Category Archives: Today in Texas History

Texas Confederates Ride Into Mexican Exile

Hundreds of Texans wearing the rags of their once proud gray uniforms followed Gen. Jo Shelby and his fabled Iron Brigade across the Rio Grande after the fall of the Confederacy in the spring of 1865.

That’s the subject of the “This Week in Texas History” column for Wednesday, August 20 through Tuesday, August 26.  Hope you read it in your local newspaper, but if not you can always get it by email with the private subscription available on this web site.

Texan Loses Temper One Time Too Many

Have you read “This Week in Texas History” for Wednesday, August 13 through Tuesday the 19th?  It may be in your local newspaper but if not you can read each and every column with your own private email subscription available on this web site.

The hot-tempered Texan featured in the current column is David Terry, brother of the famous founder of Terry’s Texas Rangers, the legendary Confederate cavalry.  Read about him today.

Texas Legislature Replaces Gallows With The Chair

The Texas legislature passed L.K. Irwin’s “Electric Chair Bill” on August 14, 1923 after the state representative promised to be present at the first electrocution.

True to his word, the politician watched in horror as five condemned men were put to death one after the other on opening night.  When the ghastly spectacle was over, Irwin questioned whether the newfangled “chair” really was a humane alternative to public hanging.

Horrell-Higgins Feud Was A Bloody Affair

Under pressure from Major John B. Jones of the Texas Rangers, the surviving members of the Horrell and Higgins clans signed a formal treaty on August 2, 1877 ending their Lampasas feud.

But within the year Tom and Mart Horrell were executed in their jail cells by a Meridian mob.  Brother Sam, last of the five siblings left alive, moved to Oregon, and Pink, leader of the HIggins faction, lived out his days as a ranch detective in the Panhandle.

Baptist Paper Puts The Blame On Cities

An editorial in the July 30, 1914 issue of the “Baptist Standard” described the prohibition movement as “a struggle for a higher Anglo-Saxon civilization against the slum civilization of the great cities.”

The author of an article in the same issue contended the big cities were “the nuclei of vice, depravity, misery and crime generated by the liquor traffic.”  No wonder so many Texans got so worked up over the proposed ban on booze!

Innkeeper To The World

On August 4, 1925, Conrad Hilton opened the first hotel he built from the ground up and put his name on — the Dallas Hilton.  And that’s what “This Week in Texas History” for Wednesday, July 30 through Tuesday, August 5 is all about.

Just six years earlier, the World War I veteran was looking to buy a bank in Cisco, Texas but wound up purchasing a two-story hotel called The Mobley.  At his death 57 years later, Hilton owned and operated 188 hotels in 38 states and another 54 in countries around the globe.

Mannen Clements Got Away With Murder

Mannen Clements, gunfighter and all-around rough character, killed Petyon “Pate” Patterson on July 25, 1872.

Clements was tried for the murder six years later, but the jury voted to acquit.  The Clements brothers (Mannen, Joe, Jim and Gip) were a force to be reckoned with, especially when joined by cousin John Wesley Hardin.  Mannen was shot to death in the Senate Saloon in Ballinger in March 1887 by city marshall Joseph Townsend, who died in an ambush a short time later.

President Roosevelt’s Son Marries A Texan

On July 22, 1933, four days after the divorce from his first wife became final, Elliott Roosevelt, one of the president’s four sons, married Ruth Coogins of Fort Worth.

During this decade-long marriage, which was followed by two more, Roosevelt dabbled in ranching and early radio in the Lone Star State.  Despite poor eyesight, he pulled the necessary strings to obtain a pilot’s license and flew 89 combat missions in World War II.

FDR’s Third Term Dashes Rayburn’s White House Hopes

His own presidential ambitions thwarted by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s unexpected decision to seek a third term, Texas congressman Sam Rayburn appealed to the Democratic National Convention on July 17, 1940 to make FDR’s nomination unanimous.

Two months later, Rayburn suddenly found himself Speaker of the House following the fatal heart attack of William Bankhead.  Except for two short periods of Republican control (1947-1949 and 1953-1955) he held the powerful post until his death in 1961.

Scandalous Exile Spent Last Years In Texas

On July 9, 1943, Alfred de Marigny was charged with the murder in the Bahamas of his father-in-law, Sir Harry Oakes .

In his role as royal governor, the Duke of Windsor, who had abdicated the throne to marry a divorced American, oversaw the trial that mesmerized the world.  De Marigny was acquitted but exiled from the island as an “undesirable alien.”  The Frenchman spent the last forty years of his life as a rich but rarely seen recluse in Houston.