Emmet Camp Flanagan

He was born in Henderson (Texas) on June 21, 1859, two years before the Civil War began. He remembers hearing stories about the war from his father, who was a Brigadier General in the Confederate army. Almost 40 years ago he traveled over this same road on his way to medical school. As an honor graduate from Henderson High School, he was awarded a scholarship to Tulane University. The trip by stagecoach between Henderson and Shreveport was his first venture away from home. In Shreveport he had to wait over for a train to New Orleans. Two nights in a boarding house with total strangers was an overwhelming experience for an eighteen-year-old lad.

The trip aboard the coal-burning train to New Orleans was even more maturing. He arrived late at night, black with soot. After walking the 12 blocks to Tulane University, he found the doors locked for the night. Finally, he aroused a caretaker and got a temporary bunk for the night.

Registration the next day went much smoother.

Now, he marvels at how fast time flew and he was graduated as a Medical doctor eight years later. It was lonely, of course, being away from home for a year at a time. But each year's studies became more absorbing and drew him eagerly back to the University. It was while there that he first differed with his grandfather and father over politics.

His grandfather, James Winwright Flanagan, was a lifelong member of the Whig and Republican parties. Born in Virginia in 1805, he moved with his parents to Kentucky in 1815. Self-educated, he became a merchant and owner of a flotilla of flatboats involved in transporting cargo down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans. From 1833 to 1842 he served as justice of the peace and as a member of the circuit court of Breckinridge County, Kentucky. In 1843 he sold his business and migrated with wife Polly and three children to Texas, settling in Henderson. There, he combined the practice of law with store-keeping, farming and dealing in land. He became an ally and personal friend of General Sam Houston, father of the Republic of Texas and its first and third presidents. During the Fifties he (J. W.) served in both the House and Senate of the Texas Legislature. He opposed secession by Texas in the Civil War and retired to his farm in Henderson. There he opened a tanyard and supplied leather to the Confederate government. He was a delegate to the Texas Constitutional Conventions of 1868 and 1875. In 1869, he was elected lieutenant governor of Texas on the Republican ticket. A year later he was appointed by the Texas Legislature to serve as U. S. Senator fro 1870 to 1875, when he again retired. He served as a delegate to the Republican national conventions of 1872 and 1880. His grandfather had ten children by the two wives who predeceased him. Emmet chuckles as he recalls that his grandfather's third wife, a widow, presented him with three young children on their wedding day. The step-daughter (Sallie Phillip Ware) grew up to become the second wife of his son Webster! One of his step-sons later married Webster's daughter Horace! (Ah, the plot thickens)

His father, Webster, was also a life-long Republican and politician. He too had ten children by two wives; dealt in real estate; operated a farm and store; practiced law; served as a Texas senator and Lt. Governor; and was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1868 and 1875. Although he opposed secession by Texas, he served the Confederates as a Brigadier General in the Quartermaster Corp. For many years afterwards, he served as Internal Revenue Collector for the state of Texas. He was a delegate to several Republican national conventions and is said by historians to have been highly instrumental in securing the nominations for three Republican presidents. As the keynote speaker in 1898, he stirred the delegates to action with a stinging question: "What are we here for?"

Emmet smiles as he recalls his father's reaction to learning his son had become a Democrat.

"You're the only black sheep in the family!" his father declared with disgust.

"Just the opposite!" he retorted. "I'm the only white sheep!"

Emmet felt that the Democratic Party better reflected his love for the common people whom he had chosen to serve as a doctor. His house calls by horse and buggy over country roads, rain or shine, were always rewarded with love and affection . . . if not money! Those without often brought abundant quantities of vegetables, fruits, and other farm products to his family. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and his birthday always brought an outpouring of affection and gifts from all of his neighbors.

He looks ruefully at his crippled left hand and momentarily wishes those days still existed. No point in looking back, though! He had long since forgiven himself for his careless lighting of the lantern. Former loving patients are now loving customers at FLANAGAN'S GENERAL STORE. Some, though, are still unable to pay with money. He's just thankful he can help.

--Micki (Flanagan) Perry