By James Pylant
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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
Benjamin Jackson HagmanLarry Hagman’s fatherwas 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
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 grandparentsthe parents of James A. Martinwere 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.