What happened this week in Texas history? February 9-15 - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

What happened this week in Texas history? February 9-15

Juanita Shanks Craft, longtime NAACP activist (Source: humanitiestexas.org) Juanita Shanks Craft, longtime NAACP activist (Source: humanitiestexas.org)
(KLTV) -

On February 9, 1902, Juanita Shanks Craft was born in Round Rock. Craft was a longtime civil rights activist, and joined the Dallas branch of the NAACP in 1935. She helped organize 182 branches of the NAACP in Texas over the next eleven years. In 1944, Craft became the first African-American woman in Dallas County to vote. She died in Austin in 1985.

Also on February 9, famed jazz saxophonist and composer Herschel Evans died of heart disease at the young age of 30. He had been born in Denton, Texas in 1909. He was a featured soloist in Count Basie's big band, and recorded with Lester Young and Teddy Wilson. You may remember his work on classics such as Texas Shuffle and Doggin' Around.

On February 10, 1899, a woman who claimed to be a survivor of the battle of the Alamo passed away at age 113 in San Antonio. Her name was Andrea Castanon Villanueva. She was better known as Madam Candelaria, after her marriage to Candelario Villanueva. They had four children and she also raised twenty two orphans, as well as nursing the sick and aiding the poor. In 1891 she was awarded by the Texas legislature a pension of $12 a month for being an Alamo survivor and for her work with small pox victims in San Antonio.

On February 11, 1850, The Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway (BBB&C) was chartered, marking the beginning of the railroad age in Texas.  It was the first railroad to operate in Texas, the first component of the present Southern Pacific to open for service, and the second railroad west of the Mississippi River. The railroad still handles heavy freight traffic as well as Amtrak's Sunset Limited.

On February 11, 1915, the Texas State Legislature passed an appropriations bill to pay for expenses that former governor Oscar Branch Colquitt  had racked up for "chicken salad and punch," among other items, during his term in office.  The "chicken salad case" legal battle lasted until June 1916.  At that time, Justice William Seat Fly ruled that fuel, water, ice and lights could be paid for by appropriated funds, but groceries and personal items could not. Unfortunately, Colquitt's successor, Governor Jim Ferguson, ignored that and continued to buy groceries with state money. Ferguson testified under oath that he would repay it to the state if the Supreme Court decided against him in the case, but he did not do so. This led to his impeachment for misapplication of public funds by a  Supreme Court vote of 25 to 3. This ended his political career, making him ineligible to hold any office of honor, trust or profit under the state of Texas. However, his wife, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson, had her own political career in the state, and former Gov. Ferguson continued to exert political influence through her when she became the first female Governor of Texas in 1924.

On February 12, 1888, James Field Smathers was born near Valley Spring, Texas. You may not recognize his name, but he is the man who decided that manual typewriters were too low-tech,  taking too long to get one's work done and causing fatigue. He came up with an invention to remedy that ...the electric typewriter... and by 1912, when he was 24 years old, received a patent after developing a working model. His 1914 model worked perfectly, and ultimately, his invention was embraced by IBM, in 1933, which marked the beginning of the IBM Office Products Division.  Smathers joined the staff of IBM as a consultant and worked in development of new products for the company. He retired in 1953, and died in 1967.

On February 13, 1913, the first Spanish newspaper in Texas, San Antonio's La Prensa, was published. The paper was intended to allow Mexicans temporarily residing in the U.S. to follow events in Mexico, which was dealing with the Mexican Revolution at the time. It was a lifeline to those who were in the states but loved their home country. It was published for almost 50 years, ending on January 31, 1963, just two weeks shy of its 50th anniversary.

On February 13, 1977, legendary Texas Ranger M. T. "Lone Wolf" Gonzaullas died in Dallas at the age of 85.  Gonzaullas was one of the Rangers who was fired in a sweeping action by Ma Ferguson immediately after she took office; literally the day after she took office in 1933. However, the state legislature decided to remedy that situation by creating the Department of Public Safety and making the Rangers a division of that agency. Gonzaullas was one of the "Big Four" who had a lot to do with the formation of that division.  He also became well-known for investigating a series of murders in Texarkana in 1946, a case which was made into a movie, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, in 1977.  After his retirement in 1951, he became a technical consultant in Hollywood for radio, tv, and movies.

On February 14, 1882, a Southern Pacific Railroad crew founded the aptly-named town of Valentine, Texas.  The crew was building east from El Paso and reached the site in Jeff Davis County. The town became a shipping point for local cattle ranchers and had five cattle breeders, a news company, real estate office, a grocery store, an eatery, and the Valentine Business Club by 1914. The population peaked at that time at about 500 people; in 2012, the population was 132.

On February 14, 1729, Spanish nobleman Marques de Aguayo presented his opinion to the king of Spain that he thought 400 people should be transported from Havana, Galicia, or the Canary Islands to populate the province of Texas. Ultimately, fifteen families from the Canary Islands did just that, the first arriving at Presidio San Antonio de Bexar in early spring of 1731. Several of the old families in San Antonio trace their descent from the Canary Island colonists.

On February 15, 1876, the citizens of Texas adopted the Constitution of 1876. Although it has been amended more than 230 times, it remains the basic law of Texas today, including influences of the states predominantly agrarian nature in the late 19th century.

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