Former Cheerleader Went to the Top in Hollywood

The son of Jewish refugees from Poland, Aaron Spelling was born in Dallas on April 22, 1923.  He was a cheerleader at Southern Methodist University during the Doak Walker/Kyle Rote era of Mustang football.

One of television’s most successful producers, Spelling bought Bing Crosby’s old mansion and replaced it with a 123-room house he named “The Manor,” the largest single-family dwelling in Los Angeles.  He died at age 83 in 2006.

Mysterious Case of The “Lady in Blue”

Out-of-body travel has always been a mind-boggling concept that defies the laws of nature.  The case of the “Lady in Blue,” a Spanish nun who claimed she preached the gospel to Texas Indians in the early 17th century, remains the most baffling example of this bizarre phenomenon.

This is the subject of the Wednesday, April 16 through Tuesday, April 22 installment of “This Week in Texas History,” the longest-running and most widely read newspaper feature of its kind ever.  If your local paper does not carry it, you can read each and every column with your own private email subscription available on this web site.

“Deacon” Jim Miller Dangled at the End of a Rope

Jim Miller, whose regular church attendance gave him his most popular nickname, was lynched in Ada, Oklahoma on April 19, 1909 by townspeople angered by his hired killing of a former federal lawman.

Miller, related to John Wesley Hardin by marriage, is generally considered the Old West’s first professional assassin.  He survived several attempts on own life thanks to an iron breastplate worn under a heavy coat.  Suspected in a slew of unsolved murders, “Deacon Jim” may well have been the unidentified gunman that ambushed Pat Garrett.

Wright Patman Served 24 Terms in U.S. House

Thirty-six year old Wright Patman of Hughes Springs was sworn in as the U.S. Representative from northeast Texas on April 15, 1929. 

Early in his long stay in Congress, Patman introduced his most remembered piece of legislation, a bill to make good on the government’s promise to pay a “bonus” to veterans of the First World War.  A Texan with remarkable staying power, he died in office in 1976 during his 24th two-year term.

Riverboat Captain Builds Ranch As Big As Texas

Richard King, an Irish immigrant who escaped the tenement hell of New York to create an empire in the Lone Star State, took his last breath on April 14, 1885.

The story of the King Ranch is the subject of the “This Week in Texas History” column for the week of Wednesday, April 9 through Tuesday, April 15.  Your local paper doesn’t carry it?  Read the longest running, most widely read feature of its kind with your very own private email subscription available on this web site.

Twister Tore Through the Panhandle in 1947

The only F5 tornado ever recorded in the Texas Panhandle left a trail on destruction 221 miles long across the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma and part of Kansas on April 9, 1947.

Sixty-eight people perished in the small, isolated communities of White Deer (Panhandle County), Glazier (Hemphill County) and Higgins (Lipscomb) at the northeast tip of the Lone Star State.

John Connally Wins His First Election

On April 8, 1938, 21 year old John Connally bested the fraternity candidate in a runoff to win the presidency of the University of Texas student body.

Two days earlier, the Floresville native had finished 18 votes behind the front-runner but rebounded to win by 1,100 ballots.  Twenty-four years later, Connally would be elected governor of the Lone Star State.

Rangers’ Closest Call Came At The Capitol

At the end of a lengthy public probe into charges of corruption and criminal misdeeds, the question Lone Star legislators faced on April 2, 1919 was whether to do away with the Texas Rangers altogether or to give the legendary lawmen one more chance to clean up their act.

This is the subject of “This Week in Texas HIstory” for Wednesday, April 2 through Tuesday, April 8.  If your local newspaper does not carry this longest running feature of its kind, you can read it each and every week with your very own private email subscription available on this web site.

First Republican in 91 Years Wins Statewide Vote

Republican John Tower, a pint-size college professor from Wichita Falls, did the impossible on April 4, 1961 by leading four Democrats in a special election to fill Vice-President Lyndon Johnson’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.

Practically everyone, including most Republicans, dismissed Tower’s surprisingly strong showing as a fluke and gave him no chance to defeat William Blakely in the runoff on May 27.  Tower not only whipped his overconfident foe but went on to win three six-year terms in 1966, 1972 and 1978 before retiring from the Senate.

First White Man Goes To The Chair

Sidney “Pete” Welk, a popular Dallas bootlegger, made history on April 3, 1925, when he became the first white man executed in Texas’ new electric chair.

There was no hard evidence connecting Welk to the death of a deputy during a raid on his moonshine still nor the murder of a guard during a bloody bid for freedom from the Dallas County Jail.  But that did not stop a jury from condemning him to die by electrocution.