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.
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.
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.