Oxcart John - Texas Governor Series LbNA # 52415
|Placed Date||Mar 5 2010|
John Ireland, born January 1, 1827 in Kentucky, was the 18th Governor of Texas. While in his 20s, Ireland was constable and deputy sheriff of his home county, and he studied law. In 1853 he moved to Seguin, Texas, where he was elected mayor in 1858. After serving in the Secession Convention of 1861, he joined the Confederate army where he rose in rank from private to lieutenant colonel. Ireland was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1866, and a district judge until removed by General Philip Sheridan as "an impediment to reconstruction" (1867). In 1872 he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, and in 1874 to the Texas Senate. While legislator (and later as governor), Ireland was known as "Ox Cart John" for his opposition to railroad subsidies on the grounds of their encouraging monopoly and privilege. He was briefly a Supreme Court justice until the Constitution of 1876 eliminated his seat. He was then defeated in a race for U.S. Senate (1876) and again in a race for U.S. House of Representatives (1878). Ireland won the gubernatorial race in 1882 by more than 48,000 votes over Independent candidate George W. "Wash" Jones. As governor, Ireland reversed Oran Roberts' policy of rapid sale of public lands, arguing instead for a minimum price and sale to the highest bidder. The proceeds from these sales went into permanent funds for public schools, the state university, and state institutions. The constitution was amended to provide school districts with taxing power, and a state superintendent of education was created. Ireland reduced the number of pardons, and called a special session of the legislature in 1884 to deal with the fence-cutting war. That same year, Ireland was reelected by a greater margin than before. Ireland's suggestion to establish a railroad commission failed to pass and he had to contend with strikes by the Knights of Labor in 1885 and 1886. He refused to sign a contract to rebuild the capitol unless native Texas stone was used, instead of the Gray Vermont granite that was called for in the contract. Upon retirement in 1887, Ireland unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate against John H. Reagan. He then resumed the practice of law in Seguin. Ireland died in San Antonio on March 15, 1896.
This letterbox is located in San Geronimo Cemetery in Seguin, Texas. From Interstate 10, exit to Highway 123 and drive south into town. Turn east on Walnut Street and the cemetery will be on your left. Drive into the cemetery and drive to the old section in the southeast corner. Park in front of the Angel.
To the letterbox:
Look around for the pink granite markers that honor the Texas heroes, most of them survivors of the Battle of San Jacinto. There are many of them here and are worth your attention. Next to the Angel is a prominent obelisk marker. This is the grave of Gov. Ireland’s wife (the inscription says Consort of John Ireland), Mrs. Matilda Ireland. Look past the obelisk to the chain link fence that marks the eastern boundary of the cemetery. There is one large oak on that fenceline, and here lies the Oxcart John letterbox. The Governor isn’t here, he’s buried in the State Cemetery in Austin.