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 Larry Hagman


  Larry Hagman, the one and only J. R. Ewing, was a fourth generation Texan. His mother was Broadway legend Mary Martin.


Larry Hagman's Southern Roots

By James Pylant


In the long-running television series Dallas, ruthless Texan J. R. Ewing was played by actor Larry Hagman, a native of the Lone Star State. Like his fictional counterpart, Hagman was from a prominent North Central Texas family, but there the similarity ends. Though Ewing was a Dallasite, the famous actor portraying him was born in Fort Worth, Tarrant County. Larry Martin Hagman, the only child of Benjamin Jackson Hagman and Broadway legend Mary Martin, was born on 21 September 1931.1 The actor, who died in Dallas on 23 November 2012,2 was a fourth generation Texan.

Hagman attended school in his mother's hometown of Weatherford, in Parker County,3 which adjoins Tarrant County on its western border. Mary Martin was 16 years old when she wedded accountant Ben Hagman in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, but their marriage lasted only a few years.4

The Hagmans
Benjamin Jackson Hagman—Larry Hagman's father—was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Jackson.5 World War II veteran Lt. Col. Benjamin J. Hagman, who served with the heavy artillery of the 106th Infantry Division in the invasion of Germany, was awarded the Bronze Star for exceptional and meritorious service performed on the field of battle.6 An attorney, he was born 9 July 1908 in Fort Worth and died at age 57 in Dallas, although he was then living in Weatherford. He was buried in Garden of Memories, in Weatherford. He and second wife, Juanita Saul, were the parents of Gary Hagman.7

Ben Hagman's death certificate identifies his parents as William L. Hagman and Hanna Margaret Germany.8 However, Germany was his mother's birthplace, not her maiden name. Margaret was a clerk's misunderstanding of Hannah's maiden name, Marquardt. When applying for a social security account number in 1956, Ben Hagman gave his parents' names as William Lewis Hagman and Hannah Marquardt.9

In her autobiography, Mary Martin wrote that Ben Hagman's grandparents had emigrated from Sweden, "where the family had been silversmiths and jewelers," adding that after coming to America, they settled in Racine, Wisconsin, before relocating near Grand Rapids and operated lumber mills.10 William Lewis Hagman, according to son Carl Hagman, was born in Wisconsin on 29 March 1855 [probably 1869] to Carl O. Hagman of Sweden and Bertha Johnson of Wisconsin. He died on 28 June 1931,11 three months before the birth of his grandson, Larry Hagman.

The Hagmans moved to Texas in 1906.12 In 1910 the family lived in Fort Worth at the time of the federal census enumeration which shows William L. Hagman, 42, a superintendent at a packing plant; wife Hannah, age 37; and sons William L., 11; Carl Otto, nine; and Benjamin J., nine months, resided at 2014 Clinton Avenue.13 A decade later William and Margaret lived with their three sons on West Seventh Street in Fort Worth. Curiously, practitioner of science was recorded as occupation for both William and Margaret, with a notation that the two had income on "own account."14 This, however, was likely a reference to their religious beliefs rather than employment. According to Mary Martin, her mother-in-law was a Christian Scientist during the last 20 years of her life.15 Indeed, a Fort Worth city directory published in 1925 listed both William L. and Hannah M. Hagman as a "Christian Science practitioner."16

Hannah (Marquardt) Hagman was born on 11 June 1872. Like son Ben, she died at age 57; breast cancer claimed her life on 28 May 1929 in Fort Worth.17 According to her husband, she was the daughter of W. F. Marquardt of France, but W. L. Hagman did not know the maiden name of his mother-in-law, who was still living.18 Her parents were William F. Marquardt and Augusta Lasetzky.19

The Martins
Mary Virginia Martin was born in Weatherford on 1 December 1913 and she died in Rancho Mirage, Riverside County, California, on 3 March 1990.20 Several years following her divorce from Ben Hagman, she married Richard Halliday, a film editor and writer. They had one child, Heller Halliday.21

Mary Martin had one older sister, Geraldine "Jerry" Martin, who was born on 3 September 1902, also in Weatherford.22 They were the daughters of Preston Martin and the former Juanita Pressley. Preston Martin, whose law practice in that town spanned more than 40 years, was a Mississippian, his birth occurring at Popular Creek, Choctaw County, on 6 April 1872.23 He and Juanita Pressley, a music teacher, were married in Fort Worth on 10 August 1899.24 His wife was a native Texan, born in Brenham, Washington County, on 27 May 1878.25 Martin died on 20 December 1938 in Weatherford.26 His widow then joined their actress-daughter in California, where she died at age 66 on 9 August 1944 in Los Angeles.27

Geraldine Martin, Mary Martin's sister, was the namesake of their paternal grandmother. James Albert Martin and the former Geraldine Hearon, the parents of Preston Martin, were married on 19 September 1867 in Mississippi. Born on 7 September 1845, James A. Martin was a native of Alabama and lived in that state until, at age five, he moved with his parents to Popular Creek, Mississippi. He enlisted in the Confederate Army and served through Forrest's Cavalry, and after the war's end taught school and farmed in Mississippi until moving his family to Texas in 1877. Here, the Martins settled at Long's Creek, 15 miles southeast of Weatherford, where James A. farmed and ranched until 1905, when the family moved to Weatherford. James A. Martin continued living in Parker County until age 81, when he moved to Floydada, Floyd County. He lived there four years, his death occurring on 25 April 1931.28 The Martins had nine children: Howard (born 1868), Assistant Attorney General of Texas; Lela (born 1870), who married W. M. Massie; Preston; Eugene H. (born 1874); Luther (born 1878); Barnard (born 1880); Andy J. (born 1883); James G. (born 1886); and Claude M., born 1888).29

According to Claude M. Martin, his grandparents—the parents of James A. Martin—were Jackson Martin and the former Nancy Sawyer.30 The 1860 U.S. Census of Choctaw County, Mississippi, shows the Popular Creek household of 46 year-old Jackson Martin, a farmer and South Carolinian, with Alabama natives Nancy A., age 36; teacher William L., age 18; James A., age 14, and Mississippi natives Andrew, age five; Lilley, age three; and Beulah, age eight months. Jackson Martin's real estate was valued at $3,000, while his personal property was estimated at $12,475.31 The 1870 U.S. Census shows Jackson Martin still farming in the same county, but his real estate was then valued at $1,500.00, while his personal property had dropped to $1,450.00. Jackson, age 56, and Nancy, age 46, had four children in their household: 16 year-old Andrew; Lillie, age 13; Buler [Beulah], age 10, and Isiac, age four.32 By then, James A. Martin had been married nearly three years and had a household of his own. At Popular Creek, James Martin, age 25, a farmer, is shown with Gerlden, age 23 and two year-old Howard and one year-old Liler. His real estate was valued at $1,000, while his personal property was valued at $500.33

Although Choctaw County Courthouse lost much of its early records in two nineteenth century fires, the first book of deeds was found in recent years in an old smokehouse. Recorded in this volume is Jackson A. Martin's purchase of a mule, wagon and yoke from S. S. Lott in February of 1868.34 Family tradition tells that both James A. Martin and Geraldine Hearon came from plantation-owning families, and that the Hearons were also merchants.35 Geraldine Hearon was born on 26 January 1847 in Alabama and died in Parker County, Texas, on 4 October 1910.36 According to the 1880 Census of Parker County, her father was a South Carolinian and her mother was a Tennessean.37

Also living in Choctaw County at the time of the 1860 Census was the large family of farmer Stephen Herron, a 54 year-old South Carolinian. In this household were Elizabeth, age 42, born in Tennessee; Alabama natives Christopher C., age 16, and Milton, age 15, both farm laborers; Jereldine, age 13; Baxtor, age 11; Luther, age nine; Alexander S., age seven; Mississippi natives Edna, age six; Adella, age four, and Marcus, a two year-old. Stephen Herron's real estate was valued at $6,000, and his personal property was given at $15,000.38

The Hearons migrated to Mississippi from Clarke County, Alabama, where they are shown on the 1850 U.S. Census. At age 46, Stephen Hearon's occupation is listed as a merchant, thus supporting the Martin family tradition that the Hearons were merchants. His age is 46, and again South Carolina is recorded as his birthplace. His real estate was valued at $1,500. Also listed were Elizabeth, age 32, born in Tennessee; and children Christopher C., age seven; John, age six; Milton, age four; Geraldine, age three; Baxter, age one; and four month-old Luther. Another resident of the Hearon household was a 20 year-old named Jno. Holder. Enumerated above Stephen Hearon was James Hearon, age 70, a farmer from North Carolina, and 58 year-old Minerva, a Virginian.39

Clarke County is where Stephen Hearon and Elizabeth Black were married a decade earlier on 6 February 1840.40 Larry Hagman's roots run deep in that southwestern Alabama county, and his Hearon kinfolks are found abundantly in its records. Further research might untangle the relationships and intermarriages with other old Clarke County families.


    1. Larry Martin Hagman birth certificate, no. 80711 (1931); Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin. In an article in the Weatherford Democrat, 23 June 1986, Larry Hagman said Jim Wright (later the U. S. Speaker) was his boxing instructor in high school in Weatherford.
    2. "Actor Larry Hagman, notorious as 'Dallas' villain J. R. Ewing, dies," The Dallas Morning News, online,, accessed 6 December 2012.
    3. Obituary of Mary Martin, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 5 November 1990.
    4. Mary Martin, My Heart Belongs (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1976), p. 36.
    5. Mary Martin, My Heart Belongs, p. 34.
    6. "Lt. Col. Hagman Awarded Bronze Star Medal," Weatherford Democrat, 6 September 1945.
    7. "Hagman, Benjamen, infant of," 1940 Births, Texas Birth Index, 1903 — 1997 (Austin: Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics), p. 854. See also UPI, "Hagman's Brother Shuns Spotlight," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8 Mar. 1981.
    8. Benjamin J. Hagman death certificate, no. 42306 (1965), Texas Department of Health, Austin.
    9. Benjamin Jack Hagman, Application for Social Security Account, no. 452-64-7582, Social Security Administration, Baltimore.
    10. Martin, My Heart Belongs, p. 34.
    11. William Lewis Hagman death certificate, no. 30706 (1931), Texas Department of Health.
    12. Martin, My Heart Belongs, p. 34.
    13. William L. Hagman household, 1910 U.S. Census, Tarrant County, Texas, Fort Worth, enumeration district [ED] 143, supervisor's district [SD] 12, p. 227, household 197, family 173; National Archives [NA] T624-1591.
    14. William Hagman household, 1920 U.S. Census, Tarrant County, Texas, Fort Worth, ED 98, SD 12, p. 72, dwelling 70, family 83; NA microfilm T625-1848.
    15. Martin, My Heart Belongs, p. 34.
    16. R. L. Polk Co., Morrison & Fourmy Directory Company, Fort Worth City Directory, 1925 (Houston: Morrison & Fourmy Co., Inc., 1925), p. 450.
    17. Mrs. W. L. Hagman death certificate, no. 27807 (1929), Texas Department of Health, Austin.
    18. "Funeral Services for Mrs. W. L. Hagman Held," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 29 May 1929.
    19. Ibid., states she was survived by her mother mother, Mrs. William F. Marquardt, and a sister, Mrs. Mat Speich, both of California. The marriage record of Matthew Speich and Augusta H. Marquardt, Wisconsin Marriages, 1836 — 1930, online, (accessed 6 December 2012), dated 10 January 1884, identifies the bride's parents as Wm. Marguardt and Tustan Lasetzky.
    20. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 5 November 1990, which states: "some reports placed the date [of her birth] one year later." Susan L. Stetler, ed., Biography Almanac, Vol. II (Detroit: Gale Research, 1986), p. 1095, gives 1 December 1914 as her birth date.
    21. Ibid.
    22. Obituary of Mrs. Jerry Martin Andrews, Weatherford Democrat, 10 May 1979. Her full name is given as "Jerry Geraldine Andrews," as informant on the death certificate of Juanita Pressley Martin, no. 12559 (1944), California State Department of Health Services, Sacramento. Her tombstone inscription in Greenwood City Cemetery, in Weatherford, states "Andrews/ Geraldine Martin / Born Sept. 3, 1902/ Died May 10, 1979," as copied by the compiler in February 2002.
    23. Obituary of Preston Martin, Weatherford Democrat, 23 December 1938.
    24. Obituary of Juanita Pressley Martin, Weatherford Democrat, 17 Aug. 1944.
    25. Juanita Pressley Martin, California state death certificate 12559.
    26. Weatherford Democrat, 23 December 1938.
    27. Weatherford Democrat, 17 August 1944.
    28. Obituary of J. A. Martin, Weatherford Democrat, 1 May 1931. A biographical sketch of James Martin in the Parker County Historical Commission's History of Parker County, (Weatherford, Texas: the commission, 1980), p. 431, states that his middle name was Alberta. The biography was compiled by Don W. Martin, a grandson.
    29. J. A. Martin's obituary names surviving children as Mrs. W. M. Massie, J. C., Claude M., Bernard, Preston, Eugene and Luther Martin. "Two sons, Howard and Andy, died several years ago." Farmer Jas. A. Martin (age 34) and wife Geraldine (age 33), both Alabama natives, with children Howard, age 11; Lela, age 10; Preston, age eight; Eugene, age six; Luther, age two; and Bernard, age four months (born in January), are shown in the 1880 U.S. Census, Parker County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 6, ED 189, SD 3, p. 458B, dwelling 16, family 16; NA microfilm T9-1322. J. A. Martin, age 54 (born September 1845), wife, G., age 53 (born January 1847), and sons E. H., age 26 (born May 1874), Luther, age 22 (born March 1878), Bernard, age 20 (born January 1880), Jas. G., age 14 (born March 1886), and Claude M., age 11 (born November 1888) appear in the 1900 U.S. Census, Parker County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 6, ED 77, SD 3, p. 237A, sheet 4, dwelling 65, family 65; NA microfilm T623-1664. J. A. Martin was farming on his own land, while his three oldest sons were listed as farm laborers. His wife was the mother of 12 children, only nine of whom were living. Howard Martin's obituary in the Weatherford Daily Herald, 2 April 1906, states that he was the "assistant attorney general of Texas."
    30. James A. Martin, death certificate, no. 18296 (1931), Texas Department of Health, Austin.
    31. Jackson Martin household, 1860 U.S. Census, Choctaw County, Mississippi, population schedule, Huntsville post office, p. 117, dwelling 835, family 805; NA microfilm M653-579.
    32. Jackson Martin household, 1870 U.S. Census, Choctaw County, Mississippi, Township 18, Range 7, p. 280; NA microfilm M593-725.
    33. James Martin household, 1870 U.S. Census, Choctaw County, Mississippi, population schedule, Popular Creek, p. 260, dwelling 8, family 8.
    34. Betty C. Wiltshire, Abstracts of Choctaw County, Mississippi Records (the author: 1993), p. 93.
    35. Parker County Historical Commission, History of Parker County, p. 431.
    36. Dates of birth and death from tombstone inscription of Geraldine Martin, Greenwood City Cemetery, Weatherford, Texas, as copied by the compiler in February 2002. Place of death from obituary of Mrs. Geraldine Martin in the Daily Herald, 5 October 1910.
    37. 1880 U.S. Census, Parker County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 6, ED 189, SD 3, p. 458B, dwelling 16, family 16.
    38. Stephen Herron household, 1860 U.S. Census, Choctaw County, Mississippi, population schedule, p. 17, dwelling 110, family 107.
    39. Stephen Hearon household, 1850 U.S. Census, Clarke County, Alabama, population schedule, p. 206, dwelling [blank], family 20; NA microfilm M432-3.
    40. Stephen Hearon to Elizabeth Black, Marriage Records, Vol. B, p. 49, Clarke County, Alabama.