Category Archives: Texas History

Vintage Postcard of the Day

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The Jumbo Drive-In in at 6412 Lemmon, Dallas advertised itself as having “The Finest Food in All Dallas” with service inside and out.

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Today in Texas History – October 27

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From the Annals of the Plains – In 1873, Joseph Glidden of DeKalb, IL submitted an application to the U.S. Patent Office for barbed wire.  Glidden’s was not the first barbed wire.  His design was inspired by seeing an exhibit of Henry Rose’s single-stranded barbed wire at the De Kalb county fair. Glidden’s design significantly improved on Rose’s by using two strands of wire twisted together to hold the barbed spur wires firmly in place.  The design was also easily mass-produced. By 1880 more than 80 million pounds of inexpensive Glidden-style barbed wire was sold, making it the most popular wire in the nation. Ranchers and farmers quickly discovered that Glidden’s wire was the cheapest, strongest, and most durable way to fence their property.

Today in Texas History – June 23

From the Annals of Equality – In 1919, the Texas House passed the Nineteenth Amendment which provided women with the constitutional right to vote. The Texas Senate passed the amendment on June 28.   With the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in August of 1920, Texas women finally had the full right of voting.

 

Today in Texas History – May 16

From the Annals of Jingoism – In 1898, Teddy Roosevelt arrived in San Antonio to recruit and train the First Volunteer Cavalry at the Menger Hotel.  The FVC known to history as the “Rough Riders” was comprised primarily of college athletes, cowboys, ranchers, miners, and other outdoorsmen who could ride and shoot.  Roosevelt recruited men from Texas and Oklahoma and the New Mexico and Arizona Territories thinking that they would be accustomed to the climate and terrain in parts of Cuba.   Although technically a cavalry unit, the RRs were unable to bring transport most of their horses and mule train to Cuba due to a shortage of transport ships.  All of their fighting in Cuba was done on foot. 

The unit is of course most famous for the charge up San Juan Hill initiated and led by Roosevelt.  The battle made TR a national figure and propelled the former Secretary of the Navy to become Governor of New York and ultimately President upon McKinley’s assassination.

 

Today in Texas History – May 9

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From the Annals of Folk Art – In 1979, The Orange Show on 2401 Munger Street in Houston was opened to the public.  TOS was conceived and built over a period of twenty-five years by Houston postman Jefferson D. McKissack.  1979. McKissack’s interest in oranges began while working as truck driver during the Depression.  He developed a strong belief  in the benefits of oranges and good nutrition and privately published How You Can Live 100 Years And Still Be Spry in 1960.  Beginning in the mid-1950’s, McKissack built the exterior walls of what became TOS as part of his plant nursery on two vacant lots across the street from his bungalow.  The real work began in 1962 when McKissack began work on his decades long project to create a folk art masterpiece around the orange theme.  McKissack primarily used found objects and relics purchased from junk stores for his creations.   Numerous signs and displays convey McKissack’s messages about the miraculous powers of the orange as a pure form of energy that “grows right out of the bloom, protected by the rind.”

McKissack believed that his creation would be a major tourist attractions because it “represents the entire multi-billion dollar orange industry.”  He predicted that some 90 percent of the population of the U.S. would want to visit TOS.   He was disappointed by the initial lack of enthusiasm and died of a stroke just seven months after the opening.  Some of the earliest visitors, however, were members of Houston’s art community who became determined to preserve McKissack’s creation.  In 1981 a group of twenty-two concerned citizens led by Marilyn Lubetkin, former president of CAM established the Orange Show Foundation and purchased McKissack’s creation from his heir.  TOSF extensively restored and “improved” the site.  The Orange Show is open to the public on weekends and holidays from March through December.

Image from orangeshow.org.

Today in Texas History – May 4

From the Annals of the Radicals –  In 1886, Albert Richard Parsons was implicated in the infamous Chicago Haymarket Massacre. Parsons had moved to Texas as a boy and lived in Tyler, the Hill Country and Galveston where he was a printer’s apprentice.  He was the brother of Confederate colonel William Henry Parsons and as a teenager served first in an irregular unit known as the Lone Star Greys and later in Parsons’s  Mounted Brigade during the Civil War.  After the war, he acquired 40 acres of corn and harvested it with the help of freed slaves.  He became a “Radical Republican”and was active in registering freed slaves to vote which no doubt earned him many enemies.  Parson also married a woman of mixed racial heritage – Lucy Parsons who had her own career fighting for social change.   When the Democrats returned to power after the end of Reconstruction, Parsons was persecuted as a miscegenationist and a scalawag.  He moved to Chicago worked as newspaper reporter for the Chicago Tribune and ultimately joined the Workingmen’s Party of the United States – standing as a candidate for Chicago alderman.  He was also active in the formation of the Knights of Labor.   On the evening of May 4, 1886, Parsons spoke at a meeting in Haymarket Square to protest police brutality.  He was with his family in nearby Zepf’s Hall when over 200 policemen marched into the square.  The infamous Haymarket Riot was imminent.  Someone threw a “bomb” and the police began firing indiscriminately.  Most of the seven police officers and seven members of the crowd who were killed died from shots fired from police revolvers. Parsons and seven others were tried for conspiracy to murder and he was hanged. Six years later, Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned the three defendants who remained in prison and condemned the convictions as a miscarriage of justice.