were many, and servants were few. Sallie supervised everything. Monday was wash-day (wash tubs, rub-boards, line drying); Tuesday was ironing-day (irons heated on a stove, with chances for burning fingers and scorching clothes)  and so on.
Ima remembered how it was:
After the laundress came on Monday, Grace, the maid, ironed on Tuesday. Father's shirts and collars were sent to the Chinese Laundry nearby.

And once a year, after the nine fireplaces with a winter’s worth of soot and smoke were cold ashes, there was spring cleaning:
Springtime was an ordeal. The carpets were taken up, put on a stiff line and beaten. For some strange reason . . . the furniture went outdoors too to be scrubbed and perhaps varnished.
Housekeeping was a rugged occupation.

 Cooking wasn’t easy, either: a wood-burning stove, no mixes, everything from scratch.

There were certain days for baking salt rising bread, beaten biscuits, cakes of all kinds and cookies to fill the cookie jars for the children and their playmates.            
Things were purchased wholesale – barrels of sugar and flour, one hundred pound cans of lard, cases of canned vegetables when there were none to be had from the garden, etc. Chickens were purchased by the dozen on foot, turkeys as well. When chickens were $2.00 a dozen hardly anyone could afford them. Bacon was bought by the side and I think was five or ten cents a pound. . . . Each week were baked quantities of bread, cakes and pies with wholesale preserving and canning of fruits in season. Our store room was a delight. Mother went about with a great bunch of keys and nothing came out of the store room that she did not check. . . .
            Family meals were “simple and wholesome,” but there were three of them to prepare every day in the big Mansion kitchen, not to mention official dinners. Ima and Mike and Tom loved to watch the makings:

            From the upstairs back hall steps which led down into the kitchen was a favorite place for the children to sit so we heard kitchen talk while we watched the preparations.

         They loved to eat, and so did their father, who weighed 300 pounds.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Falsetto, baritone, or bass as needed."

Saturday mights at the Mansion were party nights. As Ima remembered:

Young people came almost every Saturday night to dance. There was impromptu music which they sometimes furnished themselves and I remember seeing them dance the Schottische and the Polka. Father and Mother did not dance. I think Mother would not dance without Father and it had been a long time since he had tried, but he loved to watch the young people having a good time as did Mother.

Our house was the center of social life. While many men came to talk over affairs in the evening there were many evenings when Father would play six-handed Euchre with neighbors or houseguests. Mother played when she felt like it but I think when the day was done she was perhaps too tired to join in, besides, she was often ill. . . .

Sunday nights were musical, too.

Sunday evenings were always spent around the piano singing favorite hymns or old songs.... Anyone who could play the piano or any instrument or sing was always a favorite with Father. There were several young ladies and girls in the neighborhood who were starred as musical and dancing entertainers. My childish efforts on the piano and banjo were in frequent demand, too. Some of the girls in the neighborhood could recite and they were frequently invited over to entertain.

Anyone in town who could perform on an instrument was welcome and invited to entertain friends in the evenings. . . . Father's beautiful voice blended in as falsetto, baritone or bass as needed. Mother could play the piano, but usually I was called on to lead at the piano.

One of our most welcome visitors was old Uncle Bob, an ex-slave who had followed Grandfather and Uncle Tom in the Civil War and had been the younger boys’ body servant. He was a grand old character, very black with kinky gray hair and he had the proud look of a Rameses. Uncle Bob could have boasted of noble blood for it was said his father was an African chieftain whom Grandfather Hogg had purchased in New Orleans. Uncle Bob loved to play the fiddle and his annual trip to Austin was a release as his wife, Aunt Easter, did not permit him to fiddle at home. She was a very pious Baptist and believed the fiddle was the devil’s own instrument.

Uncle Bob, of course, did not share this belief.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Buckets of old chewing gum"

Even though Sallie Hogg was in frail health, as the Governor's wife she oversaw the details of endless gatherings and receptions at the Governor’s Mansion, as well as watchng over Ima, Mike, and Tom. Will was often away at school, demanding frequent letters from home. Sallie's first task was to refurbish the Mansion:  the white-columned, Greek-Revival structure had been built in 1856. It was a grand old building, with 18 rooms and 9 fireplaces, but by 1891 when the Hoggs moved in, it was in need of major repairs, As Ima recalled:
         “We were prepared for a most hospitable home but I shall never forget our consternation on first seeing the interior. It was in dreadful disrepair. The white calcimine walls were badly cracked and shabby and the dark woodwork was worse. Our family did not attempt to live in it without trying to freshen and redecorate it. The house was entirely papered and painted immediately at my Father’s expense. Mother was always very fastidious and she would never have dreamed of living in it as it was.”

         The re-do required more than paper and paint. Before the Hoggs moved in, Ima remembered,  “Many days were spent scraping hardened chewing gum from under the tables and chair arms. There were literally buckets of old chewing gum scraped, even from the door moldings. . . . “
         Even with the refurbishing, living in the Mansion had its drawbacks: the only heat was from fireplaces, and in Austin winters the high-ceilinged rooms were cold and drafty. There was one bathroom, with a huge tin tub built for Sam Houston. The house was lighted by gas, but cooking was done on a wood-burning stove.
         There was one new-fangled item: in the long front hall beside the front door there was a telephone. As Ima remembered, it “was a large box containing batteries. You rang Central by cranking the handle. No one used the phone during a storm.”
            In the 1890s that phone did not ring much, because few people had phones. But while the Hoggs lived there the house rang with music and laughter. There were sing-alongs and stately receptions, and an endless procession of relatives and visitors.
         As one guest recalled, “I don’t think any family ever lived in the Mansion who had as much fun as Governor Hogg and his family.”

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Mama has been very very ill."

Fun at the Governor’s Mansion in the 1890s was clouded by only one thing: Sallie Hogg’s mysteriously fragile health.
As Ima remembered: Mother’s health was poor and I believe this is the only thing which cast a shadow in our home. Father sent her to whatever doctors he thought could help and would urge her to go away to some of the resorts where they hoped her health would be improved. The source of her trouble they thought was her stomach. So she went to watering places . . . to drink the waters and take the baths.
In the summer of 1890 Sallie and Ima went to Sour Lake, near Beaumont. The lake there was famous for its mineral waters. It had been a health resort since the 1850s. In the 1880s Sour Lake had two general stores, two hotels, and a population of 150. Ima did not enjoy her time there:
Sour Lake had a terrible old hotel but after two weeks there my mother was always greatly improved. She drank the water and took the baths. . . . Somebody prescribed which one would best suit the patient. No one seemed to know what was the root of my Mother’s great physical disability.

Sallie’s poor health worried her. She wrote to her eldest son, Will, on January 25, 1892: “The New Year is fast passing away; Time is so fleeting, Mama and Papa are growing old. Every year seems shorter as we grow older.”
Sallie Hogg was only 37.

Ima’s letters to her father the following summer tell the tale. 
On June 6, 1893 she wrote from the Stinsons’ country place.

Dear Papa:
I am more than delighted with Speer if you were only here.  Papa, please fix it up some way for you to come down. . . . Mamma has been very very ill.  After all the apples, peaches and plumes {plums] are ripe we have blackberries and strawberries too. . . .  We all send love.
I am your daughter,
Ima H.

But Governor Hogg was busy in Austin.
On June 30 Ima wrote again:
Papa my birthday is on the 10th of July and I want you to be down here on my birthday. Papa please come. We are all well. Mama was sick yesterday with sick head-ache. But is now well. . . . Grandpa’s yearling is the finest animal I ever saw in my life. You must see it. . . .
If you can come down for my birthday let me know. We all send lots of kisses and love. Hoping you will come.

But Governor Hogg did not come.
July 10th, 1893
My dear Papa,
To-day is my birthday and I am eleven to-day.  I am not at all glad.  I don’t want to get any older.  I was sick yesterday evening and Ben was sick this morning, but is better now.  Mamma was sick with a sick head-ache. . . . Mike says he wants to come home so bad.  Mamma says she thinks you ought to come down here after us.  We will start for Mineola Thursday and stay one day and then go on home.  I went to church yesterday evening 4 miles from here.  I must close as I haven’t any news. . . .
Ima Hogg

And no one, not even the best physicians, knew what was wrong with Sallie Hogg. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"We were frequently pitched to the ground."

When the Hogg children lived in the Governor’s Mansion from 1891 to 1895, they had a little cart with a Shetland pony named “Dainty.” Austin was a small city in those horse-and-buggy days, with little traffic to spoil the children’s fun. As Ima remembered:
This little pony all of us rode and were frequently pitched to the ground, but no one was ever injured. This pony was supposed to be mine, but most of the time the boys were riding her. Dainty, as we called her, lived a great many years. [In 1902 they would give Dainty to their cousin Hermilla in Denton.] Dainty had many pranks, a very mischievous and harmless beast. She seemed to have a real sense of humor and nothing delighted her more than to take a crowd of youngsters in the trap and whirl around fast so that she would turn it over. Then she would look back, perfectly still, with her nose turned up as if she were laughing. We would brush ourselves off, get back in the trap and start merrily on as if nothing had happened. Whenever we stayed still too long, perhaps eating ice cream in the trap or having a picnic lunch, she would get bored and vary this monotony by upsetting us. She was small and the trap was small and no harm was ever done.
         And then there was the circus that came to Austin twice a year:
We never missed one--Father gathered up all the children in the neighborhood and on we went. Schools turned out in those days, perhaps for the half-day. There was a great parade down Congress Avenue with lions and tigers in cages, horses, elephants and camels, led by a resounding calliope. . . .
For days after the circus we children went through all sorts of contortions, trying to practice some of the acts of the acrobats and Father would look on and applaud. We attempted the most dangerous things to Mother’s horror, but Father always seemed to know we would not get hurt.
Ima and two of her little girl friends especially liked the circus’s trapeze and tightrope acts. As she remembered:
We practiced as hard as we could to become acrobats. . . .
And then, one day, Ima’s friend’s older sister decided they were “good enough to put on a show.”        
She made colored cheesecloth bloomers and blouses for us. We said nothing about this to Mother and Father. People began coming in the mansion grounds one evening. Leila was at the gate selling tickets for a nickel. When I appeared Father said “What is this about nickels being taken up? Now, Sissy, just go around and give all those back.”
The show went on, however, but Helen’s elastic at the knee broke off her bloomers in the middle of an act . . . . The curtain went down. . . .

No doubt the applause was thunderous.         

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Dear Papa"

“Dear Papa”
         It was from the Stinsons’ that seven-year-old Ima wrote one of her first letters to her father. It was the first of many: the Hoggs were a letter-writing family. When Sallie and the children visited the grandparents, when J.S. Hogg traveled on business, when the children went off to school, letters flew back and forth. In December 1889 Ima and her mother and Mike and Tom were visiting the grandparents while Ima’s father and Will stayed in Austin. Ima decided to write a letter:
Dec. 5, 1889
Dear papa;        
         last morning we had to hav a light it was so dark. I scribele on the other side of the paper. Don’t look on the other side papa. Come to Aunts wedding the 15. Ant Jennie is reading a book tonight. I went to Effie and I picked 4 pounds of cotton. I weigh 51 pounds today. Mike weighed 33 pounds to day,
         something is a matter with Aunt Lizzies heart.
         Mamma is working on a craz work.
         I wood like to know what you and Brother are doing.
                                             Write soon.         
“Effie” was most likely one of Colonel Stinson’s tenants. He had 14 houses of sharecrop tenants on his 4,000-acre spread. Ima’s mother was doing “crazy work,” the needlecraft art of sewing odd bits of fabric together and then attaching them to a backing to make a crazy quilt.
“Aunt Lizzie” was Colonel Stinson’s widowed sister. Ima remembered her as “quite thin and old,” but “merry.” Whatever was wrong with her heart, two years after this letter Aunt Lizzie was well enough to spend a summer in Austin, helping to look after the Hogg boys while Ima and Sallie traveled.

On December 8, Ima’s father wrote to her:

My Dear Ima—
         I have received your two nice letters, and felt so proud of them. Willie is now writing to his Mama and I undertake the task to you. He and I have dressed up and will go to church directly. He has a new hat and looks very nice in his new suit. I think I will go to your Aunt Lillie’s wedding. Kiss Mama, Mike and Tom, and all the kinfolks for me.  All well.
                                                               Your Papa

When her father was away, Ima missed him. She scratched out a terse note to him one February day while she was at school:

“Where are you at now? Write soon.”                           

When Ima and her mother traveled in the summertime, Ima did not neglect to write letters home to Austin:
July 23, 1890
Dear papa,
I want to see you so bad.  I am home sick to see you all.  How are you all.  Are you all well?  Tom I guess is bat [bad] as ever.  I have 15 c. of my money.
You must write soon.
I must cose [close]
So good by
Give love to all
Your daughter
Ima Hogg

July 26, 1890
Dear papa,
I wrote to you and I forgot to male it.  How is Mike and Tom? I love to here [hear] they are all well.
I gess you kno Miss Dasy. She is [illegible] me some new pieces and paper rosies and lots of pretty things.
Brownie is sick with slow fever Doctor Blunt says.
Give love to all and give a 1000 kisses to all in the family.
Good by
Your Daughter
Ima Hogg

Kisses were abundant in the Hogg family. Ima remembered that “Each morning when we awoke and every evening when we went to bed, Father gave us a warm kiss on the cheek. This habit lasted all our lives.” [i]

Few families have ever been as close.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Grandfather's home was a little paradise to us."

Ima’s grandfather (Colonel James Stinson, the one who had complained about her being named Ima) had a large plantation in deep East Texas, where Ima’s mother, Sallie, often took the children. Ima loved these visits:

We would start out early in the morning on the train from Austin with a big basket lunch and go as far as Troupe, Texas, where I think, we changed trains for Mineola. This seemed to take a very long time. We would spend the night in Mineola with some friends, either at the home of the Bruces or the Gileses. If the weather permitted, Grandfather sent a hack drawn by the “clay bank,” now called “palomino” horses to town and early in the morning we set forth for his farm, which was fifteen miles from Mineola. We crossed many creeks and sloughs and the water was apt to be high. . . . Many times the rivers or creeks were so swollen the water would be over the shaky board bridges. It was frightening because it seemed impassable, unless the driver was familiar with the location. It took until four o'clock in the afternoon after an early start to arrive at Grandfather's home.
 Grandfather’s home was a little paradise to us. It was on the slope of a hillside which went gently down to a swift, flowing shallow creek. The house was commodious and was a lovely cool place in the summer. The premises provided for a vegetable garden filled with every variety of vegetable, an orchard which never seemed wanting of the most luscious fruits, large juicy peaches, plums and even apples and pears. There was always a large melon patch with watermelon and cantaloupe. . . . Nothing delighted Grandfather more than peeling peaches and apples and splitting melons for the children to eat. He would rise in the morning at daylight at whatever hour that was, and in melon time he always had on the back porch half a watermelon split ready for each child to enjoy.
Under the roof of one of the porches was a wonderful water well with cold spring water which was drawn up by oaken buckets. While one was being drawn up full of delicious water, the other went down. Another porch above this one had long benches where the milk crocks were full of fresh milk, mornings and evenings. Cheese cloth covered the crocks. The cream was over an inch thick and after twelve hours could be rolled off. This went into delicious biscuits and gingerbread. Of course there was a large smoke house where the rafters all hung with bacon and ham. When smoked ham was sliced and fried, the gravy was red. This was good on lye hominy and grits. . . .

         Those were the days. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Hunt up my banjo books."

Ima Hogg loved music all her life. At three, she was learning to play the piano, and at age ten, she took up the banjo. Visiting friends in Huntsville in 1893, she wrote a hurried note to her father in Austin: 
         “Papa tell Grace to express my banjo just as soon as you go home to dinner. 
         Please don’t forget to do it.
P. S. Please get Grace to hunt up my banjo books, the large one and the small one too and let Bill send it by the next mail.” (Grace was the Hoggs’ housemaid; Bill was the Capitol porter.)
         When there were musical evenings and sing-alongs in the Governor’s Mansion, Ima played her banjo for such numbers as “Old Kentucky Home” and "Swanee River."  She also played the piano. As she remembered her early musical training,
When we first moved to the mansion, Professor Ludwig came to live in Austin. He was from Russia and had studied piano with a brother of Anton Rubenstein, though I think the impression was he had studied with Anton himself. Professor Ludwig made a real sensation in Austin by his talk and his performances, and Austin was very proud of having him. Pupils flocked to him for study. Mother had early begun my piano lessons herself because I was a little too small and young to be sent to a teacher. Later there was a Miss Brown in Austin who gave me lessons, but when Professor Ludwig came I was sent to him. Each year he gave students’ recitals and I always played at these. . . .
He quickly saw it was easier for me to play by ear than to read music so he taught me by playing first and letting me follow. It took me a long time afterwards to overcome such a handicap. Several times a year his pupils appeared in concert. I played too, in recital, Chopin, mazurkas and waltzes far beyond my comprehension but imitating Prof. Ludwig. He was quite a prima-donna.”
         So, perhaps, was young Ima Hogg, who loved to play for an audience.
         In 1894 her father wrote to her mother while he was traveling with Ima, “Well I must quit, as Ima is playing the ‘Washington Post March,’ and the crowd demand my attention.”

Friday, October 5, 2012

"We were a pretty rowdy trio."

Ima was eight years old when her family moved into the white-columned Governor’s Mansion in 1891. Mike was six, and Tom was three. Their older brother, Will, was a serious-minded young man of fifteen who considered himself far too old to play rough-and-tumble games with his younger siblings. Ima remembered those times in her memoirs:
         I am afraid visitors to the mansion must have thought we were a pretty rowdy trio, Mike, Tom, and myself. Of course, Brother was dignified and not often conspicuous. We three would start at the top of the steps and slide down one after the other with a great thud into the center hall. Nothing seemed to cure us of this until Tom fell off midway and hung by his chin from a corner of one of the steps. He bled considerably and frightened all of us. Father took tacks and hammered them all the way down the railing of the stairs. . . .
         I do not know what theories my father and mother had about disciplining children but I never saw Father administer any corporal punishment. I don’t think he believed in it. We were not very disciplined, at any rate, but Mother had a little switch which she would use on our legs sometimes. I am sure we needed it more often than we got it. . . .
The paling fence around the mansion grounds was a nuisance to us children, and we were always knocking a paling off through which our neighbors could crawl in. This annoyed Father a great deal because he was always having to have the fence repaired. . . .
         Our grounds were a neighborhood playground. Contests for running and jumping and vigorous outdoor games were always going on in good weather. I was allowed to compete with the boys. My two brothers and I were so nearly the same age; although I was older, and they seemed very much younger to me, we were great playmates. . . .
         They tried to show me how to wrestle, play marbles and enter into all of their games. It made me a real Tom-boy.
         But Ima was not a tom-boy all the time. She wrote happily to her father, “Tom is getting so he will play dolls with me.”

Friday, September 28, 2012

"And this is her sister, Ura!"

It was during the summer of 1892, when Ima was ten years old, that the story of Governor Hogg having children named Ima and Ura (and Shesa, or Harry, or Moore) entered into Texas folklore. Governor Hogg doted on his only daughter, and often took her with him when he made speeches around the state, seeking his second term as governor. As Ima recalled years later: “Often we visited friends at these times and I would enjoy the children of the family while he spoke, but many times all of us would go and inconspicuously be among those in the audience.” That audience was mostly farmers and ranchers. City folk were few in 1890s Texas.
         J. S. Hogg was a masterly politician knew how to please a crowd when he made speeches. If he pointed to his daughter and her little friends and joked that, “This is my daughter Ima, and this is Ura . . . ” one can imagine the crowd’s amusement. Ima always denied it, but the story took on a life of its own. A newspaper clipping from this period declares that “Governor Hogg of Texas has three bright children, two girls and a boy, whose names respectfully are said to be Ima Hogg, Ura Hogg, and Moore Hogg. These names were bestowed by Governor Hogg himself.” Hearsay had it that when Hogg appeared, Ima and a little friend of hers sat on the platform “at more than one of his speakings. And on each occasion the big East Texan playfully introduced them as ‘my daughters, Ima and Ura Hogg.’ ”
After the election was over (Hogg won) he received a letter from James P. Owens, a Texan then living in Denver, Colorado:

Hon. Jas S. Hogg
Austin, Tex
Dear Sir:
         I trust you will pardon me for being so inquisitive, but as I have had a dispute over it I appeal to you for a decision. Please tell me if you have three children named Ura, Ima, & Hesa? Were they so christened?
         This all came about by a party knowing I was a Texan asking me if it were really true that the Governor’s children were named as above. I said no, but he was quite sure of it—So I trust you will be kind enough to help me out of it.
                                                Very Truly Yours
                                                 Jas. P. Owens
                                                 213 Ernest & Cranmer Bldg
                                                 Denver Colo.        
The Governor’s reply to this letter has not survived.         

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fighting Words: "My Name is Hogg."

         Ima’s paternal grandfather, Joseph Lewis Hogg, was a proud, no-nonsense man who once made his two older sons, Tom and John,  wear tall silk hats to school in East Texas. (Tom squashed his, and that was the end of that.) One day Joseph Lewis Hogg was riding his mule along a road in Wood County, and he saw a stranger on horseback coming his way. As the two riders neared each other, Joseph Lewis greeted the stranger and said, “My name is Hogg.” The other responded, and said, “My name is Pigues,” pronouncing it “Peeg” in the French manner. Joseph Lewis Hogg, in a fury, climbed off his mule and challenged Mr. Pigues to a fist-fight.
          Ima’s father was also “sensitive about his name and shape,” as Horace Chilton, Jim Hogg’s lifelong friend, recalled. One afternoon in Tyler, Texas, in 1870, when the rotund young newspaperman, James Stephen Hogg, was in his office setting type near an open window, a man passing by looked in and yelled,
“Piggie Piggie,’ ‘Sooey-Sooey’!” Hogg responded to this insult “with such language and gesture of his burly right arm that the mimicery was not repeated . . . .”
When Ima’s older brother, Will, started to school in Mineola, he "had many fights at school because the older boys teased him about his name." So said Rose Merriman, who remembered the Hogg family from her East Texas childhood.
         And a few years later Will would often come home with a bloody nose from defending, as Ima put it, “my good name.”

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"And her name is Ima!"

         In a letter to his brother John, Jim Hogg announced the birth of his daughter. She was born July 10, 1882, and her father was delighted. But when Ima’s maternal grandfather, Colonel James Stinson, who lived fifteen miles away, “learned of his granddaughter’s name he came trotting to town as fast as he could to protest, but he was too late. The christening had taken place, and Ima I was to remain.” So said Ima herself, in many years later.
         Ima she did remain--but toward the end of her life (she died at 93) she achieved what a close friend called “her victory over her name.” But that is another story. For most of her life she was Ima, and she made the best of it. Her father had named her, and in her eyes James Stephen Hogg, Governor of Texas from 1890 to 1894, could do no wrong.
         According to Ima, her father named her to honor the memory of his late brother, Thomas Elisha Hogg. This brother was the author of  “The Fate of Marvin,” an epic poem about the Civil War. In it there was a heroine named Ima.
         (The poem’s Ima had a sister named Lelia, but never mind.)
According to James Stephen Hogg (who did not mention “The Fate of Marvin” when asked about his daughter’s name), it never occurred to him that “Ima” would not go well with “Hogg.” Said he: “The name ‘Ima’ was given to my daughter a few days after her birth and the singular application of it to the old, well-established, name of her paternal ancestors did not occur to any one until I had entered political life.”
Not true.