This day in Texas History: Richard Henry Boyd Born into Slavery

This day in Texas History:

Richard Henry Boyd Born into Slavery

March 05, 1843

On this day in 1843, Richard Henry Boyd began his remarkable life. He was born in Mississippi and named Dick Gray, a slave of B. A. Gray, and was later taken to his owner’s new plantation near Brenham, Texas.

Richard Henry BoydBoyd accompanied Gray and his three sons as a servant in the Confederate army. After Gray and his two older sons died in battle near Chattanooga, Boyd carried the youngest son, who was badly wounded, back to the Texas plantation. Boyd took charge of the plantation and managed cotton production and sales until emancipation. He then worked as a cowboy and in 1867 changed his name from Gray to Richard Henry Boyd

.

Self-taught, he enrolled in Bishop College at Marshall and was later ordained a Baptist minister. He organized six churches into the first black Baptist association in Texas in 1870 and went on to represent the group at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Boyd rose to prominence in Texas as a religious leader, established more churches, and published literature for black Baptist Sunday schools.

In the mid-1890s he moved to Nashville, where his accomplishments included organizing a bank, a publishing company, and a doll company. He also wrote or edited fourteen books.

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This day in Texas History: Texas Declares Independence from Mexico

This day in Texas History:

Texas Declares Independence from Mexico

March 02, 1836

On this day in 1836, Texas became a republic. On March 1 delegates from the seventeen Mexican municipalities of Texas and the settlement of Pecan Point met at Washington-on-the-Brazos to consider independence from Mexico.

George C. Childress presented a resolution calling for independence, and the chairman of the convention appointed Childress to head a committee of five to draft a declaration of independence. In the early morning hours of March 2, the convention voted unanimously to accept the resolution. After fifty-eight members signed the document, Texas became the Republic of Texas. The change remained to be demonstrated to Mexico.

T E X A S

T E X A S

T E X A S
Copyright 2013 Warren Paul Harris
Available in fine Art note cards from
www.txnotecards.com

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This day in Texas History: Indian Captive Reunited With Husband

This day in Texas History:

Indian Captive Reunited With Husband

February 19, 1838

On this day in 1838, Indian captive Rachel Plummer was reunited with her husband after spending over a year with the Comanches.

Born Rachel Parker in Illinois in 1819, she moved to Texas with her father, James W. Parker, and her family and married Luther Plummer in 1833. In May 1836 their settlement was attacked by a large group of Indians. Five settlers were taken captive: Rachel and her son James Pratt Plummer, Cynthia Ann and John Parker, and Mrs. Elizabeth Kellogg. James Pratt was taken from Rachel, and she never saw him again.

Rachel Parker PlummerRachel became a slave to the Comanches, and traveled thousands of miles with the band. She was pregnant at the time of her capture and bore a second son about October 1836. The Indians thought that the baby was interfering with Rachel’s work, so they killed him when he was about six weeks old. Rachel was ransomed by Mexican traders north of Santa Fe in June 1837. Several months later, Rachel’s brother-in-law escorted her back to Texas, where she was reunited with her husband.

In 1838 she published an account of her captivity entitled Rachael Plummer’s Narrative of Twenty One Months Servitude as a Prisoner Among the Commanchee Indians. This was the first narrative about a captive of Texas Indians published in Texas. Rachel bore a third child in 1839 and died in Houston shortly thereafter; the child died two days later.

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This day in Texas History: Brewster County Exposes “Dummy Town”

This day in Texas History:

Brewster County Exposes “Dummy Town”

February 08, 1910

On this day in 1910, a Brewster County grand jury exposed the Progress City swindle.

The grand jury, led by well-known cattleman and Sul Ross State University founder Joseph D. Jackson, reported on the Progress City Town Site Company. This bogus organization sold town lots for Progress City, an “imaginary town” situated in the Santiago Mountains about forty miles southeast of Alpine.

Unsuspecting buyers across Texas had already purchased more than 1,000 lots for $1.50 each without realizing that the site was along a remote and rugged trail only accessible by horseback. The Progress City Town Site Company consisted of John L. Mauk and Lee R. Davis of Waco, who had gained title to the land from William Poole. The grand jury admitted that prosecution was probably pointless, but did accomplish its goal of exposing the caper while making clear the innocence of the people of Brewster County.

Moon Over Cathedral Mountain

Moon Over Cathedral Mountain

From the album: Images for Volume II – Texas After Dark
Texas As I See It – a Coffee Table Photography Book

Moon Over Cathedral Mountain
Alpine, Texas

Copyright 2011 Warren Paul Harris
All Rights Reserved

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This day in Texas History: Virginia Point Benefits from Galveston Island Bridge

This day in Texas History:

Virginia Point Benefits from Galveston Island Bridge

February 06, 1860

On this day in 1860, the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad completed its bridge from Virginia Point to Galveston Island.

Northbound Train for Virginia PointVirginia Point, on the mainland west of Galveston, was an outlying part of Stephen F. Austin’s Coast Colony. The bridge brought growth, as it facilitated traffic between Galveston and Houston. Previously, merchandise had to be unloaded at the point from trains, carried by the steam ferryboat Texas across to Galveston, unloaded onto drays, and unloaded again on the wharves. With the new 10,000-foot bridge in service, trains came through Virginia Point daily.

The causeway survived the ravages of the Civil War, only to be destroyed by a hurricane in 1867. While repairs were being made, ferry boats again carried the freight. In 1875 the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway constructed a second wooden bridge. Other railroad interests brought a third railroad bridge from North Galveston to Virginia Point in 1892, and Galveston County built a steel wagon bridge in 1893. But the Galveston hurricane of 1900 swept away the bridges and most of Virginia Point.

A reinforced-concrete causeway completed in 1911 carried the Galveston-Houston Electric Railway, five steam railroads, and the county highway. Virginia Point remained a train stop and fishing resort until another hurricane wiped out the town in 1915. In 1936 the electric railway abandoned its tracks as automobile traffic took over. The University of Texas operated a shell and topsoil company in Virginia Point until the 1950s.

Texas City annexed the point in 1952, but never included it in its seawall system. Increased shipping in the Intracoastal Canal and bay has eroded portions of the old townsite, which is now reached only at low tide by a shell road under the old causeway

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This day in Texas History: Commission Established to Plan Central National Road

This day in Texas History:

Commission Established to Plan Central National Road

February 05, 1844

On this day in 1844, the Texas Congress established a five-man commission to oversee the construction of the Central National Road.

Central National RoadThe road was to begin on the bank of the Trinity River in Dallas County and run to the south bank of the Red River in the northwest corner of Red River County, opposite the mouth of the Kiamachi River. The proposed terminus was the head of navigation on the Red River. To the north and east the Central National Road connected with the military road to Fort Gibson and old roads joining the Jonesborough area to settlements in Arkansas. At its southern terminus it connected with the road opened in 1840 between Austin and Preston Bend on the Red River, in effect making an international highway between St. Louis and San Antonio.

The international role that Congress may have visualized for the road was never fulfilled, however, because the general westward population shift voided its centrality and necessitated other roads. The Central National Road was the second such ambitious roadbuilding effort of the Republic of Texas, after the National Road authorized in 1839. Previous to the republic, the Old San Antonio Road and the La Bahía Road were the principal Texas roads.

After the republic, the burgeoning railroad and cattle-trailing industries joined roadbuilding between population centers to turn a vast, trackless land into a vast land laced with tracks.

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This day in Texas History: Republic of Texas Authorizes Ill-Fated Peters Colony

This day in Texas History:

Republic of Texas Authorizes Ill-Fated Peters Colony

February 04, 1841

On this day in 1841, the Republic of Texas passed a law authorizing the president to enter into an empresario contract with William S. Peters of Pennsylvania and his associates.

Peters ColonyThe contract required Peters to bring 200 colonists to North Texas every three years. The colony was headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, and its bumpy history contrasts sharply with that of such earlier colonies as the Austin colony partly because the successful earlier empresarios lived in their colonies and managed them personally.

After the initial authorizing law, the Peters colony entered four contracts with the republic. Each was an effort to correct some defect in the previous one, or to relax the demands of the government on colony officials, who failed to bring in the requisite colonists. Peters and his investors soon gave up, and in 1844 the Texas Emigration and Land Company was founded to take over the colony. The company continued the earlier management’s precedents for rapacious demands on the colonists and inept management.

The installation in 1845 of the officious Henry O. Hedgcoxe as the company’s agent in residence inflamed the colonists and precipitated the Hedgcoxe War, in which the agent was driven from the colony. A settlement was eventually reached, and the deadline for colonists to file their claims was extended to May 7, 1853. But it took nearly ten legislative enactments over nearly twenty years to bring final settlement of the land titles. The colony that helped settle North Texas brought little if any profit to the investors and much disgruntlement to the settlers.

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This day in Texas History: Buddy Holly Dies in Plane Crash

This day in Texas History:

Buddy Holly Dies in Plane Crash

February 03, 1959

Buddy HollyOn this day in 1959, Charles Hardin Holley, better known as Buddy Holly, died in a plane crash near Mason City, Iowa.

After a show on the night of February 2 in Clear Lake, Holly, J. P. Richardson (the “Big Bopper“), and Richie Valens took off in a chartered plane for Fargo, North Dakota. The aircraft went down shortly after take-off, and all aboard were killed.

The innovative Holly and his group, the Crickets, had achieved a high level of fame that persists more than forty years later. In Lubbock, Holly’s hometown, a large statue of the musician stands near the Lubbock Memorial Center.

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This day in Texas History: Lightnin’ Hopkins Dies

This day in Texas History:

Lightnin’ Hopkins Dies

January 30, 1982

On this day in 1982, blues singer Sam (Lightnin’) Hopkins died of cancer.

Lightnin' HopkinsHopkins was born in Centerville, Texas, in 1912. At age eight he made his first instrument, a cigar-box guitar with chicken-wire strings. By ten he was playing music with his cousin, Alger (Texas) Alexander, and Blind Lemon Jefferson, who encouraged him to continue. By the mid-1920s Hopkins was playing the blues anywhere he could.

He served time at the Houston County Prison Farm in the mid-1930s, and after his release he returned to the blues-club circuit. In 1950 he settled in Houston. Though he recorded prolifically between 1946 and 1954, it was not until 1959, when Hopkins began working with legendary producer Sam Chambers, that his music began to reach a mainstream white audience.

Hopkins switched to an acoustic guitar and became a hit in the folk-blues revival of the 1960s. During the early 1960s he played at Carnegie Hall with Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, and by the end of the decade was opening for rock bands. He was also the subject of a documentary, The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins, which won a prize at the Chicago Film Festival in 1970.

Hopkins recorded a total of more than eighty-five albums and toured around the world. His songs were often autobiographical, making him a de facto spokesperson for the southern black community that had no voice in the white mainstream.

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Challenger Explosion Kills Texas Astronaut and Her Colleagues

This day in Texas History:

Challenger Explosion Kills Texas Astronaut and Her Colleagues

January 28, 1986

On this day in 1986, the space shuttle Challenger (Mission STS-51-L) exploded shortly after takeoff.

Challenger ExplosionSeven American astronauts were killed, including Texas resident Judith Arlene Resnik. She was the second American woman astronaut. She had taken her first space flight in August 1984 aboard the orbiter Discovery.

Crew members killed in the explosion included Francis R. Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Greg Jarvis and Christa McAuliff, a teacher from New Hampshire.

An O-ring seal in the right solid rocket booster failed at lift-off, causing a breach and allowing pressurized hot gas to escape.

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