Saturday, January 26, 2013

"We children stood completely in awe of her."

In September 1895 Martha Francis Davis accompanied her brother, his children, and Sallie’s body back to Austin. It is not clear if Jim Hogg had asked her, or if she had volunteered to help care for his motherless brood. But she took over, and what had been a merry and rambunctious household soon changed. Ima wrote that her aunt “was evidently not prepared by experience or nature to have charge of such undisciplined children as she found us to be. While Father was away from home during the day, she was using all her strength of will and ingenuity to train the two younger boys and myself. She believed in giving us chores and filing every idle moment when out of school, with some duties. She was a woman of great intellectual attainments, high ideals and determination. She had been a beauty in her day, a belle and a leader. Her efforts served mainly to make the children unhappy.”

For example, when a little boy said to 13-year-old Ima, “That’s a pretty dress you have on, and you look pretty in it.” Aunt Fannie said: “Ima, you are not pretty. You will never be pretty, and you must never let anyone tell you so.”

It was Aunt Fannie who told Ima that she must never marry. In her eighties, when someone asked “Miss Ima” why she had never married, she said, “When I was a girl, tuberculosis was thought to be hereditary. My mother died of tuberculosis, and I thought I should never have children.”
Then, with wry humor, she made light of it:  “But, you know, it’s just as well. I always liked a handsome man, and none of my beaux was any good! But I do regret the children.”
In her memoir, Ima wrote more about her formidable aunt: Aunt Fannie “was a constant reader and flattered herself that she could entertain the boys successfully with Plutarch’s Lives and juvenile versions of the lives of heroes. So she read aloud whenever she was able to seize any opportunity. She had been brought up with brothers, I am sure, as lively as these little boys, but evidently did not understand their nature. . . . Father must have sensed the depressing effect she had on the children.”
         The Hogg children never breathed a word of complaint to their father. But Jim Hogg made a decision: he would put the younger children in boarding school. Six weeks after Sallie’s death, Ima, Mike, and Tom, escorted by Aunt Fannie, left Austin on the train for San Marcos and the Coronal Institute. A private Hill Country school founded in 1868, the Coronal had about 300 students in grades 1-12. But for children who had so recently lost their mother, it must have been a traumatic experience to be suddenly uprooted from home and placed in the unfamiliar surroundings of a boarding school.
Aunt Fanny was still “a welcome visitor” in the Hogg household as well as the households of her other relatives. But “She always commanded the situation, however, in whatever home she was, but the families seemed to understand. . . . We children . . . stood completely in awe of her.”

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"My mind was filled with horror."


In the summer of 1895 Sallie Hogg’s bronchitis would not go away, and she finally consulted Dr. Adolph Herff, a specialist in San Antonio. There the unwelcome diagnosis came: Sallie had something far worse than bronchitis: she had tuberculosis. In those days, the disease was often a death sentence. Years later, Ima Hogg recalled that difficult time:  “It was a great blow to Father,” she said. “I was with Mother all the time when she was ill, and my mind was filled with horror.”
Ima and Sallie set out immediately for Pueblo, Colorado to visit Dr. William Davis and his family, accepting the invitation his mother, “Aunt Fannie” had issued earlier. There, everyone hoped, Dr. Davis and the dry Colorado air would surely cure what ailed Sallie.
         Soon after she reached Pueblo, Sallie wrote to her eldest son, trying to assuage his worries about her: “William has started me on a tonic that he says will soon bring me out of the woods. . . . I believe I am going to get fat and well up here.”
         But the weeks passed, and she did not get well. Tuberculosis was a mysterious, serious illness little understood until well into the 20th century. Sallie's long history of ailments, with a dramatic weight loss in the last year of her life, was probably tuberculosis, though oddly enough, no one in her family contracted the disease. There were no X-rays in Sallie's day to help with diagnosis.  A German physicist discovered electromagnetic radiation in 1895, and X-rays were in use by World War I. Effective treatment of tuberculosis with antibiotics did not occur until the 1940s.
         Ima celebrated her 13th birthday on July 10, but at her mother’s bedside it was not a happy one.  In late August a telegram brought Jim Hogg and Will, Mike, and Tom to Pueblo. Sarah Ann Stinson Hogg died on September 20, 1895. She was 41 years old.
         There must have been farewells, last words, between Sallie and her husband and children, but they were not recorded.  Perhaps because her last days were such a sad time to recall, no one wrote much about them, then or afterward.        
A telegram carried the news of Sallie’s death to Austin, and a train took her body, accompanied by her husband, children, and “Aunt Fannie” back to that city for burial. Early Tuesday morning, September 24, the train was met by a “committee of citizens.” The funeral service for Sallie Stinson Hogg was held at the Governor’s Mansion at 10 a.m., and the state offices remained closed until two o’clock that afternoon. Sallie was buried in Austin’s Oakwood Cemetery

         Sallie’s death left Jim Hogg a widower at 44, with 4 children: Will was 20, Ima, 13, Mike, 10, and Tom, 8.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Her mother was reading a book...."

After the 1894 tour of U.S. cities, Texas’s Governor James Stephen Hogg and his daughter Ima were nationally known, and so was Ima’s name. Throughout the 1890s newspapers around the nation printed stories printed stories about Governor Hogg of Texas, who had daughters named Ima, Ura, and Shesa, and sons variously named Hesa, Harry, or Moore. The Galveston Daily News quoted New York papers about “Eura” and “Moore” Hogg. The New Oxford Item in Oxford, Pennsylvania, and the Richwood Gazette in Richwood, Ohio, remarked on Ima and her oddly-named siblings.
When the editor of a Chicago paper wrote to Hogg asking about his children’s names, Ima’s father replied:
         “I beg to advise you that the names of my children are William, Ima, Mike and Tom—three boys and one girl—whose ages are, respectively, 21, 14, 11, and 9 years. . . . The names of Ura, Hesa, Shesa, Harry, and Moore Hogg are the mythical creatures of campaigners who failed to beat me for office.”
That was not the last word: As an item in the Fayetteville [North Carolina] Observer noted a few days later:
“Ex-Governor Hogg of Texas takes the trouble to write to a Chicago paper that he has no children named Ura, Hesa, and Sheesa, but admits that he has a daughter named Ima. This seems to give his whole case away. . . .”
But the name stories would not go away. A few years later, ex-Governor Hogg told a journalist who asked about his daughter’s name:  “The truth of the matter is, that she was named by her mother. Her mother was reading a book somewhere in which one of the characters which interested her exceptionally was named Ima. About that time the little girl came along, and she was named Ima. We never noticed the play of her name until it was called to our attention.”
         But Ima had another version of her naming: she said that her father named her to honor the memory of his late brother, Thomas Elisha Hogg. author of  “The Fate of Marvin,” a poem about the Civil War. In it there was a heroine named Ima.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

"I was the only girl in the party."

In June of 1894 Governor Hogg went on a tour of ten Midwestern and Eastern cities to attract investment capital to Texas. With the Governor in special railroad cars went a company of “prominent citizens of the Lone Star State,” as The New York Times described them. They were executives, bankers, investors, journalists, and lawyers, 23 in all. And Ima, age 12. She was the only female in the party.
         She wrote about that trip years later:
         It was a very amazing and enlightening experience and Father seemed to believe that anything in which he took part was becoming for me also. The men on these trips were not restrained by my presence and used to sit around playing poker until late at night. Father gave me a chair around the table where we both looked on. They imbibed very freely of alcohol while Father drank only Apollinaris and Vichy and took no hand in the game. He never seemed to make them feel he was disapproving but explained to them he could not afford to lose even if sometime he might win Evidently they accepted his explanation without further question. I was usually put to bed by ten o’clock. . . .        

The highlight of the trip was New York City. The nation’s largest city then had a population of over 2,000,000. Governor Hogg and his party stayed at what was then New York’s most luxurious hostelry, the Fifth Avenue Hotel, at 200 Fifth Avenue. Opening in 1859, its famous guests had included Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Grant, and Cornelius Vanderbilt. It was only six stories tall, but its interior was filled with velvet and rosewood and gilt, and it boasted the first passenger elevator in an American hotel.  Also famous for its cuisine, the hotel served “great compotes of various ice creams, strawberry, pistachio, chocolate, and vanilla flavored from the vanilla bean.” Ima was delighted.
         But she felt uncomfortable on the tour. “I was the only girl in the party on the trip . . . I got tired of not seeing any women.”

On June 26 she wrote to Sallie from New York City: “The party had their picture taken today: papa wanted to have mine taken too but as I was the only girl along, I didn’t want my picture alone with a pack of men; would you have it taken either? ”  

Ima’s doting father apparently never thought about his daughter’s discomfort.
Why he chose to take her, and not his eldest son, Will, age 19, on such a tour remains a mystery.