Ima Hogg

Views: 1447
Ratings: (0)

Texas legend has it that James Stephen Hogg, Governor of Texas from 1890 to 1894, named his daughters Ima and Ura, but that is only half-true: there never was a Ura. Ima had three brothers, Will, Mike, and Tom. Ima Hogg, who was born in 1882 and died in 1975 at age 93, became a legend in her own right, and this book is her story. It is also the story of the extraordinary bond between a father and a daughter.
James Stephen Hogg, who worked his way from a hardscrabble life in the piney woods of East Texas to the Governor's Mansion in Austin, was a giant in Texas politics, both literally (standing six feet three inches tall and weighing close to 300 pounds) and figuratively, as the champion of the "little people" against big business in the 1890s. He adored his daughter, and after his wife, Sallie Stinson Hogg, died of tuberculosis in 1895, Ima and her father drew even closer. Jim Hogg, a widower in his 40's with four children--Will, 20; Ima, 13, Mike, 10, and Tom, 8--left politics to practice law in Austin, and Ima became the "sunshine" of her father's household.
While Ima attended the University of Texas and then studied music in New York City, ex-Governor Hogg pursued business interests, and was one of the early investors in the Texas oil boom after the Spindletop gusher in 1901. He was not a rich man when he died in 1906, but the old plantation he bought in Brazos County near West Columbia would eventually produce oil that would make Ima and her brothers wealthy.
The Hogg children lived well, but they also devoted part of their time and money to the enrichment of the educational and cultural life of Texas. Will gave generously to the University of Texas, his alma mater, and to many other institutions, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Houston YMCA. “Miss Ima,” as she was known (she never married), founded the Houston Symphony, served on the Houston School Board, established the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, and restored several historic Texas buildings, including the house at the Varner-Hogg Historic Site, which had been her father's beloved country home. In 1966 she gave her own house, filled with the priceless Early American art and furniture she had collected, as the Bayou Bend Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Thousands of people visit Bayou Bend every year, and this book describes its history, as well as that of an extraordinary Texas woman.
 

Ima Hogg: The Goverrnor's Daughter is number 20 in the Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series.

 

List price: $9.95

Your Price: $7.96

You Save: 20%

 

8 Slices

Format Buy Remix

1. Miss Ima

ePub

1

Miss Ima

At three minutes past five o’clock on the afternoon of August 14, 1975, the London rush hour traffic had begun to clog the wide lanes of Brompton Road, and a chilly rain was falling. In the crowds of pedestrians, umbrellas began to sprout like so many black mushrooms. The two women who had just finished shopping at Harrods had no umbrella, and they waved in vain at several taxis before one with its “For Hire” flag up pulled over to the curb. As the women hurried to get inside, the vehicle suddenly rolled forward, and the unexpected movement threw one of them off balance. A younger and nimbler person might have avoided injury, but the one climbing into the cab that rainy afternoon was Miss Ima Hogg, age ninety-three. The trim London Fog trench coat and the soft felt hat atop carefully coiffed hair belied her years, but her movements were, as she herself confessed, no longer agile.

Although Ima Hogg’s zest for travel was as keen as it had been at sixteen when she and her father, Texas governor James Stephen Hogg, had sailed to Hawaii to watch the United States flag raised over the islands in 1898, she had made a few concessions to age. One was the collapsible wheelchair beside her on the pavement. Of late she had taken to using it to conserve her strength on long excursions, and she found it indispensable for travel. Waiting in a ticket line in front of Albert Hall, she napped in it; wheeling around the National Gallery, she rolled cheerily past throngs of footsore tourists; shopping in it at Harrods or at Fortnum & Mason, gesturing regally with her cane, she seldom waited long for service. This afernoon she and her traveling companion, Yvonne Coates, had gone to Harrods to look for some tortoiseshell combs for her hair, but they had not found exactly what they wanted.

 

2. A Texas Family

ePub

2

A Texas Family

On a hot July day in 1882, the young district attorney for the Texas Seventh District sat in his office in Mineola and wrote a letter to his brother:

Dear John—

Our cup of joy is now overflowing! We have a daughter of as fine proportions and of as angelic mien as ever gracious nature favor a man with, and her name is Ima! Can’t you come down to see her?

She made her debut on last Monday night at 9 o’clock. Sallie is doing extremely well, and of course Ima is.—Next Saturday or Sunday I shall start for the State Convention at Galveston, as a Delegate from this Co. Would be glad to see you there.

Love to Eva and the babes.

Your Bro.—

James

There is nothing unusual about this letter—except that the baby’s last name happened to be Hogg. To this day there are some who believe that James Stephen Hogg, the bewhiskered, three-hundred-pound, six-foot-three giant of Texas politics, governor of the state from 1891 to 1895, named his only daughter Ima Hogg to attract the attention of Texas voters. (He was running for reelection in a close race for district attorney that year.) It is ironic that the founder of the Houston Symphony, the creator of the Bayou Bend Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, the gracious and stately doyenne of Texas culture for several decades, was the daughter of a politician whose public image was seldom associated with refinement and whose reputation for earthy humor and populist rhetoric was as wide as his girth. To his daughter, however, James Stephen Hogg was a statesman of the highest order, and she tried her best to carve out what she believed to be a proper niche for him in Texas history. She even had an explanation for the name he gave her.

 

3. The Governor’s Daughter

ePub

3

The Governor’s Daughter

James Stephen Hogg entered politics at a time when the Populist, or People’s, party of the 1890s was clamoring for legislation to protect the little man from big business, and the political arena was more exciting than it had been since the Age of Jackson. It was the era of “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman and Mary Elizabeth “Raise Less Corn and More Hell” Lease. Politics itself was more of a spectator sport in those days—perhaps filling a need now satisfied by professional athletics. It was the age of open-air rallies and torchlight parades and box-supper meetings; of long-winded speeches and hard-fought campaigns. Popular political candidates in the late nineteenth century were attended with as much hoopla as rock stars are in the twentieth.

Jim Hogg was not a Populist, he was a Democrat—but he ran on a reform ticket, and his tirades against the “wildcat” insurance companies and the railroads that controlled some forty million acres of Texas land made him the natural target of conservative interests and corporate wealth. The gargantuan governor gloried in his grass-roots strength, and on the campaign trail he played to the crowds. His initial campaign speech in Rusk, Texas, on April 19, 1890, lasted nearly three hours, and the crowd hung on every word. “Mill around,” he would say to his overalled audience, “and skin out if you get tired.” They never did. “I know the common people are with me,” he once told a sweating, cheering crowd on a hot summer afternoon, “because I can smell ’em!”

 

Photo Section

ePub

 

4. Family Fortunes

ePub

4

Family Fortunes

For a time after her father’s death, Ima Hogg, then in her twenties, seems to have gloried in a newfound independence. She lived for a time in an apartment at 1602 Travis in Houston, and in 1907 she sailed for Europe—and stayed for two years. An undated newspaper clipping in the Hogg papers describes her departure from Galveston aboard the German steamship Hanover, bound for Bremen. While “a band played popular songs and American and German airs,” a tugboat decked in bunting and signal flags appeared alongside the ship and dipped its colors to honor Ima Hogg, its namesake. The Galveston firm of Sunderman & Dolson had named one of its “best steam tugs” after the governor’s daughter. “The matter was a complete surprise for Miss Hogg,” the newspaper said, “and she acknowledged the compliment in a most charming manner.” She could hardly have done otherwise, but one wonders how she felt at having her name paraded before a shipload of passengers, some of whom must certainly have laughed. Perhaps she was relieved to disembark at Bremen, and to be in a place where German was spoken and the words “Ima Hogg” did not provoke immediate amusement.

 

5. Bayou Bend

ePub

5

Bayou Bend

When Will Hogg went to Europe in the 1920s and saw St. Peter’s Basilica, he decided that its surroundings were not grand enough for it, and he was seized by an impulse to redesign Rome: “It’s a positive loss to the world-at-large that St. Peter’s does not have a fitting approach,” he fumed. A year before his death, he put up $5,000 to start a plan to remove all the houses and public buildings on the way to St. Peter’s and replace them with a series of esplanades and parks. Had he lived long enough—who knows?—this larger-than-life Texan might even have left his stamp on the Eternal City. As it was, Will Hogg had only Houston to work with, and he made the most of that.

Houston in the 1920s was already a fast-growing young metropolis whose population had tripled since 1900. There were over 250,000 Houstonians by the middle of the 1920s, and by 1930 there would be nearly 300,000. Houston had newfangled dial telephones, automatic traffic signals, mounted policemen, 34 parks, 233 miles of “hard-surfaced” streets, and other urban amenities such as KPRC, the first commercial radio station in the city, the new Museum of Fine Arts, and a $400,000 sports stadium—but there was no such thing as city planning.

 

6. The Collector

ePub

6

The Collector

In 1950 an article about Houston in the magazine People Today described Ima Hogg as “a little 67-year-old woman with light brown hair and twinkling eyes” who was the “spark-plug of the city’s cultural life.” Ima Hogg, in her sixties, was busier and perhaps happier than she had ever been in her life. It was as though, with Tom’s death in 1949, the constraints of family connections and responsibilities were removed, and she was free at last to be herself. Houston author George Fuermann wrote of her in his book on the history of the Bayou City: “She is a woman of great personal charm and a paradox of the practical and the intellectual.” In 1956, Ima Hogg, then seventy-four, served her last term as president of the Houston Symphony Society, but she was far from finished as the guiding spirit and grande dame of that organization, and her role in the city’s cultural life had barely begun.

Like her brother Will, Ima Hogg kept a watchful eye on the progress of Houston, which was by the mid-twentieth century a bustling, booming, hustling, adolescent city whose city fathers had never bothered much with guiding its growth. When there was talk of building a municipal stadium on part of the Memorial Park land, Ima Hogg (who, along with her sister-in-law Alice Hanszen, owned three quarters of the reversionary rights to that land) wrote a polite but firm letter of opposition to the Houston newspapers. A few years later, in 1964, she had to protect Memorial Park again, when the city proposed drilling for oil under the leafy glades by the bayou. Both then and after the energy crisis of the early 1970s, Ima Hogg had to threaten to take back the park land to keep it from becoming an oil field adjacent to River Oaks. She was always keenly interested in the environment, just as her father and brothers had been. Perhaps the memories of the Piney Woods of East Texas and the rolling, tree-shaded hills of turn-of-the-century Austin, where she played as a child, reinforced her determination to keep Memorial Park unspoiled for the children of Houston. In the mid-1960s, when flood control authorities proposed cutting down a number of hundred-year-old live oaks on the banks of Buffalo Bayou and lining part of the rustic stream with concrete, Ima Hogg and some forty other property owners along the bayou protested loudly enough to halt that project.

 

7. Presents from the Past

ePub

7

Presents from the Past

Most people would have considered the creation of a museum like Bayou Bend the achievement of a lifetime, but Ima Hogg’s interest in preserving the past was not confined merely to collecting American decorative arts. During the years she was building the collections at Bayou Bend she was also engaged in the preservation of her parents’ house at Quitman, the excavation of her father’s birthplace at Rusk, and the restoration and reconstruction of several antebellum buildings in the old German community of Winedale, near Round Top, Texas. Between the dedication of the Varner-Hogg Plantation State Park in 1958 and the opening of Bayou Bend in 1966 Ima Hogg decided to restore the house where her parents had lived in Quitman, Texas, in the 1870s. The small frame house where James Stephen and Sallie Hogg had set up housekeeping when they were newlyweds was rebuilt, restored, and refurnished. It is now known as the Honeymoon Cottage and is open to visitors. The town of Quitman, where Jim Hogg had spent some of his early years, had honored his memory in 1951, the centennial year of his birth, with a Jim Hogg Day, and in 1969, Quitman paid homage to the governor’s daughter with an Ima Hogg Day and the opening of the Ima Hogg Museum on the grounds of the Jim Hogg State Park. At the dedication ceremony, held in the Quitman High School stadium, the band played “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” as the convertible carrying Ima Hogg came onto the field. By then Ima, acknowledging cheers from the crowd, was no stranger to awards and honors. In 1953 Governor Allan Shivers had appointed Ima Hogg to the Texas State Historical Survey Committee, and in 1967 that body gave her an award for “meritorious service in historic preservation.” In 1960 she found time to serve on a committee appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower for the planning of the National Cultural Center (later Kennedy Center) in Washington, D.C. In 1962, at the request of Jacqueline Kennedy, Ima Hogg served on an advisory committee to aid in the search for historic furniture to put in the White House. During all this time, she was also working long hours on the conversion of Bayou Bend, her home for more than thirty years, to a museum.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub (DRM)
Encrypted
true
Sku
9781625110114
Isbn
9781625110114
File size
0 Bytes
Printing
Disabled
Copying
Disabled
Read aloud
No
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata