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The Life of Ima Hogg: Family and Early Life

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image of Ima Hogg as a baby

"Our cup of joy is now overflowing! We have a daughter of as fine proportions and of as angelic mien as ever gracious nature favor a man with, and her name is Ima!"

James Stephen (Jim) Hogg wrote these words in 1882 when his only daughter was born in Mineola, Texas. The child's name - which may seem an unfortunate choice - came from an epic poem written by Jim Hogg's brother, Thomas. The heroine of the poem was called Ima, short for Imogene. Miss Hogg later recounted: "My grandfather Stinson lived 15 miles from Mineola and news traveled slowly. When he learned of his granddaughter's name he came trotting to town as fast as he could to protest but it was too late. The christening had taken place, and Ima I was to remain."

Ima Hogg and her three brothers - William, Michael, and Thomas - were born into a family with a long tradition of public service in Texas Her grandfather, Joseph Lewis Hogg, took the oath of allegiance to the Republic of Texas in 1839, helped write the Texas Constitution, fought in the Mexican War, and served as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Miss Hogg's father, Jim Hogg, was a self-educated man who became a newspaper editor and a district attorney. Elected in 1890 as the first native-born governor of Texas, he was a strong champion of the people. During Jim Hogg's two terms of office the family lived in the Greek-revival Governor's Mansion in Austin - an experience that may have kindled Miss Hogg's love of historical architecture and furnishings. She never forgot the thrill of sleeping in the mahogany four-poster bed that once belonged to Sam Houston.

In 1901, while involved in the fledgling oil industry, Jim Hogg purchased the Varner Plantation near West Columbia, Texas. Confident that oil would be discovered there, he stipulated in his will that Varner could not be sold until 15 years after his death. In 1918 - 12 years after Jim Hogg died - oil was found on the property. Their newfound wealth allowed Miss Hogg and her brothers to give enormous cultural and charitable gifts to Houston, their adopted hometown.



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