The Houston Oral History Project is a repository for the stories, accounts, and memories of those who have chosen to share their experiences. The viewpoints expressed in the Houston Oral History Project do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the City of Houston, the Houston Public Library or any of its officers, agents, employees, or volunteers. The City of Houston and the Houston Public Library make no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the interviews and expressly disclaim any liability therefore.
The Houston Oral History Project provides unedited versions of all interviews. Some parents may find material objectionable for minors. Parents are encouraged to interact with their children as they use the Houston Oral History Project Web site to complete research and homework activities.
The Houston Public Library retains the literary and publishing rights of its oral histories. No part of the interviews or transcripts may be published without the written permission of the Houston Oral History Project.
Requests for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to:
The Houston Oral History Project.
Houston Public Library
Houston, Texas 77002
The Houston Oral History Project reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to decline to post any account received herein and specifically disclaims any liability for the failure to post an account or for errors or omissions that may occur in posting accounts to the Virtual Archive.
For more information email the Houston Oral History Project at email@example.com.
DH: 00:03 This is one in a series of interviews on the history of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas. This interview was taped on July the 8th, 1982. The subject of the interview is Mr. Albert P. Jones. The interviewer is Dorothy Knox Howe Houghton. Mr. Jones, I would like to ask you a few questions about your background. Where did you grow up?
AJ: In Dallas.
DH: Where did you go to school?
AJ: I graduated from high school in Dallas, and I went one year to SMU, and then I went to Austin and I was in the University of Texas from 1924 to 1930.
DH: And then you went to law school at the University of Texas?
AJ: All three of my degrees are from the University of Texas. I have a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws.
DH: I see. What was your Master of Arts in?
DH: When did you move to Houston?
AJ: As soon as I graduated from law school on July the 1st, 1930.
DH: I see. And why did you move to Houston?
AJ: Because I got a job down here that paid a salary.
DH: 01:13 What firm was it with?
AJ: Baker & Botts.
DH: What was Houston like when you moved here?
AJ: Well, of course it was much smaller, and you knew the bar pretty well. Now there’s so many lawyers around town that nobody could begin to know any substantial portion of it. But the personal relations among the members of the bar were quite good, and you knew—at least I knew everybody that went to the courthouse with any degree of regularity.
DH: What kind of law did you practice?
AJ: Well, the first 13 years I was with Baker & Botts and I represented insurance companies. In 1943 Shirley Helm and I formed a partnership, and we were partners for about 19 years, and during that time we were suing insurance companies.
DH: I beg your pardon.
AJ: We were on the plaintiff side of the docket.
DH: Suing them. I see. Who were some of the people whom you got to know particularly well during your first few years in Houston?
AJ: The ones that are now living are John Maginnis of Baker & Botts, Tom Martin Davis of Baker & Botts, Joe Hutcheson of Baker & Botts. I guess I was more closely associated with Bill Ryan and Tom Scurry at Baker & Botts. Both of them are dead.
DH: I was thinking in terms of your broader acquaintances, your friends and so on and some of the people who are not living anymore. Did you know a number of people who were communicants of Christ Church Cathedral during those early years?
AJ: 03:08 No.
AJ: No. I became a communicant of Christ Church in 1941, the first year that John Hines was here.
DH: And how did that come about?
AJ: Because I liked John and I regarded him as the finest pulpit orator I ever heard. In other words, he was a top-flight preacher.
DH: Where had you been going to church before that?
AJ: At the Houston Country Club.
DH: (chuckles) All right.
AJ: (chuckles) Playing 36 holes of golf on Sunday.
DH: Okay. What was the church like in 1941 when you first started attending in terms of the size of the congregation, the financial situation, the overall situation there?
AJ: I knew nothing about the financial situation until I became a member of the vestry. So as far as that is concerned, I knew nothing about it. I found people to be very friendly, and I enjoyed meeting them. I guess the person that I knew better than anybody else there was Arthur Terrell.
DH: What about the size of the congregation? Was it large, or was the church in a transition period or what?
AJ: No, the church was not in a transition period. Bishop DeWolfe had been the rector in the late 1930s, and he had gone on to become the dean of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York. Later he was bishop of Long Island. He was succeeded by John Hines, and both Bishop DeWolfe and Bishop Hines were very popular people, and the church services were well attended. Now, we had the early service, 8:00 service, and the 11:00 service. They did not have the 9:00 service or the 9:15 service.
DH: 05:14 Was the neighborhood still somewhat residential around Christ Church?
AJ: No. No. The only residence that was there was the old rectory which was on the church premises where the Latham Building is now. But no, any residential area was a good many blocks from Christ Church.
DH: When you first came to Houston back in 1930, was that also the case, or did the houses begin to be torn down during that decade between 1930 and 1940?
AJ: Of course there were more near the church in 1930 than there were in 1940. There had been some—
DH: Did you know anybody who lived in any of those houses around that area?
DH: And you say Arthur Terrell was the person you knew the best.
AJ: When I first became a communicant of Christ Church, yes.
DH: Do you remember who some of the other parishioners were who were most active at the time whom you were aware of?
AJ: Of course the Clevelands were very, very active, Albert Bowles, August Selig, Charlie Carnes.
DH: A number of them had grown up in the church also, isn’t that correct?
AJ: 06:31 I’m sure the Clevelands had, because William Davis Cleveland, Sr., was a vestryman for 45 years. There’s a plaque there in the church that shows that. So I’m sure that Mr. Will and Mr. Sess both grew up in the church. I suspect the same is true of Albert Bowles. Charlie Carnes I don’t know, and I don’t know how long August Selig. I knew August Selig was on the committee that called John Hines. I think he and Albert Bowles and Mr. Will Cleveland were the calling committee. So I became acquainted with them fairly early.
DH: Did your children attend the Sunday school there?
DH: The Reverend John R. Bentley became director of religious education in 1941. Do you recall how he affected the Christian education programs of the church and especially the Sunday school?
AJ: I knew Jack Bentley quite well, and I regarded him as a very competent Christian education man. I knew more about the teachers. Of course I knew Jack Bentley very well.
DH: Tell me about the teachers.
AJ: I’m trying to think. I ought to know, because when the Latham Building was built, I furnished a room in honor—Ms. Elise Wilkinson is who I’m trying to talk about. And Mrs. Jones and I, when the Latham Building was built, one of our contributions was to furnish a room in honor of Ms. Elise, who also taught my son Lewis in school.
DH: I see. Her name figures in the Happy Worldly Abode a number of times. Was the Sunday school fairly full of children? Was it a very dynamic situation?
AJ: As far as I know, it was. Yes.
DH: Do you remember who some of the other children were who attended with your children in those days?
AJ: 08:43 No. Of course there were the Maffitts, Tim and Peter Maffitt, and the Mount boys, Russell Mount’s children. Those are the only names that occurred to me right quickly.
DH: What do you recall about the service room at Christ Church which opened September 27, 1942, to serve lunch and to provide recreation for men and women in the armed services?
AJ: Very little, because the only time that I had any contact with that was on Sundays when servicemen, from Ellington Field mainly, would come in. Mrs. A.M. Goodyear, Munson Goodyear’s wife, was quite active in that. But that’s the most that I can observe about that.
DH: Did this lead to a large attendance at church services by armed service people?
DH: They just came for the recreation and not for the church services?
AJ: Let me just put it this way: the church was not crowded with servicemen. There was a sprinkling every Sunday. See, that church holds 600 or 700 people, and if there were 25 servicemen, it would be just a sprinkling, but that would be a good attendance.
DH: Mrs. Jones is a highly trained musician who has served on the board of the Houston Symphony Society and worked hard for the symphony for many years. Was she influential in recruiting Mr. Hines to serve on the symphony board and on the symphony’s program committee under Ernest Hoffman?
AJ: That I would not know about. I know she and John Hines were very close friends, because she played the organ at Christ Church on at least two occasions when there was a vacancy in the organist position. But what she had to do with getting Bishop Hines on the symphony board, I have no idea.
DH: Mrs. Jones and Ms. Ima Hogg were very close friends.
AJ: 11:04 Quite close.
DH: And the Happy Worldly Abode states that when Bishop and Mrs. Hines were getting—the last night that they spent in Houston before they moved away the first time, they had dinner with Ms. Ima Hogg. I was wondering if there was any connection between Mrs. Jones and John Hines, her having introduced him to Ms. Ima or anything of that sort.
AJ: That I would know nothing about. I of course knew that John left here not too long after his consecration as coadjutor bishop and moved to Austin. He lived in Austin almost ten years. He was consecrated coadjutor bishop in ’45, and I think he became the bishop about ten years later.
DH: Father DeWolfe had been chairman of the orchestra’s program committee, and the LPA had sponsored a special series of Mozart concerts during that period. Do you recall any details of the relationship between Christ Church music program and the Houston Symphony Orchestra?
AJ: No, because I was not a communicant when Bishop DeWolfe was rector, so I know nothing about what went on during the rectorship of Bishop DeWolfe.
DH: This seems to have become a tradition which continued into the Hines years and beyond, and I was just wondering if you had attended any of the joint concerts.
AJ: If I did, I have no recollection of it.
DH: Between the departure of Arthur W. Howes as organist and the arrival of the new organist, Mr. David Alkins, Mrs. Jones played the organ. Was that a very time-consuming job that included weddings and funerals?
AJ: I know she played for whatever weddings were held at Christ Church and, obviously, with choir practice and the services it took a good deal of time, yes.
DH: 13:27 How long did this last? Was this over several months?
AJ: Yes. I don’t think it was as much as six months, but it may have been that long.
DH: Marguerite Johnston recounted one amusing story about your son Wishy joining the choir briefly while Mrs. Jones was organist. Do you have any other stories from this period about anything that happened that was funny or unusual while she was doing this?
AJ: You’d have to get that from Mrs. Jones. I have not looked at Marguerite Johnston’s book recently, but I’m sure it’s the story of Wishy leaving Sunday school and coming over and standing behind her at the organ bench and announcing in a loud tone of voice, “I come over here.” And Mrs. Jones’s good friend Nellie Black—I don’t know whether you remember her or not; she was Nellie Green, Dr. Charlie Green’s daughter, and she married George Black—happened to be standing right there in the area, and Mrs. Jones turned around and got Nellie Black and told her to, “Get him out of here!” (chuckles) which she did.
DH: In 1943 you were elected chancellor of the parish. What were the duties of that job?
AJ: Just to take care of whatever legal matters the rector sent over. The thing that sticks with me very vividly is getting a couple of our choir members out of jail.
DH: Why? Why were they in jail?
AJ: One of them was drunk, and the other one was there on a homosexual offense.
DH: I see.
AJ: I did draft some papers, but the duties were not overpowering or anything of that kind. In other words, it didn’t cause me to sacrifice time from my law practice to any large extent.
DH: Were these people communicants of Christ Church, or were they— I think now people sing in the choir who are professional singers but do not belong to Christ Church. Was this the case with these people?
AJ: 16:03 My recollection is that they were communicants.
DH: And how did you go about getting them out? Did you bring the dean down too?
AJ: No. We didn’t have a dean in those days.
DH: The rector?
AJ: John Hines was the rector. The first dean was Hamilton Kellogg. No. The church office or Mr. Hines would let me know that somebody was in the jail, and I would go down and get them out.
DH: Did you have to post the bond?
AJ: For one of them I did, and for the other one, he had been there long enough to pretty well sober up.
DH: Did the church pay for the bond?
AJ: I just made a personal bond.
DH: Did you ever get it back?
AJ: I never was called on to pay the money.
DH: Oh, I see. Of course, yes, that’s the way the bonds work. From 1944 to ’46 you served your first term on the vestry. In March 1945 Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Roy Cullen gave $1 million to begin a new Episcopal hospital and medical center. As a vestry member at Christ Church, did you have any involvement in helping to raise the extra money needed for St. Luke’s Hospital?
AJ: Yes. I was chairman of the fundraising committee at Christ Church.
DH: 17:26 And how did you go about convincing people that they needed to contribute to this?
AJ: I didn’t do much convincing; Bishop Quin did that.
DH: I see.
AJ: The hospital was very much a pet project of Bishop Quin, and you just let it be known that this was something that the bishop was interested in, and if they were fond of the bishop, they came through. And we raised a lot of money in Christ Church. I forgot how much it was, but it was better than half a million dollars.
DH: Did you have to utilize a lot of people in this effort? How did you organize this drive?
AJ: It was not too well organized. I guess I had 12 to 15 people working with me.
DH: And they were all sending out letters, or were they making personal calls or what?
AJ: Both. I went on the board of St. Luke’s Hospital in 1947, and I was a member of the board of directors of St. Luke’s Hospital until I left to go to Austin in ’62.
DH: Oh really? Now, what was your particular involvement on that board? What were your duties?
AJ: The main thing was the Texas Children’s Hospital and St. Luke’s have many joint facilities, and they had a joint operating committee—three members of St. Luke’s board and three members of Children’s board. And Joe Smith of Trinity Church and John Mellinger of Christ Church and I were the three members on the joint operating committee from the St. Luke’s board.
DH: And what were your major accomplishments during that period?
AJ: The major accomplishment, of course, was we built the hospital.
DH: 19:23 Built the hospital. Of course, of course. But now, were you involved in fundraising other than at Christ Church for the hospital?
DH: Mr. Jones, you, Albert Bowles, and William D. Cleveland, Jr., were named to a committee to explore the need for a cathedral for the Diocese of Texas. How did you go about your study?
AJ: That study was a very simple matter. Bishop Quin had made up his mind that he wanted a cathedral, and it was a matter of convincing some people that didn’t want a cathedral. I think the biggest opposition came from Christ Church.
DH: Why is that?
AJ: Because they thought that Christ Church would lose its identity as a parish. And of course it did not. It was a pro-cathedral, and those have their own communicants, so those fears were perfectly groundless. But Bishop Quin was determined he was going to have a cathedral, and he did get one in 1949 when we had the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Texas.
DH: The Diocese of Texas is younger, then, than Christ Church Cathedral.
DH: You said 1949.
AJ: That’s right.
DH: Christ Church was founded in 1939—I mean 1839.
AJ: If I said 1949, that was the 100th anniversary of the diocese. Christ Church was established about 1837 or something like that.
DH: 21:08 ’39.
AJ: ’39. And the Diocese of Texas was established in 1849.
DH: Can you explain the difference between a cathedral and a pro-cathedral?
AJ: Yes. A cathedral is supported by whatever diocese it’s in as well as by individual efforts, and it has no communicants, whereas a pro-cathedral has communicants just like a parish has. And most of the cathedrals in this country are pro-cathedrals. There are only two true cathedrals. One is St. John the Divine in New York, and I think the Washington Cathedral is also a true cathedral, but all of the other cathedrals in this country are pro-cathedrals.
DH: Did Bishop Quin want Christ Church to be the cathedral? It sounds as if that was his first choice as the place where the cathedral should be.
AJ: There was really no question about that. There were a few little noises about Trinity Church and St. John the Divine becoming the cathedral, but in the diocese the general feeling was that if Christ Church was not going to be the cathedral, there would be no cathedral.
DH: And that was because of its history and its position in the community from the beginning.
AJ: Correct. Dr. Kellogg appointed me to represent the parish in drafting the cathedral agreement with the diocese.
DH: I know that, and I understand that you and Mr. J.L.C. McFaddin of Beaumont—
AJ: Yeah, Caldwell McFaddin.
DH: —drew up the agreement between the parish and the diocese.
DH: 23:08 Who was Mr. McFaddin?
AJ: All I know is he’s a communicant of St. Mark’s Beaumont and a very prominent person in the diocese.
DH: Why was he so involved in this particular effort?
AJ: Dr. Kellogg asked me to represent the parish, Bishop Quin asked Mr. Caldwell McFaddin to represent the diocese, and that’s the way it came about.
DH: I see. What were the various considerations and concerns that had to be dealt with—
AJ: Hold on just a minute. (recorder turns off and then back on again)
DH: Mr. Jones, what were the various considerations and concerns that had to be dealt with when you were formulating this agreement between the parish and the diocese?
AJ: I’ve already told you that there was a good deal of feeling among some of the members of Christ Church that they did not want Christ Church to lose its identity. And I’m sure you knew Bishop Quin. He was a very powerful individual, and these people were greatly concerned that Bishop Quin might take over the parish. And the main thing that I was charged by the members of the parish to do was to be sure that the bishop did not take over the parish.
DH: And so you wrote specific things into the agreement to—
AJ: Certain privileges that he has at Easter and Christmastime. Of course Bishop Quin was welcome, but there were some people that felt like he was going to take over the parish, and that was the reason that they gave me some instructions about being sure that he was going to be restricted.
DH: You and Bishop Hines came to be very close friends over the period of four and a half years when Bishop Hines was rector of Christ Church. How do you characterize him as a person?
AJ: 25:10 John Hines is one of the finest men I have ever known and, as I’ve already told you, he was the greatest preacher that I have ever listened to.
DH: What was he like as an individual? What were some of the things that stand out in your mind most, some incidents that might have taken place or—
AJ: He was a very personable man. I don’t know the incidents that took place except that we had an occasional golf game, and he was a delightful companion on the golf course.
DH: Mr. Jones, you were involved in the search for a new dean when Mr. Hines left, which resulted in the call to Hamilton Kellogg.
AJ: Except we were not looking for a dean.
DH: I’m sorry. Rector.
DH: And were you actually on the search committee?
DH: What were the criteria that the vestry set for the new rector?
AJ: The vestry simply left that up to John Mellinger, Albert Bowles, and me.
DH: Oh really? And what did the three of you decide you were looking for?
AJ: The best man we could find, and Hamilton Kellogg had some people around here who knew him. I remember Bishop Quin told us that you never make a mistake in calling a fine pastor, and Hamilton Kellogg had a reputation of being as fine a pastor as you could ever find.
DH: 26:53 Who were some of the people around here who already knew him? Do you remember that?
AJ: No. The only one that I ever heard speak was Albert Bowles.
DH: And where had he met him, I wonder?
AJ: That I cannot tell you. We went up to Columbia, South Carolina, to contact him because he was still in the United States Army. He was chief chaplain of the 1st Army, and the 1st Army was stationed at Fort Jackson just out of Columbia, South Carolina. They were waiting to be transferred to the Pacific Theater. It was in July that we went to Columbia, and by the middle of August the Japanese war was over. Then it was just a question of when Dr. Kellogg would be released from military service.
DH: How soon was he released?
AJ: I don’t know exactly how soon he was released. His first Sunday with us was Epiphany Sunday in 1946.
DH: In what ways did he differ from Bishop Hines?
AJ: I’m not sure that I know what to tell you about that.
DH: I mean as a person.
AJ: There’s no way I’m going to answer that question, because they were both very close personal friends of mine and I thought highly of both of them.
DH: I understand that they were different types of people. They can both be good but still be different.
AJ: Dr. Kellogg was a man who loved people. He had no children. He would go calling until 9:00 or 9:30 at night. I don’t think that Bishop Hines did too much of that. But they were both very fine men and great friends of mine.
DH: 29:03 Mr. Kellogg was especially well known for trying to attract new members and trying to draw former members back to the church.
AJ: Yes, indeed.
DH: Did you ever observe him in action recruiting others to the church?
AJ: I never went with him on any calling, but I know that he stood out in front of the church after the 11:00 service every Sunday and had a secretary there taking down names and addresses so that he would know who to call on.
DH: What do you consider his greatest accomplishment on behalf of the church?
AJ: He got people interested in the church, and I think that he considered his chief accomplishment the building of the Latham Building.
DH: I see. What was it like to serve as junior warden under him?
AJ: Nobody served as junior warden under the rector when Albert Bowles was the senior warden. You were working under Albert Bowles. And as long as Albert Bowles was the senior warden, the junior warden’s job was very light.
DH: I see. In 1952 when Dean Kellogg was ordained bishop coadjutor—
AJ: Yeah, bishop coadjutor of Minnesota.
DH: —of the Diocese of Minnesota, he invited you to go with him to Minnesota as the layman who would read the certificate of his ordination at the consecration service. What are your memories of that experience?
AJ: My memory of that experience was that it was a very high point. Of course you can understand the consecration of the bishop is a high point in the life of any diocese, and the Cathedral Church of St. Mark in Minneapolis was very much packed. Of course they had the fine choir there. It was a most impressive service.
DH: 31:14 But what about your personal experience?
AJ: My personal experience was that when the time— I was up somewhere in the choir stall, and when it came time for me to read the certificate of ordination, I proceeded to some lectern and read the certificate of ordination that was furnished by the recorder.
DH: Did Mrs. Jones accompany you on this trip?
AJ: Indeed she did. As a matter of fact, she went up a couple of—
[end of JL17_01] 31:47
DH: [beginning of JL17_02] 00:09 Mr. Jones, were you on the search committee that selected J. Milton Richardson to succeed Hamilton Kellogg as dean?
AJ: I was.
DH: And who else was on that committee? Do you remember?
AJ: August Selig.
DH: Just the two of you?
DH: There was no other committee? I thought a committee usually was larger than just two people for something like that.
AJ: Ordinarily it is, but Milton Richardson had been down here. He and Hamilton Kellogg were quite good friends, and at the annual parish meeting in 1951 Milton, who was then the rector of St. Luke’s Atlanta, came down to Houston and addressed that meeting. So he was well known to us. And Hamilton Kellogg’s parting shot was, “If you can get him, get him.” We never went to Atlanta, because at the time we were looking he was up at the Union Seminary in New York. August Selig and I went to New York and contacted him, and then shortly thereafter he came down here and agreed to come, a very fortunate circumstance for the church.
DH: 01:33 You hadn’t set any criteria for a new dean at this point either? You just knew that that was the person that you wanted?
AJ: We just knew that he was a good man, and Hamilton Kellogg was very strong in his recommendations.
DH: But you did consider a few other people also, is that correct?
AJ: Not very seriously.
DH: I see.
AJ: Oh, we did assemble a few names, but there was no serious consideration of anybody except Milton Richardson.
DH: Mr. Jones, your third term on the vestry was from 1951 to 1953. This covered the end of Hamilton Kellogg’s period, the beginning of J. Milton Richardson’s period, and the intervening time between the two when there was a mass exodus of communicants from Christ Church. What do you recall about that intervening period?
AJ: Well, I don’t think there was a mass exodus. If there was, it wasn’t known to me. There were some to leave, sure. Whenever a rector leaves, you have some people that change and go other places. But I wasn’t aware of any mass defection, and I think I would have been if there had been, because I was Milton Richardson’s first senior warden.
DH: I see. A Happy Worldly Abode has a special chapter on what they call the “exodus.” I think the figures were several hundred people who left during that summer between the two deans. Evidently—
AJ: 03:18 You must bear in mind this: that under Hamilton Kellogg Christ Church got to a communicant strength of over 3,000.
DH: From what? Do you have any idea what it started?
AJ: I have no idea what it started, but Hamilton Kellogg got it up to where it was something over 3,000. There were a lot of people that were there because of Hamilton Kellogg. If a couple hundred of them left, that’s no mass exodus. And of course when Milton got here, he took over the reins and did a most effective job. I think he came in September of 1952. At any rate, I was senior warden of the parish in ’53.
DH: I see. How did you go about raising money for the church during that early period of Richardson’s time?
AJ: Just by personal contact and written communication.
DH: On an annual basis, every member canvass?
AJ: That’s right.
DH: Do you recall or would you happen to know how early the church organized its fundraising into an every member canvass sort of once a year type fund drive?
AJ: That was in effect when I became a communicant of Christ Church, so I know nothing about that.
DH: Who were some of the other laymen who were especially supportive of the church during the first few years of Richardson’s period?
AJ: There was Bill Bost, Mr. John H. Crooker, Jim Elkins, Ross Bennett.
DH: Can you remember any specific ways in which some of those people helped—anything that stands out in your mind?
AJ: 05:29 I know the real thing that sticks out in my mind is I was a member of the Christ Church Endowment Board for 12, 13 years, and Albert Bowles and John Mellinger and I were the three trustees of the Christ Church Endowment Fund, and Ross Bennett, who was with the Houston Bank & Trust Company, sort of was our financial advisor, and we worked closely with him.
DH: The endowment, of course, is different from the every member canvass.
AJ: Oh yes.
DH: Is that just an ongoing year-round effort? How did you go about raising funds for the endowment?
AJ: Just by publication, by notice in the bulletin.
DH: I see.
AJ: There was no active solicitation, but there were a good many gifts each year, some fairly substantial. It was our job to invest the money to get as good a return as we possibly could. And I know Hamilton Kellogg, when he was the rector and later dean, made it a point to say that he thought Christ Church ought to get an endowment of at least $2 million to help support the parish at times when people had moved away from downtown and the church might not be able to survive without a substantial endowment.
DH: And so how long did you serve on this endowment fund?
AJ: I’ve forgotten now. When I went on it, I stayed on it. I was on it at least by 1950, and I stayed on it until I went to Austin in 1962.
DH: In 1961 the vestry purchased the adjacent Taylor Jewelry Company property on which Cleveland Hall was built. The hall itself, the building, was a gift of Mrs. A.S. Cleveland and Mrs. William D. Cleveland, Jr., in memory of their husbands. Do you recall how that gift happened to be made? I presume that the endowment fund would be where the—you would be the ones who would be doing that?
AJ: 07:58 No. The endowment fund was not created for that purpose.
DH: No, but I mean the— I guess not. Okay. Were you involved in—
AJ: No. I was not involved in it. That would come out of current funds. And of course some time along in there they bought the parking lot across San Jacinto Street. Mr. John H. Crooker was the leading figure in that.
DH: In 1955 that’s when the church decided to buy the parking lot at the corner of San Jacinto and Texas. In connection with that, they launched a capital fund campaign to provide the down payment on the parking lot, to liquidate the indebtedness of the cathedral, and to add to the Sunday school facilities, which I presume must have been Cleveland Hall is what came along to take care of the Sunday school.
AJ: Of course the big thing about the Sunday school was Latham Hall. The Latham sisters in their will provided a fund of about—oh, I think it was $150,000 or maybe $175,000 to be used for a public purpose. Well, $175,000 wasn’t going very far for a public purpose. And Mr. Crooker, who was a very active man, and Bill Kirkland, who I think was then on the city council— But at any rate, the Latham sisters and Captain Justin Latham were longtime members of the parish and well known for their loyalty to the parish, and so the parish set out to get that money. And they finally convinced the city council that they couldn’t do much with that much money but if they’d give it to Christ Church, Christ Church would build a facility that could be used for public purposes downtown. I was involved in that. Albert Bowles was in charge of the construction, and I was in charge of money-raising for the Latham Building. I think we had pretty well liquidated whatever indebtedness we had on the Latham Building when the purchase of the parking lot— I had nothing much to do with the parking lot. That was Mr. Johnny Crooker’s project.
DH: Did he ever tell you about how he managed that?
AJ: 10:47 No.
DH: Over a period of 20 years—1941 to ’62, approximately—you worked very closely with a number of outstanding men and women on behalf of Christ Church. I would like to mention a few of their names and ask you to characterize them and tell me what it was like to work with them and just a little bit about their personalities and what they were like. We’ve talked already about Mr. Albert Bowles. I gather that he was quite a strong character.
AJ: Indeed he was.
DH: Do you remember any particular anecdotes or anything about him?
AJ: No. He was just a devoted member of Christ Church and one that would do anything he possibly could for the betterment of Christ Church.
DH: What about Mr. William D. Cleveland, Jr.?
AJ: He was a fine gentleman. He was considerably older than I was, but he was also an extremely faithful and loyal communicant of Christ Church and served on the vestry with me. I got to know him, and I was very, very fond of him.
DH: What were the business interests and so forth of these people? They must have been very outstanding businessmen in Houston.
AJ: Albert Bowles was a manufacturer’s representative. What companies he worked for I do not know. Mr. Cleveland’s father organized the W.D. Cleveland Company, which was a cotton factory up here, very prominent, because before Houston became the center for the oil industry, cotton and lumber were the big interests in this entire area.
DH: So Mr. William D. Cleveland, Jr., succeeded his father in the business?
AJ: I don’t know that he succeeded his father, because he had a brother.
DH: 13:19 Right. I was going to ask about A.S. Cleveland.
AJ: A.S. Cleveland was also an extremely fine man, although he never served on the vestry while I was on it. So far as I can recall, he left that up to Mr. Will. But Sess is Bill Kirkland’s father-in-law.
DH: Yes. Were they people who had gone away from Houston? They had grown up in Houston, of course. Had they gone away for their education? Do you know anything about that sort of thing?
AJ: No, I do not. I assume that they probably did.
DH: You mentioned Mr. John Crooker. Are we talking about the Mr. Crooker who was the founder of Fulbright Crooker?
AJ: We are indeed.
DH: Tell me a little bit about him.
AJ: He was a very accomplished lawyer, and I might as well get into this now, because I was going to get into it before we got through, and that is the establishment of the Latham Trust.
AJ: I don’t mean the Latham Trust. The Rambaud Trust. Are you familiar with the Rambaud Trust?
DH: I’m not sure that I am.
AJ: There was a lady by the name of Lulu Bryan Rambaud, R-A-M-B-A-U-D. She was a very devoted communicant. I did not know Ms. Lulu, but she was a longtime devoted communicant of the church. Her will provided that half of her estate would go to Rice Institute—it wasn’t Rice University in those days—and the other half would go to Christ Church. And very shortly before her death, she executed a new will that left out Rice and Christ Church. Bishop Quin was much more interested in that situation than Dr. Kellogg, and why the bishop made these appointments I do not know, but Dr. Kellogg acquiesced then. But Bishop Quin appointed Albert Bowles and Charlie Carnes and me as the original trustees of the Rambaud Trust. I remember the bishop got us down in his office one time and he said, “I want you all to get that money.” The Rice trustees decided that they would not contest this deathbed will. Mr. Crooker agreed to handle the contest. He was a most effective man, and he said he would do it and he would not charge above a certain fee, which was very modest counting all the work that had to be done. He and some other man—I think it was Charlie Bell—in his office did an enormous amount of work on the case getting it ready, and it went to trial. Dr. Paul Ledbetter came to court and testified that he had been Ms. Lulu’s personal physician for many, many years and that, to his certain knowledge, prior to the time she executed this will she had a cerebral vascular accident, and he didn’t think that she had mental capacity to execute the will. Dr. Ledbetter was a very impressive witness. I was in the courtroom when he testified, although I had no part in the trial, and he made a very effective witness. And after that, talk about settlement began to mature. As I told you, the Rice trustees had decided they would not contest the will.
DH: 17:44 Who was the new will leaving her estate to?
AJ: Some cousins—not direct descendants. So talk about settlement started, and the result of it was that we got our half and gave these relatives the Rice half. And that’s the reason the Rambaud Trust got started.
DH: I see. What is the purpose of the Rambaud Trust?
AJ: It provides funds for the rector’s discretionary fund. The Rambaud Trust is not a great big amount of money, but I’m sure it’s probably $200,000 or $300,000 by now. The purpose of it is to provide funds for the rector’s discretion. Mr. Bowles and Mr. Carnes and I served as trustees until Charlie died, and then Mr. Bowles and I appointed Bill Goldstein to become one of the trustees. And then when I left to go to Austin, Bill and Albert Bowles decided that they would have ____??19:06 (inaudible). What’s happened since then I do not know. I know that Stuart Hellmann is now one of the trustees of the Rambaud Trust. But the reason I’m taking time to tell you this is because nobody now living knows the whole story except me. And I have told it to Stuart Hellmann. That’s the only one besides me that could know it, and he got it from me. But I was in it, and that is the way the Rambaud Trust got started.
DH: 19:40 This is the kind of information we’re looking for. This is exactly the kind of thing we want to have on these tapes.
AJ: Yes, well, I think that is something that ought to be recorded.
DH: Yes. What about Mr. Robert W. Wier? Was he particularly active in the church?
AJ: He was active. He served as a member of the vestry. But other than just serving as a member of the vestry—he was very faithful about attending vestry meetings and a man of good judgment. He was in the lumber business. He was very faithful in his attendance, but the outside works beyond the actual work of the vestry I don’t think Mr. Bob had any particular participation in.
DH: Did you know him very well?
AJ: Just as a vestryman.
DH: I see. We’ve talked a good deal about Bishop Quin, and I think his personality has come through somewhat. Do you have any other good stories about Bishop Quin or anything else that would shed light on his personality?
AJ: No. Bishop Quin was a very powerful figure. I know that when he asked for a coadjutor bishop there was a good deal of talk and some agitation that Tom Sumners should be the coadjutor bishop, so Bishop Quin very shortly went to the House of Bishops and had Tom Sumners elected bishop of northwest Texas.
DH: He had that kind of influence?
AJ: 21:26 Yes, yes. And he came back and asked Tom when he was going to be consecrated, and Tom said he didn’t believe he’d leave St. John’s, because the pickings are kind of lean up in that Amarillo area. It was a missionary district; it wasn’t even a diocese. When Tom declined to be consecrated, Bishop Quin indicated that he thought he ought to decline being nominated to be coadjutor bishop in this diocese. It was perfectly evident that Bishop Quin wanted John Hines. I attended the election of the coadjutor bishop. I was an alternate delegate to the council that year. Bishop Hines was so popular among the laymen of the diocese. That popularity later on diminished a bit.
DH: Because of what? Politics?
AJ: No, because some people thought he was entirely too liberal.
DH: That’s what I mean—politics.
AJ: Social activism. On the first ballot—it took three ballots—the votes were pretty well scattered. On the second ballet John Hines got a majority of the lay delegates. There was a startling unanimity of the lay delegates in favor of John Hines. He was that popular with the laypeople of the diocese. And it took a third ballot to get the majority in the other order or the clergy order.
DH: We’ve talked about August Selig, whom you have worked with quite closely on many things related to the church. What is he like to work with? How would you characterize him?
AJ: August is not a difficult person to work with. I enjoyed my association with him, and I found him to be a man of good judgment and a man who was willing to work. As a matter of fact, he was Hamilton Kellogg’s last senior warden, and he was senior warden at the time the vacancy occurred. The incumbent senior warden is generally a pretty prominent man in the calling process of the new rector. Albert Bowles was senior warden at the time we called Hamilton Kellogg. He was the senior warden, and he induced me to work with him. I went with him to New York to contact Milton and we got him down here.
DH: 24:29 And Mr. Kirkland?
AJ: There’s no sweeter man than Bill Kirkland. He is an able banker. I’m just devoted to Bill Kirkland.
DH: What about Mr. John Mellinger? You mentioned his name earlier. Did you work with him very much?
AJ: Yes, I worked with him. He was one of the three on the committee to call Bishop Kellogg. He and I were members of the joint operating committee between St. Luke’s Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital. He was high churchman, and I remember one time I was at breakfast. When they used to have the Lenten services, we had visiting men come in, and one that was very frequently here was the bishop of Minnesota, Steven Keeler. Dr. Kellogg and John and I and maybe one or two others were at breakfast with Bishop Keeler when he was down here, and John began to talk to the bishop about the reserved sacrament and the imposition of the ashes, and he got around to talking about Ash Wednesday, the imposition of the ashes. Bishop Keeler got up and blew his nose loudly and says, “Mr. Mellinger, I have never witnessed the service.” (both chuckle) But John was a very high churchman. He was a member of the Sweeney family. His name is John Sweeney Mellinger. I see his brother Mike at St. John the Divine every other Sunday, so the Mellingers are longtime Episcopalians.
DH: What you just said a minute ago about communion and so on reminded me of a question that I forgot to ask you. I think it was Mr. DeWolfe who instituted something called Family Day at the church.
AJ: That was before my day.
DH: According to A Happy Worldly Abode, it continued for some time under John Hines, and I’m just wondering if you all had your own Family Day when you—
AJ: Oh yes, yes. Everybody had their own Family Day. It was a question of whether or not it was a birthday or a wedding anniversary or something of that kind, and the Family Days were posted in the bulletin, and you were supposed to come to the early service. See, there was a daily service.
DH: 27:30 At 7:00 in the morning?
AJ: Yes. Do they still have a daily service?
DH: I don’t know.
AJ: Well, there was a daily service, and the person whose Family Day it was was supposed to attend the early service, and prayers would be said for that family.
DH: And do you think that this helped cement relationships with the church between these various families? How much—
AJ: I would say that I thought it was a good thing, and I usually attended on my Family Day. But it got to the point where people were not observing it, and it was abandoned.
DH: Would your whole family go together, I presume, down there?
AJ: I would go, and sometimes Mrs. Jones would go. I didn’t take the boys. Both of my boys were acolytes, but they didn’t attend the services other than when they were acolytes. They went to Sunday school regularly because I took them down there.
DH: You’ve mentioned Mr. James A. Elkins, Jr. What is he like to work with?
AJ: Very pleasant, very able banker. I’ve known Jim Elkins from very shortly after I got to Houston. His father was one of the senior partners in Vinson & Elkins, and his brother Bill Elkins and I went to law school together. Jim did not go to law school. Jim went somewhere up in the East to college. He came back and married Margaret Wiess, and I don’t know if Mrs. Jones played for that wedding or not. I think she probably did. She played for so many weddings I can’t recall them all. I know she played for the wedding when Margaret’s older sister Caroline married Bill Francis. She is now Mrs. Ted Law because Will Francis has been dead for many years, but I know Mrs. Jones played when Caroline Wiess got married, and I believe she probably played when Jim and Margaret got married.
DH: 30:07 Do you remember anything about the Francis wedding or reception or anything like that?
DH: One of the people who is mentioned in the book is Mr. Francis Marion Law.
AJ: Yes, I knew Marion Law, but he was never very active in Christ Church. His father was F.M. Law, who was with First National Bank here. Marion had a job at the bank, but he was not, as far as I know—now, he may have been earlier.
DH: Did he have a bookstore?
AJ: That I don’t know.
AJ: (laughs) Mrs. Jones says yes.
DH: Okay. There’s some mention of it in A Happy Worldly Abode. Do you remember a black woman named Eliza Wilson who attended and who was supposed to have been the last black communicant of Christ Church when she died?
AJ: No, I do not recall her.
DH: Is there anyone else whom we have not talked about or any other topic that we ought to cover.
AJ: I think you fairly well covered the waterfront.
DH: Well, thank you very much. I think it’s been a very, very useful interview.
AJ: It’s been a pleasure to see you, Dorothy Knox, and I am glad to have—
[end of JL17_02] 31:46