Category Archives: Today in Texas History

Today in Texas History – October 13

 

From the Annals of the Latinos –    In 1921, the Order of Sons of America was founded in San Antonio.  The OSA was one of the first Mexican-American civil rights organizations dedicated to protecting and advancing the interests of Mexican-American citizens.  The OSA limited membership to U.S. native- born or naturalized U.S. citizens.   The OSA believed that assimilation to American culture was the key to acceptance as equal members of American society.  The OSA’s policy of excluding Mexican immigrants  and taking a stance against large scale immigration was controversial, but thought necessary in its campaign to persuade Anglos that Mexican-Americans were loyal Americans who were an integral part of society throughout much of the Southwest.  This was rooted in a belief that preserving Mexican culture and traditions had resulted in Anglos not accepting them as equal American citizens.  The OSA was ultimately merged with other organizations to found LULAC.

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Today in Texas History – October 12

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From the Annals of the Tunesmiths –  In 1980, Mickey Newbury was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association International Hall of Fame.  Newbury, who was from Houston, started as a singer in The Embers – a group which had moderate success opening for acts such as Sam Cooke and Johnny Cash.  After a stint in the Air Force, Newbury decided to try songwriting and moved to Nashville where he signed with Acuff-Rose and later RCA and cranked out hit songs for a wide range of performers including Andy Williams, Roy Orbison, Eddy Arnold, Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings, B. B. King, Joan Baez, Dottie West, Linda Rondstadt, Rat Price, Jerry Lee Lewis, David Allen Coe and Johnny Rodriguez to name a few.  In 1968 Newbury became the first songwriter to ever score Number 1 hits on the easy listening (Sweet Memories – Andy Williams), country (Here Comes the Rain Baby – Eddy Arnold), rhythm and blues (Time is a Thief – Solomon Burke), and pop-rock charts (Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) – Kenny Rogers & the First Edition) at the same time. This incredible feat has never been matched.  Among his best known works is his “American Trilogy” arrangement of Dixie, All My Trials and The Battle Hymn of the Republic which Elvis Presley frequently used as the closing number for his live shows.

Newbury’s influence as a songwriter and producer can hardly be overstated.  He was considered a “songwriter’s songwriter” and is listed as a major influence by such diverse tunesmiths as Kris Kristofferson, Townes Van Zandt, Roger Miller, Guy Clark and John Prine. Although never successful as singer (with over 20 albums), he is a legend among those who know music.

Today in Texas History – October 11

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From the Annals of MLB – In 2004, after 43 seasons and losing their previous 7 playoff series, the Houston Astros finally won a postseason series by defeating the Atlanta Braves 12-3 in Game 5.  The so-called “Killer Bees” led the way with Biggio (.400, 4 RBIs, 4 runs), Bagwell (.318, 5 RBIs, 5 Runs), Berkman (.409, 3 RBIs, 5 Runs) and Beltran (.455, 9 RBIs, 4 Home Runs) as the team scored 36 runs in the 5 game series.  Alas, the Astros would go on to lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.

Today in Texas History – October 9

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From the Annals of the Eighth Wonder –  In 1999, the Houston Astros played their last game in the Astrodome. Predictably it was the last game of a divisional series loss to the Atlanta Braves.  After winning the first game in Atlanta, the Astros lost 3 straight to Braves.  The Braves held a 7-0 lead after a 5 run 6th inning.  The Astros rallied to score 5 runs sparked by a 3 run homer by Tony Eusebio in the 8th inning.  The Astros had a chance to tie in the bottom of the 9th.  As Jeff Bagwell came to the plate, Red’s buddy the Big Dog remarked, “This is kind of a career-defining moment for Bagwell.”  Bagwell failed to deliver.  The Astros still had a chance with Ken Caminiti at the plate.  Caminiti, who had carried the Astros in the series with 8 RBI’s and a .471 average, hit a long ball to the warning track in left field and the Astros run in the Eighth Wonder of the World was over.  The blame largely fell on future Hall of Famers, Bagwell and Craig Biggio who combined for a total of 4 hits while batteing .154 and .105 respectively in the series.

Today in Texas History – October 6

From the Annals of the Freethinkers  –  In 1877, Dr. Levi James Russell was whipped for being an infidel and free thinker.  Originally from Georgia, Russell had mined for gold in California, later graduated from the medical school of Pennsylvania College, returned to gold mining in Colorado and eventually moved to Harrisville in 1868.  There he farmed and practiced medicine while also serving for several years as the chairman of the committee on medical botany of the Texas State Medical Association (now the Texas Medical Association).  He also helped found the Little River Academy and in a move that would lead to his whipping became a charter member and president of the Association of Freethinkers of Bell County a group of agnostics, atheists and non-theists.   As a result, he was expelled from the Masons and Knights of Pythias and ultimately assaulted for being an infidel.   Undeterred, Russell continued his medical practice and his natural-science collection until his death in 1908 at Temple.

Today in Texas History – October 5

From the Annals of the Undeclared Wars – In 1964, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson first began to come under pressure for his plan to escalate the undeclared war in Vietnam.  Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) began to speak out against preparation for additional troops in Vietnam.  Nelson claimed that Congress did not intend the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to endorse escalation into a full scale war in Vietnam.

The GOTR had been passed on August 7 in response to North Vietnamese patrol boats allegedly firing on U.S. warships in the waters off North Vietnam on August 2 and 4.  Whether there was an attack and if so, whether it was provoked has been much debated, but the incident prompted Congress to pass the GOTR with only two dissenting votes in the Senate.  The GOTR gave Johnson power to “take all necessary measures to repel an armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” Johnson apparently viewed the resolution as giving him a free hand and began a major escalation of the conflict which ultimately cost the U.S. 58,220 lives and achieved nothing.

Today in Texas History – October 4

From the Annals of the Insurrection  In 1862,  insurrectionist troops under Confederate command surrendered Galveston to Union forces.   Commander William B. Renshaw led a squadron of eight ships into Galveston harbor to force surrender.  The rebel commander, Brig. Gen. Paul O. Hebert, had removed most of the heavy artillery from the island believing it to be indefensible.  As the squadron approached, the Fort Point garrison fired on the federal ships, return fire dismounted the rebel cannon. Col. Joseph J. Cook, in command on the island, arranged a four-day truce while he evacuated his men to the mainland. The Union ships held the harbor.  Union forces did not contral the town until the arrival of the Forty-second Massachusetts Infantry, led by Col. I. S. Burrell on December 25.  Union control was short-lived as rebel forces recaptured the island and drove off the Union squadron about a week later.