Monthly Archives: November 2013

Big League Pitcher Loses Leg in Hunting Accident

On November 28, 1938, the day after accidentally shooting himself while out hunting, Monty Stratton’s right leg was amputated above the knee.

Although he never pitched again in the major leagues, Stratton got around well enough on his artificial limb to win 18 games in the East Texas League in 1946.  Three years later, the motion picture “The Stratton Story” turned the courageous athlete into an inspiring hero.

Oil Pulled Rug Out From Under Thurber and Mingus

That is the title for the Wednesday, November 27 through Tuesday, December 3 installment of “This Week in Texas History.”

The Lone Star State is littered with ghost towns.  You just have to know where to look.  Coal was the basis for the boom at Thurber and Mingus with the mine located at one and the railroad at the other.  But when oil came long in the 1920’s, the twin towns were doomed.

Texan Was the Classic Big-City Newspaperman

After throwing a party at an Austin hotel, where he told a small circle of friends that he had an incurable disease, Stanley Walker drove back to his ranch outside Lampasas and committed suicide on November 25, 1962.

The best-known big city newspaperman of his day, Walker plied his trade in New York from 1920 until the end of World War II.  He came back to Texas to stay in 1946 and continued to write books and articles for national magazines until his death.

Texas Diplomat Exposed Fugitive Forger

James P. Hamilton, Republic of Texas minister to Great Britain, wrote a letter to Monroe Edwards on November 23, 1840 informing the swindler that he knew his letters of introduction from famous Americans were forgeries and that he was a fugitive from Lone Star justice.

Rather than return to Texas where a prison cell was waiting for him, Edwards went to New York.  Convicted of forgery in a sensational trial, he was sentenced to a long stretch in Sing Sing.  Beaten by guards for an escape attempt, Edwards soon died of his injuries.


“Little Phil” Made Life Miserable for Conquered Texans

The dictatorship of Gen. Philip Sheridan in ocupied Texas officially ended on November 26, 1867 four months after President Andrew Johnson reassigned him

His absolute authority over the conquered Confederate states of Texas and Louisiana allowed “Little Phil,” who stopped growing at five feet five inches, to indulge his battle-hardened prejudices against secessionists.  Sheridan even went so far as to ignore the pleas of frontier settlers for protection against the Comanches.

The story of Gen. Sheridan and how he ran roughshod over the former Confederates is the subject of “This Week in Texas History” for the week of Wednesday, November 20 through Tuesday, November 26.

Famed Ranger “Borrows” Calvarymen for Mexican Invasion

Leander McNelly, famous Texas Ranger captain, walked into a U.S. cavalry camp near the Rio Grande on November 17, 1875 and asked to “borrow” the idle troopers if the officer in charge did not intend to pursue Mexican rustlers across the river.

Though barely in his twenties, the Virginian commanded one of the last units of Texas Confederates to disband at the end of the Civil War.  Less than two years after the successful recovery of stolen cattle in the “Las Cuevas War,” McNelly died from tuberculosis at the the age of 33.

Owls Gives Bear Bryant Going-Away Present

On November 16, 1957, the same Saturday the rumor surfaced that Aggie coach Bear Bryant might leave College Station for Alabama, King Hill led Rice to a 7-6 upset of Texas A&M, the top-ranked college football team in the country.

The Owls went to win Jess Neely’s fourth and final Southwest Conference crown.  First-place Rice finished the 1957 season at eighth in the AP poll followed by Texas at 11th and A&M at 9th.

“Factory Farm” Visionary Goes Bust in Panhandle

That’s the tile of the “This Week in Texas History” column for Wednesday, November 13 through Tuesday, November 19.  And I’ll give you five to one odds you never heard of the subject — Hickman Price.

In 1929 Price quit his $80,000-a-year job with a film company and headed for Plainview with a grand plan to apply the assembly-line methods of his hero, Henry Ford, to the production of wheat.  At first, it looked like he might pull it off, but he had not counted on things like cutworms, hail, drought and late freezes.

Houston Newspaperman Wrote “Von Ryan’s Express”

On November 12, 1948, the Texas Institute of Letters awarded the McMurray Book Store’s $250 prize for Best Texas First Novel of the Year to David Westheimer for “Summer on the Water.”

The Rice graduate and Houston newspaperman had the rotten luck to be on-board the first B-24 shot down over Italy in December 1942 and spent the rest of WWII in a German POW camp.  Westheimer is best known for the best-selling novel “Von Ryan’s Express” published in 1964 and turned into the popular motion picture of the same name.

Connally Decides Against Another Term as Governor

John Connally announced on November 10, 1967 that he had “reluctantly concluded” he would not seek a fourth term as governor of Texas. 

In 1971 Connally joined President Nixon’s cabinet as secretary of treasury.  The following year, he chaired “Democrats for Nixon” declaring party loyalty sometimes “asks too much,” in this case support for nominee George McGovern.  Then in 1973, three months after LBJ died, the Texan officially switched parties.  Republicans, however, saw him as a Johnny-come-lately and turned thumbs down on his presidential bid in 1980.