76–100

From the Great Storm washing ashore in Galveston to Charles Elmer Doolin cooking up the frito in San Antonio

76 | The Great Storm devastates Galveston

1402 Broadway, Galveston | September 8, 1900


AP/Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word

The tropical cyclone that roared ashore that Saturday morning pummeled Galveston with 120-mile-per-hour winds and a fifteen-foot surge of roiling water that covered the entire island. The destruction was—and is, even after Katrina—incomprehensible: More than six thousand lives were lost and nearly four thousand buildings obliterated. But not all of Galveston’s glorious past was swept away. Shortly after the storm, a photo was taken along Broadway: Just beyond a massive heap of splintered debris, you can see the majestic turret of the Gresham House rising from the rubble. The home of a wealthy lawyer, the châteauesque mansion was built by the city’s foremost architect, Nicholas J. Clayton, and emerged from the storm nearly unscathed. (It also withstood Hurricane Ike, in 2008, suffering only a few broken windows and a flooded basement.) Known today as Bishop’s Palace, it’s been singled out as one of the country’s finest examples of Victorian architecture and is the city’s most visited historic landmark. Like an anchor, it has kept Galveston’s wondrous history from drifting away. — JB

77 | Jack Johnson is born

808 Broadway, Galveston | March 31, 1878

The first African American heavyweight champ was a frail boy, the third child of Henry and Tina Johnson who grew up in a modest home in the Twelfth Ward of Galveston’s East End. His full name was Arthur John Johnson, but everyone called him Little Arthur. After only five or six yearsof school, he quit to work on the docks. He began to grow, and the way he told it, he whipped a kid named Willie Morris in his first fistfight around the age of twelve. Just a few short years later, he defeated John Lee in a fight on the beach that earned him a purse of $1.50. The greatest boxer Galveston would ever see was on his way. Though Johnson’s family home was destroyed in the Great Storm, the city has offered a more permanent salute to his career: Forty-first Street has been renamed in his honor. — HWB

78 | Cabeza De Vaca washes ashore

Along Jamaica Beach, Galveston | November 6, 1528

Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca had already survived countless disasters in the quest for glory and gold before washing up, naked and starving, on Galveston Island with three companions. The first European to set foot in Texas spent the next several years studying (and being enslaved by) the natives, growing a long beard, and collecting the observations that would make the chronicle of his journey such a revelation. “No X marks the spot where he landed,” says David Canright, of the Galveston Historical Foundation, “but his arrival is iconic, because people tend to wash up here and start new lives. De Vaca was the first.”— BDS

79 | Texians Prevail at the Battle of Velasco

Near the corner of Thunder Road and Monument Drive, Freeport | June 26, 1832

American immigrants and the Mexican government were already at odds by the summer of 1832. Americans were frustrated by the Mexican bureaucracy; the Mexicans worried about the new immigrants’ unwillingness to assimilate. And the Mexicans soon learned that their concerns were well-founded. On June 26, 1832, at midnight, a Texian militia group that was upset over a customs disagreement, attacked Fort Velasco, at the mouth of the Brazos River, and nine hours later the Mexican garrison surrendered. These days the old fort is long gone, but the original location would have been on a stretch of still mostly undeveloped land parallel to the channel, southwest of the intersection of Thunder Road and Monument Drive, about 150 feet from the water. Here were planted the seeds of mistrust that led to the Texas Revolution. — KV

80 | Stephen F. Austin and his cousin Mary discuss a book about Texas

Intersection of Travis and Market, Brazoria | December 1831

Mary Austin Holley jounced up and down on a boat through the churning Brazos River, making her way from New Orleans to Brazoria County to see about this new land called Texas. There she would receive her cousin Stephen at her brother Henry’s house near Brazoria, where a historical marker now celebrates Stephen’s role as the town’s founder. They hadn’t seen each other for more than 25 years, but once they laid eyes on each other, there was no going back. The two talked every evening for more than a week: about Holley’s possible move to Texas, about the colony, and about a book on Texas that she wanted to write. However, their romantic feelings were left unspoken. Those they left in letters written back and forth for over a decade. And Holley’s eventual book, called Texas, became the first account of the state written in English. — MEGAN GILLER

81 | Horton Foote writes Texas Town

505 North Houston, Wharton | 1940


Southern Methodist University/Degolyer Library

This is always the end of the journey for me,” the Pulitzer Prize—winning dramatist Horton Foote wrote more than half a century ago, referring to his hometown of Wharton. Indeed, though most of his writing was done outside Texas, his plays and films were nearly always set in small Southern towns that bear an uncanny resemblance to Wharton, where Foote was born in 1916. The modest, one-story house where he grew up, three blocks from the town square, remained his lifelong home away from home. “It was on the front porch of that house that he also heard for the first time many of the stories he would later use as the basis for more than sixty plays, movies, and TV dramas,” wrote biographer Wilborn Hampton. Seven decades ago, Foote, then living in New York City, returned home to pen his first full-length play, Texas Town. The three-act drama launched his storied career. — PC

82 | La Salle establishes a French settlement

Along Garcitas Creek, south of Texas Highway 616; Lavaca Bay | 1685

If René Robert Cavelier, the Sieur de la Salle, had succeeded

More Texas Monthly

Loading, please wait...

Most Read

  • Viewed
  • Past:
  • 1 week