Category Archives: Today in Texas History

Today in Texas History – May 25

Investor Juan: March 2012

From the Annals of White Collar Crime – In 2006, Chairman Kenneth Lay and CEO Jeffrey Skilling, the top honchos at Enron Corporation, were convicted of conspiracy, insider trading, securities fraud and making false statements to securities regulators – actions that resulted in the collapse of the one-time energy giant.  The Enron scandal affected as many as 20,000 employees – costing many of them their life savings; it also caused massive losses to outside investors.  Lay, who seemed somewhat repentant and humbled by the extent of the accounting scandal that affected thousands of lives, would die in his luxurious Aspen home before ever seeing the inside of a prison cell.  Skilling, who remains adamant as to his lack of wrong-doing despite numerous books and articles that exposed him as the rotten center of the massive Enron fraud, also remains in federal prison and is scheduled to be released in February of 2019.  Red gives props to the Bush Department of Justice for going after these crooks.  One of the major failings of the Obama administration was the failure to even attempt to prosecute those guilty of possibly even worse crimes that resulted in the 2008 financial meltdown.

Advertisements

Today in Texas History – May 23

Bonnie & Clyde pistols sell for $504,000 - 2aHawaii

From the Annals of Crime – In 1934, notorious outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed by Texas Rangers in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. The bank robbers were killed by intense gunfire that left their stolen Ford Deluxe riddled with bullet holes.

Parker met Barrow in Texas when she was 19 years old while her husband was in jail for murder. Barrow was soon sent to jail for robbery where Parker smuggled a gun that helped him escape.  He was caught and returned to jail, but when paroled in 1932, he immediately hooked up with Parker, and their multi-state crime spree began.

From 1932-1934, the couple, aided by various accomplices including Clyde’s brother Buck and simple-minded Henry Methvin, robbed a string of banks and stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico and Louisiana. Although romanticized in popular culture and film, the Barrow gang were hardened criminals. It is believed that the gang was responsible for as many as 13 murders including nine police officers.

They were notorious for some close calls.  They were almost captured in 1933 during surprise raids on hideouts in Joplin and Platte City, Missouri. Buck Barrow was killed in the second raid, and his wife Blanche was arrested, but Bonnie and Clyde escaped.  Then in January 1934, they attacked the Eastham Prison Farm to help a gang member break out injuring several guards and killing one. This proved to be a crucial mistake.

Texan prison officials took the matter into hand and retained Captain Frank Hamer, a retired Texas Ranger, to track down Parker and Barrow.  Hamer found B&C in Louisiana, where Henry Methvin’s family lived.  Hamer and a group of Louisiana and Texas lawmen hid in the bushes along a country road outside Sailes, La.  Parker and Barrow would not escape this time.  As soon as they appeared, the officers opened fire, killing the couple instantly in a hail of bullets.

 

Today in Texas History – May 22

Vintage 1971 Postcard LBJ Library University of Texas ...

From the Annals of the Libraries – In 1971, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library was dedicated on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.  LBJ was in attendance along with President Richard M. Nixon and many notable Texas politicians.

The LBJ Library is one of 13 Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.  The LBJL contains over 45 million pages of documents – including LBJ’s papers as well as those of his staff and many of his close associates.  The Library building has been described as a ten-story unadorned travertine monolith.  The architectural design was not critically acclaimed and described by some as a structure that would have pleased Mussolini.  Red for one has always more or less liked the massive structure which is accompanied by an impressive fountain and a genteel garden as a tribute to Lady Bird.  The Library archives are open to researchers and there are numerous exhibits for the general public.

Today in Texas History – May 17

Grand jury indicts 106 in Waco biker shooting - CBS News

From the Annals of the Shoot-outs –  In 2015, members from the Bandidos and Cossacks  motor cycle gangs and other bikers began fighting at the Twin Peaks restaurant off Hwy 6 in Waco.   Police were monitoring the scene and after gunshots were fired a major shoot out commenced.  As one of Red’s friends cynically reported at the time, “No one was injured – (sotto voce) – nine bikers were killed.”  In fact, nine gang members were killed and twenty others injured.  Unraveling the sequence of events has been challenging.  It does appear that most of the dead were killed by police fire.  More than 150 were arrested at the scene, but there has been but one trial of Bandido leader Jake Carrizal more than two years later.  And that ended in a mistrial.  The overall impression is that the McClellan County District Attorney’s office was overwhelmed with the extent of these cases and has badly bungled the investigation and prosecution of some who clearly committed crimes and others who did not.

Today in Texas History – May 16

From the Annals of Civil Disobedience –  In 1968, 400 high school students from Edgewood HS in San Antonio walked out of class and marched to the Edgewood ISD administration office.  The EISD was overwhelmingly Hispanic with 90% of students of Mexican heritage.  The students were complaining about inadequate supplies and unqualified teachers.

The walk-out resulted in further action.  In July, Demetrio Rodríguez and seven other Edgewood parents filed suit on behalf of Texas schoolchildren who were poor or resided in school districts with low property-tax bases.  The problem resulted from the numerous school districts in Texas.  Bexar County incorporates all or part of 19 different school districts – many of which were set up to segregate students of different races.  EISD had one of the highest tax rates in the county but raised only $37 per pupil, while Alamo Heights, Bexar County’s wealthiest district, raised $413 per student.  Because of the vastly different appraised value of the property in the districts, the tax rate per $100 property value needed to equalize education funding was only $0.68 for Alamo Heights but a punishing $5.76 for Edgewood.

Thus, began the decades long fight over school funding in Texas.  The Rodriguez case ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court which ultimately ruled against Rodríguez, holding that Texas’ school financing did not violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and punted the issue back to Texas.  The Court also held that the state would not be required to subsidize poorer school districts.  But this was not the end as most observers know and the fight over school funding continues.

Today in Texas History – May 15

From the Annals of the Writers –  In 1890, Katherine Anne Porter (nee Callie Russell Porter) was born in Indian Creek.  At age two, her family moved to Kyle after the death of her mother in child birth.  They lived with her paternal grandmother Catherine Ann Porter – whose name she later adopted – until her death when KAP was 11.  After that the family moved around Texas and Louisiana.  She received little formal education beyond elementary school but did attend the Thomas School in San Antonio.  She left home at 16 married a well-to-do scion of a ranching family who physically abused her.  They divorced after about a decade and she had her name changed to Katherine Anne Porter in the divorce decree.  After her divorce she spent time in New York and Mexico where she became acquainted with Mexican leftists such as Diego Rivera.  She made her living ghost writing and doing publicity work for movies.  Her first published story was Maria Concepcion in The Century Magazine.  In 1930, she published her first short-story collection,  Flowering Judas and Other Stories.  After an expanded edition of this collection was published in 1935, she began to receive true critical acclaim.   Her only  novel Ship of Fools was a best-seller and the movie rights made her financially independent.  She continued to write short stories including Noon Wine, a collection of short stories set in Central Texas.  Today she widely recognized as a master of the short story genre.   The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter (1965) won the Gold Medal for Fiction from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Award.  She died in 1980 and her ashes were buried along side her mother in the Indian Creek cemetery.   She is a must read for all lovers of Texas literature.

Today in Texas History – May 14

From the Annals of the Freedom Loving Germans –  In 1854, delegates from various local German political clubs met at the annual Staats-Saengerfest (State Singers’ Festival) in San Antonio.  The meeting might otherwise have escaped notice, except that the delegates adopted a declaration against slavery declaring it to be evil. The declaration went on to state that abolition was to be the work of the various states who should seek help from the federal government (in the form of payment for freed slaves) to help end the moral abomination of chattel slavery.  The Texas Germans were falling in line with other organizations such as the Freier Mann Verein (Freeman’s Association) from Northern States who had enacted similar declarations.  As one might imagine, the declaration was not well received in the strongly pro-slavery (and virulently racist) Texas of the time.  In conjunction with ongoing antislavery newspaper articles in the German language press, many Anglo-Texans grew more and more hostile to their German-Texan neighbors.  This was clearly evidenced at the outset of the Southern Rebellion by the murder of many German Texans who were attempting to go north to fight for the Union.