Monthly Archives: April 2014

Eyewitness Report From San Jacinto Day

The annual San Jacinto Day festivities were moved to Saturday, April 26 this year and from what I could tell the turnout showed it.  I won’t win any prizes estimating the size of crowds, but my rough guess was somewhere in the range of eight to ten thousand.

Must admit this was the first San Jacinto Day I attended in person since the Sesquicentennial back in 1986.  My chief reason for going was to watch the battle reenactment, and I came away mildly disappointed. 

The fault may well be mine since I never have seen any reenactment up close and personal and probably expected too much.  Nonetheless, I see no reason to drag out an eighteen minute battle to a full hour with scenes from the “Runaway Scrape” and skirmishes of the day before the battle.

Big-League Pitcher Knew When To Walk Away

Proving he was in top-notch pre-war form, Boston Red Sox pitcher “Tex” Hughson won his third start in thirteen days on April 29, 1946.

That is how  the “This Week in Texas History” column for Wednesday, April 23 through Tuesday, April 29 begins.  The Buda/Kyle native was the dominant right-hander in the American League at his prime, but his arm gave out on him before he could pitch his way into the Hall of Fame.

Pulitzer Prize Winner Swam Against Isolationist Tide

Globetrotting journalist Hubert Renfro Knickerbocker (Yoakum native) spoke at the University of Texas on April 24, 1941 and received a cool reception to his call for U.S. entry into World War II.

The Pulitzer Prize winner was stationed in Germany for 11 years but was kicked out of the country as soon as Hitler came to power in 1933.  In 1949 Knickerbocker perished in a plane crash in India at the age of 52.

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.