Supreme Court

In Special Session, Supreme Court Commemorates Armistice Centennial 


Contact: Osler McCarthy
512.463.1441 or email

For November 14, 2018
Supreme Court Historical Society will honor judges, governors as ‘Great War’ vets

On the eve of a modern-warfare turning point, the Army assigned Frank P. Culver to lead an artillery unit. In the Great War, before advanced air combat, before bombers flew beyond the front lines in the next great war to attack munitions plants and airfields, the artillery was still “the final argument of kings.” And Frank Culver, then a few years out of the University of Texas law school, later to join the Texas Supreme Court in 1953, led his unit in the Army’s 90th Division into decisive battles in the last days before the Armistice.

Also in the 90th Division, composed of Texans and Oklahomans, was future Gov. Beaufort H. Jester, who dropped out of Harvard Law to join the Army soon after America entered the war in 1917. Trained as Culver was at Camp Funston in Leon Springs, west of San Antonio, Jester led infantry troops in the same two battles as Culver. Wounded in a mustard-gas attack little more than two weeks before the war’s end, Jester refused to leave his troops.

Culver and Jester will be among former justices and governors honored at a service Wednesday commemorating the centennial of World War I’s end. Their stories and others are told in the latest edition of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society Journal.

The ceremony, a session of the Court, will start at 1:30 p.m. in the historic Texas Supreme Court courtroom in the Texas Capitol. Justice Paul Green will open Court in Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht’s absence. A videotape will be posted on the historical society’s website.

“When you hear about the lives and service to our state of the Judges and Governors we honor today,” Houston District Court Judge Mark Davidson writes in the society’s journal, “consider how their service made the Courts and our state better. … Each of the twelve veterans we honor today made a difference for our State, and made a difference for the better.”

David A. Furlow, a Houston lawyer and executive editor of the society’s journal, related Culver’s military story. Davidson, a society board member and chair of the society’s Great War Committee, authored Jester’s.

In his article Davidson notes medical science today established a correlation between mustard-gas inhalation and cardiovascular disease and speculates that Jester may have been, at his end, a wartime casualty.

Davidson, in a forward in the journal to answer why the “forgotten” war’s end should be celebrated, explains how Texas oil production contributed so mightily in the first war to depend on petroleum, making Texas a “major player in the world economy.” He celebrates World War I’s effect on and development of a next generation of state leaders in the mid-20th Century and urges the need now for giving thanks for a generation fighting a war that began the evolution of a more democratic world.

Among soldiers and sailors who served to celebrate the Armistice, Davidson writes, were eight future Texas Supreme Court justices, three future Texas governors and two judges who would serve on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. In addition to Culver, the eight Supreme Court justices were Few Brewster, A.J. Folley, W. St. John Garwood, Meade Griffin, Robert Hamilton, Gordon Simpson and Charles Slatton. Griffin also served on the Court of Criminal Appeals and George Christian on the Commission of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

The other future governors were Dan Moody Jr. and Jimmy Allred.

Culver, who shipped overseas at the end of June 1918, earned a battlefield promotion to captain, helping direct artillery fire in two decisive campaigns that pushed an advance from St. Mihiel to Strasbourg in northeastern France, on the German border, in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Furlow notes that Culver served again in World War II as a lieutenant colonel in an artillery unit of the 90th Division. In 1928 Governor Moody appointed him to a district court bench in Fort Worth. In 1951-52 he served on the Court of Civil Appeals in Fort Worth before his election to the Texas Supreme Court in 1952. He retired from the Court in 1964.

Jester survived a submarine attack on his crossing to Europe; rifle and machine-gun fire as the Americans countered with an offensive strategy that abandoned the war’s deadly trench warfare; artillery attacks that led to most casualties on both sides; and, finally, Spanish flu. “He trained and led on the field of battle a group of soldiers who had been farmers months before the battles,” Davidson wrote.

“He and his men fought with distinction. On the centennial of the Armistice, there is no better time to honor him and his service to the people of our nation and our state.”

And for the others of the 12 the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society are honoring.