Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Dick Dowling and the Immigrant’s Call to Arms

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 7, 2014

DowlingStatueI’ve been honored to be asked to give a short talk at the annual Dick Dowling Statue Cleaning and Ceremony in Houston on Sunday, March 16 at 1 p.m. This event is now held in conjunction with the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, but actually goes back more than a century, to 1905. The statue is believed to be Houston’s oldest public monument.

Last year, Houston writer and journalist John Nova Lomax spoke at the ceremony.  He also wrote that “today, Dowling the man is only remembered by Houston’s rapidly vanishing (if not downright extinct) coterie of Confederate apologists, military historians, and the local Irish community, who honor him at his statue every St. Patrick’s Day.” I’m not really sure where that leaves me, but I’m going to give it a shot. My working title is “Dick Dowling and the Immigrant’s Call to Arms.”

It should be fun. In the meantime, here’s a great profile by my fellow blogger Damian Shiels of John Thomas Browne (1845-1941), a native of County Limerick, who served as a Confederate soldier in his teens and went on to become Mayor of Houston in the 1890s. Damian has a new book coming this spring, The Irish in the American Civil War, that should be fantastic.

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Image by Flickr user Denaldo Dillo, under Creative Commons license.

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16 Responses

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  1. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on February 7, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Congratulations on the honor, Andy. Sounds like it will be an interesting address.

    • Andy Hall said, on February 7, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      Thanks. I think it will be. Immigration is not really a CW focus of mine, but local history is, and I think there’s a good story or two to tell. Of all the Confederate states, Texas had the second-highest proportion of foreign-born whites (c. 10%), much higher than most of the others. Harris (Houston) and Galveston Counties, in particular, much higher proportions than that, around 30% and 40% respectively. Practically everybody was from somewheres else.

  2. Patrick Young said, on February 7, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Cool. I’ll post it to The Immigrants Civil War facebook community.

    • Andy Hall said, on February 7, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      Thanks, Pat. There’s a feller from Long Island I know who could do a better job of it, though.

      • Patrick Young said, on February 9, 2014 at 7:21 am

        Good luck. It would be great if your could post a copy of your remarks.

  3. Damian Shiels said, on February 8, 2014 at 2:50 am

    Thanks for the mention Andy! Would love to attend that lecture, wish I could be there. I will spread the word about it.

  4. Tim Collins said, on February 8, 2014 at 4:57 am

    Congratulations Andy. As someone who has had the honour of speaking at this ceremony previously, I know you will be treated royally, as the hospitality of the Houston Irish is legendary! The Miggins family are to be singled out in this context. Pleas give them my best. Now for some shameless self promotion. I brought out a biography of Dick Dowling last year, in time for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Sabine Pass (which I attended), entitled ‘Dick Dowling: Galway’s hero of Confederate Texas’ it is available in Galway bookshops, and online from Kennys bookshop (http://www.kennys.ie ). One final factoid: ‘Honest’ John Browne, later Mayor of Houston, whom you mention, was also a good friend of Dick Dowling’s. In fact, Dick was Best Man at John’s wedding in 1867, just a few months before his untimely death from Yellow Fever, and John was one of the pallbearers at that sad funeral. Maybe you may find this useful in your planned talk . . . ?!

  5. Caleb McDaniel (@wcaleb) said, on February 10, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    This is great, Andy! Glad you’ll be doing this!

    The exhibit and digital archive on Dowling and his statue that my students and I put together at Rice might have some useful material for your talk, especially about the origins of the statue.

  6. Denise Fouts said, on March 27, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Hello Mr. Hall,

    Today I read the Address you provided at the annual Dick Dowling Statue Cleaning and Ceremony. My Aunt attended and introduced herself after the ceremony, to which you shared your copy read. John Thomas Browne is my 2nd Great Grandfather. I live out of state and my Aunt was kind enough to format and share your great story of The Immigrant’s Call To War. Thank you for sharing this meaningful presentation.
    I would like to clarify Mr. Collins reference above about the marriage of John and Mary (Mollie) Browne. The confirmed date of marriage from Annunciation Catholic Church records is September 13, 1871 and his witness was John J. Mullane. Dick Dowling passed in 1867, before their marriage.

    • Andy Hall said, on March 28, 2014 at 12:03 am

      Thanks very much!

      • Tim Collins said, on March 28, 2014 at 2:32 am

        Denise, Thanks for setting this record straight. I must go back to my original notes to see where the error arose. Tim

        • Denise Fouts said, on March 28, 2014 at 5:50 pm

          Hello Tim, I appreciate your response. I find myself confused many times on family stories :) I do not believe that either gentleman were participants at each other’s weddings. In addition to the reason I mentioned in previous comment, it would not be possible for John T Browne to be a part of Dick Dowling’s wedding either. John T Browne was born in 1845 and Dick married in 1857, John was 12 years old.
          There is another wedding occasion they would have shared when John T Browne’s cousin, Patrick Hennessy, married Dick Dowling’s sister, Mary J. Dowling April 25, 1859. John’s mother and Patrick’s father were brother/sister. This may be where stories have come from, just a thought :) This conversation prompts me to research further on the marriage of Patrick and Mary, and search for their witnesses at marriage.

          • Tim Collins said, on March 29, 2014 at 7:57 am

            Denise,
            I never knew John Browne was a cousin of Patrick Hennessy. This is great news! It adds another dimension to the Dowling family tree. My source for the comment on Dick Dowling’s presence at John Browne’s wedding is from a report of Dick’s funeral published in the Houston Daily Telegraph, 26th September 1867. Which only goes to show we can’t trust everything we read in the papers, then or now! My only regret is that I cannot correct the error in my book – perhaps if I bring out another edition!

            • Tim Collins said, on March 29, 2014 at 8:08 am

              Denise,
              From my own notes on the Dowling siblings’ marriages, I can tell you that Pat Hennessy remarried after Mary died young, aged just 20 years. In another link, Dick’s other sister Honora, who moved from New Orleans following the death of her husband James Norris, is buried in Glenwood Cemetery, after St Vincent’s, the oldest cemetery in Houston, and her grave is close to Pat Hennessy’s there. In researching family history, when one follows a thread one never knows where it will lead!

              • Denise Fouts said, on March 30, 2014 at 12:07 am

                Tom,
                Thank you for sharing your source of the Daily Telegraph. I have not seen this record, but would enjoy if you have a document. My email is denise614@cox.net
                I have recorded a 2nd wife for Patrick, as Ellen, but I did not know that Mary was only 20 years old, and a short time into their marriage. Do you know the burial location or cause of death for Mary?
                If you have any questions about the Hennessy dimension of the tree, please send me an email :)

              • Tim Collins said, on April 1, 2014 at 12:18 pm

                Thanks, Denise, I will email you directly, and share what little I have!


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