Joseph Underwood Munson

b. 25 April 1912, d. 11 June 1997
Joseph Underwood Munson|b. 25 Apr 1912\nd. 11 Jun 1997|p3.htm|George Poindexter Munson Sr.|b. 12 Aug 1873\nd. 7 Jan 1944|p18.htm|Louise Underwood|b. 8 Jul 1880\nd. 5 Sep 1946|p19.htm|George P. Munson|b. 4 Jun 1832\nd. 19 Apr 1878|p20.htm|Matilda A. Davis|b. 22 Feb 1850\nd. 25 Feb 1882|p21.htm|Joseph P. Underwood|b. 26 Feb 1845\nd. 1 Feb 1925|p66.htm|Louisa A. B. Hanks|b. 3 Jun 1847\nd. 2 Feb 1912|p67.htm|

Son of George Poindexter Munson Sr.
Son of Louise Underwood.
Father of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Munson and Allied Families
Underwood and Allied Families
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Joe U. Munson, Sr.
     Joseph Underwood Munson was born on 25 April 1912 in Columbia, Brazoria County, Texas,1 (now East Columbia). He was the son of George Poindexter Munson Sr. and Louise Underwood.1 He married Ruth Anna Horn, daughter of William Lemuel Horn Jr. and Ruth Minerva Fairfield, on 16 September 1935 at First Methodist Church, Angleton.2 He died on 11 June 1997 in Angleton at age 85.3 Funeral services were at Bethel Presbyterian Church, East Columbia.4 He was buried on 13 June 1997 in Old Columbia Cemetery, West Columbia.5,4 Click to view image
     Joe, who was named for his grandpa Joe Underwood, was born in the Underwood home Click to view image in Columbia. It was common in those days for women to give birth at home or at the home of their parents, attended or unattended by a doctor. Another factor for Joe's mother, however, was that Dr. Marcus Weems, who delivered most or all of her babies, lived near the Underwoods in Columbia. Joe lived his entire life in Brazoria County, and appears there in the household of his parents as a seven year old in the 1920 census Click to view image, and a seventeen year old in the 1930 census.6,7 Click to view image

     The George P. Munson home Click to view image was at Bailey's Prairie, but because there was no school bus service, the family lived in Columbia during the school year. Joe went to elementary school there, and he loved to tell the story of having to repeat first grade: He figured half a day of school was plenty, so he took off every day at noon and played on the river bank. However, he also told of his teacher dismissing the students early one day because the Brazos was coming out of its banks, and of his father finding him up to his waist in water trying to get home. George was so furious at the teacher that he kept Joe home the rest of the school year.

     Joe loved Bailey's Prairie and Columbia. At Bailey's Prairie, he took an early interest in horses, cattle and gardening. At Columbia, he was surrounded by his beloved Underwood relatives. His aunt, Laura Underwood, used a unique method to teach Joe, and probably the other children, how to swim: She tied a rope around his waist, and with her on the bank holding the other end to avoid disaster, he learned to swim in the Brazos River. Once when Joe was ten or twelve years old and dreaming of far away places, he put a note in a bottle, corked it, and threw it in the Brazos during an overflow. About six weeks later he got a reply. It was from one of his Caldwell first cousins who had found the bottle on the beach near Velasco! Joe loved the river, and according to his son Joe, always figured his favorite hymn, Shall We Gather at the River, surely was referring to the Brazos.

     By the time Joe entered eighth grade which was the freshman year at that time, there was no longer a high school in East Columbia. At West Columbia High School, one of his teachers was Mrs. Grandstaff whose daughter Kathryn would later change her name to Kathryn Grant, and, after a brief acting career, marry Bing Crosby. Joe graduated from West Columbia High School in 1929.

     Joe and Ruth Anna met at an Independence Day picnic in Brazoria County in 1935, and after a brief courtship, they married. Joe got his cousin Emma Kennedy (deputy to Clerk of the County Court, H.R. Stevens) to open the courthouse so that he and Ruth Anna could get their marriage license Click to view image. Afterward, they went to the Methodist Church where they were married in the cupola by Reverend William Jay Richards. Witnessing their marriage were Joe's cousins, Cauley and Armour Munson. After the ceremony, they drove to Sandy Point to tell Ruth Anna's mother that they were married, and then on to Bailey's Prairie to tell Joe's parents. When they walked in, Joe's dad called out, "Did you bring your girl, Joe?" To that he replied, "No sir! I brought my wife!"8

     The first six years of their marriage, Joe and Ruth Anna lived in Sandy Point. To help Joe's dad who had a heart condition, they moved to Bailey's Prairie on 28 February 1942. They lived with Joe's parents until 1944 when they moved to Angleton. Their reasons for moving were that Joe's sister Catherine and her family had recently moved back in at Bailey's Prairie, and Joe Jr. was starting first grade in the fall. They first rented a home from Joe's cousin Lewis Munson who, with his wife and son, had moved to Boerne to manage a ranch owned by Lewis' brother-in-law, Tony Robertson. Lewis' wife Mildred didn't like living in Boerne, so in 1945 they moved back to Angleton. Joe and Ruth Anna were given only a day's notice to move, and hearing of their dilemma, cousin George Kennedy offered to rent to them a house next door to his own about two miles south of Angleton. In 1951 the Kennedys built a new home on the same property, and in November of that year, the Joe Munson family moved into their old home, a 1½ story built about 1929. After the home burned to the ground on 27 March 1971, Joe and Ruth Anna built a new home on the same site, and it remained Ruth Anna's home until the fall of 2003 when she moved with her son and daughter-in-law, George and Margie Munson, to their new home at Bailey's Prairie.8

     Joe worked for Dow Pipeline Operations from 1942 until his retirement in 1977. He was Chief Inspector for the construction of many of the pipelines that serve the Dow complex in Freeport and was certified as a Senior Engineering Technician. Although devoted to his job, his abiding interests were gardening and cattle ranching. He kept cattle at Bailey's Prairie on the 100 acres where he grew up, and also on some acreage a few miles to the west on Middle Bayou. His Windmill brand () is still registered in his name, his son George and daughter Laura Jane having re-registered it in February 2002 at Angleton. Joe inherited Windmill from his father in 1944, at which time he gave his original brand, Windmill J (), to Laura Jane.8,4

     Joe was a lifelong Presbyterian. As a child he attended Bethel Presbyterian Church in (East) Columbia. After moving to Angleton, he and Ruth Anna joined the First Presbyterian Church.8

     Joe suffered a stroke in April 1993, and was later diagnosed with lymphoma. Ruth Anna cared for him at home as long as possible. He died at Cypress Woods Care Center with Ruth Anna, his daughter-in-law, Margie Munson, and his granddaughter, Kathryn Munson, at his side.

Children of Joseph Underwood Munson and Ruth Anna Horn


  1. [S5] Joseph Underwood Munson entry, Brazoria County Births, Liber 2: no. 189, County Clerk's Office, Angleton, Texas.
  2. [S2] Brazoria County Marriage Book 12: 82, no. 163, County Clerk's Office, Angleton, Texas.
  3. [S7] Joseph Underwood Munson, death certificate no. 05-097-97, Texas Department of Public Health, Austin.
  4. [S9] Personal recollection of the writer, Laura M. Cooper (1804 Holm Oak St., Arlington, Texas).
  5. [S8] Joseph Underwood Munson tombstone, block 18, lot 16, site 7, Old Columbia Cemetery, West Columbia, Brazoria County, Texas; photographed by the writer on 31 July 1997.
  6. [S37] George P. Munson household, 1930 U.S. Census, Brazoria County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 1, Angleton-West Columbia Road, enumeration district (ED) 20-4, sheet 8A/41, dwelling 156, family 162; National Archives micropublication T626, roll 2301.
  7. [S38] George P. Monson household, 1920 U.S. Census, Brazoria County, Texas, population schedule, J.P. 2, East Columbia township, Columbia (unincorporated), Avenue Brazos, enumeration district (ED) 3, sheet 2B, dwelling 49, family 50; National Archives micropublication T625, roll 1774.
  8. [S10] Interview with Ruth Anna (Horn) Munson (Mrs. Joe U. Munson; Angleton, Texas), by Laura Munson Cooper, 5 January 2003. Transcript held in 2003 by Cooper (1804 Holm Oak St.; Arlington, TX 76012-5608).
  9. [S11] Joseph Underwood Munson Jr. entry, Brazoria County Births, Liber ?: no. 7, County Clerk's Office, Angleton, Texas.
  10. [S1] Laura Jane Munson entry, Brazoria County Births, Liber 12: no. 1037, County Clerk's Office, Angleton, Texas.
  11. [S13] George Kennedy Munson entry, Brazoria County Delayed Certificates of Birth, Liber N: no. 831, County Clerk's Office, Angleton, Texas.