“This Week in Texas History” tells the story this week (Wednesday, July 17 thru Tuesday, July 23) of Charley Paddock, first Texas-born athlete to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
After breaking the tape in the 100-meter dash at the Antwerp, Belgium Games in 1920, the Gainesville native was the fastest thing on two legs for the rest of the decade.
After weeks of escalating racial tension and violent outbursts in Longview, Gov. William P. Hobby placed the East Texas town and all of Gregg County under martial law on July 13, 1919. To show he meant business, the governor sent in eight Rangers and three units of National Guard.
The mob violence in Longview, which claimed the lives of two black men, was one of 25 race riots in the “Red Summer” of 1919. Texas experienced nothing on the scale of the Chicago riot that lasted for 13 days and resulted in 38 deaths.
Senator Sam Houston broke ranks with the Democratic Party and on July 12, 1855 endorsed every candidate of the “Know Nothing” or American Party, that was taking Texas by storm.
Bound by a secret oath to vote only for native-born Protestants, the “Know Nothings” blindsided the Democrats and elected a congressman and a dozen members of the state legislature. But that was their high-water mark, and within two years the “Know Nothings” had vanished from the political scene.
Houston oilman W. Howard Lee married actress Gene Tierney on July 11, 1960.
Lee’s first wife was also a movie star, Austrian-born Hedy Lamarr, known as “the most beautiful woman in Europe” before coming to Hollywood. That tumultuous marriage lasted six years, but Tierney, a knockout in her own right, remained the tycoon’s wife until the day he died in 1981.
While on his way to San Antonio, news of the death of his father Moses reached Stephen F. Austin on July 10, 1821. Suddenly it was up to the 27 year old son to make his dad’s dream come true.
At that time the younger Austin was still not sold on the idea of settling the Mexican province of Texas with Anglo-Americans. But in the months to come, he would decide to make it his life’s work.
Peter W. Grayson, candidate for the Republic of Texas presidency, shot himself to death on July 9, 1838 after a long courtship ended with the woman rejecting his proposal of marriage.
Two days later, James Collinsworth, also a candidate for the same high office, drowned in Galveston Bay when he either fell or jumped from a boat. With his two major opponents out of the race, Mirabeau Lamar won in a landslide and succeeded Sam Houston as Texas’ president.
The subject of my “This Week in Texas History” column for the week of Wednesday, July 10 through Tuesday, July 16 is the Apache border raider Victorio, considered even more brilliant at hit-and-run tactics than the legendary Geronimo.
It took the combined forces of the Mexican and U.S. armies plus the Texas Rangers to drop the curtain on the last great Apache chief.
On July 7, 1911, seventy-five years after the historic battle that decided the Texas Revolution, the last Texas survivor passed away at the age of 94.
Alphonso Steele, a 19 year old Kentuckian, was wounded in the opening minutes at San Jacinto but continued to fight Santa Anna’s army. In 1907 he returned to the battlefield at the invitation of Sam Houston’s son, Andrew Jackson Houston, and “retraced the course of the fighting.” Four years later, Steele died at the Limestone County home of his son.
It was on July 6, 1983 that “This Week in Texas History” first appeared in print. I wrote four columns that month for one newspaper in the hope that other editors and publishers would see it and want to give it a try.
They did with, of course, much effort on my part that included many mailings, phone calls and personal visits. Thirty years and more than 1,500 columns later, “This Week in Texas History” is the only statewide newspaper feature of its kind and the longest running column of its kind ever.
On July 5, 1826, ever sly Peter Ellis Bean found a loophole in Mexican law that allowed Anglo-American settlers to bring their slaves with them to Texas.
As an 18 year old member of the Nolan Expedition in 1801, Bean was taken prisoner rather than put to the sword. For the next 45 years, he outwitted Spaniards and later independent Mexicans but was too cautious to take sides in the Texas Revolution.