Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Would the Real Edward Byrd Please Stand Up

Our search for D. Harold Byrd's father's history has been time consuming, if not actually enlightening. Quite possibly not even Harold himself could have provided answers about his father's past.

Edward Byrd's obituary in 1943 stated:
Midlothian, TX--HEART STROKE TAKES PIONEER ON DALLAS VISIT--Funeral Services Set for Edward Byrd, 88, Oilman's Father. Edward Byrd, 88, Midlothian, long-time resident of Texas and father of D. Harold Byrd, Dallas Oilman and Texas wing commander of the Civil Air Patrol, died of a heart attack here Thursday.

Mr. Byrd was stricken as he walked along St. Paul in front of the Federal Building shortly before noon Thursday and was dead on arrival at Parkland Hospital. A native of Missouri, Mr. Byrd was the grandson of pioneers who had pushed westward in 1799 into Missouri while it still was part of the Louisiana Territory. He was born at the Old Stone House, still standing on Byrd's Creek, Byrd Township, Cape Girardeau County, Mo.

Covered Wagon Traveler.
As a youth of 19, he came to Texas for the first time in 1873 in a covered wagon and stayed at Starkville [sic], Lamar County, two months before returning to Missouri by pony, a trip that required a month. His next trip to Texas was by rail, and he settled at Blossom, Lamar County. There in 1877 he joined the Presbyterian Church, became a ruling elder three weeks later, and since then had represented the church at various times from the assemblies of the Red River Presbytery to the General Assembly.

Owned Early Day Store.

He married, in 1879, Mollie Easley, daughter of a farmer in the community. There he built a small home, and later added a gin and mill, then several houses and finally a store. The community was named Byrd Town [Byrdtown?]. Later he moved his family to Detroit [Texas] where he engaged in the mercantile business for a time, and then in 1901 moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma where he lived until 1913, moving to Midlothian. He and his wife celebrated their golden wedding anniversary there in 1929. In Midlothian he was active in the Presbyterian Church and was chairman of its board of elders, a position he had held for nearly thirty years.

He is survived by his wife, three sons, D. Harold Byrd; R. J. Byrd, Irving; and B. E. Byrd, Midlothian; two daughters, Mrs. R. T. Gidley and Mrs. R. B. McDonald, both of Dallas; seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the Midlothian Presbyterian Church, with Dr. Jasper Manton, pastor of the Trinity Presbyterian Church of Dallas, officiating. Years ago while Dr. Manton's father was pastor of a Presbyterian Church at Paris, Dr. Manton was ordained there and later became pastor of the same church. Mr. Byrd attended Dr. Manton's ordination service and many years ago requested that he conduct his funeral.

Burial will be at 4:30 p.m. in the family burial plot at Blossom. Pallbearers will be Tom H. Dees [for many years
chairman of the board of directors of Republic National Bank, Dallas], W.H. Price, J.P. Sewell, J.G. Oliver, R R. McElroy and Dr. H.G. Williams, all of Midlothian. (Source: Dallas Morning News, January 8, 1943)
D.H. Byrd suggested in his 1978 autobiography  (with research assistance from Mickey Herskowitz, among others) that his father was "likely" the same "Edward Byrd" involved in the discovery of an oil well in the Indian Territory near Chelsea. It is the attempt to either verify or refute that claim which has led this blogger into a study of Oklahoma history and the Indian Territory, despite which effort a question still remains. After revealing the results of my research, I leave it to the reader to form his or her own conclusion.

Oil Prospector Edward Byrd

One Byrd genealogist posted specific details about the Edward Byrd who found oil near Chelsea in northeast Oklahoma in a public family tree at

Clues in the above story help to establish the following facts:
  1. Edward Byrd incorporated a company in Kansas, and in 1891 he began to prospect for oil on Cochran property
  2. United States Oil Company ultimately drilled eleven wells in the area, the output of which was carried from the well through a pipeline running downhill to the Frisco side track in Chelsea. 
  3. In 1893 this drilling company was reorganized as Cherokee Oil & Gas Company (CO&G), which drilled 14 wells before passage of the Curtis Bill in 1898. 
  4. Oil production ceased at that point until treaties with the Indian nations could be put in place. CO&G first applied in June 1901 for a drilling lease covering 98,000 acres through the Department of the Interior, an action opposed by the Cherokee Nation because, according to the attorney for the Cherokees in documents filed with the court in October 1901, CO&G was "alleged to be a branch of the Standard Oil Company."
  5. "Ed. Byrd" had been the fourth mayor of Chelsea in the days prior to statehood, according to a "condensed history" of the "thriving town" set out in Chelsea Commercial newspaper in Oklahoma, possibly the same politically minded Edward Byrd who in 1906 announced as candidate for delegate to Oklahoma's Constitutional Convention. The agreement dissolving the Creek Nation became law on June 25, 1901, and tribe members were granted U.S. citizenship. Within a few years, the Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory were combined into one state and admitted to statehood. Ed Byrd was an alternate delegate to the Statehood Convention held in 1903.
  6. 1900 and 1910 census records show an Edward Byrd, born in about 1845, living in Chelsea but conflict concerning his birthplace: 1900 census gives Indiana; 1910 census gives Missouri. 
  7. In 1910 Byrd's name appeared on the same census page with widow Elizabeth Byrd's large family, all of whom worked in an oil production company. Elizabeth's deceased husband, Lafayette Byrd, had been the brother of an Edward Byrd from Roane County, Tennessee.
The oil company founder had married a half-Cherokee Indian named Jane Nelms, who had been born born in the Indian Territory in 1855, and their two children were born in Chelsea: Henry Harrison Byrd in 1877, who died in Abilene, Texas in 1945; and Daisy Dean Byrd in 1879. Jane Byrd died intestate in 1910, and in October of that same year Edward Byrd deeded their Cherokee-allotted land to daughter Daisy Byrd Corah, the wife of 28-year-old Edward Milton Corah, who was listed in 1910 census records as a single man engaged in oil refining in Chelsea, and both he and his brother Edgar Leroy Corah had come west from Warren, Pennsylvania, where they had worked for what would become a division of the Pure Oil Company, controlled by the Dawes family, who were also heavily involved in the commission set up by President Grover Cleveland in 1888 to oversee the Indian lands previously set aside by treaties in what would become Oklahoma. Strangely enough, Edward Corah was in 1913 engaged to be married to a different woman in his hometown.

As part of the Dawes Commission we find in the Memorial of the Delaware Indians (Cherokee Nation) that hearings took place in 1903 relating to segregation of certain lands to members of the Cherokee Nation. Daisy D. Byrd, as a part-Cherokee Indian, was allotted lands she chose (see page 24). Edward Byrd claimed other lands on behalf of his wife Jane, who had asthma as was unable to testify (at page 31). Ed. Byrd (aka Edward H. Byrd) also witnessed a deed executed in 1899 by Henry H. Byrd, Jr. of lands Henry had selected as his allotted acreage (see page 46). As a notary public Edward Byrd also witnessed other deeds (pages 53, 59). Note: The Edward Byrd from Tennessee had a brother named Henry Harrison Byrd, for whom he named his son. Daisy Byrd Corah's husband incorporated a plethora of companies in the area, one of which was Bernice Oil Co. in 1913 with millionaire, John T. Milliken, who lived at 35 Portland Place in St. Louis. A chemist in control of a mouthwash company called Pasteurine, Milliken was more notable as the brother-in-law of Albert Patrick, the Texas attorney who wrote a second will for railroad financier William Marsh Rice, murdered in 1900. Milliken spent much of his fortune attempting to prove Patrick innocent of the crime.

Mrs. E.M. Corah, (Daisy?) in 1913 was present with other "society people" at the wedding of her friend Maude Greer to Harry Swarts. After their marriage the Swarts moved to Tulsa, where Harry worked as an attorney while Maude had her own tea shop/cafe. Also present were several attorneys: William Thomas Rye, who had a probate practice in Vinita, and "Uncle Jack" Kendall, gave away the bride. E.M. had connections to Vinita Refining Co., built in 1910, and his brother Edgar was also in the refining business, and would spend at least the last two decades of his life working in San Antonio, Texas. Edward and Daisy did relocated to Houston around 1920, when he was named manager and vice president of Transatlantic Refining Company's new plant built at Houston Heights Blvd. at Washington Avenue by Hugh Hamilton, a brewing and hotel magnate, who was a client of the Baker & Botts law firm.

Further documentation suggests that the Kansas prospector named Ed. Byrd, referred to in Endangered Species, lived in  Chelsea as early as May 1884, owning a Chelsea boarding house in 1889, the same year he began "boring for oil, coal or something."
Edward Byrd of Ardmore, OK

According to D.H. Byrd, his father moved from Texas to Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1901 two years before statehood was approved. Ardmore had first opened up to white settlement when the Santa Fe Railroad began building north from Gainesville, Texas in 1885 across the Indian country, establishing towns as it went.

In his autobiography at page 6, Harold Byrd bragged that his father in Texas had established a town called "Byrd Town," south of Blossom in Lamar County, which was totally destroyed by a "raging fire." It was the fire, Byrd says, that prompted Ed to move the family to Ardmore, Oklahoma, probably in 1901. However, we have not been able to verify that a fire occurred or that Ed Byrd was founder of such a town, which was actually called Byrdtown.

It can be confirmed, however, that in Ardmore Ed did temporarily agree to operate the Crown Bottling corporation and a candy factory after the owner, Morgan J. Hays, died in 1910. (See clipping to the left.)

That year's Ardmore city directory showed Ed Byrd having a real estate office, involved with farm and  "mining" lands, located at 17-1/2 N. Washington, while he resided at 439 H Street, N.W., a less than impressive neighborhood. We know from the Ardmoreite news that Ed in 1906 had an interest in rock asphalt mines in nearby Overbrook, OK, which he used to make asphalt bricks for paving roads.

The same year Ed Byrd acquired his asphalt mines, he sent son Ruddell Jones Byrd (called "Leo," for unapparent reasons) to San Antonio's Peacock Military Academy, where he received awards along with fellow student Dolph Briscoe, Sr. , a man whose son would later become a most unassuming Governor of the State of Texas.

After graduation, Leo began working in Missouri, overseeing properties owned by an uncle, one of Ed's brothers pictured at the top of this page. While young Ed Byrd had been off in Texas and the Indian Territory, his brothers had continued their farming and other enterprises in Missouri, though both eventually followed his lead, relocating to Texas. As we saw in a previous post, A.R. Byrd took his flour milling process to San Antonio and settled for a time in the King William district of that city, while William C. Byrd moved to southwest Texas. Their  move only occurred, however, at the instigation of their sons, who had reached adulthood and took their fathers into investments in what was then believed to be the transportation technology of the future.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Follow the Yellow Brick Road (Part I)

Years ago the author of this blog, Quixotic Joust, Linda Minor, published a long, winding treatise about her analysis of the world based upon  historical research she conducted, called "Follow the Yellow Brick Road: From Harvard to Enron." What follows is an edited excerpt.

Part I: 
  From Cutthroat Competition,
to Charity, to World Government--
The Morgan Syndicate 

By Linda Minor ©2000

Professor Carroll Quigley states that the Rhodes Trust controlled huge amounts of capital which the trustees had the obligation to invest for the purposes set out in the Rhodes Will, including "the extension of British rule throughout the world ...[and] the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of a British Empire." Such purposes required the utmost secrecy. 

Rhodes wrote his first Will in 1877 (final one written in 1899), so we know his goal was already in the working stages by those at Oxford who motivated him at the time. The ultimate trustees were close to Oxford University, having been ingrained with the same devotion to the perpetuation of the Empire, through chartered companies like Rhodes' British South Africa Company and Hudson's Bay Company, which returned a high percentage of profit to the British Government.[See Marvin Perry, Sources of the Western Tradition: Volume II: From the Renaissance to the Present.

The trustees, who had control of Rhodes' gold and diamond mines, already had their eye on the oil that had been discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859. According to Eustace Mullins, in The Rockefeller Syndicate, the Rothschilds banks, which controlled 95% of American railroads through their agents, sent Jacob Schiff of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. to John D. Rockefeller, who had ruthlessly acquired control of 95% of American oil refineries. They worked out an elaborate rebate deal for Rockefeller, through a dummy corporation, South Improvement Company. These rebates ensured that no other oil company could survive in competition with the Rockefeller firm.

Investments were then made through secret nominees with the aim of acquiring control for the British Empire of what was then the most strategic resources throughout the world, including the old colonial empire in the Americas. Loans made to finance new business in the United States may have been conditioned on the borrower's agreement to set up a charitable foundation upon death or retirement, and the assets of the foundation would then be placed in the hands of trustees approved by the Rhodes group. Thus the trust would be administered in accordance with the goals set out by Rhodes in his will. This scheme was followed until after the end of World War I and the decade leading into the second World War. By that time Americans began to believe they could replace European investors with their own home-grown banking establishment, whose investments in the petroleum industry was superseding the need for foreign investments.

Thomas A. Scott

As it turns out, South Improvement Co. was a holding company scheme designed in 1871 by Pennsylvania Railroad magnate, Thomas A. Scott. South Improvement Company was a secret alliance between the railroads and a select group of large refiners aimed at stopping "destructive" price-cutting and restoring freight charges to a profitable level. According to the pact, the railroads would raise their rates, but would agree to pay rebates to Rockefeller and other large refiners, thus securing their steady business. In addition, the latter were to receive the proceeds of the "drawbacks" levied on nonmembers, who as a result would end up paying much higher prices for their shipments of oil. 

In April of 1872, the South Improvement Company's charter was repealed by the Pennsylvania legislature before it had even conducted a single transaction. Eager to consolidate the refining industry, Rockefeller set out to eliminate what he called "ruinous" competition from his most immediate rivals. In less than six weeks, between February and March of 1872, he used the threat of the big new alliance and a sophisticated range of tactics to buy up 22 of his 26 Cleveland competitors.

Scott was first-vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in 1860, and served as president from 1874 until 1880. Scott's allies pushed through the Pennsylvania state legislature a series of bills creating the nation's first pure holding companies--two of which were the Pennsylvania Company and the Southern Railway Security Company. The Southern Railway Security Company held the stock of the southern feeder route for the Pennsylvania that Scott envisioned, to stretch from Washington, D.C. to the Mississippi River. The company had been purchased from James Roosevelt (FDR's father) in 1873--just seven years before Roosevelt married into the Delano family of "former" opium traders. 

Andrew Carnegie

Scott's assistant until 1865 was Andrew Carnegie, who left the Pennsylvania Railroad to start his own company, but who maintained his ties to the railroad. In 1875 Carnegie founded his first steel plant, the Edgar Thomson Works, in Braddock, Pennsylvania. The plant was named for the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was his first customer; he made 2,000 steel rails for the Pennsylvania Railroad. 

In 1901 Carnegie sold his entire company to J.P. Morgan for $480 million, allowing Morgan to create US Steel. Morgan would have been acting in this transaction as an agent for investors, but we do not know whose money he used to purchase Carnegie's stock. With his proceeds from the sale Carnegie established the Carnegie Institution to provide research for American colleges and universities. 

Daniel Coit Gilman

The first president of Carnegie's new institution was Daniel Coit Gilman, trained at Norwich Academy, who had entered Yale in 1848, forming an intimate friendship with his fellow student, Andrew Dickson White. In 1852, had Gilman studied for a few months at Harvard College, living in the home of Prof. Arnold Guyot, a Swiss national educated in Berlin. Gilman and White sailed the following year to Europe as attach├ęs of the American legation at St. Petersburg, Russia; he also spent the winter of 1855 in Germany. For the next seventeen years, his life revolved around Yale. 

According to Antony Sutton, Gilman's first task in 1856 was to incorporate Skull & Bones as a legal entity under the name of The Russell Trust. Gilman became Treasurer and William H. Russell, who had been the co-founder with Alfonso Taft (the father of president William Howard Taft) in 1832, became President. Russell received permission to form a chapter of the German secret society, while he was studying for a year in Germany.

Gilman became president of the University of California in 1872 and of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1875. As a result of the Panic of 1893, dividends were suspended on the common stock in the the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (founded by George Brown of Baltimore), which stock composed the bulk of the university's endowment. The railroad was bought out of 1896 bankruptcy by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Gilman remained in Baltimore until the 1890s. It is interesting to note that the B&O was largely financed initially by Barings Bank, which issued 6% bonds worth 1 million pounds sterling before 1880. The B&O also sold 2 million pounds of its securities through J.S. Morgan's London office and almost that many more at a reduced price a few years later--still before 1880. Most of the B&O creditors, therefore, were British, and they demanded that the interest on the bonds be guaranteed by Barings and Morgan.

By March 1896, according to railroad financing historian, Dorothy R. Adler:
J.S. Morgan; Brown, Shipley; and Baring Brothers, Ltd. announced that they had agreed to cooperate to protect the British holders of securities issued through their houses [according to Burdett's].... On the other hand, the Economist commented on this announcement:
In many instances, however, the protection thus accorded to English holders of American railroad securities has been a very costly piece of business, and has materially added to the losses which the general proprietary bodies have had to sustain. Of course, we do not expect issuing houses to work for nothing, but there is a moral responsibility attaching to their position which should weigh with them, and induce them to use their best endeavours in the protection of the interests which they have helped to create, without reference to the fees to which their services may entitle them. And when these services are volunteered, there is all the more reason why their cost should be kept within moderate limits. [Source: Dorothy R. Adler, British Investment in American Railways: 1834-1898, p. 164.] 
A partial list of notable trustees of Andrew Carnegie's Institute, listed alphabetically, reveals the names of the most well-known men appointed. In 1910 Carnegie created another group called the Endowment for International Peace. This was a forerunner to Woodrow Wilson's vision of a League of Nations which eventually became the United Nations. The international problems to be settled were disputes over territory, claims and monetary crises presented to the businessmen who conducted trade across national boundaries. The names marked by an asterisk had participated in some way or inherited their wealth from trade in opium or the China trade:
Robert O. Anderson, 1976–1983; 
Robert S. Brookings, 1910–1929; 
Vannevar Bush, 1958–1971; 
*Frederic A. Delano, 1927–1949; 
Cleveland H. Dodge, 1903–1923; 
Simon Flexner, 1910–1914; 
*W. Cameron Forbes, 1920–1955; 
James Forrestal, 1948–1949; 
Hanna H. Gray, 1974–1978; 
*Henry L. Higginson, 1902–1919; 
Ethan A. Hitchcock, 1902–1909; 
Herbert Hoover, 1920–1949; 
*Henry Cabot Lodge, 1914–1924; 
Alfred L. Loomis, 1934–1973; 
Robert A. Lovett, 1948–1971; 
*Seth Low, 1902–1916; 
Andrew W. Mellon, 1924–1937; 
William W. Morrow, 1902–1929; 
Walter H. Page, 1971–1979; 
James Parmelee, 1917–1931; 
William Barclay Parsons, 1907–1932; 
John J. Pershing, 1930–1943; 
David Rockefeller, 1952–1956; 
Elihu Root, 1902–1937; 
Elihu Root, Jr., 1937–1967; 
William H. Taft, 1906–1915; 
William S. Thayer, 1929–1932; 
Juan T. Trippe, 1944–1981; 
Andrew Dickson White, 1902–1916.
When the stock market crashed in 1929, more than a decade after the the Federal Reserve System act was passed by Congress in 1913, the same year John Pierpont Morgan died, another group of financiers stepped in to buy up the major stockholders in the private banking system. Their actions would usher in a totally different emphasis on the direction the United States was to take in investment and in what "charities" would be rewarded in future years.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

As the Byrd Flies--Virginia to Texas

In a previous post we discussed D.H. Byrd's claim that he was a cousin of Admiral Richard Byrd, Jr., the Polar explorer of the 1930's and made only a possible connection to a common ancestor 300 years or so earlier. Admiral Byrd's line of descent seems to have no other common links to the line from which D.H. Byrd stemmed. D. H. Byrd's heritage is traced below from his ancestor Andrew down to Abraham Ruddell Byrd, who died in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 1857:

To Cape Girardeau, Mo. in 1799
D.H.'s branch of Byrds arrived in Missouri in 1797, before that territory (then called Upper Louisiana) became part of the Louisiana Purchase. Amos and Sarah Ruddell Byrd were progenitors of the clan which had started out in disputed territory of the Watauga Valley near the Proclamation Line of 1763. Heading west, they crossed the line into what is now Knox County, Tennessee and settled there long enough for three of Amos' sons to find wives among a family named Gillespie. Amos' family, including Stephen and Abraham, were born in Knox County 1768 and 1772, respectively. They remained there until almost the end of the century before the entire family headed west for the Spanish territory. They acquired land grants from Spain near what was to become Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.

Unfortunately for the settlers, however, in 1800 Spain ceded the land to France shortly after the Byrds arrived there, so they were forced to prove the validity of their land grants after the United States purchased the land from Napoleon in 1803.

Author Louis Houck, 1908, page 185
We are told that the Byrd men became prominent in the government of the area--Amos as a judge, Abraham and Stephen as colonels in military regiments. Amos and Sarah died in 1818. Sarah's maiden name, however, would continue to be passed down to descendants, including D.H. Byrd's eldest brother, Ruddell Jones Byrd (called R.J., or Leo), who was born in 1888.

Stephen died in 1830, and his brother, Abraham Byrd, remained in Missouri until his death in 1857. Abraham had a son born in 1815, whom he named Stephen, and it is through that ancestor that D. H. Byrd springs.

From Missouri to Texas after 1900

Continuation of D.H. Byrd ancestry, indicating his mother's family link to John Nance Garner. Click to enlarge.
Stephen Byrd II married Nancy Moore in 1844 and farmed his land in Missouri until his death occurred in 1866, leaving their two youngest sons--Abraham (born 1852) and Edward (born 1854) --along with some daughters, as orphans, their mother having died in 1861. Edward was then only 12, but he had his oldest brother, William, to look after him. In his autobiography published in 1978, D. Harold Byrd stated that Edward had set out for Clarksville, Texas, in a covered wagon in 1873. After exploring the destination for awhile, he returned home on a horse and prepared to move permanently --relocating to Blossom Prairie and a settlement four miles south of it called Byrdtown.

William Charles Byrd (born 1845) married Mary Jane Evans at the age of 23, just as the civil war was waning. Three of his sons relocated after 1900 to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, later enticing their parents to move to this promised vegetable-growing  paradise in Dimmit County at Winter Haven, situated between Crystal City and Carrizo Springs (Zavala County), just above the border with Mexico.What could have possessed them to move to that part of Texas at that particular time?

Most likely it was a railroad advertisement that prompted the move, such as this one which appeared in 1907:

Herbert Hurd of Kansas City, Mo. was promoting his Texas lands near South Padre Island that year from his office in the original Union Depot (built in 1878 and demolished in 1915), by advertising in magazines such as the Western Fuit-grower. He gave prospective purchasers a ride from Kansas City on his private railway car parked at Union Depot to view the land which would later become a citrus paradise. Real estate all over the region had been skyrocketing in price ever since the railroads arrived in the most southern regions of Texas.

At some point around 1901, Ed Byrd moved from Detroit, Texas to Ardmore, Oklahoma--which at that time was still part of the Indian Territory, having been opened up in the 1880's to homesteaders. The local newspaper in the latter city declared on June 13, 1901:
Ed Byrd, Bob Easley and F. C. Dollins [Ed and F.C. were married to Easley sisters, and Bob Jones Easley was married to Ida Dollins] from Detroit, Texas, are prospecting in the city.
Ed Byrd married Mollie Easley.
Mollie's brother, Robert Jones Easley, married Ida Dollins.
Ida's brother, Francis Clinton Dollins, married Maggie Easley, sister of Mollie and Bob Jones Easley. Another sister, Linna Easley, in 1891 married David Erastus Waggoner (no relation to Dan Waggoner, the rancher), a Dallas banker and insurance executive, who ran for governor as a Republican in 1934.

On October 10, 1905 an item appeared in the Ardmore, Oklahoma Ardmoreite:
A. R. Byrd and William Byrd of Jackson, Mo., accompanied by their nephew, E.R. Byrd of St. Louis, have been in the city the guests of their brother, Ed Byrd. These gentlemen have made considerable investments here and have gone to West Texas to see about their business interests there.
S.A., Uvalde & Gulf RR, 1918
We learn of their investments in West Texas from an item that appeared in the San Antonio press in 1918 (see clipping at left).

Three Byrd men (A.R., William, Jr., and E.R. Byrd) in 1918 were directors of a short line that became part of the Missouri Pacific in 1925--the San Antonio, Uvalde & Gulf Railroad. Two years earlier directors and officers of this railroad, with offices in San Antonio, were listed on page 481 of the 1916 Official Railway Equipment Register. The preceding page shows officials of four other Gulf Coast Lines. Then at page 482 another Gulf Coast Line branch is shown--the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico, with offices in Kingsville, Texas.

Two of the Byrds' fellow directors--Buckingham and Groos--were real estate promoters and were mentioned in a book by Beatriz de la Garza, A Law for the Lion: A Tale of Crime and Injustice in the Borderlands, published in 2009. De la Garza describes Crystal City as being in 1917 a "modern, 'planned community,' barely ten years old." It was one of the "new towns, created out of the old ranches, the Cross S:
See also a 1910 ad  and 1911 ad for Cross S ranch lands.
The International and Great Northern railroad, part of the Gould system, in 1906 had begun building a 45-mile extension in Southwest Texas, from Carrizo Springs to Artesia, through the heart of the "Bermuda onion belt." This railroad (sometimes called the Artesian Belt) went into receivership in 1914, possibly a result of overextending itself into less populated areas with little traffic. Thus these uncles and cousins of D. Harold Byrd, while young Harry was still in short pants, were making inroads into an industrial network of railroad tycoons who would later play politics as though it were an untuned violin.

We will pick up there in the next post.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Richard E. Byrd, Cousin of D.H. Byrd or not?

In 1937 David Harold Byrd had his photograph published in numerous newspapers across the country in which he was depicted receiving a flag that had flown on both the North and South Poles, carried by George Hamilton Black, a Byrd-Frost employee who  in 1930 claimed that he had been a garage man from Brooklyn, New York when he went to work for Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, then planning his first Arctic exploration to the South Pole in 1929 with private funding. According to the Admiral's archived papers (Box 27 / Folder 1152), he had corresponded with G. H. Black as early as 1926, the same year he wrote to Van Lear Black, publisher of the Baltimore Sun and a close friend to Mr. and Mrs. J. Walter Lord, who had an office in the Maryland Trust Building in Baltimore.

As stated in "Tale about a Tail Number (Part II)":
Even though a photograph of D. H. Byrd appeared in numerous Texas newspapers in December 1932, showing him receiving a flag given him by his "cousin," Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. of Virginia, genealogical records did not at first indicate there was any kinship between the two men. However, as I dug deeper into Byrd's family background, some amazing facts came to light.

Black procured the ship for the Byrd expeditions and later went to work for Byrd-Frost Oil Co. in Texas. Records appear to show that Black was born in Massachusetts in 1896, moved to New York where he enlisted in the Navy in 1917 and served in the military from 1912-1962. [See George Hamilton Black's death certificate, 1965.]

Numerous questions were continued to circle around in my mind:
  1. Was D.H. Byrd really closely related to Richard E. Byrd and Sen. Harry Byrd of Virginia?
  2. Was there any significance to the fact that D.H. Byrd was born in the same small town as John Nance Garner, the former Speaker of the House and Vice President under FDR 1932-41?
  3. Was there any significance to the fact that the family of Mac Wallace, former University of Texas student body president and convicted murderer of Douglas Kinser, came from this same area of Texas? Was Mac a tool of Byrd and Garner before becoming an assassin?
We begin with Question 1.

Texas Roots of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr.

The short answer is that they definitely were not first or second cousins on the Byrd side of the family. The closest possible link dates back to a common ancestor named John Bird, a London goldsmith, born in 1620. One genealogist says this ancestor had families by two different wives, one son being Andrew and another being William Evelyn Byrd. However, a different source says that D. H. Byrd descends from Andrew Bird/Byrd, son of a John Bird, allegedly born in Long Island, New York in 1631. This line migrated first to Raritan, New Jersey, where another Andrew was born in 1695. He married Madelene Jones in Chester County, Pennsylvania, another Andrew Bird was born in  and eventually to Augusta County, Virginia. Richard and Harry Byrd descend from John Bird whose son William Evelyn Byrd, arrived in Virginia.

Nevertheless, Admiral Byrd, born in Maryland in 1888, did have a Texas-born father, Richard Evelyn Byrd, Sr., who was actually born in Austin, Texas, in 1860. That is a story in itself.

Richard E. Byrd's Texan ancestor, Robert Jones Rivers
Richard E. Byrd, Sr.'s father, William Byrd, had been born to an earlier Richard Evelyn Byrd and his wife, Anne Harrison, in Winchester, Virginia. William became a Confederate officer and lawyer, first attending the Old Winchester Academy, then graduating from the Virginia Military Institute, and finally having received a law degree from the University of Virginia.

William Byrd, Texas Lawyer, with Political Connections

Soon thereafter he went to Texas, where in 1853 he became the law partner of Thomas Scott Anderson of Austin. Anderson held the office of secretary of state under Governor Hardin R. Runnels until his defeated by Sam Houston in the election of 1859. Anderson saw to it that his law partner, William, was appointed treasurer for the City of Austin in 1856, only eleven years after the former Republic of Texas had become a state. In those days there were very few adults who were native Texans.

Anderson's bro-in-law
Byrd's partner, T. Scott Anderson married a widow, Mary Walker McNeill Harper, whose father, Angus McNeill, arrived in Texas from Natchez, Mississippi. There he met the famed Jim Bowie, who was destined to die in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836 as Texas began its revolution again Mexico. Angus McNeill sold a Massachusetts textile mill to Bowie before they all set off for Texas. McNeill appears to have been a trader in land claims and had also acquired a great deal of land in Texas through his partnership in Wilkinson, McNeil [sic] & Co. located in Shreveport, La. (See also American State Papers). Angus moved first to Houston in 1837 but eventually settled 70 miles to the west, around Eagle Lake in Colorado County, where he continued to engage in his former real estate speculation business. His son, Col. Harry C. McNeill, a West Point graduate, joined Tom Green’s Brigade of Texas Rangers.

William Byrd married Jennie Rivers, daughter of Robert Jones Rivers, a lawyer in practice with former Virginian, William Jefferson Jones, an old friend of U.S. President James Monroe. After leaving Virginia, Rivers lived in Georgia, working for a newspaper owned by Mirabeau B. Lamar, who enticed him to Texas to run Lamar's campaign for President of the Republic of Texas. W.J. Jones served on the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas, a job which disappeared in 1845 when Texas was annexed as a state in the Union. At that point Jones became a law partner of William Byrd's father-in-law, R.J. Rivers, who lived in Austin and Georgetown. In 1852 he moved to Columbus and later to Galveston County, in order to help promote the Galveston, Houston & Henderson Railroad at Virginia Point. After two foreclosures by bondholders, the railroad was absorbed by Jay Gould's empire.

When the civil war began, Governor Edward Clark appointed Byrd Adjutant-General of Texas Troops. Clark had been lieutenant governor under Governor Sam Houston, who was forced to resign from office when he refused to take the Confederate oath. As lieutenant colonel in the 14th Texas infantry, Byrd commanded Fort DeRussy in Louisiana, and in March of 1864 was forced to surrender the fort to the Union army. He returned with his wife and children to Virginia after the war. while his superior officer, Edward Clark, and many other Southern Confederates fled to Mexico, led by Gen. Joseph O. Shelby of Missouri, and remained there until Emperor Maximilian was overthrown in 1867 by Benito Juarez.

Jennie Rivers Byrd lived the remainder of her days in the East. Her father, who died in Georgetown, Texas in 1854, had known Sam Houston and his children, one of whom exuded praise for his wit and eloquence. Jennie's two brothers were killed in the civil war, and a sister married and moved to South Texas.

We will explore the other questions set out above in upcoming posts.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Etiology of the Red Bird Getaway Plane Story

Researched and written
by Linda Minor

D.H. Byrd's CAP outfit flew from Red Bird.
This post is a sidenote to research I've been doing previously, but it relates only tangentially to the DC-3 plane which Wayne January was selling at the time he was told in advance about the assassination of President Kennedy. January himself had no knowledge of or connection to the group planning the assassination, but the story he revealed to author Matthew Smith sheds light on one small piece in the puzzle as a whole. Possibly the reason so many of us "conspiracy buffs" spend so many years of our lives digging into the 1963 Kennedy assassination is that we can dedicate years of study to it and never solve the puzzle to anyone's satisfaction. It is my opinion that we may be trying to solve the wrong puzzle. We have to broaden our context.

The FAA Report to FBI--1967

I began delving into a simple question asked me by a reader about the Wayne January incident, not remembering that Daniel Hopsicker had dealt with one aspect of that question in his book Barry & 'the Boys', originally published in 2001. Daniel has also mentioned what has been referred to as the "getaway plane" at Red Bird Airport at his website, The MadCowNews, under the subheading, "Three men in suits at Redbird Airport," dated November 20, 2013. Keep in mind, however, he was not talking about N-17888, but a different aircraft from the one we have been investigating. Nevertheless, the "getaway plane" was also part of what had been of interest to Matthew Smith in describing events that took place at Red Bird Airport in 1963.

Ferrie's mugshot
Garrison's New Orleans investigation had zeroed in on David Ferrie, and he sent an employee to Dallas with Ferrie's photograph (possibly his mugshot) to inquire whether anyone at Red Bird Airport had seen him there in November 1963. Louis Gaudin had not seen Ferrie, but he did disclose a separate suspicious incident he witnessed the afternoon of the assassination. Three men in suits boarded a "Comanche-type aircraft" just over an hour after President Kennedy had been gunned down. Gaudin had not called the FBI at the time because by then Lee Harvey Oswald was in custody, with officials claiming he was the "lone" assassin. Why did Gaudin and Bowles wait to contact the FBI until two weeks after Ferrie's dead body had been found on February 22?

Daniel Hopsicker tracked down Gaudin, 37 years after the FBI report (dated March 10, 1967), and recounted in his book what the FAA air traffic controller told him:
“The FAA had its general aviation headquarters there, said Gaudin. “Howard Hughes had a huge old WWII hanger there, with heavy security. People from Wackenhut all over the place. And there were the Porter planes from General Harry Byrd’s outfit.”
General D. Harry Byrd’s links to the Kennedy assassination begin with the fact that he owned the building, the Texas School Book Depository, from which Kennedy was supposedly gunned down.

Then, too, he founded an aircraft company that became one of the largest U.S. defense contractors during the Vietnam War, Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV), which also—and perhaps not coincidentally?—tested missiles at the Venice Airport in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

“What had happened was this,” he continued. “I was an air traffic controller working in the tower at Redbird [sic] that day. When I came on shift at 2 PM, we received a bulletin to report any suspicious activity immediately to an FAA Security number. And we kept calling that number all afternoon, but got nothing but a busy signal. And then, after we heard they had caught the ‘lone gunman,’ I guess they called it, we stopped calling, and let the matter drop.”
From his perch atop the control tower, Mr. Gaudin, between handling twenty or thirty flights into and out of the airport an hour, had noticed something suspicious about three well-dressed men in business suits standing, along with several suitcase, beside a Comanche painted green-and-white.

So suspicious was he, Mr. Gaudin related, that when the plane took off on runway 17, he asked the pilot if he needed any assistance. The pilot said no. Gaudin asked which way the plane was heading. The pilot stated south.

Gaudin watched as the plane flew south for two miles, then made a hard left, and then flew north to Love Field.

The pilot had lied.

Suspicions aroused, Gaudin went over to the control tower’s receiver and listened as the plane made an approach and landed at Love Field, eight miles north of Redbird.

An hour later, the plane was back at Redbird. This time only two people were aboard. The third passenger—let’s call him the shooter–had been left at Love Field.

And that’s where the matter rested until Garrison’s investigator’s came calling.

Then, after Gaudin became alarmed at the death of a man whose picture he had just recently been shown, he called the FBI, and filed the report which, he said, became something of a burden to him for the rest of his life.

“There was no Freedom of Information Act back then,” he says today. “That’s what’s created some problems for me.”

This would be just a ‘suspicious sighting’ except for something that happened later, which clearly indicated to Gaudin that he was a witness to something he had no business seeing.

From the control tower, he says, he was too far away to be able to identify anyone who boarded the plane. But there was one person who could: Merrit Goble, who ran the fixed-wing operation, TexAir, at Redbird Field.

“Merrit and I were friends,” Gaudin relates. “So one day, after filing the FBI report, I went down to see if the FBI had been by to visit him as well. They hadn’t, he told me. So I asked him if he had anything, any gas receipts, any record of the fueling of the plane in question. And Merit acted very strangely. He told me, in effect, that it was none of my business. He said, ‘I will only answer questions from a bonafide law enforcement authority.’”

“I always thought that was strange: ‘I will only answer questions from a bonafide law enforcement authority.’ Because like I said, we were friends.”

Merrit Goble died last year, taking any secrets he possessed about the suspicious plane to his grave.
Bowles worked with LBJ's bro-in-law.
It is not clear to me from reading Hopsicker's work whether it was Gaudin who told him about Byrd's use of Red Bird for Civil Air Patrol planes, or whether he gleaned that information from another source. "Harry Byrd" usually refers to the Virginia Senator of that name, the brother of Admiral Richard Byrd, Jr., whom D. Harold Byrd claimed as his cousins.

I also have to ask whether, before calling the FBI, Bowles may first have contacted his own superior at the FAA, who, by 1967 was the President's brother-in-law, Birge D. Alexander, husband of Lucia Huffman Johnson since 1933. Birge rose to the position of Area Manager for the Southwest Region of the F.A.A. not long after brother-in-law Lyndon was himself "promoted". Bowles and Alexander had been officials together at C.A.A., later F.A.A., for many years.

Birge, Lucia and Rebekah (Libby Willis)
Birge and his siblings were reared in Sabinal, a tiny town in Uvalde County from 1908 until leaving for college in Austin. Before 1908, home had been at Manchaca Springs, in south Travis County, where Birge's grandfather is buried.

Robert Carogoes into more detail.
Alexander played center for the Sabinal football squad and was named all-district center in 1929. A few years later Birge was off to the University of Texas to study engineering. Graduating in 1939, he immediately went to work for the Lower Colorado River Authority, a job for which he unquestionably had his brother-in-law, the newly elected Congressman Johnson from the district, to thank.

Within a short time, however, Birge transferred to a different government job at the Civil Aeronautics Administration, in charge of building and inspecting airport runways. He would no doubt have come into contact with Bowles, who was in charge of air traffic control--both men with offices in the same building in Fort Worth.

Sabinal, coincidentally, where Birge grew up and where his father's siblings all lived, was where John Nance Garner's wife, Mariette "Ettie" Rheiner, was born in 1869. According to Ettie, she was taking a secretarial course in San Antonio when she met Garner on a train. They married as soon as she finished the course in 1895. His story was, with a big wink, that she was running for county judge, opposing him, so he married her to win the election.

Was Cactus Jack, as Garner was nicknamed, as prickly as his name implies? Was he just an innocent curmudgeon? Only more research will tell. We do know he had power, but all we ever saw of it was just the tip of an iceberg. What lay beneath that icy peak?