Place of Birth: Corpus Christi, TX
Age of Death: 51 years, 2 months, 4 days
Date of Death: March 14, 1903
Cause of Death: Cancer
Bay View Cemetery Association, Corpus Christi, Texas. Record of Interments
Provenance: Corpus Christi Public Libraries
According to the information on her grave marker, Hettie R. Gravis was born about January 10, 1852. She was the daughter of Irene E. Hall (usually listed as a native of Pennsylvania or South Carolina—in 1900 census) and Irene's first husband, John A. F. Gravis (a native of South Carolina according to early census but from Germany according to the 1900 census). They married in Independence, Washington County, Texas on 19 January 1839 (Vol. 1 page 1 of the Washington County Records says date issued was 10-6-1837 in one transcript, probably a typo). Hettie's father died in 1855 and the widowed mother remarried in 1856 to Henry W. Berry. These two are also buried in Old Bayview Cemetery. Henry was active as a Texas Ranger and a law officer in Nueces County and died 15 May 1888. Irene died 10 July 1888, only a few months after her second husband. In the 1860 census records of Nueces county, Hettie is found listed as a "Berry" (1860 federal census of Nueces County, page 256b). Only in later census records does she appear with her true family name of "Gravis". Her full blood sisters include Susan Gravis who was married to George Pfeuffer of New Braunfels (he died in Austin 15 September 1886) and Laura who was married to J. B. DaCamara. In 1880 the DaCamara family lived in Cameron County, Texas. However, they had moved to DeLand, Florida when Dr. J. B. DaCamara died in December of 1883. Laura and family returned to Texas and she spent her last years in San Diego and then Laredo, Texas, where she died. Hettie's other sisters include Anne (married name "Clarke") who is listed as a milliner in the 1880 census (Nueces County p. 5A) and Lottie (probably Charlotte) M. (married name "Duck"). Hettie's most notable brother-in-law was probably Mr. George Pfeuffer who was born in Bavaria in 1829. With three brothers he came to America at the age of 15 years old and settled in Corpus Christi where he began to build his fortune. He married Hettie's sister Susan and subsequently moved to New Braunfels where he built successful woolen mills. He later owned saw mills in eastern Texas and was the largest dealer in lumber in western Texas, having yards at New Braunfels, Laredo, Cotulla, and other places. He served as a Texas Senator and for several years was president of the Board of Directors of Texas A & M in Bryan-College Station. Hettie remained in the family home all her life as it became hers after the deaths of her parents in 1888. Her younger half-brothers were Henry L. Berry and Lee Joseph (aka Lee H.) Berry. Like Hettie, they remained in the south Texas area (active in Corpus Christi, Alice, Beeville, and San Antonio). Hettie did travel often to visit family, and the Caller carries many short announcements of her journeys to her family in Laredo, New Braunfels, San Antonio, and Austin. In the final census in which she appears (the 1900 federal census of Nueces County, p. 135A), Hettie is living with her sister Laura DaCamara and Laura's children—Harry, Mamie, and Bernie. While Harry and Mamie were both born in Texas, Bernie was born while the family was in Maryland. Hettie lists herself as from Texas. Both she and Laura say that their father (Mr. Gravis) was from Germany and their mother (Irene Hall-Gravis-Berry) was from South Carolina. Hettie simply lists her work as "rent of house". Hettie died on 14 March 1903. Apparently her final days were somewhat difficult as a friend has written on one of the copies of her funeral announcement: "Hettie died this most beautiful bright day—it seems so sad to think she had to suffer so terribly" (script added to copy of her funeral notice in archives of Corpus Christi Central Library—see it on website).
Research and transcription: Michael A. Howell