[Emma Seelya as Pvt. Franklin Thompson - txsuv.org]
Emma Seelya was born Sarah Emma Evelyn Edmundson, in Canada, in 1841. She ran away from home at the age of 17, to avoid an unwanted marriage. She disguised herself as a boy and, in 1861, enlisted in the Union Army in the United States as “Franklin Thompson”. She served in the Union Army for nearly two years, undetected, and carried out special assignments that included penetrating Confederate lines disguised as a woman. Seelya later married and moved with her family to La Porte, Texas, where she was made a member of the local post of the Grand Army of the Republic (a large Civil War veterans’ group, of which she was the only female member). In 1898, three years after her death, her remains were transferred to the GAR plot in Houston’s German Cemetery (or German Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft) Cemetery). German Cemetery, which was renamed Washington Cemetery in 1918, due to anti-German sentiment related to World War I, is adjacent to Glenwood Cemetery, between Washington Ave. and Memorial Dr.
The Handbook of Texas Online, “Sarah Emma Evelyn Edmundson Seelye (1841-1898)“.
Civilwarhome.com biography of Emma Seelye
Camp Logan was a World War I training center in what is now Memorial Park. The camp encompassed 9,560 acres, though only 3,002 acres were developed. There were 1,329 bulidings on the site and tents sufficient to house 44,899 men. Camp Logan operated from 1917-20. Part of its historical signifance is the role it played in the 1917 Riot, which occurred while the camp was still under construction. The 1917 Riot occurred in part because of rumors that a Houston policeman had killed an MP who was part of a military battalion guarding the construction site.
Aulbach, L.F., “Camp Logan – a World War I Training Base on Buffalo Bayou,” Buffalo Bayou – An Echo of Houston’s Wilderness Beginnings (2002).
James V. Gill’s “Pictures of Camp Logan” site.
Historic map of Camp Logan.
HAIF Camp Logan discussion.
The 1917 Riot was a mutiny by 150 black soldiers from the Third Battalion of the Twenty-Fourth United States Infantry. It lasted one afternoon, and resulted in the deaths of four soldiers and 15 civilians. The rioters were tried at three courts-martial. Ninteen were executed, and 51 were given life sentences.
A September 17, 1923 TIME Magazine article noted that part of the NAACP’s “Message to the People of the United States” at its 14th annual convention read: “We ask that the American people demand the release of the 54 members of the 24th Infantry now incarcerated at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary for their connection with the Houston, Texas [race] riots of 1917.”
The battalion of black soldiers was stationed in Houston to guard the construction of Camp Logan.
Wikipedia, “Houston Riot (1917)“.
Tyer, B. “Their First 100 Years”, Houston Press, Aug. 30, 2001.
Chapter One of Robert V. Haynes’ A Night of Violence – The Houston Riot of 1917 (1976).
1917 riot documentary (“Mutiny on the Bayou“) website.