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. 

Friday, September 7, 2012


When I was a little girl growing up in Austin, Texas, my grandfather showed me the Governor’s Mansion and told me that once upon a time there was a little girl who lived there, and her name was Ima Hogg. Who knew I was to spend a good part of my adult life with her?
         The rest of her name story was that she had a sister named Ura.
         You’d be surprised at how many people still think that.
         Her name is all that many people know about Ima Hogg. Some said she also had a sister named Sheesa, and brothers named Hesa, Harry, and Moore.
         Not true: Ima had three brothers, and their names were Will, Mike, and Tom.
         Ima Hogg was her real name. No middle name. That much is true.
         Ima’s father, James Stephen Hogg, named her. What was he thinking of? Name recognition, perhaps? He was an ambitious politician. When Ima was eight years old, her father was elected Governor of Texas. He had his own stories about Ima’s name, and so did she.         
         Besides The Name Question, The IMA HOGG BLOG will offer facts and ponder other questions: Did she have any romances? Why did she never marry? How did a little girl from Mineola, Texas grow up to become a nationally-known grande dame?

If you have a “name story” about Ima, you can share it here.