Monthly Archives: January 2014

Houston’s Reelection Bid Mysteriously Cut Short

The Nashville newspapers carried Sam Houston’s announcement on January 30, 1829 that he would seek a second term as governor of Tennessee.

But within weeks the 36 year incumbent not only ended his reelection campaign but also resigned from office and went to live with his childhood friends the Cherokees.  Most historians believe the cause of Houston’s bizarre behavior was the sudden departure of his teenaged bride.  Whether that was true or not, the stage was set for his fateful trip to Texas in December 1832.

Young Howard Hughes Goes To Hollywood

Before he built the “Spruce Goose” and bought up half of Las Vegas, Howard Hughes left Houston for Hollywood to make motion pictures.

The Texas tycoon in Tinsel Town is the subject of “This Week in Texas History” for Wednesday, January 29 through Tuesday, February 4.  Be sure to read this column in your local newspaper or with your very own private email subscription available on this web site.

Tiny Texan Won Most Combat Medals In WWII

Audie Murphy jumped on top of a burning tank destroyer on January 26, 1945 and for the next hour singlehandedly fought an advancing German column to a standstill.  When the smoke cleared, the five-foot five-inch Texan had killed or wounded 50 enemy soldiers and saved his fellow GI’s.

For his incredible heroics that day in France, Murphy was awarded more combat citations than any American in World War II.  With the help of Hollywood legend James Cagney, he went on to make dozens of movies, mostly B-Westerns, before his death at 45 in a 1971 plane crash.

Hear Bartee On Radio This Saturday January 25!

Tune into Roy Holley’s “Talk About Texas” on KKYX 680 AM at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday, January 25) and hear Bartee Haile talk about his new book “Texas Depression-Era Desperadoes.”

KKYX is a 50,000-watt station in San Antonio that covers more than 17 counties.  Anyone in South Central Texas will be able to listen in!

Houdini The Subject of Texas History Column For the Week

“Following a weeklong engagement at the Majestic Theater, a cheering crowd saw Harry Houdini, escape artist extraordinaire, off at the Dallas train station on January 22, 1916.”

That’s how “This Week in Texas History” starts for the week of Wednesday, January 22 through Tuesday, January 28.  Learn a lot you don’t know about the most famous performer of his generation as well as his highly successful visit to Dallas ninety-eight years ago.

Confederate Officer Goes Over to the Enemy

Martin D. Hart, former member of the Texas state senate who started the Civil War as a Confederate captain but later switched sides, was captured by Rebel forces on January 20, 1863.

Hart made no bones about his Unionist sympathies and openly opposed secession.  But, like many of his kind, he joined the Confederate army.  Once in Missouri, however, he and his entire company changed uniforms and fought rearguard actions against their former comrades.  Two days after his capture, Hart was court-martialed and hanged.

Silver-Tongued Senator Early Critic of Woodrow Wilson

Joseph Weldon Bailey, Texas’ silver-tongued Senator, declared his opposition to the presidential candidacy of Woodrow Wilson in a statement on January 18, 1911:  “I don’t think he would do at all.  His revolutionary policy would make a Greek democracy of the country.”

The “golden boy” of the U.S. House, Bailey was chosen minority leader at the tender age of 34.  Promoted to the Senate in 1902, he resigned under a cloud of corruption rather than face certain defeat in a 1912 bid for reelection.  In his last political race, Bailey lost the Democratic primary for governor in 1920.

“Ma” Ferguson Serves Second Term as Governor

The subject of the “This Week in Texas History” column for the week of Wednesday, January 15 through Tuesday, January 21 is the second  term of Texas’ first female governor.

If husband Jim had not been impeached and permanently banned from public office, Miriam Ferguson never would have gotten into politics.  But it was up to her to defend the family’s tarnished honor, and she did a bang-up job winning her first election in 1924 and a second in 1932.

Tex Ritter One of the Best Singing Cowboys

Woodrow Maurice Ritter, known to his fans as “Tex,” was born on January 12, 1905 on the family farm eight miles south of Carthage.

Ritter got his start on a Houston radio station in 1929 singing the traditional western folk songs that were to be his bread and butter.  One of the best known and most popular “singing cowboys” in Hollywood, he made 85 motion pictures all but ten westerns.  Then came a successful recording career and frequent appearances on the small screen (television) before a heart attack ended his life in 1974.

Villistas Massacre Americans in Prelude to Columbus Attack

In a prelude to his surprise attack on Columbus, New Mexico two months later, Pancho Villa and his men massacred 17 American mining engineers at Santa Ysabelin in Chihuahua on January 10, 1916. 

The citizens of El Paso were so outraged by the slaughter that the city had to be put under martial law.  But that paled in comparison to the reaction in Texas and throughout the country to Villa’s “invasion” of Columbus.  No longer did Americans see the colorful bandit as a Robin Hood in a sombrero