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This Day In Texas History - September 26

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 7:08 am
by joe817
1830 - James Eldrage Dillard, lawyer and judge, the son of David and Mahala (Durden) Dillard, was born in Houston County, Georgia, on September 26, 1830. He traveled to Texas in 1848 and lived in Liberty County, where he was a farmer and stockman. In 1853 he resettled in Cherokee County and studied law with the firm of Donnelly and Anderson. He began his own law practice in Rusk.


From 1853 to 1857 Dillard was active in expelling Indians from white settlements. At the outset of the Civil War he enlisted in the Confederacy as a private in Company K of the Third Texas Cavalry. He received severe wounds in the battle of Oak Hill but recovered and was promoted for his bravery. Later he served in the Fourth Texas Cavalry under Col. Walter P. Lane. After the war Dillard resumed his law practice. He was elected county judge in Kaufman County and subsequently district judge in Ellis County. In 1870 voters elected him to the state Senate.

After the war Dillard resumed his law practice. He was elected county judge in Kaufman County and subsequently district judge in Ellis County. In 1870 voters elected him to the state Senate. Dillard's opposition to Reconstruction won him enemies. He was twice expelled from the Senate for making speeches against the bribery and corruption in the legislature, but his constituency sent him back each time.

During the turbulent term of Governor Edmund J. Davis, Dillard took an active part in opposing the "Carpetbag Constitution." By the end of the Coke-Davis controversy, he was a recognized leader in the destruction of misrule and the establishment of a Democratic state government. On January 19, 1874, Dillard and two others, armed with pistols, subdued the guards, stormed into the state capitol, and broke down the door of the governor's office.

They removed state officials who refused to leave voluntarily. Dillard was often mentioned as a possible candidate for governor but instead chose to return to the practice of law. He retired from office in 1906 but continued to practice law until his death, on December 8, 1913.

1835 - William Jarvis Russell, naval officer, army officer, and legislator, was born in Onslow County, North Carolina. He was single when he moved to Brazoria, Texas, from Louisiana in 1828. In May 1832 Russell was among the citizens at Anahuac who demanded of John Davis Bradburn the release of William B. Travis and Patrick C. Jack, arrested by Mexican authorities.

When their release was not forthcoming, Russell accompanied John Austin to Brazoria to secure a cannon to enforce their demands. On their return to Anahuac, Austin and Russell were stopped by the garrison at Velasco commanded by Domingo de Ugartechea, who refused to allow the gun to pass. On June 22, 1832, Russell was appointed lieutenant in command of the schooner Brazoria and ordered to bombard the Mexicans from the Brazos River.

At the battle of Velasco Russell is said to have fired the first shot of the Texas Revolution, on June 26, 1832. On June 29 he and William H. Wharton received the surrender of Velasco. On September 26, 1835 Russell was elected chairman of the Committee of Safety of Matagorda County, which raised a company of volunteers for Texas defense and elected delegates to the Consultation at San Felipe de Austin.
[ https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fru24 ]

1861 - The Bayou City was a small steamer used on mail, passenger, and freight service between Galveston and Houston before the Civil War. Although several of her passengers were killed during a boiler explosion in 1859, the Bayou City continued to ply the inland waters, and on September 26, 1861, the ship was leased for state service from the Houston Navigation Company by W. W. Hunter, the Confederate commander of the Texas Marine Department.

Supplied with men and material from the former revenue schooner Henry Dodge and strengthened with bales of cotton and cottonseed against enemy attack, the Bayou City was operated by the state until purchased by the Confederate War Department in October 1862. After service as a police boat the Bayou City, along with the Neptune, led the Confederate assault on the small Union fleet in the battle of Galveston.

Under the command of Capt. Henry S. Lubbock, the Bayou City carried one thirty-two-pound gun and some sixty volunteer riflemen commanded by Capt. Leon Smith against the more heavily armed Harriet Lane. The Bayou City's single cannon burst after only a few rounds, and the Neptune was sunk in short order. Nonetheless, the Bayou City rammed the Union vessel, which her erstwhile marines boarded and captured. Little is known about the Bayou City's fate after the recapture of Galveston. In June 1863 she was reported ready to steam at Harrisburg but had no armament. By March 1864 she had been moved to Galveston, where she mounted two heavy guns and a single brass cannon.

1888 - J. Frank Dobie, folklorist, was born on a ranch in Live Oak County, Texas, on September 26, 1888, the eldest of six children of Richard J. and Ella (Byler) Dobie. His ranching heritage became an early influence on his character and personality. He left the ranch when he was sixteen and moved to Alice, where he lived with his Dubose grandparents and finished high school.

In 1906 he enrolled in Southwestern University in Georgetown, where he met Bertha McKee, whom he married in 1916. With his new M.A. he joined the University of Texas faculty in 1914. At this time he also joined the Texas Folklore Society. The Texas Folklore Society had been formed in 1909 by Leonidas W. Payne and others, but had recessed during the war years. On April 1, 1922, Dobie became secretary of the society. He immediately began a publication program. Legends of Texas (1924) carried the seeds of many of his later publications.

Dobie served as the society's secretary-editor for twenty-one years and built the society into a permanent professional organization. When the university would not promote him without a Ph.D., Dobie accepted the chairmanship of the English department at Oklahoma A&M, where he stayed from 1923 to 1925. During these two years he began writing for the Country Gentleman.

With considerable help from his friends on the UT campus, he was able to return in 1925 with a token promotion. He began writing articles on Texas history, culture, and folklore for magazines and periodicals and soon started to work on his first book, A Vaquero of the Brush Country. Dobie's purpose in life from the time of his return to the university in 1921 was to show the people of Texas and the Southwest the richness of their culture and their traditions, particularly in their legends.

John A. Lomax, another founder of the Texas Folklore Society, had done this with his collecting and publishing cowboy songs; Dobie intended to do this with the tales of old-time Texas and through the publications of the society and his own writing. Dobie died on September 18, 1964. He had been feted by the Southwestern Writers and the Texas Folklore Society.

Special editions of the Texas Observer and the Austin American-Statesman had been devoted to his praise by his many admirers, and President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded him the nation's highest civil award, the Medal of Freedom, on September 14, 1964. His funeral was held in Hogg Auditorium on the UT campus, and he was buried in the State Cemetery. [ https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdo02 ]

1892 - The Houston Railway Company was chartered on September 26, 1892, to construct a local suburban railway from a connection with the Houston and Texas Central Railway Company one half mile west of the then corporate limits of the City of Houston to Houston Heights. The line was capitalized at $90,000 and the office was located in Houston Heights. Members of the first board of directors were O. M. Carter, D. D. Cooley, William Shannon, A. F. Morey, H. Scherffins, H. T. MacGregor, and C. A. McKinney. The three mile Houston Railway was sold to the Houston and Texas Central on July 31, 1902, and used by that company as an industrial track.

1901 - Constance "Connie" Douglas was born in Eagle Pass, Texas, on September 26, 1901. She was the only child of William Constant Douglas, a state district judge and Ada (Wallace) Douglas. Connie's maternal grandfather, Alfred Wallace, was raised on a ranch near Marathon, Texas. Connie credits him for her love of horses. At age five Connie received her first horse from her grandfather.

She learned to ride both English and Western saddles during her happy childhood in western Texas. The Depression interrupted her plans of becoming an attorney, forcing her to take a job as a school teacher in San Antonio. While teaching English and speech at Main Avenue High School, Connie started the first pep squad in Texas. Thomas Jefferson High School opened its doors in 1932. Connie went there to teach physical education. She formed a second pep squad, this time with a novel idea.

The girls wore western-styled uniforms, consisting of blue flannel skirts, a blue bolero jacket, red satin blouse, a pearl grey Stetson hat, and a lasso rope attached by a loop at the waist of their skirt. The name of the squad was the Lassos. The girls were taught to twirl their lassos by Johnny Reagan, a trick rope artist from England. It was a thrilling sight to see 128 girls twirling their lassos in unison. The Lassos began performing at all state and local conventions held in San Antonio in addition to major athletic events.

The Depression took its toll on Connie's family. Her teaching salary was the primary source of income. To bring in additional income, Connie joined Harry Hamilton, a teacher and her fiancé at the time, as a riding instructor at his family's horse stables. Connie began showing her horses at local horse shows. It was not long before her horsemanship and knowledge of horses were well known in the area. In 1936 Connie was asked to join Camp Waldemar as head riding instructor.

Camp Waldemar is a girl's camp on the Guadalupe River in the Texas Hill Country near Hunt. It opened in 1926 under the direction of Ora Johnson who had dreamed of developing a camp for young ladies to help them grow into fine noble women. For more than sixty years, Connie taught more than 30,000 girls the love of riding. Jack Reeves, a cowboy and former rodeo participant, took care of the camp horses.

Connie and Jack's mutual love of horses lead to their friendship developing into a love that lasted forty-three years. They were married in 1942. Jack died in 1985 with Connie by his side. They never had any children. Connie wrote a book about her life with Jack, I Married a Cowboy, which was published in 1995. In 1998 in honor of her contribution perpetuating the ideals, history, and heritage of the American West, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City bestowed upon her the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award.

She was the first woman to receive this honor. She was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1997. Though she was 100 years old, Connie participated in the parade for the opening of the Hall of Fame in Fort Worth in 2002. That same year, she was presented the Freedom Forum's "Free Spirit Award."

Connie understood the dangers of horseback riding and reportedly was bucked off at least once every year of her life. She had many injuries as a result of her time spent with horses. In 1994 at the age of ninety-two, Connie took a group of women riding when suddenly the horse in front of Connie began to buck. Connie moved her horse closer to help the rider when her horse began to buck.

Apparently the riders had disturbed a hornet's nest; Connie was thrown off her horse and landed on top of the hornets. Connie's injuries included three broken ribs, a partially collapsed lung, a broken wrist, and numerous hornet stings. She was taken to a San Antonio hospital where she stayed for nine days. Since her injuries were work-related, Camp Waldemar filed for Texas Worker Compensation Insurance.

Representatives were certain that someone at Camp Waldemar had made a mistake when listing Connie's birth date as 1901. Connie became the oldest claimant they had ever had at the time. On August 5, 2003, Connie was thrown off a horse for the last time. She was riding her favorite horse, Dr. Pepper, when for an unknown reason she fell over the horse's head.

As a result of the fall she fractured her neck. Friends were certain that she would survive her injuries but twelve days after her fall on August 17, 2003, Connie Douglas Reeves passed away. She is buried at the Camp Verde Cemetery in Kerr County, Texas.
[ https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fre68 ]

1928 - Arthur Edward Stilwell, railroad builder and urban promoter, was born in Rochester, New York. At the age of fourteen or fifteen, following the collapse of his father's jewelry business in Rochester, he ran away from home and became a clerk, traveling salesman, and insurance policy developer. In 1886 he moved to Kansas City, where he founded trust companies and built belt-line railways.

Stilwell's first major project was a railway south from Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico for the purpose of exporting midwestern agricultural products. The original terminal point was Sabine Pass, Texas, but Stilwell formed a syndicate that founded the town of Port Arthur on Sabine Lake. Despite the depression of 1893, the flamboyant Stilwell drove the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad (later Kansas City Southern) south from Kansas City to Port Arthur in 1897.

From 1900 until 1912 he constructed the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway from Wichita, Kansas, south through Oklahoma to San Angelo and eventually to Alpine, Texas. The Mexican Revolution and a lack of traffic led to bankruptcy for the railway, and Stilwell was forced out of his firm. He died in New York on September 26, 1928. Among the other Texas communities founded by his firms were Nederland, Diaz, Rochester, Hamlin, Odell, Sylvester, and Rule.

Re: This Day In Texas History - September 26

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:57 am
by ELB
joe817 wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 7:08 am
1830 - James Eldrage Dillard, ... the son of ...Mahala
I have seen the name "Mahala" appear before in Joe's Texas history entries, in approximately the same time frame (first half of the 1800s). When doing some genealogy on my family name, I found I have female relative from that same time frame whose first name was Mahala. It appears to be a name with Hebrew and Arabic roots, and there is a male Mahalalel who makes his appearance in Genesis, as well as a prophet in Islam's history of the pre-Islamic times. Other internet sources claim it as a native American indian name as well.

Anyway, it appears to have been somewhat popular in the early 1800s, I've always been curious as to why.

Re: This Day In Texas History - September 26

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 1:17 pm
by joe817
Interesting story! Thanks for sharing. And that's the first time(above) that I ever saw/heard that name.