Category Archives: Today in Texas History

Today in Texas History – June 8

From the Annals of the Hub – In 1969, Houston Intercontinental Airport opened.  HIA replaced Hobby Airport which continued to serve general aviation until the advent of Southwest Airlines which revitalized the subsidiary airport.   HIA had been envisioned since 1957, when the Civil Aeronautics Administration recommended a replacement for undersized and overcrowded Hobby Airport.  The project started in 1963 with plans for a massive $125 million facility about 10 miles north of downtown Houston.  The project was repeatedly delayed and its projected opening date was changed eight times.  The delays did not help improve the quality of the new airport and the overall incompetence of the design was quickly revealed.  Within 3 years, the it had become apparent that the terminals were inadequate for the amount of traffic, the runways were in disrepair, the terminal trams were pathetic and there was a shortage of parking space.  The problems resulted in the addition of a third terminal and other improvements.  The airport was later renamed for George Bush.

Red for one has always hated the place.  It is relatively convenient but very confusing, always too crowded, ugly and sprawling, and just a general pain in the ass for the traveler. It is great for getting your daily 10,000 steps in. Not to mention that it’s primary tenant is the lowly rated United Airlines.  If Red can fly out of Hobby that’s where he will be.

 

Today in Texas History – June 6

From the Annals of the Fair –  In 1936, the Central Centennial Exposition opened on the site of Fair Park east of downtown Dallas.  The remarkably quick project had started construction  in October 1935.  Architect George L. Dahl designed 50 buildings in an Art Deco style.  The CCE was the first world’s fair held in the Southwest.  The most popular attraction was the “Cavalcade of Texas,” a historical play depicting four centuries of Texas history.  Another feature, ” The Hall of Negro Life”,  was the first such exhibit (however racist) to feature black culture at a world’s fair.   The CCE ran through November 29 with official attendance of 6,345,385.  Many of the exposition buildings, including the Hall of State, were preserved and Fair Park touts itself as the only World’s Fair site predating 1950 that is still standing.   Fair Park is now the site of the annual State Fair of Texas.

Historical Footnote:  The CCE was used as the backdrop for The Big Show a modern-day western featuring Gene Autry.   Autry played movie star Tom Ford as well as his stunt double.  The movie also features sidekick Smiley Burnette and the Sons of the Pioneers (including future star and Red’s boyhood hero Roy Rogers).  Autry appears in the Cavalcade of Texas in one scene – singing to his horse Champion.  TBS is worth watching if only to see what the CCE actually looked like during its run.   The movie was filmed during the last two weeks of September in 1936.

 

Today in Texas History – June 5

From the Annals of Banditry –  In 1880, the “Bandit Queen” married her second or possibly third husband.  The Queen was Myra Maybelle (Belle) Shirley Reed Starr and she marred outlaw Sam Starr in the Cherokee Nation.  Starr was from Missouri and her family had been involved with notorious Confederate irregulars including William Quantrill.  By the end of the Civil War, the family fled Missouri and moved to Scyene near Dallas. Their home became a hideout for bandits including the Younger and James brothers – veterans of Quantrill’s cutthroats.  Continuing a family legacy of criminal behavior, Belle’s first husband, Jim Reed rode with the Younger, James, and Starr gangs on their murderous rampage throughout Texas, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory. Reed was killed in Paris  by a deputy sheriff.  After that,  Belle may have married Bruce Younger.  In any event, she did later marry another outlaw in Sam Starr.   Belle and  were later convicted of horse theft and Belle received two six-month prison terms.   Unable to stay out of trouble, Sam Starr was later killed in a fight with an Indian policeman.  Belle Starr subsequently took several lovers, including Jim July (or Jim Starr), Blue Duck, Jack Spaniard, and Jim French.  In 1889, while Starr was living in the Choctaw Nation, Starr met her end when she was ambushed and killed.

 

Today in Texas History

Back after a considerable hiatus!

Image result for maps of route to el paso from 1800s

From the Annals of the Roads West – In 1849, Maj. Robert S. Neighbors returned to San Antonio after completing an expedition to survey a northern route to El Paso.   The expedition was aimed at creating a usable wagon road to west Texas.  The expedition left Torrey’s Trading Post near Waco on March 23, 1849, crossed the Colorado River on April 2, and crossed the Pecos at Horsehead Crossing on April 17.  The expedition reache El Paso on May 2 after determining that the last 100 miles of its trek was not practicable for wagon traffic.  On the return,  Neighbors took the northern route previously used by the Mexican army between El Paso and the Pecos River.  His report included that route.  If you are driving I-10 west to El Paso you are fairly much following the route that Neighbors surveyed.

 

Today in Texas History – May 4

From the Annals of Rome – In 1847, Pope Pius IX established the Catholic Diocese of Galveston.   Jean Marie Odin was called to be the new diocese’s first bishop. The Diocese  covered a huge area which included all of Texas and parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. Odin and twelve priests served the approximately  20,000 Catholics in the Diocese which included only ten established churches and a convent of Ursuline Sisters in San Antonio. The Diocese of Galveston underwent the first of many divisions in 1874, when the Diocese of San Antonio and the Vicariate Apostolic of Brownsville were established. The Diocese of Galveston is now known as the Diocese of Galveston-Houston.

Today in Texas History – April 19

From the Annals of the War Chiefs –  In 1875, Kiowa chief Tsen-tainte (“White Horse”) surrendered at Fort Sill. White Horse and his followers were notorious for their numerous raids across Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.  He was considered to be the fiercest of the Kiowa chiefs.  Along with Satank, Satanta, Zepko-ete, Mamanti and Big Tree participated in the Warren Wagon Train raid at Salt Creek Prairie in May 1871.  He also fought in the second battle of Adobe Walls in June 1874.  After that he fought with Quanah Parker and Guipago in the Red River War.  After the battle of Palo Duro Canyon in September 1874, he became convinced that further resistance was futile. When Gen. Philip Sheridan demanded that Chief Kicking Bird designate men for imprisonment in the east, White Horse was chosen.  Along with other he was imprisoned at St. Augustine, Florida. He became a practitioner of Ledger Art while in prison.  He was released in 1878 and returned to the reservation near Fort Sill.

Today in Texas History – April 7

From the Annals of the Halls of Congress –  In 1913, Sam Rayburn of Windom took the oath of office as a member of the United States House of Representatives.  Mr. Sam, as he was known, was to serve in Congress from the presidency of Woodrow Wilson until that of John F. Kennedy.  Rayburn  rose to majority leader in 1937 and was elected Speaker of the House in 1940.  He remained Speaker until his death in 1961.  Rayburn was a master politician who helped negotiate the Roosevelt-Garner ticket in 1932 backing his friend John Nance Garner for Vice-President.  He worked tirelessly to pass New Deal legislation and as chairman of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee in the 1930s he oversaw legislation that established the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.   He worked closely with Senate majority leader Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1950s and Texas benefitted greatly from have the two pillars of power working in D.C.  Rayburn was married only briefly and said that his greatest regret was not have a tow-haired son to take fishing.  The Sam Rayburn Reservoir and several schools in East Texas are name after Mr. Sam.  He was the longest serving Speaker in U.S. history.