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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.