1835 - Thomas Jefferson Rusk, soldier and statesman, the oldest of seven children of John and Mary (Sterritt) Rusk, was born in Pendleton District, South Carolina, on December 5, 1803. After admission to the bar in 1825, Rusk began his law practice in Clarksville, Georgia. He lived in the gold region of Georgia and made sizable mining investments. In 1834, however, the managers of the company in which he had invested embezzled all the funds and fled to Texas. Rusk pursued them to Nacogdoches but never recovered the money. He did, however, decide to stay in Texas. He became a citizen of Mexico on February 11, 1835, applied for a headright in David G. Burnet's colony, and sent for his family. After hearing Nacogdoches citizens denounce the despotism of Mexico, Rusk became involved in the independence movement. He organized volunteers from Nacogdoches and hastened to Gonzales, where his men joined Stephen F. Austin's army in preventing the Mexicans from seizing their cannon.
As a delegate from Nacogdoches to the Convention of 1836, Rusk not only signed the Texas Declaration of Independence but also chaired the committee to revise the constitution. The ad interim government, installed on March 17, 1836, appointed Rusk secretary of war. When informed that the Alamo had fallen and the Mexicans were moving eastward, Rusk helped President Burnet to move the government to Harrisburg. Rusk ordered all the coastal communities to organize militias. After the Mexicans massacred James W. Fannin's army (see GOLIAD MASSACRE) Burnet sent Rusk with orders for Gen. Sam Houston to make a stand against the enemy, and upon learning that Antonio López de Santa Anna intended to capture the government at Harrisburg, the Texas army marched to Buffalo Bayou. Rusk participated with bravery in the defeat of Santa Anna on April 21, 1836, in the battle of San Jacinto. From May 4 to October 31, 1836, he served as commander in chief of the Army of the Republic of Texas, with the rank of brigadier general. He followed the Mexican troops westward as they retired from Texas to be certain of their retreat beyond the Rio Grande. Then he conducted a military funeral for the troops massacred at Goliad.
The annexation of Texas by the United States was heartily supported by Rusk. He was president of the Convention of 1845, which accepted the annexation terms. Rusk's legal knowledge contributed significantly to the constitution of the new state. The first state legislature elected him and Houston to the United States Senate in February 1846.
1836 - Daniel William Cloud, Alamo defender, son of Daniel and Nancy (Owens) Cloud, was born in Logan County, Kentucky. He was a lawyer and, on his way to Texas, traveled through Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana with Peter J. Bailey, also a lawyer from Logan County. Both men enlisted in the Volunteer Auxiliary Corps of Texas on January 14, 1836, at Nacogdoches, as did B. A. M. Thomas, William Fauntleroy, and Joseph G. Washington, all of whom were also from Logan County, Kentucky. With these four men, Micajah Autry, and two others, Cloud traveled to San Antonio de Béxar and the Alamo. They arrived after February 11 and became members of the Tennessee Mounted Volunteers, commanded by William B. Harrison. Cloud died in the battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836.
1836 - Col. James C. Neill relinquished command of the Alamo in order to leave the fort to care for his sick family. Neill left the garrison of about 150 men in the charge of 26-year-old William B. Travis. He told troops he would return in twenty days. However, the volunteer troops at the Alamo preferred James Bowie as a commander and insisted on having an election for the position. The election took place on Feb. 12 and Bowie won. To celebrate his victory, he got drunk. While intoxicated, Bowie released some prisoners and paraded volunteer troops through the town of Bexar. Travis led the regular troops from the Alamo to the Medina River to avoid becoming involved in the incident. Travis and Bowie came to an agreement the next day. They decided that Travis would have command of the regular troops, Bowie would have command of the volunteers and they would share command over the garrison as a whole.
1839 - The first pubic school in Houston was opened.
1842 - The first and only mutiny in the Texas Navy began. The schooner San Antonio was anchored in the Mississippi River at New Orleans. Although the high- ranking officers were ashore, the sailors and marines were confined aboard because of fear of desertion. But they evidently got drunk on smuggled liquor and, under marine sergeant Seymour Oswalt, began a mutiny in which Lt. Charles Fuller was killed. Eventually, Commodore Edwin Moore brought some of the mutineers to trial. Three were sentenced to flogging, and four were hanged from the yardarm of the Austin on April 6, 1843. Oswalt himself escaped from jail in New Orleans and was never brought to justice.
1850 - The Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway was chartered, marking the beginning of the railroad age in Texas. The BBB&C was the first railroad to begin operating in the state, the first component of the present Southern Pacific to open for service, and the second railroad west of the Mississippi River. Gen. Sidney Sherman was a member of the group that received the charter. Construction began from Buffalo Bayou to Harrisburg in 1851; the first locomotive, which was named for Sherman, arrived in 1852; and the first twenty miles of track, from Harrisburg to Stafford's Point, opened in 1853.
1854 - The Texas Legislature appropriated $17,500 for the construction of the Governor’s Mansion in Austin. The original plans called for the residence to be located on the west half of Block 170, the site of the present General Land Office building; however, Governor Elisha M. Pease selected the block bounded by Lavaca, Guadalupe, Tenth, and Eleventh streets, some 300 yards southwest of the Capitol. Abner Hugh Cook supervised the construction of the two-story, Greek Revival-style mansion. The bricks for the building were made in Austin, and the pine logs used for the pillars were hauled in from Bastrop. Pease, the first governor to occupy the mansion, moved in in June 1856. The Governor's Mansion has undergone several major improvements and renovations, in addition to the routine maintenance necessary to keep it habitable. Gas lighting was added in the 1870s, telephones and indoor plumbing in the 1880s, and electricity in the 1890s. The 1989–90 legislature officially transferred supervision of the mansion to the Texas Historical Commission. The Governor's Mansion was a nationally recognized house-museum and was recorded as a Texas Historical Landmark in 1962. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 2, 1974.
1855 - John Reynolds Hughes, Texas Ranger, was born on February 11, 1855, in Henry County, near Cambridge, Illinois. At age fourteen Hughes left home to work on a neighboring cattle ranch but soon left there for Indian Territory. He lived among the Choctaw and Osage Indians for four years before moving to the Comanche Nation in 1874; there he traded in the Fort Sill area and became friends with Quanah Parker. After six years in Indian Territory and after a brief stint as a traildriver on the Chisholm Trail, Hughes bought a farm near Liberty Hill, Travis County, Texas, and entered the horse business. In May 1886 he set out to find a band of men who had stolen horses from his and neighboring ranches, and after trailing them for several months he killed some of the thieves and captured the rest in New Mexico; he returned the horses to his neighbors. This exploit gained the attention of the Texas Rangers. Hughes was persuaded to enlist in the rangers at Georgetown, sworn in on August 10, 1887, and assigned to Company D, Frontier Battalion, at Camp Wood. After Texas Ranger Capt. Frank Jones was killed that year, Hughes was made captain in command of Company D in El Paso. He was later appointed senior captain, with headquarters in Austin, and on January 31, 1915, having served as a captain and ranger longer than any other man, he retired from the force. Zane Grey's novel The Lone Star Ranger (1914) is dedicated to Hughes and his Texas Rangers.
1869 - The 300 foot sternwheeler "Mittie Stephens" was returning from a trip from Shreveport to Jefferson on Caddo Lake on this date in 1869 when the sternman's tourch used to help spot the shore, set the boat on fire. Passengers race to the rear of the boat to escape the flames, but the huge sternwheel was not stopped. Dozens of passengers were trampled in an effort to escape. Others who dived into the water were crushed or drowned by the huge paddle wheel. None of the children on board were ever rescued. In all 63 souls were lost in the tragedy.
1875 - Ross S. Sterling, governor of Texas, son of Benjamin Franklin and Mary Jane (Bryan) Sterling, was born near Anahuac, Texas, in February 1875. Biographical sources give different specific birthdates of February 11 and February 22, due to the change from the Julian (Old Style) to the Gregorian (New Style) Calendar. He attended public schools and farmed until about 1896. He opened a feed store at Sour Lake in 1903, and during the next several years he also entered the banking business by purchasing a number of banks in small towns. In 1903 he became an oil operator and in 1910 bought two wells, which developed into the Humble Oil and Refining Company (see EXXON COMPANY, U.S.A.).
The company was officially organized in 1911, and Sterling was president. Sterling was chairman of the Texas Highway Commission in 1930 and was instrumental in highway development in Texas, including the implementation of the 100-foot right-of-way for highways. On January 20, 1931, he was inaugurated governor of Texas. In September 1931, during the Great Depression, he called a special session of the legislature to deal with the emergency in agriculture. Because rulings of the Railroad Commission regulating oil proration in East Texas were being ignored, Sterling placed four counties under martial law and shut down all oil production temporarily. Later the courts ruled that he had exceeded his authority by the declaration of martial law. Sterling was defeated by Miriam A. Ferguson in his race for a second term as governor. Sterling died in Fort Worth on March 25, 1949, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.
1899 - On the night of February 11–12, 1899, an unprecedented blizzard hit Texas. The upper Colorado, Brazos, and Trinity rivers froze solid, many cattle died in West Texas, and the Gulf region suffered a hard freeze.
1915 - The state legislature passed an appropriations bill to pay for expenses incurred by former governor Oscar Branch Colquitt for "chicken salad and punch," among other items, during his term in office. An ensuing legal battle, known as the "Chicken Salad Case," lasted until June 1916, when Justice William Seat Fly ruled that the legislature could appropriate for fuel, water, lights, and ice necessary for the Governor's Mansion, but not for groceries and other personal needs of the governor. Colquitt's successor as governor, Jim Ferguson, had continued to purchase groceries with state money under this appropriation. Ferguson testified under oath that he would repay the state if the Supreme Court decided against him, but failed to do so. In September 1917 the High Court of Impeachment held that Ferguson was guilty of a misapplication of public funds.
1933 - During the high number of bank robberies during the 1930s, the Texas Bankers Association on this date in 1933, announced that bankers should carry guns to protect deposits and reduce the number of holdups.
1946 - Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio was activated by the army.
2006 - In Texas, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a quail hunt. [ ]
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