From the Annals of the Aviators – In 1892, Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman was born in Atlanta. In 1921, she became the world’s first licensed African-American pilot. Bessie was the 10th of 13 children George and Susan Coleman. George was Cherokee, Choctaw and African-American. Susan was African-American. Coleman grew up in Waxahacie and attended the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University. Unable to study in the U.S. she went to France to obtain her license. Upon her return to the U.S., she was a sensation as a barn-storming daredevil pilot. Unfortunately, she died in a plane crash at the age of 34.
From the Annals of the Daily Papers – In 1881, the Laredo Morning Times was founded as the Laredo Weekly. The LW was a four-page newspaper published by James Saunders Penn in the corner of a downtown building on Farragut Street in Laredo. Two years later, the paper began daily publication as the Laredo Daily Times. In 1926, the paper became the first English-language paper on the border to include a Spanish section. In 1986, William B. Green became only the ninth publisher of the Laredo Morning Times. The paper is owned by the Hearst Corporation.
From the Annals of the First Amendment – In 1992, Law enforcement officials in Texas called for a ban on Ice-T’s song “Cop Killer” featured on his “Body Count” album.” In Texas, the call for a Time Warner boycott was led by the Combined Law Enforcement Assn. of Texas (CLEAT). The call apparently backfired as sales of “Body Count” – which had been out for several months – leaped 370% in Houston. Soundscan, a New York research firm that tablulates US sales for Billboard magazine, noted that sales more than doubled in Austin, San Antonio and Dallas. Ironically, Ice-T would go on to play police Detective Odafin Tutuola in hundreds of episodes of Law & Order.
From the Annals of Folk Music – In 1972, the first Kerrville Folk Festival got under way. The KFF was founded by Rod Kennedy and began with performances in the Kerrville Municipal Auditorium. This year’s festival is already under way and runs from May 24 to June 10.
The KFF bills itself as “the longest continuously running music festival in North America” and “a Mecca in the songwriting community.” The Festival is now held over 18 days at the Quiet Valley Ranch about 9 miles south of Kerrville. The Festival attracts as many as 30,000 guests come from all over the world, but each evening’s performance is limited to about 3,000 guests.
The KFF has presented many famous and not-so-famous singer-songwriters over the years, including such notables as Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams, Peter Paul & Mary, Judy Collins, David Crosby, Janis Ian and Arlo Guthrie to name a few. You are very likely to see one or more future stars of folk music at the Festival.
Poster from the 2010 Kerrville Folk Festival.
From the Annals of Spanish Texas – In 1783, Fernando Veramendi was killed by Mescalero Apaches near the presidio of San Juan Bautista in Coahuila while on a business trip to Mexico City. Veramendi was born in Pamplona, Spain and moved to Texas in 1770 first settling in La Bahia. While conducting business in San Antonio de Bexar he found a bride, Doña María Josefa Granados, and thus, married into one of the influential Canary Islands families who were the primary Spanish settlers of San Antonio. Now well-connected, Vermandi opened a general store, lent money to other settlers, and acquired large tracts of ranch and farm land. He built a large home on Soledad Street that later came to be known as the Veramendi Palace. He was a civic leader and was elected as an aalderman in the ayuntamiento of 1779, and later as a senior alderman in 1783. He was killed while on a business trip to Mexico City. He had five children the most prominent of who was his son Juan Martín de Veramendi who served as governor of Coahuila and Texas in 1832-33.
Photo of the doors from the Veramendi Palace displayed at the Alamo. The building was demolished in 1910.
From the Annals of the NEOs – In 1961, a chondrite meteorite landed in the backyard of a man in Harleton in Harrison County. The 8.36 kilogram meteorite was recovered within thirty minutes from a reported depth of about two feet in soft sandy soil. It was distributed among scientists for a careful study of a freshly fallen meteorite, especially with respect to cosmic-ray-induced effects. Known as the Harleton Meteorite the specimen is housed in the collection of the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
From the Annals of the Dust Bowl – In 1939, the State Soil Conservation Board came into existence. The SSCB was created in response to the horrific losses of cropland topsoil during the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930’s which drove many small farmers and ranchers from their land. The SSCB’s mission was to oversee and implement state conservation laws and organize and assist soil-conservation districts across the state. The SSCB’s headquarters were in Temple. The Governor appointed five board members to establish policies to prevent further loss of topsoil including construction of terraces and inmplementation of modern farming practices to prevent erosion.
In 1965, the agency was renamed as the State Soil and Water Conservation Board. Over the years the board has coordinated a variety of programs. There are now 216 local soil and water conservation districts in Texas.