Americans might not know the names of many governors from states other than their own, especially not from decades ago, but Governor James Stephen “Big Jim” Hogg (March 24, 1851 – March 3, 1906) of Texas could be an exception. Hogg was known to be a great governor, but non-Texans might recognize his name from the name he gave his only daughter: Ima. Some joked that he had a second daughter named Ura, but Ima had only brothers, who had ordinary names — Will, Mike and Tom.
Ima’s name was taken from The Fate of Marvin, an epic poem written by her uncle Thomas Hogg. Ima (July 10, 1882 – August 19, 1975) didn’t like her name, and had no middle name, so she often used only her first initial. As soon as he heard of his new granddaughter’s odd name, Ima’s maternal grandfather raced to his son-in-law’s house to protest, but Ima had already been christened. She never married and kept her last name until she died.
Ima was known as “The First Lady of Texas.” She was an American society leader, philanthropist, patron and collector of the arts, and one of the most respected women in Texas during the 20th century, Her father was a lawyer, state attorney general and the 20th Governor of Texas. He was the first Texas governor to have been born in Texas and was governor from 1891 to 1895. I first thought of writing about Jim Hogg when I saw a highway named after him near Tyler, Texas, which I often visit. Other places in Texas are named for him, too.
Jim Hogg County in southern Texas is named after him. There is a Jim Hogg Historic Site near Rusk, Hogg’s birthplace.
In 1906, Governor Hogg asked that a pecan tree be planted at his grave instead of a traditional headstone, requesting that the seeds be distributed throughout the state to make Texas a “Land of Trees”. His wish was carried out and this brought more attention to pecan trees. In 1919, the 36th Texas Legislature made the pecan tree the state tree of Texas. The Texas town of San Saba claims to be “The Pecan Capital of the World.”
To learn about the Hogg family’s contributions to the state of Texas, as well as what Ima thought about her unusual name, click on these links:
Another famous name associated with Quitman, Texas, is the actress Sissy Spacek, who was born in the town and has a street there named after her.
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