O. Henry Short Story Writer born on September 11, 1862

ohenrySeptember 11, 1862 – Birthday of Austin resident and short story writer, William Sydney Porter better known as O. Henry.

Porter was born North Carolina and moved to Austin, Texas in 1884. In Austin Porter worked as a draftsman for the general land office and later as a teller for the First National Bank. Porter left the bank a few years later and founded the Rolling Stone, a weekly humor newspaper. The newspaper was not successful and he became a columnist for the Houston Daily Post.

In 1898 Porter was found guilty of embezzlement during his employment at the First National Bank in Austin and sentenced to five years in prison. While in prison Porter wrote dozens of short stories.

On or about 1901, Porter was released from prison and changed his name to O. Henry to hide his true identity. Porter moved to New York City where he published over 300 short stories and was fondly thought to be America’s favorite short story writer.

Porter was an alcoholic and penniless when he died on June 5, 1910 at the age of forty-seven. 

HISTORIC HARRIS COUNTY COURTHOUSE IS RESTORED

On August 23, 2011, Harris County officials, historians, downtown office workers and local citizens gathered for the dedication and ribbon cutting for the grand re-opening of the historic 1910 Harris County Courthouse in downtown Houston.

The courthouse square was designated by the Allen Brothers when the city was first platted in 1837.  Harris County officials at the time wanted a large, grand structure, significant of the county’s importance in Texas.  The courthouse was opened in 1910 on the same site as the 1884 courthouse which was demolished earlier because it was too small.

Designed in the popular Beaux-Arts style, the 1910 courthouse featured Corinthian columns on all four sides.   At the front entrance was a grand monumental staircase, and the interior public area featured a large rotunda and circular staircase.   Building materials included Texas pink granite and light brown St. Louis brick, with extensive use of marble on the inside.

Over the years Harris County outgrew the building and larger structures nearby began to house county offices and district courts. Drinking troughs for horses on the San Jacinto Street side were removed in 1941, and in 1954 the historic courthouse underwent extensive alterations in an effort to modernize it.  The grand staircase at the Fannin Street entrance was demolished, and inside the atrium was eliminated and covered up to add more usable square footage.  The courtrooms were downsized and balconies eliminated.

By 2000 the building was in need of major renovation and upgrading.  Harris County decided to completely restore the beloved building to its original appearance and make it a landmark for the historic area of downtown Houston. The false floors were removed and the atrium was restored with a beautiful stained glass window lit by sunlight from the building’s dome and skylight.  The pinnacle was replaced on top of the dome and the courtroom balconies restored.   The ornamental plaster detailing has been carefully redone and all the marble, which came from a Georgia quarry, has been replaced in the lobby and hallways.

The old courthouse seems to glow with a sense of pride and dignity in its historic role as a “temple of justice.”

Texas historian Nancy Burch attended the ceremonies and stated, “The building is beautiful.  I think it’s a great thing when they bring these historic buildings back to their original elegance.”

The historic 1910 Harris County Courthouse, which saw some of the most colorful criminal trials and major civil lawsuits in Texas, will now house the 1st and 14th Courts of Appeals.

(Texas Foundation for the Arts, in association with Sunset Productions and Fast Cut Films, is producing a PBS television documentary about the history and the restoration of the 1910 Harris County Courthouse)

Music Legend Don Robey to receive State Historical Marker today

[from 29-95.com] Those who knew Don Robey shout praise and whisper condemnations about the legendary and notorious record man. But more than 30 years after his death, Robey is still a vaporous figure — photographed infrequently and written about minimally despite living a large life that could inform a feature film. A State Historical Marker to be dedicated Saturday in the name of his famed Peacock Records is another small piece of solid proof that he existed. read story: http://www.29-95.com/music/story/30-years-after-his-death-don-robey-still-vaporous-figure

Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins Birthday, March 15, 1912

Born Sam John Hopkins in Centerville, Texas,[3] Hopkins’ childhood was immersed in the sounds of the blues and he developed a deeper appreciation at the age of 8 when he met Blind Lemon Jefferson at a church picnic in Buffalo, Texas.[1] That day, Hopkins felt the blues was “in him” and went on to learn from his older (somewhat distant) cousin, country blues singer Alger “Texas” Alexander.[1] (Hopkins had another cousin, Texas electric blues guitarist, Frankie Lee Sims with whom he later recorded.[4]) Hopkins began accompanying Blind Lemon Jefferson on guitar in informal church gatherings. Jefferson supposedly never let anyone play with him except for young Hopkins, who learned much from and was influenced greatly by Blind Lemon Jefferson thanks to these gatherings. In the mid 1930s, Hopkins was sent to Houston County Prison Farm for an unknown offense.[1] In the late 1930s Hopkins moved to Houston with Alexander in an unsuccessful attempt to break into the music scene there. By the early 1940s he was back in Centerville working as a farm hand.

Hopkins took a second shot at Houston in 1946. While singing on Dowling St. in Houston’s Third Ward (which would become his home base) he was discovered by Lola Anne Cullum from the Los Angelesbased record labelAladdin Records.[1] She convinced Hopkins to travel to L.A. where he accompanied pianist Wilson Smith. The duo recorded twelve tracks in their first sessions in 1946. An Aladdin Records executive decided the pair needed more dynamism in their names and dubbed Hopkins “Lightnin’” and Wilson “Thunder”.

Hopkins recorded more sides for Aladdin in 1947 but soon grew homesick.[citation needed] He returned to Houston and began recording for the Gold Star Records label. During the late 40s and 1950s Hopkins rarely performed outside Texas. However, he recorded prolifically. Occasionally traveling to the Mid-West and Eastern United Statesfor recording sessions and concert appearances. It has been estimated that he recorded between 800 and 1000 songs during his career. He performed regularly at clubs in and around Houston, particularly in Dowling St. where he had first been discovered. He recorded his hits “T-Model Blues” and “Tim Moore’s Farm” at SugarHill Recording Studios in Houston. By the mid to late 1950s his prodigious output of quality recordings had gained him a following amongAfrican Americans and blues music aficionados.

In 1959 Hopkins was contacted by folklorist Mack McCormick who hoped to bring him to the attention of the broader musical audience which was caught up in the folk revival.[1] McCormack presented Hopkins to integrated audiences first in Houston and then in California. Hopkins debuted at Carnegie Hall on October 14, 1960 appearing alongside Joan Baez and Pete Seeger performing the spiritual Oh, Mary Don’t You Weep. In 1960, he signed to Tradition Records. Solid recordings followed including his masterpiece song “Mojo Hand” in 1960.

By the early 1960s Lightnin’ Hopkins reputation as one of the most compelling blues performers was cemented. He had finally earned the success and recognition which were overdue. In 1968, Hopkins recorded the album Free Form Patterns backed by the rhythm section of psychedelic rock band the 13th Floor Elevators. Through the 1960s and into the 1970s Hopkins released one or sometimes two albums a year and toured, playing at major folk festivals and at folk clubs and on college campuses in the U.S. and internationally. He travelled widely in the United States, and overcame his fear of flyingto join the 1964 American Folk Blues Festival; visit Germany and the Netherlands 13 years later;[5] and play a six-city tour of Japan in 1978.

Filmmaker Les Blank captured the Texas troubadour’s informal lifestyle most vividly in his acclaimed 1967 documentaryThe Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins.[1]

Houston’s poet-in-residence for 35 years, Hopkins recorded more albums than any other bluesman.[5]

Hopkins died of esophageal cancer in Houston in 1982 at the age of 69.

A statue of Hopkins sits in Crockett, Texas.

from: http://www.wherelightninstrikes.com/sam-lightnin-hopkins-born-march-15-1912/

March 11, 1878 students enroll in first college for blacks known today as Prairie View A&M University.

In 1876, the Fifteenth Texas Legislature, consistent with terms of the federal Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, which provided public lands for the establishment of colleges, authorized an “Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Benefit of Colored Youth” as part of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University).[1] Governor Richard Hubbard appointed a three-man commission, including Ashbel Smith, a long-time supporter of public education. The Commissioners bought Alta Vista Plantation, near Hempstead in Waller County, Texas for $15,000, and turned the school over to the A&M board. Texas A&M President Thomas S. Gathright selected L. W. Minor of Mississippi as the first principal, and on March 11, 1878, eight young African-American men enrolled in the short-lived Alta Vista Agricultural College. They were charged tuition of $130 which included nine months of instruction, board, and one uniform.[1] In 1879, as the institution was struggling to find resources to continue, Governor Oran Roberts suggested closing the college. But Barnas Sears, an agent for the Peabody Fund, persuaded the Sixteenth Texas Legislature to issue charters two normal schools for the training of teachers, one of which would be called Prairie View Normal Institute. The Texas A&M College board met at Hempstead in August 1879, and established thirteen elementary and secondary subjects, and founded the coeducational institution. Women were housed in the plantation house called Kirby Hall (no longer exists), and boys were housed in a combination chapel-dormitory called Pickett Hall. Among the first faculty appointed to the new normal school was E. H. Anderson. In 1882, a strong storm damaged Pickett Hall. This came at the same time as state funds ran out. State Comptroller William M. Brown refused to continue paying the school’s debts from the state’s university fund, so Governor Roberts had to solicit money from merchants. E. H. Anderson died in 1885, and his brother L. C. Anderson became the principal of Prairie View. A longstanding dispute as to the mission of the school was resolved in 1887 when the legislature added an agricultural and mechanical department, thus returning the college to its original mission.[1] Historian Dr. George Wolfok wrote, Prairie View, A Study In Public Conscience 1962) “Prairie View is an institution—a public institution. But an institution is an empty thing without the beating hearts and yearning souls of mortal men. And down the seventy-five years of Prairie View’s existence, men have lived and dreamed here until every blade of grass and every rock, in that wise primordial way in which the primitive earth knows and cares, has joined the choir invisible to bless their memory. For every man whose foot has touched this hallowed soil, has found a spirit, and has broadened and deepened it until what started out as an ambitionless meandering stream has become a purposeful river upon whose tide, now turbulent, now tranquil, floats the destiny of countless human hopes and dreams.”

Texas Independence Day

Texas Independence Day is the celebration of the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. With this document, settlers in Mexican Texas officially broke from Mexico, creating the Republic of Texas.

The Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed at a building at Washington-on-the-Brazos. (A replica building is there today, with an inscription, “A Nation was born here.”) Fifty-nine men signed the Declaration of Independence. Ten of them had lived in Texas for more than six years, while one-quarter of them had been in the province for less than a year.

***Here’s what it said:***

The Unanimous Declaration of Independence
made by the Delegates of the People of Texas in General Convention at the Town of Washington on the 2nd day of March 1836.

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.

The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America.

In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyrrany, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior.

We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therfor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.

[Signed, in the order shown on the handwritten document]

* Richard Ellis, President of the Convention and Delegate from Red River
* Charles B. Stewart
* Thomas Barnett
* John S. D. Byrom
* José Francisco Ruiz
* José Antonio Navarro
* Jesse B. Badgett
* William D. Lacy
* William Menefee
* John Fisher
* Matthew Caldwell
* William Motley
* Lorenzo de Zavala
* Stephen H. Everett
* George W. Smyth
* Elijah Stapp
* Claiborne West
* William. B. Scates
* Michel B. Menard
* Augustine B. Hardin
* John Wheeler Bunton
* Thomas J. Gazley
* Robert M. Coleman
* Sterling C. Robertson
* Benjamin Briggs Goodrich
* George Washington Barnett
* James G. Swisher
* Jesse Grimes
* Samuel Rhoads Fisher
* John W. Moore
* John W. Bower
* Samuel A. Maverick (from Bejar)
* Sam P. Carson
* Andrew Briscoe
* James B. Woods
* James Collinsworth
* Edwin Waller
* Asa Brigham
* George C. Childress
* Bailey Hardeman
* Robert Potter
* Thomas Jefferson Rusk
* Charles S. Taylor
* John S. Roberts
* Robert Hamilton
* Collin McKinney
* Albert Hamilton Latimer
* James Power
* Erastus Smith, known as “El Sordo”
* Sam Houston
* David Thomas
* Edward Conrad
* Martin Parmer
* Edwin O. Legrand
* Stephen W. Blount
* Robert Thomas ‘James’ Gaines
* William Clark, Jr.
* Sydney O. Pennington
* William Carroll Crawford
* John Turner
* Herbert Simms Kimble, Secretary

Thanks to http://www.facebook.com/TexasHillCountry?v=info

13 DAYS OF THE SIEGE OF THE ALAMO

First Day – Tuesday, February 23, 1836

On February 23, Mexican troops under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna entered San Antonio de Bexar, Texas and surrounded the Alamo Mission. The Alamo was defended by a small force of  Texians and Tejanos, led by Davy Crockett, William Barrett Travis and James Bowie.

Read more about the siege of the Alamo here: