George Washington Brackenridge was born in Warwick County,
Indiana, in January of 1832. He attended the University of Indiana, and Harvard
University. When his parents came to Texas in 1853,
they settled at Texana (now
a ghost town) in coastal Jackson County.
From 1857 to 1860 Brackenridge
served as a Jackson County surveyor and when the Civil War erupted, he started
trading cotton at Matamoros while his three
brothers served on active duty with the Confederate Army.
Early in the
war Brackenridge claimed Union sympathies and was banished from Texas.
He became United States Treasury agent in July of 1863, and worked in New Orleans
after that city was occupied by Federal forces.
At war’s end, Brackenridge
moved to San Antonio where he opened
the San Antonio National Bank. He became president of the San Antonio Water Works,
director of the San Antonio Express (the Express Publishing Company), served as
a regent of the University of Texas from 1886-1911 and even found time to serve
as president of the San Antonio school board.
Brackenridge, who never
married, gave the bulk of his money (while living) to colleges and universities
in Austin, San
Antonio, Seguin and Galveston.
He once proposed that the main campus of UT be moved to 500 acres on the Colorado
River, which he had previously donated to the university.
was the park where his statue now sits. Incarnate Word College bought the Brackenridge
home which it continues to maintain. He died in San
Antonio in the last days of 1920 and was buried in the Brackenridge family
cemetery near Edna.
San Antonio sculptor Pompeo
Coppini had only finished the plaster mold of the work at the time of his
death in 1958. Adopted daughter Waldine Tauch negotiated with the city to bring
the project to completion. The plaster was shipped to Italy for casting and when
it arrived completed back in San Antonio,
the city government wouldn’t pay the $30,000 bill, but forwarded it to Tauch.
Tauch and the previous mayor hadn’t signed the documents, which left the statue
in limbo. Citizens of San Antonio
stepped forward and paid the money, allowing the statue to be set in place in
from A Comprehensive Guide to Outdoor Sculpture in Texas by Carol Morris
the forehead of Mr. Breckenridge and the book he was holding were “tagged” on
the day of the photo. |
Photo courtesy Terry