Category Archives: Today in Texas History

Today in Texas History – August 17

The death, eccentricities, and wardrobe of Davy Crockett - Historum - History Forums

From the Annals of the Frontier –  In 1786, David Crockett was born in Tennessee.  Crockett was an authentic frontiersman and hunter as a young man.  When he embarked on a political career, his legend grew.  Crockett was reputed to be uncomfortable with his portrayal in the popular media of the time and took exception to the unauthorized biography Sketches and Eccentricities of Colonel David Crockett of West Tennessee.   But his popular persona helped him gain election to the Tennessee state house.  From there his political career moved to Washington where served three terms as a U.S. congressman from eastern Tennessee.  He was arguably among the two or three most famous Congressmen in U.S. history (Henry Clay and Sonny Bono might even agree).  His stance against Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act likely caused him to lose his congressional seat and set him in motion towards Texas.  In 1835, Crockett set out for Texas with 30 Tennesseans.  Along the way he was greeted by enthusiastic crowds.  Crockett still had political ambitions and likely viewed himself as a potential president of an independent Texas.  Based on his previous experience, he was probably not interested in serious military activity in support of the Texas revolution and not interested in becoming a dead military hero.  The circumstances of his death at the Alamo have been hotly debated.  Credible accounts establish that he was among a handful of survivors who were executed after the fighting ceased.  That in no way detracts from the heroism of this true American icon.

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Today in Texas History – August 16

From the Annals of the Temblors –  In 1931, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Texas shook up the good folks of Valentine in Jeff Davis County. The quake measured 6.5 on the Richter Scale which is relatively minor in the California falling into the ocean scheme of things..  No casualties were reported, but the quake caused damage to almost every wooden structure in Valentine.   The local school building was damaged beyond repair.  There were also reports of landslides as far away as the Guadalupe Mountains.

Figure showing  felt area and Modified Mercalli Intensities experienced by Texans from the Valentine earthquake from www-udc.ig.utexas.edu.

Today in Texas History – July 20

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From the Annals of Space –  In 1969,  Astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke the first words ever known to be uttered from a celestial body other than Earth.  At 3:18 CDT, Armstrong confirmed, “Houston, Tranquility Base here – the Eagle has landed.” He also became the first man to walk on the moon on later that same day. 

Old General Sam would be mighty amused to know that his name was the first word ever spoken from the Moon.

Today in Texas History – July 19

It Ain’t Really Him! . . . Or is it? - True West Magazine

From the Annals of the Outlaws –  In 1878, Texas Rangers mortally wounded Texas outlaw Sam Bass in Round Rock. Bass had been on a crime spree for about a year after joining a gang that robbed a Union Pacific train in Nebraska.  With his share of the loot, Bass formed his own gang which held up stage coaches and trains around Dallas.  A concerted effort to find the outlaw was unsuccessful until the Texas Rangers turned to some rather unethical tactics.  The Rangers took into custody for questioning the father of Bass gang member Jim Murphy.  Murphy’s father was very ill.  The Rangers withheld medical treatment sending a message to Murphy that if he did not meet with them, they would continue to hold his father without treatment.   Murphy agreed to the meeting and turned informant to save his father – revealing that Bass planned to rob the Williamson County Bank.  Once Bass’ movements were known, the trap was set.  Bass and gang were scouting the area before the robbery.  After buying tobacco at a store, they were noticed by Deputy Sheriff A. W. Grimes. When Grimes approached the men and demanded they surrender their firearms.  A gang member shot and killed Grimes.   Bass fled but was shot by Texas Rangers George Herold and Sergeant Richard Ware.  He was found in a field outside of town and died two days later.

Today in Texas History – July 6

From the Annals of Pop –  In 1923, the Dr Pepper Company was incorporated in Dallas. Dr Pepper had been made for almost 40 years after first being served at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug in Waco.  The owner, Wade Morrison, employed a pharmacist named Charles Alderton, who filled prescriptions and also served soft drinks to customers. Alderton experimented with various combinations of fruit extracts and sweeteners and landed upon a combination which was later dubbed Dr Pepper.  Morrison named the popular drink after Dr. Charles T. Pepper, a physician and pharmacist for whom Morrison had worked in Virginia. Today Dr Pepper is an operating company of Dr Pepper/Seven Up, based in Plano.  Red has personally boycotted Dr Pepper ever since the company refused Dublin Bottling Works  to continue to produce Dublin Dr Pepper.

Today in Texas History – July 5

From the Annals of the Border Raids –  In 1855, Governor Elisha Pease authorized  Captain James Callahan to lead a party of Texas Rangers across the Rio Grande into Mexico purportedly to punish Apaches who were raiding Texas and hiding out in Mexico.  It appears more likely that the Callahan Expedition  was an attempt to recapture runaway slaves (primarily Black Seminoles) who had escaped to Mexico and obtained permission to settle there. Governor Santiago Vidaurri of Nuevo León y Coahuila had earlier rebuffed a more peaceful attempt by an emissary sent by slave owners and fearing the worst had ordered his troops to prepare for invasion. Callahan crossed into Mexico in early October and engaged the allied Seminole and Mexican forces.  A side attack was staged under the command of William R. Henry in an attempt to seize the Black Seminole women and children.  But Henry was ambushed and the entire expedition was forced to retreat to Piedras Negras.  But there they faced a large contingent of Mexican Regular Army troops supported by the Seminoles.  Callahan torched the town in retribution before skedaddling back to Texas with cover from American troops on the north side of the Rio Grande. In 1876 the Claims Commission settled claims originating from the expedition, awarding 150 Mexican citizens a total of $50,000 in damages.

Today in Texas History – June 28

John Henry Faulk: used books, rare books and new books ...

From the Annals of the Red Scare –  In 1962, John Henry Faulk was awarded a $3.5 million libel judgment against AWARE, Inc. for branding him as a communist.   AWARE was a for-profit corporation which purportedly offered a “clearance” service to advertisers, and radio and television networks.  AWARE would supposedly investigate entertainers for signs of Communist sympathy or affiliation.  In reality, AWARE was but a tactical arm for notorious scumbag Sen. Joe McCarthy and provided another way to promote his Red Scare agenda.

Faulk’s “mistake” occurred when he and other members wrested control of  The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists away from officers backed by AWARE.  With no evidence, AWARE labeled Faulk as a Communist. Faulk soon discovered that AWARE was keeping its radio station clients from hiring him.  Faulk sued with the back of other radio entertainers and CBS News vice-president Edward R. Murrow. Faulk hired famed New York attorney Louis Nizer.  AWARE engaged notorious scumbag attorney Roy Cohn (later the attorney for Trumpf – The Insult Comic President).  After many delays instigated Cohn’s tactics for AWARE, the case went to trial and the jury found for Faulk awarding him more damages than he had sought in his petition. had determined that Faulk should receive more compensation than he sought in his original petition. The $3.5 million was the largest ever in a libel case at that point.  On appeal, the damages were reduced to $500,000.   After paying legal fees and accumulated debts, Faulk received about $75,000.  Faulk’s book, Fear on Trial, published in 1963, tells the story of the experience.