This Day In Texas History - August 17

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This Day In Texas History - August 17


Post by joe817 » Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:32 am

1786 - David (Davy) Crockett, frontiersman, congressman, and defender of the Alamo, son of John and Rebecca (Hawkins) Crockett, was born in Greene County, Tennessee, on August 17, 1786. [ ]

1813 - On the eve of the Battle of Medina, this bloodiest battle ever fought on Texas soil took place twenty miles south of San Antonio in a sandy oak forest region then called el encinal de Medina. With a force of about 1,400 men composed of Anglos, Tejanos, Indians, and former royalists, Toledo, urged by Tejanos who wanted to spare San Antonio from the ravages of battle, chose to meet the enemy south of the city.

The night of August 17 Gen. José Álvarez de Toledo y Dubois encamped his forces about six miles from Arredondo's camp between the Atascosa and Medina rivers and planned to ambush the royalists as they traveled through a defile along the Laredo road. (more tomorrow on This Day In Texas History)

1836 - Pinckney Caldwell, soldier of the Republic of Texas, was born in Kentucky in 1795 and came to Texas in December 1830. He was one of the defenders of the famous Gonzales "Come and Take It" cannon. According to Launcelot Smither Caldwell sent a communication to Capt. Francisco de Castañeda on October 1, declaring a truce with the Mexican lancers, but nevertheless the insurrectionists attacked the Mexican camp the following morning.

Caldwell was a member of the council of war called by Gen. Stephen F. Austin on November 2, 1835, which determined that Bexar should be taken by siege rather than storm. Caldwell voted with the majority. On November 24, 1835, Edward Burleson appointed William A. Pettus, quartermaster and Caldwell his assistant. Caldwell, with the rank of captain, forwarded supplies from Gonzales to the Texas army besieging Bexar until he was wounded, sometime before December 23, 1835.

At the battle of San Jacinto he served as quartermaster on the staff of Lt. Col. Henry W. Millard, commander of the Regular Infantry. On August 17, 1836, quartermaster general Almanzon Huston reprimanded Caldwell and reported him to their superiors for failure to comply with orders to post quarterly returns on government property in his charge. Caldwell was discharged on November 20, 1836, but reentered service as a quartermaster of the Army of the Republic of Texas. [ ]

1908 - The Marshall and East Texas Railway Company was chartered on August 17, 1908, to acquire the Texas Southern Railway Company, which had been sold under foreclosure. The Marshall and East Texas acquired 72 1/2 miles of track between Winnsboro in Wood County and Marshall in Harrison County. In 1909 the company extended its track seventeen miles in a southeasterly direction from Marshall to Elysian Fields, making a total operated mileage, including branches, of nearly 96 1/2 miles.

The line owned eight locomotives and twenty-three cars in 1916 and reported passenger earnings of $23,000 and freight earnings of $164,000. However, the railroad became unprofitable as timber resources along the line were depleted, and was forced into receivership on January 25, 1917, with Bryan Snyder appointed receiver. The company was offered for sale in July of that year. There were no bidders, and the district court overseeing the receivership ordered operations to cease north of Marshall on August 15, 1917, and between Marshall and Elysian Fields on August 3, 1918. In September 1917 the line was again offered for sale in two segments, without any offers being received

1917 - Call Field, one of thirty-two United States Army Air Corps training camps established in 1918, was five miles southwest of Wichita Falls in Wichita County. It operated from 1917 until 1919. In 1916 the army announced its intention of establishing a series of camps to train prospective pilots. Frank Kell of Wichita Falls organized an effort to attract the army to the city. By August 17, 1917, Kell and others successfully raised $35,000 and had a commitment from the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad to extend tracks to the proposed site of the camp.

The training camp had forty-six buildings, which included twelve hangars that housed four to eight planes each, a hospital, and six barracks that held 175 men each. In May four additional hangars and a row of lofts to hold carrier pigeons were built. During its operation 3,000 officers, cadets, and enlisted men were stationed at Call Field, and 500 officers received their wings there. Two squadrons left the training facility for overseas duty. Thirty-four men lost their lives during training exercises, the smallest number of fatalities of any training center. After the war the training center closed. The last military personnel left on October 1, 1919.

1931 - The East Texas oilfield, located in central Gregg, western Rusk, southern Upshur, southeastern Smith, and northeastern Cherokee counties in the east central part of the state, is the largest and most prolific oil reservoir in the contiguous United States. Since its discovery on October 5, 1930, some 30,340 wells have been drilled within its 140,000 acres to yield nearly 5.2 billion barrels of oil from a stratigraphic trap in the Eagle Ford-Woodbine group of the Cretaceous.

By early spring of 1931 the widely-spaced oil discoveries revealed the vastness of the field as hundreds of small operators began its unconventional development. As the leasing frenzy seized the five counties of the field, Kilgore became the center of the boom. In that small town, wells were drilled in the yards of homes and derrick legs touched those of the next drilling unit. Whether in town or on farms, independent operators were compelled to drill wells as quickly as possible to prevent neighboring producers from sucking up their oil.

On July 14, 1931, when overproduction had driven the price of crude to thirteen cents per barrel, had reduced reservoir pressure by 130 pounds per square inch, and had made water encroachment a serious problem in the field, Governor Ross S. Sterling called a special session of the legislature. A bill was introduced there to limit East Texas production to market demand, a measure to preserve the reservoir and to stabilize the price of crude. A group of hundreds in East Texas who wanted proration in the field appealed to the governor to declare martial law.

On August 17, 1931, the governor ordered the Texas National Guard and Texas Rangers into the ten-month-old field to shut in all of its 1,644 wells and to maintain order. The field resumed production on September 5, 1931, under a new proration order that limited its production to 400,000 barrels of oil per day, permitting each well 225 barrels and giving no consideration to its potential or to the characteristics of the lease. On February 2, 1932, a federal court ended martial law in the East Texas field by ruling it illegal. [ ]

1942 - Camp Howze, northwest of Gainesville in central Cooke County, was established by the United States War Department in 1942 as a United States Army infantry-training camp. It was located on a 59,000-acre tract purchased from local landowners beginning in December 1941 and named for Maj. Robert E. Lee Howze, a Medal of Honor recipient who had seen action in the Indian campaigns of the late nineteenth century, the Philippine Insurrection, and World War I.

Col. John P. Wheeler activated the base on August 17, 1942, and Maj. Gen. John H. Hilldring was its first commander. With a troop capacity of 39,963 men, the camp served as the training ground for several hundred thousand men between 1942 and 1946. Among the units prepared for action in World War II were the 84th, 86th, and 103d divisions. Camp Howze also held German prisoners of war. The camp provided employment for hundreds of area civilians. In addition, the $20 million spent by the national government on Camp Howze fueled the local economy. In 1946 the camp was declared surplus, disbanded, and leveled.

1973 - The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, originally known as the Manned Spacecraft Center, is one of nine National Aeronautics and Space Administration field installations and home base for the nation's astronauts. The origins of the center are to be found in the national commitment to a broad program of space exploration, including manned space flight, which the United States made in response to the Soviet Union's successful space launches, begun in 1957.

On August 17, 1973, the Manned Spacecraft Center was officially renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Over the succeeding years, housing developments, apartment projects, motels, and shopping centers were built on previously open prairies in the Clear Lake area, and millions of dollars and thousands of people arrived on the upper Texas coast. [ ]
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