Category Archives: Today in Texas History

Texas Senator Father of Eighteenth Amendment

A year and a half after introducing the Eighteenth Amendment, Sen. Morris Sheppard was reelected on November 5, 1918 with 87 percent of the vote.

Although the East Texas native had many other legislative achievements during his 28 years in the U.S. Senate, the ardent prohibitionist would always be remembered as the man who squeezed America dry.  Sheppard died in office of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 9, 1941.

Rice All-American Has A Heck of A Game

Dickie Maegle, former all-sport star at Taylor, carried the ball only five times in the September 26, 1954 football game against Cornell but made the most of his opportunities by scoring four touchdowns and accounting for 178 yards. 

The Rice All-American is most remembered for a bizarre play in his final college appearance — the 1955 Cotton Bowl.  Maegle was sailing down the sideline on a 95-yard TD dash, when a member of the Alabama team came off the bench and tackled him.  The Forty-Niners picked him in the first round of the 1955 draft, but Maegle lasted just six seasons in the NFL.

Texans Loved Dobie’s Books But Hated His Politics

On September 19, 1964, four days after receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson, J. Frank Dobie lay down for his afternoon nap and never woke up.

In his many books about Texas and the Southwest, Dobie put folklore on an equal footing with respected works of history.  Texans had a hard time reconciling his entertaining tales with his outspoken liberal politics, heretical views that got him fired from the University of Texas.

Houston Big Shot Turns Against Truman

Jesse H. Jones, the Houston mover and shaker, turned against Harry Truman on September 16, 1948 and endorsed Republican Thomas E. Dewey for president.

The most influential Texas businessman of his generation, the newspaper publisher had his finger in every pie in the Bayou City.  A lifelong Democrat, who served as secretary of commerce under FDR, Jones’ dramatic defection to the GOP during the presidential campaign of 1948 signaled a seismic shift in Lone Star politics.

Texans Take Part in Last Oklahoma Land Rush

The official starter fired his pistol on Sep. 16, 1893 and thousands of land-hungry Americans, including a slew of eager Texans, were off and running for the Cherokee Outlet.

Ever wonder how so many Okies have Texans in their family tree?  Simple. Their Lone Star ancestors took part in the three races for free land.  Read all about it in “This Week in Texas History” for Wednesday, September 10 through Tuesday, September.  And if your local newspaper doesn’t carry the column, sign up today for a private email subscription available on this web site.

Manson Follower Faces The Music

After a nine-month extradition fight, Charles “Tex” Watson was taken from his cell in the Collin County jail at McKinney on September 11, 1970 and returned under armed guard to Los Angeles to stand trial separately for his part in the Manson Family killing spree.

The Farmersville native was convicted of multiple counts of murder and condemned to die in the gas chamber, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment when the death penalty was declared unconstitutional.  At age 68, Watson is still behind bars and waiting for his fifteenth parole hearing in 2016.

The First Great Tennis Player From Texas

Wilmer Allison upset Fred Perry, number one in the world, in the semi-finals of the National Singles Tennis Championship on September 8, 1935 and went on to win the title the next day in straight sets over Sidney Wood.

The Forth Worth native was the national college champion in 1927 and won the Wimbledon doubles crown twice with partner John Van Ryn.  He returned to his alma mater after World War and coached the University of Texas tennis team from 1946 until 1972, the last 15 years as head coach.

Oldham Was A Thorn In Confederacy’s Side

In a speech to the Confederate senate on September 4, 1862, William Simpson Oldham condemned conscription with the argument that the draft was wrong under any circumstances.

During the Civil War, the Tennessee native turned the tables on Richmond insisting states’ rights took precedence even in wartime and repeatedly railed against what he called “the battering ram of executive influence.”  Following the collapse of the Confederacy, Oldham went into exile in Mexico and later Canada before coming back to Texas in 1866.  He died two years later in Houston of typhoid fever.

Amarillo Actress Best Known As TV’s “Morticia”

The last episode of the hit TV series “The Addams Family,” starring Carolyn Jones as Morticia, aired on September 2, 1966.

Born in Amarillo in 1930, Jones endured abandonment by her father at age four and severe asthma that kept her indoors much of her childhood.  She broke into motion pictures and television in the early 1950’s, earning an Academy Award nomination for “The Bachelor Party” and small-screen stardom with “The Addams Family.”  But colon cancer cut her life short in 1983.

Famed Sociologist and Political Thinker Born in Waco

C. Wright Mills, who grew up to become one of the most influential critics of post-World War II America, was born on August 28, 1916 in Waco.

No other book written in the 1950’s had a greater impact than Mills’ “The Power Elite,” which for the first time exposed the  triumvirate of government, military and corporations that posed a threat to the very survival of democracy in the United States.  Mills was just 45 when he died in 1962 of his fourth heart attack.