Saturday, February 22, 2014

"It isn't my time yet to jump into the briar patch."

In the summer of 1905, Jim Hogg's health was not improving. A trip to Colorado did not help. Despite the cooler weather there, the altitude of 6,500 feet evidently taxed his heart. Later in September his weakened condition worried Ima, and father and daughter took the train back to Texas. They stopped at San Antonio to visit his friend Tom Campbell, and went then on to Mineral Wells for what they hoped would be a recuperative stay.
Jim Hogg was ill, but not too ill to keep up with politics. He had accepted a speaking engagement at a Dallas banquet in November, and he aimed to be there. He had been invited to speak in the presence of four candidates for Texas governor, and he was determined to keep his engagement. But on the train to Dallas he became too weak to continue and had to stop in Fort Worth, where He and Ima went to the Worth Hotel. There the resourceful Ima contrived to have her father make an Edison phonograph recording of his speech from his hotel room. She sent this new-fangled bit of technology to Dallas, where an amazed banquet audience listened to Hogg’s voice. He and Ima settled in at the Worth Hotel, where they stayed for a month.
Hogg, ever optimistic, remained cheerful about his condition. “By Gatlins,” he said a score of times to visitors, “It isn’t my time yet to jump into the briar patch.”

For the moment, he was right.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"Ima is yet my running mate…,"

In April 1905, a convalescent Jim Hogg wrote a letter full of family news to his nephew, William Davis.
         He used the letterhead of his new law office in Houston:
Hogg, Watkins & Jones, Lawyers
Rooms 201-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, First National Bank Building.
James S. Hogg, Edward Watkins, Frank C. Jones/W. H. Ward

April 19, 1905.
Dr. W. B. Davis
American Consul
Guadalajara, Mexico

Dear William:—
I was glad to receive your favor of the 14th. It is the only one I have received from you this year, though I may find another yet in my bushel of unanswered mail, which accumulated during my long spell of sickness.
Last Thursday is the first time I have been to my desk since early in January. I got my neck cracked on the railroad on the 26th of January, within about forty miles of this place. The rigors or convulsions followed in quick succession, and in the course of a few days an abscess about the base of my brain or somewhere in my neck set up. From the injury I lost consciousness which continued for something over a month. The torture and misery that I suffered could only be described by some or all of the four doctors who attended me. They could not reach the abscess from the exterior, but finally had to cut it from five different places through my mouth. I am not entirely well, though I am gradually recovering my strength. . . .
For the past two years luck seems to have turned against me. Beginning with Ima’s affliction, which lasted nearly a year [knee infection]; then came Tom,[pneumonia] then Mike [measles], so that upon the whole my anxiety of mind and loss of time, as well as expenses, have taken all of the “music” out of me. While these afflictions were on I sustained very heavy losses in many quarters. If I finally recover, as I now believe I will, from the illness which yet afflicts me, I have no fear of the future or of results. The outlook is certainly cheering and cheerful. My children are scattered so that I do not know whether I can ever get them together again.
Will has a fine position with the best prospects of any young man that I know of in St. Louis. He has a fine salary and almost limitless financial backing. He and Ima both stayed with me during my illness here. Of course, Ima is yet my running mate and if it is possible has improved every day. Mike is yet in Lawrenceville, but is not very well on account of a spell of measles which he has not yet recovered from. Tom is out on a cattle ranch seventy miles west of Kerrville. I have moved here and am boarding at the [Rice] hotel. . . .

         Ima boarded there, too.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

"I am very much contented."

On Thursday, April 13, a few days after his Dallas speech, Jim Hogg returned to his office in Houston for the first time since his January 26 injury. On the following Sunday he reported to Ima, who had at last gone back to Austin:
April 16, 1905
Dear Ima:
I got here in good condition and started to work next morning, but found I could not “hold out” well. So I took time slowly.—As the church bells chime this bright, cool Sunday morning, as the “humdrum” surging humanity keeps time to passing events, as age stealthily creeps on me to remind me that yesterday is no more and that tomorrow may never come, I think of you—yes, you. My running mate—my Mascot! When do you suppose you will join me without violating outstanding pledges, solemnly made? Everybody most asks me about you—all wanting to know when Miss Ima is coming. Well, now, take your time! If I could have you with me on Sundays I might stand the balance of the week heroically. . . .
Napoleon got here in good condition. While driving him yesterday he attracted great attention.
We have the finest offices in the State and I am very much contented.
With love . . .
         Your Pa, J. S. Hogg
         He was feeling better. So was Napoleon. 

 [LB1]JSH's "dots"?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

"Not a well man…."

Ima and her father were constantly together during the last year of his life. After his accident in January 1905 and subsequent surgery, he was critically ill and bedridden for eight weeks. Most of that time, Ima was his devoted nurse, often sleeping in his room. When he was well enough to travel, she took him to various hotels and resorts to recover. And as was his habit, Jim Hogg wrote letters.
On March 16, he wrote to Will from the Hill Country resort town of Boerne, near San Antonio:
Reinhardt Ranch
5 ms. from Boerne
March 16, 1905

Dear Will:
On the excuse and for the alleged reason that I “talked too much” at the Menger [hotel in San Antonio] Ima bundled me up and brought me out here last Monday, without notice or a chance to reform. So I am “in the Mountains” at last as an invalid under rigid surveillance. Tom got a job on [Walter] Schreiner's ranch about 100 ms. North of here and is by this time probably roping cattle—the ambition and joy of his exuberant life. He is a curious boy to me. After we left San Antonio that morning for this place he got acquainted with every cattleman on the train. “Round-ups” soon to come was the theme of their conversations and Tom fell into the fever. He telephones now that he is settled for good and never wants to return. I guess however he will change this tune in due time. Ima is rosy and fine. I am yet very weak but slowly improving. . . .
Lovingly your Father
J. S. Hogg

After the stay at the ranch the former governor declared he was strong enough to speak at a banquet honoring President Theodore Roosevelt in Dallas on April 5, 1905. He did, but he was not a well man. Years of obesity (all those barrels of lard, all those hams, all those beaten biscuits),  in an era when low-fat diets were unheard of, had taken their toll on his heart. It is possible that the “bilious attacks” he had suffered over the years were really small heart attacks.
Surgery weakened an already failing heart.