From the Annals of New Spain – In 1721, an expedition led by José de Azlor y Virto de Vera, the Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo, crossed the Rio Grande near present day Eagle Pass in an attempt to re-establish Spanish control of East Texas. The expedition was a response to the French incursion into Texas two years earlier. Aguayo’s force consisted of about 500 men – called the Battalion of San Miguel de Aragón. The expedition established a base in San Antonio de Bexar and a small force under command of Domingo Ramón occupied La Bahía del Espíritu Santo near present-day Goliad. Upon arrival in East Texas, the expedition met no resistance from the French or Native Americans. In fact, the French commander Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, agreed to withdraw to Natchitoches. With the essential mission accomplished, Aguayo left 219 of his force at various presidios in Texas, with the remainder returning to Coahuila. Aguayo’s expedition increased the number of missions in Texas from two to ten, and established three new presidios. Spain’s claim to Texas was never again seriously disputed by France.
From the Annals of the Captives – In 1838, Rachel Plummer was reunited with her husband after spending over a year as a Comanche captive. She and her son and three others were kidnapped in a raid on Fort Parker at the headwaters of the Navasota River. Plummer was taken along with the most famous Texas captive her cousin Cynthia Ann Parker. Plummer wrote that “one minute the fields (in front of the fort) were clear, and the next moment, more Indians than I dreamed possible were in front of the fort.” After being returned to her family, Plummer wrote a book about her experience entitled Rachael Plummer’s Narrative of Twenty One Months Servitude as a Prisoner Among the Commanchee Indians. Plummer’s book is considered one of the most insightful accounts of Comanche culture and mindset while still at the height of their powers. Sadly, Plummer died shortly after her reunification with her family.
From the Annals of Love – In 1882, the town of Valentine in Jeff Davis County was founded when crews building the Southern Pacific Railway reached the outpost on St. Valentine’s Day. Valentine is the only incorporated municipality in Jeff Davis County. The town capitalizes on its name with a Valentine’s Day Celebration hosted by the Big Bend Brewing Company at the Old Mercantile Building. This year is Local’s Night with a lineup that includes Doug Moreland Band, The Doodlin’ Hogwallops, and Beebe & Carrasco.
From the Annals of Bad Decisions – In 1861, Gen. Winfield Scott ordered Col. Robert E. Lee to return to Washington from Texas to assume command of the Union Army. Instead, Lee resigned his post and was commissioned into the Rebel Army. After a rather undistinguished campaign in western Virginia and a brief stint as military advisor to the Insurgent Leader Jefferson Davis, Lee succeeded Joseph Johnston as the Insurgent Commander in June of 1862. Historians will never know and can only speculate as to how many lives were lost as a result of Lee’s decision.
From the Annals of the Blue Norther – In 1899, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Texas occurred in Tulia – south of Amarillo. The town recorded a record minus 23 degrees Fahrenheit. This was part of the “Big Freeze,” an infamous norther that killed 40,000 cattle across the state overnight. This temperature was matched in Seminole in 1933. Many other Texas cities set all time records or came very close.
From the Annals of the Bohemians – In 1879, E. J. Glueckman published the first issue of the Texan. This was the first Czech newspaper in Texas. The paper lasted about decade focusing on Czech culture in Texas and catering to the many Czech immigrants who came to Texas beginning in the early 1850s. Czech immigrants established settlements primarily in Austin, Fayette, Lavaca, and Washington counties. The Texan was just the first of many such periodicals which celebrated the rich contribution of Czechs to Texas. By the end of the twentieth century, more than thirty Czech newspapers and periodicals had been published. Today Czech traditions are still alive in Texas music, food, beer, community groups and festivals.