I travel eastward out of Carthage, I sometimes stop at the grave of
country singer Jim Reeves near the community of DeBerry.
I'm fascinated that such a celebrity would be buried beside the highway
in such a remote part of East Texas, far removed from a cemetery,
in a place that once was the corner of a pasture.
Over the years, I've tried to catalog as many East Texas celebrities
as I could. The job is incomplete, and I continue to be amazed how
many famous people are from the Piney Woods. Some of them are buried
here; some are not.
Here is a portion of my East Texas Celebrity Collection.
*Karen Silkwood, the center of a anti-nuclear movement in Oklahoma
and the inspiration for a movie, is buried in Kilgore.
This may be the least-known celebrity grave in East Texas.
*Sam, the piano player from the old Humphrey Bogart movie,
"Casablanca," was played by Dooley
Wilson of Tyler,
who played in East Texas clubs before he migrated to Hollywood.
*Fred Lowery, the blind whistler whose rendition of "The High
and The Mighty" in the John Wayne movie sold 1.7 million records,
is buried in Jacksonville's
Old City Cemetery. Lowry was born at Palestine.
who achieved television fame as Hoss
Cartwright on the old Bonanza television series, is buried
in Woodman Cemetery at DeKalb, where his family lived.
*Hudie (Leadbelly) Ledbetter, the guitarist who wrote such
famous songs as "Goodnight Irene" and "The Midnight Special," was
born around Marshall
and spent much of his lifetime playing in clubs and honky-tonks in
East Texas. He is buried in a Louisiana churchyard.
*Pete Runnels, who won two American League batting championships
while playing for the Boston Red Sox, grew up at Lufkin.
*Scott Joplin, the great ragtime composer, is one of Texarkana's
most famous native son. He is buried in a pauper's grave in New York.
*Wiley Post's grave doesn't lie in East Texas either (he is
buried in Oklahoma). But the world-famous aviator was born in l899,
*Audie Murphy, idolized by millions as a war hero and movie
star, grew up in Greenville.
He is buried in Washington's Arlington National Cemetery.
*Born at Murvaul in l907, movie star Tex Ritter was
christened Woodward Maurice Ritter and intended to be a lawyer instead
of a singer. He is buried at Port
*Janis Joplin, the great blues singer, grew up in Port
Arthur and made local folks grimace at her wild, free-love
*Stuart Hamblen, the gospel musician who wrote "It Is No Secret"
and "This Old House," was born at Kellyville near Jefferson.
*Country and western singer Ray Price, who wrote some of the
country's biggest hits, is a native of Uphsur County.
*George Jones, the country and western singer, was born at
Saratoga in the Big
*Aubrey (Moon) Mullican, known for his honky-tonk piano style,
got his start playing an old family pump organ in the pineywoods settlement
of Rock Island.
*Al Dexter, another honky-tonk musician whose "Honky Tonk Blues"
in l936 may represent the first use of the term in a song title, was
Horton, a country and western musician who became the king
of dozens of ballads such as "Johnny Reb" and "North to Alaska," was
*Marion G. Slaughter, born at Jefferson
in l833, wrote hundreds of top songs, including "The Prisoner's Song"
and "The Wreck of the Old 97" as Vernon Dalhart, a pseudonym taken
from the names of two Texas towns.
All Things Historical
October 7-13 , 2001 Column
Published by permission.
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
(Bob Bowman is a former president of the East Texas Historical Society
and the author of 24 books on East Texas history and folklore. He
lives in Lufkin.)
country singer and songwriter Jeremy Castle to your list.
Jeremy ( http://www.JeremyCastle.com ) attended kindergarden at
East Texas University in 1980 in Commerce, Texas at the kindergarden
at the university, which was founded by his grandfather A.D. Castle.
Your site missed
blues player Ivory Joe Hunter. He died in Memphis in 1974
but was born in Kirbyville, Texas in 1914. He was a very prolific
writer with some of his songs being covered by Sonny James, Pat
Boone, and Elvis Presley. Hunter's songs were on the R & B charts
(I Almost Lost My Mind #1 & I Need You So #2 in 1950) , the pop
charts (His Since I Met You Baby was # 12), and he later was a regular
on the Grand Ole Opry. Check out a web site on him at www.tsimon.com/hunter.htm
- Phyllis Martin