Happy Memorial Day from a Daughter of the Revolution

A little over 9 years ago, in 2014, I got a letter from a John C. Vance who had seen my genealogy site. He said he was also descended from Andrew Milton Vance (1804-1868) who settled in Paris Illinois; he even has the family Bible. In 2014, my son Brian was in the throes of cancer and I was far from doing any genealogy research … then Brian died, and I was in the wilderness for years. But I kept John’s letter in my ‘To do’ box, and it turned up recently. I must be feeling the freedom to revisit old hobbies, because I called him, and low and behold, he still had the same number! We had a nice visit (he will turn 80 this year), and he said he would send me his data. It got me looking at the Vance line again. I even joined the Vance Family Association.

My new friend John C. said, “you can join the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).” “Cool,” I said. I think I have another connection but didn’t know about one in the Vance line. Apparently, Lieutenant William Blackburn, who died at the Battle of King’s Mountain, is our ancestor. (His first child, Mary, married Samuel Vance in Abdingdon, Virginia. Mary and Samuel gave birth to Andrew mentioned above in 1804, and later they all migrated to Paris, Illinois.)

Kings Mountain was a famous battle considered by many to be the “turning point” of the American Revolution. It only lasted 65 minutes but the Loyalists suffered 290 killed, 163 wounded, and 668 taken prisoner, while the Patriot militia suffered 28 killed and 60 wounded.

One of the 28 who sacrificed their lives that day was our ancestor, the lieutenant William Blackburn. If you click on his name above it’ll take you to another site like mine; Vicki Seibel has already compiled some interesting information on Lt. Blackburn. I guess Vicki and I are (very) far-removed cousins. You can see William Blackburn’s name on the monument below. (Oh, and just as an aside, Brian’s middle name is William. It came from both sides. ❤️)

I’m grateful for all those who gave their lives for our freedom, for those who fought alongside them, and those who have served or currently serve (like my nephew Gavin) to keep our freedom safe. Happy Memorial Day.

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Whataburger Builder

T.M. Moore: Part 3

(1950- ) Hard Work Pays Off

I left off in 1950 when my grandfather TM Moore met Whataburger founder Harmon Dobson in Corpus Christi, which changed his life. 

What we know is that Dobson showed up at Moore’s Welding (my grandfather’s welding shop) and asked him to build some hamburger joints.  What we don’t know is exactly when this happened and what occurred shortly thereafter.  One version, Whataburger’s Crew News (April 1979), says that in the restaurant’s founding year 1950, Dobson walked into Moore’s metal shop and said he had “a plan.” In this version, TM recalls, “He said he was going in the hamburger business and had some construction projects for me if I wanted them.”

1979 April Whataburger Crew News p.1

1979 April Whataburger Crew News p.6


But the book “Whataburger: The Tale of a Texas Icon,” by Greg Wooldridge (Dobson’s son-in-law), says an Aransas Pass welder built the first “few” hamburger stands before TM got involved. 

1950's Whataburger BOOK p.51


Regardless of whether Daw built that very first Whataburger pictured on the wall of every restaurant, he ended up building a ton of them, and was involved very early on.  I remember the first version above being told in my childhood.

1950's Whataburger BOOK p.50

Above:  TM in white hat. Photo from “Whataburger, Tale of a Texas Icon.”

Below:  One of the box units TM built at his shop, “#18 . . . moved to Pasadena, Tex.” (from our photos).

1956 Whataburger no 18 being built

Mema also told us that Harmon showed up on Christmas Eve in a bundle of excitement, saying he wanted to make the restaurant bigger and more noticeable from the highway, at which point he and Daw “drew up the A-frame design with chalk on the floor of our garage” — which became the Whataburger restaurants with broad orange and white stripes visible from miles away.   

I always thought they “drew it up” right there, but the Whataburger book says that Harmon already had a scale model of it and went to ask TM to build it. 

Prior to that holiday meeting, Moore had gone back to supervising the construction of a refinery, partly due to the strain traveling had on his family and partly because Dobson was not building enough stores to keep him busy.  Welding oil field equipment was his work before meeting Dobson a decade earlier.

(from Tale of a Texas Icon):  “Harmon was a bold business man,” Moore remembers, “and he was willing to try everything. But he was cautious when it came to building stores and adding franchisees. He didn’t want people deviating from quality. He was very strict about that; if you forgot quality, you would destroy the product. It was the same with buildings. He wanted them to go up right the first time.”

“When Dobson pulled into the driveway of Moore’s home on Christmas Even of 1960, he wasn’t alone.

“There was a knock on the door and it was Harmon, with little Hugh in his arms,” Moore recalls.  “He wished us a Merry Christmas and told me to come by the office and see him the next afternoon, that he had something he wanted to talk about.”

That something was the A-frame, an entirely new construction challenge. When he returned from the meeting, Moore was a Whataburger man again.

Again, while the stories differ slightly, we know that in 1961 TM Moore built the first A-frame in Odessa, and eventually many more.

1960's Whataburger BOOK p.92

Page 92 of Whataburger : The Tale of a Texas Icon

And that Crew News article says TM Moore “had a hand” in construction of 84 units.  Here’s his log book in which he personally logs about 56 of them – probably the “new” stores that he supervised building.


Let’s pause here for now, but more is to come.  Life has turns and twists, and one was soon to come for the Dobson’s and the Moore’s.  To be continued…


Think of my grandfather, TM a/k/a “Daw” next time you stop by Whataburger!








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Part 2 of TM Moore is up!

Read all about Daw’s wartime contribution in Part 2: the Wartime Years and beyond. Compilated boxes of notebooks and files brought to life with the photos and my own research. I hope you enjoy it.

TM, Linda (my mom) and Billie in Austin in 1943

Love, Val

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Obituary updates

Hey gang, I’ve updated the site with the following obituaries:

Linked above as well as descendants on the Reverend Ferdinand Heisig page.

From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Love, Val

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New Page! Daw

I’ve published the “first installment” about Daw (my grandfather, Thomas Martin Moore). Either click on link here or find it under Moore in the menu. A product of the Depression, he kept records of all of his work. I hope you enjoy it!

p.s. Mema and Daw in Hawaii 🙂

Love, Val

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Rev. Heisig page updated

Hey folks,

I noticed some old pages were missing photos, probably due to transfer back to WordPress, so I’ve spent some time refurbishing and just fixed Rev. Ferdinand Heisig’s page, my great-great grandfather. What an interesting chap and what it must have been like to leave Germany in the 1800’s, marry a French-woman in London, then take the family of 10 to Galveston with the goal of carrying German Baptism to Texas!!

The Reverend’s first wife Elisa Marie (CT’s mother) is buried not far from where I live now, out near Brenham. I would love to know more about her. For awhile Scott and I were shopping for property out there. We had a dream of having a place in the country. What if we’d bought something near Independence where he started that first church.

One of my genealogy contacts sent me this photo back then, care of Washington County Genealogical Society. Maybe one day I will go out there and try to find it. I may have to knock on someone’s door so I don’t get shot!

Heisig Cemetery on private property but required to be maintained in perpetuity in deed to the property

Enjoy re-reading about the good Reverend, and please let me know if you like the site! It helps to know even one person is reading to keep me going. 🙂

I need to fix more pages but for now I think I’ll head back on over to the Moore side. Love to all.

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I’m back

I’m back on the job after a long (8 year) break, and starting to add the branches from our maternal grandparents, Thomas Martin Moore (b. 1914) and Willie Jeanette Polk (b. 1918). 

I’m starting with the Moore side. I have a stack of boxes containing our Mom and aunt’s pre-internet research. We were brought up being told about our ancestors, especially on holidays. I was told to be proud to be a 5th generation Texan, or to have a Chief Justice (Ohio Supreme Court) in my heritage. One grandfather built 81 Whataburgers. It’s my goal to deepen the research and make the stories available here for our own children and beyond. 

I’m trying to re-learn WordPress and the new editor, so it’s going to be a learning curve getting it to look like I want.

Here’s my first new page, about the first native Texan in our family, Evalyn Alice Freeman and her husband Thomas M. Moore the elder.

Early Pioneer Texans

(p.s. my work from 2012 is still here on our paternal grandparents, Andrew Milton Vance and Helen Ruth Heisig. In 2012 I added most of the photos and research on the Vance, Scott, Heisig, and Young, branches. I need to go back and add some (it’s lacking Justice Josiah Scott and maybe some others) but you can still enjoy what’s been done so far.)

Let me know what you think!

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