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.

And The Subject of the 1,600th Column Is…

The 1,600th “This Week in Texas History” column is about Porfirio Diaz, the iron-fisted dictator that ruled Mexico for 35 years.

With the support of many Texans, who gladly gave him their money and support, Diaz seized Matamoros, sister city of Brownsville, on March 27, 1876.  Following a short setback that sent him into a brief exile in Cuba, he returned to wield power well into his eighties.

The Day Texas Joined The Confederacy

Texas ratified the Confederate constitution on March 23, 1861 and officially joined the Confederacy.

How many thousands of lives would have been spared if Texans had followed the lead of Sam Houston and a few others and charted a separate and sovereign course after seceding from the United States?  But the blood ties with their southern brethren were too strong and emotionally charged to allow for a restoration of the Republic.

Texas Women Fight Long and Hard For The Vote

The 50-year struggle to win the vote for the female half of Texas finally bore fruit on Mar. 25, 1918 with the signing of the Primary Election Law by Gov. William P. Hobby.

Texas women had come a long, long way from the not-so-distant past when they were banned from the ballot box along with “children, idiots, lunatics, paupers and felony convicts.”  That is the subject of the newspaper column “This Week in Texas History” for Wednesday, March 19 through Tuesday, March 25.