From the Annals of the Blues – In 1982, Sam (Lightnin’) Hopkins passed away. Hopkins was a blues legend whose influence cannot be overstated. He was born in Centerville, Texas, in 1912. By age ten, Hopkins was already playing music with his cousin, Alger (Texas) Alexander, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. He played all over for decades on the blues club circuit except when he was incarcerated in the mid-1930’s at the Harris County Prison Farm. In 1950 he settled in Houston and finally had his breakthrough in 1959 when Hopkins began working with legendary producer Sam Chambers. White audiences were exposed to his music and began to appreciate the blues legend. In the 1960s, Hopkins switched to an acoustic guitar and became a hit in the folk-blues circuit. During the early 1960s he played at Carnegie Hall with Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, and by the end of the decade was opening for rock bands. Hopkins recorded a total of more than eighty-five albums and performed around the world. His most famous songs include Mojo Hand, Baby Please Don’t Go, Bring Me My Shotgun, Jail House Blues and Have You Ever Loved a Woman.
From the Annals of Bad Decisions – In 1861, the Texas State Secession Convention voted overwhelmingly to secede from the United States following the lead of several other southern states. Rather than concede that Republican Abraham Lincoln had been duly elected, the Southern states chose to secede precipitating what would be the worst tragedy in U.S. history. As Red has noted many times, the Texas Ordinance of Secession is one of the most vile, racists screeds that an organized governmental body has ever produced. The Ordinance of Secession was subject to a popular referendum to which was held on February 23, 1861. The vote was 46,153 in favor of secession and 14,747 against.
From the Annals of Heraldry – In 1839, the Republic of Texas Congress adopted the Texas national seal consisting of a five point white star on a sky blue background ringed by olive and live oak branches. The Republic’s seal has been modernized but has remained essentially the same to date. When Texas became a state in 1845, the words encircling the main elements were changed from Republic of Texas to State of Texas.
From the Annals of the Llano Estacado – In 1871, former slave Britton Johnson was killed by a band of Kiowa who attacked his wagon train. Johnson had been a slave of Moses Johnson, but was treated more like the foreman of his ranch and allowed freedom of movement and to raise his own livestock. In October of 1864, Indians killed his son and kidnapped his wife and other children in the Elm Creek Raid. Johnson pursued his relatives and became somewhat legendary for his exploits across the Llano Estacado that eventually resulted in the ransom of his relatives. After the Civil War, Johnson worked as a teamster hauling goods between Weatherford and Fort Griffin. On the fateful trip he and two other black teamsters were ambushed by a band of about 25 Kiowa four miles east of Salt Creek in Young County. A group of teamsters from a larger train of wagons discovered the bodies and reported that it appeared that Johnson died last in a desperate defense behind the body of his horse. Other teamsters who found the mutilated bodies of Johnson and his men counted 173 rifle and pistol shells in the area where Johnson made his stand. He was buried with his men in a common grave beside the wagon road.
From the Annals of the True Heroes of the Civil War -In 1863, former Texas State Sen. Martin Hart was executed in Fort Smith, Arkansas for his supposed treason against the Confederate States of America. Hart was an attorney from Hunt County who had served in the Texian Army during the Revolution at age 15. He later served in the Texas Legislature as a representative and senator. He was opposed to secession. After the Texas Legislature passed the vile screed known as the “Ordinance of Secession”, he resigned from the Legislature and organized the Greenville Guards, pledging the company’s services “in defense of Texas whenever she is invaded or threatened with invasion.” In the summer of 1862 he received a Confederate commission with permission to raise a company and conduct operations in northwest Arkansas. However, he used his commission to travel through Confederate lines leading his followers to Missouri where they joined Union forces. He returned to Arkansas where he led a series of rear-guard actions against Confederate forces, and is alleged to have murdered at least two prominent secessionists. He and others were captured on January 18, 1863, by Confederate forces, hung five days later and buried in an unmarked graves under the hanging tree. After Fort Smith was recaptured by Union forces, his remains were moved to the National Cemetery there. Contributions from Union soldiers paid for his headstone.
From the Annals of the Speculators – In 1883, the “Fifty Cent Act” was removed from Texas law. The FCA had been in effect for just over four years and provided for selling off Texas public land at the bargain basement price of fifty cents an acre. Half of the sales proceeds were to be used to pay down the public debt and the other half to establish a permanent school fund. The FCA applied to lands in over fifty Texas counties resulting in the sale of 3,201,283 acres for $1,600,641.55. The FCA Act was repealed due to abuse and fraudulent land speculation.
From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1836, Jim Bowie arrived at the Alamo in San Antonio. Bowie was notorious as an Indian fighter, duelist and land speculator. He was actually involved in one of the largest attempted land swindles in U.S. history in Louisiana, but was never able to complete the scheme. He was not only a slave owner and trader, but a slave smuggler as well with a scheme that made him rich off of smuggling, buying and selling slaves. After coming to Texas, he renounced his U.S. citizenship, became a Mexican citizen and married into the influential Veramendi family of San Antonio.
He arrived at the Alamo with about 30 volunteers and initially was of the mind that the crumbling mission was indefensible against the Mexican Army on the march. He later became convinced that San Antonio must be held at all costs – most likely by the commander James Neill. One of his cadre, James Bonham circulated a resolution decreeing that The Alamo must be held and Bowie signed it. It would be his death warrant along with the other defenders of The Alamo.