James Carroll "Jim" Sewell
of Rice, Navarro County, Texas


Biography Index || Civil War Index

"I Wish I Could Tell You"

A big, blue and white banner reading "Welcome Jim Sewell" was stretched across the front of R. S. High's insurance office in Blooming Grove, Texas (pop. 821). Jim Sewell couldn't read the words, but he could sense what was going on.

Jim grew up in around Blooming Grove, was on the U.S.S. Hornet in Manila Bay in 1944 when an unreleased bomb on an incoming plane exploded. A fragment struck him in the head, injured the optic nerve, left him almost totally blind.

After training in schools for the blind, Jim enrolled at the University of Texas, got fellow students to read to him, was soon on the honor roll. His prewar sweetheart married him, and they bought a house with his G.I. money. Last October, he passed the state bar examination, ranking fourth in a group of 300. He had developed a phenomenal memory, not only for what was in the books, but for the sound of people's voices. He learned to follow a conversation by shifting his eyes from one speaker to another, instead of turning an ear as blind people are apt to do. Hearing the Cellophane on a cigarette package crackle, he would have a light extended by the time the smoker was ready.

He got interested in politics, ran for the state legislature, got elected. There he memorized long sections of bills, quickly in his freshman term became a leader. His principal fight: for a new natural gas tax for roads and schools. "I enjoy politics," said Jim, "and it's a good way to do good for your country."

Last week the citizens of Blooming Grove and Texans for miles around turned out to honor 39-year-old Jim Sewell. He came up from Austin with his wife Janet and their two-year-old son Jimmy to give the commencement address at the Consolidated High School. Next day, a big truck trailer was pulled up in front of the First State Bank for a speakers' platform. There were speeches and telegrams predicting that he would one day be governor. Mrs. G. E. Ramsey, who taught him grammar, said: "Jim, I'm wearing red shoes and a red flower and two coats of lipstick and my earbobs, all for you."

Then some big Texans hauled out a huge, walnut-finished, brass-trimmed desk and a leather-upholstered chair.
The citizens had bought it for the law office Jim intends to open. They made him sit in the chair, try the drawers of the desk.

"I had a speech all made up," said Jim with tears in his blind eyes, "but I got so flabbergasted I can't make it. I wish I could tell you what's in my mind."


Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox