Saturday, March 31, 2018

An Easter letter from 100 years ago.

Mike Hogg, in training at Camp Funston for World War I, wrote to his sister Ima: 

Easter Sunday, March 31, 1918

Dear Sis:       
       This certainly is a beautiful Easter Sunday.
       I finished the Company Commander’s school Wednesday. It was a most strenuous and interesting course. We learned a great deal about the modern methods that the French and English are using. Another Captain and myself tied for high place on the examination. Pretty good for an old man, eh?
       Well, they have torn things to pieces around here. Most all of our beautifully trained men have been sent away. Our regiment is shot to pieces. The officers are all here and it is understood that we will be filled up again, meaning that it will be some time before we get across. 
       We had an inspection of the Companies of the Division by General Allen and this Company got a very good report from him.
       I can’t imagine what has become of the sweaters you have shipped. I have heard nothing from this end. 
       The fight “over there” is too big a problem for me to even contemplate, however, I will say that it looks at present as though the Allies have received at least a great set-back. You can never tell, of course. The Germans may have bitten off  “too large a hunk.”
       Well, I don’t intend to work so hard for a while. I feel that things have let up a little around here. About week after next, I will try to get down [to Houston]for Sunday again.
       Mr. Podsnaps wrote me a note from New Orleans, saying hello, etc. 
       Goodbye -- with much love - 

Mike teasingly called his brother Will Hogg “Podsnaps” after a stuffy, self-righteous character in Charles Dickens’s 1865 novel, Our Mutual Friend.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

"90-Day Wonders"

      In the spring of 1917, as World War I dragged on,  Ima Hogg and her brothers--Will, Mike, and Tom--followed its progress with grave concern, but with little thought of American involvement.  Then, on April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. About 2 million young men volunteered to serve in the armed forces; another 2.8 million would be drafted. By May 1917 Mike Hogg, age 31, was among 3,000 Texans in a Reserve Officers’ Training program at Camp Funston in Leon Springs, Texas. Funston was the first of many camps hurriedly set up to train officers for combat. Commissioned as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army on May 20, 1917, Mike Hogg, along with many other young men, would undergo three months of rigorous training. Those who succeeded would become known as "90-day wonders.”

 Now we know where that expression came from!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Jim Hogg, Cornflakes, and Azaleas

On March 1, 1906, Jim Hogg, who declared he was feeling much better after long spell of ill health, set out for the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, The sanitarium was a famous one known for its holistic approach to medical problems. Ima and Will had convinced their father to undergo a thorough medical examination.  Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the sanitarium’s founder, and his brother, Will Keith Kellogg, would be better known as the inventors of whole-grain dry cereals, known as --you guessed it--Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. A patient at Battle Creek named C.W. Post had already invented Grape-nuts cereal in 1897, and soon he, too, developed a cornflakes product he called “Elijah’s Manna” in 1904. It sold much better in 1908, renamed “Post Toasties.” But corn flakes did not appeal to Jim Hogg, who liked ham and eggs and biscuits for breakfast.
With Ima and Will, Jim Hogg took the train from West Columbia to Houston. They stopped to spend the night at the home of Frank Jones, his law partner. The Joneses lived in a handsome mansion at 2116 Travis, and the guests spent a pleasant evening there on March 2. Hogg was his usual jovial self. He happened to remark that when he died he wanted no monuments at his grave, but a pecan tree and a walnut tree, with the nuts given to the “plain people” of Texas. Ima scolded him for talking of his death, but he assured her that he would be around for “many years.”
He died that night. On the morning of March 3, 1906, twenty-one days before his fifty-fifth birthday, James Stephen Hogg was found dead in his bed at the Jones residence. He had died of a heart attack in his sleep. It was Ima who found him. At age thirteen, she had watched her mother die. At age twenty-three, she found her father dead.
James Stephen Hogg, governor of Texas from 1891 to 1895, was larger than life—figuratively and literally. He was the focal point, the fulcrum of an extraordinary family. He was buried in Austin’s Oakwood Cemetery next to his wife, Sallie.

Note: Houston’s historic Azalea Trail, with Ima Hogg’s home, Bayou Bend, as a featured attraction, is March 2-4 this year.