Ima Hogg, who was born in 1882 and died in 1975 at age 93, became a legend in her own right, and this book is her story. It is also the story of the extraordinary bond between a father and a daughter.
Texas legend has it that James Stephen Hogg, Governor of Texas from 1890 to 1894, named his daughters Ima and Ura, but that is only half-true: there never was a Ura. Ima had 3 brothers, Will, Mike, and Tom. James Stephen Hogg, who worked his way from a hardscrabble life in the piney woods of East Texas to the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, was a giant in Texas politics, both literally (standing over 6ft tall and weighing close to 300lb) and figuratively, as the champion of the “little people” against big business in the 1890s. He adored his daughter, and after his wife, Sallie Stinson Hogg, died of tuberculosis in 1895, Ima and her father drew even closer.
Jim Hogg, a widower in his 40’s with four children—Will, 20; Ima, 13, Mike, 10, and Tom, 8—left politics to practice law in Austin, and Ima became the “sunshine” of her father’s household. While Ima attended the University of Texas and then studied music in New York City, ex-Governor Hogg pursued business interests, and was one of the early investors in the Texas oil boom after the Spindletop gusher in 1901. He was not a rich man when he died in 1906, but the old plantation he bought in Brazos County near West Columbia would eventually produce oil that would make Ima and her brothers wealthy.
The Hogg children lived well, but they also devoted part of their time and money to the enrichment of the educational and cultural life of Texas. Will gave generously to the University of Texas, his alma mater, and to many other institutions, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Houston YMCA. “Miss Ima,” as she was known (she never married), founded the Houston Symphony, served on the Houston School Board, established the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, and restored several historic Texas buildings, including the house at the Varner-Hogg Historic Site, which had been her father’s beloved country home. In 1966 she gave her own house, filled with the priceless Early American art and furniture she had collected, as the Bayou Bend Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Thousands of people visit Bayou Bend every year, and this book describes its history, as well as that of an extraordinary Texas woman.
Ima Hogg: The Governor’s Daughter is number 20 in the Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series.