26 | Candy Montgomery and Allan Gore begin their affair

721 South Central Expressway, Richardson | December 1978

Candy Montgomery and Allan Gore became acquainted in 1978 while playing volleyball at their small church in Lucas. Bored by their marriages, they met for trysts during Allan’s lunch breaks at the Como Motel, where they carried on a torrid affair over the next ten months. The room cost $23.50 plus a $2 deposit for the key (all in cash, all in advance). In Evidence of Love, Jim Atkinson and John Bloom capture the Como’s mood: “The sleaziness of the place was what made it so illicit—and so much fun. The room was little more than a cubicle, ten by ten at the most, done in a tattered harvest gold. The curtains were drooping and frayed. The shag carpet was matted like dirty hair.” Less than two years after the affair began, Candy killed Betty Gore, who was not only Allan’s wife but had become Candy’s friend, by striking her 41 times with an ax in the utility room of her home. Candy then steadied herself, drove home, cleaned up, and promptly left again—it was her turn to pick up her and Betty’s children from the church day care. When the crime was discovered and she was ultimately charged with murder, the jury found her not guilty by reason of self-defense. Today the area has boomed with a wave of new residents who don’t even know the story. The Como appears frozen in time, though a room now costs $45, which presumably includes the use of the empty pool. —BDS

27 | J. R. Duncan builds Southfork Ranch

3700 Hogge Road, Parker | 1970

The most recognizable residence in Texas is a white Colonial-style house that two J.R.s built. Constructed by wealthy homebuilder J. R. Duncan in 1970, the 5,500-square-foot Collin County manse, originally known as Duncan Acres, was just a quiet rancher’s retreat when a producer scouting locations for a new television show called Dallas knocked on the door. In 1978 another J.R.—of the fictional Ewing clan, America’s favorite boozy, greedy, love-to-hate TV family—moved in. Even though the palatial property was only used for exterior scenes (most of Dallas was shot in studios in California), hundreds of thousands of fans mobbed the Duncans’s homestead. Rechristened Southfork Ranch, it soon became the most visited destination in the city. Duncan and his family, fed up with the stampede of tourists, moved out in 1984. It’s been almost twenty years since the soapy melodrama came to an end, but Southfork, which is now an event and conference center, still draws 350,000 visitors each year. —JB

28 | First episode of Barney is taped

200 East Bethany Drive, Allen | October 1991

In a small, plain studio, Sheryl Leach watched as a grown man, dressed in a purple-and-green dinosaur costume, danced before a television camera and sang, “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family.” It was the taping of a new show called Barney & Friends. A few years earlier, Leach, a former elementary school teacher and marketing executive from the Dallas area, had decided to make home videos for preschoolers, using a snuggly teddy bear as the star—until she realized her son loved dinosaurs. So she and her partners, Kathy Parker and Dennis DeShazer, created Barney. A Connecticut public television employee rented one of their videos for his daughter and was so impressed that he arranged for the video to be turned into a TV series. Barney & Friends debuted on April 6, 1992, and to just about everyone’s disbelief, it wasn’t long before Barney became Elvis for toddlers—with a slight touch of Mr. Rogers. —S. HOLLANDSWORTH

29 | Larry McMurtry begins Horseman, Pass By

West Hickory between Avenue B and Avenue A, Denton | May 26, 1958

Long before Larry McMurtry became Texas’s foremost novelist, he was just a struggling young writer roaming the halls of the English department at North Texas State College, in Denton. During his senior year, the Archer City native destroyed 52 short stories he’d penned over the previous two years. Though frustrated, he wasn’t deterred. On May 26, 1958, the 21-year-old McMurtry started writing again before returning home for the summer to work on his father’s ranch. Building upon two short stories that he had saved—one about a herd of infected cattle, the other about the death of an old rancher—McMurtry began crafting the iconic narrative that would eventually become his first novel, Horseman, Pass By. McMurtry’s alma mater is now known as the University of North Texas, but the English department is still housed in the Auditorium Building. —JB

30 | Union Sympathizers are killed in the Great Hanging

East bank of Pecan Creek, Gainesville | October 1, 1862

The Civil War revealed the divisions in late-nineteenth-century Texas politics. Many Texans wanted nothing to do with the Confederate cause, but they were shouted down by slaveholders and secessionists. In parts of North Texas, the region closest to the Union lines, the commencement of Confederate conscription in the spring of 1862 prompted a backlash. There was talk of resisting the draft. The commander of the local militia responded by rounding up dozens of the agitators. An ad hoc jury tried and convicted seven, who were quickly hanged in a field by Pecan Creek, between Main and California streets, and the executions inspired a mob to hang fourteen other prisoners. Nineteen more were hanged the following week. The “Great Hanging” was accompanied by extrajudicial killings in nearby communities, which suppressed displays of Union sentiment but did little to remedy the underlying rifts. —HWB

31 | First Confederate monument is erected in Texas

110 West Houston, Sherman | April 13, 1896

“Sacred to the memory of our Confederate dead, true patriots, they fought for home and country, for the holy principles of self government—the only true liberty. Their sublime self sacrifices and unsurpassed valor will teach future generations the lesson of high born patriotism, of devotion to duty, of exalted courage, of Southern chivalry.” Those are the words engraved on the first Confederate monument erected in Texas. On the day it was unveiled, a massive crowd filled the grounds around the Grayson County Courthouse, where the statue stands. Carriages paraded across the square, and second graders from the Washington School, on South Travis Street, brought a homemade wreath decorated with locust blossoms. The soldier, with his broad hat and rifle, has stood at his post ever since. He has witnessed the destruction of the courthouse in 1930 (it was rebuilt six years later), and he’s even survived a daring raid by some local college students in the late forties or early fifties who had come to take his bayonet. There’s no doubt how residents feel about him today, considering the lines that were added to his base on his one hundredth birthday: “Fighting for the preservation of family, homeland and rights is never a lost cause. So great the valor, so supreme the sacrifice, so red the rose . . .” —BDS

32 | Sam Rayburn is buried in Willow Wild Cemetery

1220 West Seventh, Bonham | November 18, 1961


Any list of iconic Texas politicians ought to include Sam Rayburn—known to one and all as Mr. Sam—who emerged from Bonham to dominate the U.S. House, serving from 1913 to 1961, including seventeen years as Speaker, the longest tenure in history. If there was any doubt about his status, consider his funeral, for which Bonham swelled by 30,000 people, including 105 House colleagues and 4 past, present, and future presidents: Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and LBJ. Dee J. Kelly, one of the last surviving aides to Rayburn, recalls that, after the burial, at Willow Wild Cemetery, Eisenhower couldn’t find where he parked his car. Fifty years later, Rayburn remains peacefully at rest in section A, block 2, lot 3NW, along with eleven of his family members, all of them watched over by a water tower across the road that says “Bonham, Home of the Fighting Purple Warriors.” —BDS

33 | Don Meredith beats the Winnsboro Red Raiders 47—8

1 Tiger Drive, Mount Vernon | October 8, 1954

AP/NFL Photos

Don Meredith’s legend was born on a Friday night in 1954 when, as a sixteen-year-old junior at Mount Vernon, he ran for two touchdowns, passed for three more, kicked three of the extra points, and intercepted a pass as the Tigers beat the Winnsboro Red Raiders 47—8 at Tiger Stadium. Meredith would go on to become a two-time all-American quarterback at Southern Methodist University and then lead the Dallas Cowboys to the 1966 and 1967 NFL Championship games before settling into a memorable stint on the broadcasting team of Monday Night Football, where millions tuned in to hear him rhapsodize about his parents, Jeff and Hazel, and the town he grew up in (up to his death, this past December, he still wore his high school class ring). And the stadium where he turned in one of the greatest individual performances in high school football history? It’s been torn down, rebuilt, and renamed—Don Meredith Stadium. —S. HOLLANDSWORTH

34 | The Phantom Killer attacks

Richmond and Cowhorn Creek roads, Texarkana | February 22, 1946

Sixty-five years ago, this spot along Richmond Road was perfect for a pair of young lovers looking for privacy. Jimmy Hollis and Mary Jeanne Larey had parked on the shoulder, when, at about midnight, a man appeared out of the darkness, wearing a hood with the eyes cut out and brandishing a pistol. He forced his way into the car and knocked Hollis unconscious. Larey was assaulted but escaped. And so began a string of terrifying attacks. One month later a couple turned up dead in their car. A few weeks after that, another pair were killed in Spring Lake Park. A final attack occurred on May 3 at a house about ten miles outside town, where a husband was killed and his wife was seriously injured. All the while, the so-called Phantom Killer—who was the subject of the 1976 film The Town That Dreaded Sundown—remained at large, stumping local detectives (pictured above). Today Richmond Road runs through a residential neighborhood just south of Central Mall, but locals who pass by know it’s where the most notorious unsolved crime spree in Texarkana’s history began. —BDS

35 | Scott Joplin gets free music lessons

831 Laurel, Texarkana / 1878

Ever been to a dinner party where some know-it-all insists that the composer and pianist Scott Joplin was born in Texarkana? Ever wanted to know how to respond? “The consensus is that he was born in 1868,” says Jamie A. Simmons, the curator at the Texarkana Museums System. “But Texarkana didn’t exist until 1873, so we properly say he was born in northeast Texas.” What we do know is that Joplin’s musical genius was recognized while he was a student at the Orr School, on Laurel Street, where his family lived (the building is now a day care facility). But fair warning: Laurel is two blocks east of the state line, which means—gasp!—you’ll technically be visiting Arkansas. —BDS

36 | Confederate Missouri comes to Texas

Corner of Crockett and Bolivar, Marshall | November 1863

As the fourth-largest city in Texas at the time of the Civil War and as the seat of the county with more slaves than any other, Marshall was the logical de facto capital for the state’s Confederates. But people forget that for the last twenty months of the war, it was the capital of Confederate Missouri as well. When that state’s legislature rejected secession, in July 1861, its Southern-sympathizing governor and lieutenant governor fled Jefferson City, eventually landing in the Marshall home of Texas Supreme Court Justice Asa Willie (which has since been torn down). There, Lieutenant Governor Thomas Reynolds housed his rump government, issuing occasional proclamations until Union troops occupied Marshall in June 1865. —JS

37 | George Foreman trains to reclaim title

Along Blocker Road, Elysian Fields / January 1987

The fact that at 38 years old, George Foreman wanted to step back in the ring at all was crazy enough. It had been ten years since his last fight, in 1977, and thirteen since Muhammad Ali had shocked him in Zaire and taken his heavyweight crown. But Foreman, who grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward, not only wanted to unretire, he wanted to take on the champ, Mike Tyson. So he started training on his ranch near Elysian Fields, a small community about ten miles southeast of Marshall. The regimen was unusual. To work his upper body, he’d dig and refill four-foot-deep ditches. To strengthen his wrists, he spent hours chopping wood. He’d hang a heavy bag off the back of a Toyota pickup and follow it up and down Blocker Road, jogging and throwing punches until, at the end of ten miles, he’d harness the truck to his shoulders and pull it another half mile. As he started fighting, knocking off a string of no-names and has-beens, his plan seemed no less far-fetched, until, on November 5, 1994, at the tender age of 45, he knocked out the previously undefeated Michael Moorer to take the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles. —JS

38 / Forest of derricks leads to martial law

Corner of Main and Commerce, Kilgore / 1931


The first real indication of the massive oil field that lay beneath East Texas came in 1930, when Dad Joiner struck oil with his Daisy Bradford No. 3 well. Over the next year, as more discoveries confirmed just how spectacular a play it was, speculators, investors, and drillers flocked to the area. In one infamous section near downtown Kilgore known as the World’s Richest Acre, no fewer than 44 wells were spudded. Eventually, the pressure driving the oil to the surface began to fall dangerously low; meanwhile, so much crude had been taken out that the barrel price plummeted to 13 cents. Governor Ross Sterling summoned a special session of the Legislature to cap production, but a federal court intervened, so the governor declared martial law. Production finally resumed at a more measured pace, under the watchful eye of Texas Ranger Manuel Gonzaullas (“El Lobo Solo”). When the federal courts again stepped in, saying that the governor’s closure was illegal, the oversight of mineral production in Texas was given to the state’s Railroad Commission, which effectively set global oil prices for the next forty years. —HWB

39 | Junior-senior high school explodes

10705 South Main, New London / March 18, 1937

Since natural gas wasn’t odorized in 1937, no one detected the combustible forces filling the crawl spaces under the junior-senior high school classrooms in the small town of New London. Thirteen minutes before class was dismissed for the day, a spark on the north side of the west wing ignited a blast that could be felt four miles in every direction. Five hundred students and a couple dozen teachers were inside; almost three hundred died instantly in what remains the most fatal school disaster in U.S. history. Surviving children stumbled out of the wreckage to witness unimaginable horrors. Many rarely spoke of the incident in the immediate years afterward, but the residents were able to gather their strength and move ahead, rebuilding a school right in front of the footprint of the old one. —KV

40 | Earl Campbell switches to offense

1120 N. Northwest Loop 323, Tyler | August 1973


When summer two-a-days started on the practice fields at John Tyler High School—known as the Pit—the only thing that Coach Corky Nelson had in mind was getting to the playoffs. So he pulled aside his best player, two-way starter Earl Campbell, and informed him that Campbell would be playing only offense during his upcoming senior season. The move was counterintuitive; Campbell had been an all-American schoolboy linebacker the previous year. One of the University of Texas at Austin coaches recruiting him, defensive coordinator Mike Campbell (no relation), had called him the best he’d ever seen at the position. And Earl, who’d grown up idolizing Dick Butkus, was disappointed. But the coach knew better. “He couldn’t score points on defense,” Nelson says. Campbell averaged 225 yards per game his senior year, leading John Tyler to the state championship. He would go on to win a Heisman at UT in 1977, taking the Horns to the national championship game, and three NFL rushing titles in 1978, 1979, and 1980, turning the doormat Houston Oilers into Super Bowl contenders. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1991. And today the boys at the Pit still dream of running like the Tyler Rose. —JS

41 | The hamburger is invented

115 Tyler, Athens | Late 1880’s

Fletcher Davis was a potter who moved from Webster Groves, Missouri, to Athens in the 1880’s. During a downturn in the pottery business, he opened a lunch counter on the courthouse square and started serving a sandwich of ground beef pressed between slices of bread. In 1904 he took his sandwich to the World’s Fair in St. Louis, where a reporter for the New York Tribune called it a “hamburger.” Following the fair, Davis left the food service industry and went back to throwing pots, unaware that he had invented the most famous hot sandwich the world has ever known. Now, there are those who claim that the hamburger was invented in Seymour, Wisconsin; New Haven, Connecticut; the Village of Hamburg, in New York; and Tulsa, Oklahoma, but the citizens of Athens can take comfort in the fact that in 2007, the Texas Legislature declared their town the Original Home of the Hamburger in a unanimous vote. As Mayor Randy Daniel later told this magazine, “Anytime you can get a group of the best politicians money can buy to agree on one thing, it’s got to be true.” —DC

42 | Columbia falls to earth

215 East Main, Nacogdoches | February 1, 2003

O. Rufus Lovett

It had been seventeen years since the Challenger disaster when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entering the earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven crew members. Debris rained down over 28,000 square miles in a line that extended roughly east-southeast from northern Navarro County, across the southern edge of Toledo Bend, and into Louisiana. But the place that became the focus was Nacogdoches, where more than 1,200 fragments landed in playgrounds and pastures and lawns. One large piece fell to earth behind the Commercial Bank of Texas on the lot between Main and East Hospital streets, blowing open the doors of the building. A bronze medallion not far from the bank’s drive-through window now marks the spot where the great hopes of the shuttle program once again collided with the devastating realities of tragedy and loss. —BDS

43 | Stephen F. Austin Enters Texas

Texas Highway 21 and the Sabine River, near Milam | 1821

Stephen F. Austin is skeptical. Two years before, his father, Moses, concocted a scheme for digging his family out of debt. He pitched a plan to the Spanish governor in San Antonio whereby he’d bring a settlement of American families into his northernmost territory, where the Americans would help defend the lightly inhabited province from Indians. Moses, a smooth talker, succeeded in selling his plan, but then he died, leaving the project to Stephen, who thought it was lunacy. But how could he deny his father’s deathbed request? And how else could he liquidate the family debt and avoid debtor’s prison? So here he is, still skeptical, about to cross the Sabine into Texas along the famed El Camino Real. To his surprise, he almost at once channels the boundless optimism and spirit of his father, and he begins writing promotional ad copy in his head that will be used to market the Texas countryside to prospective settlers. Now it is his baby, and he won’t let it go. —HWB

44 | Charlie Wilson Dies

1201 West Frank Avenue, Lufkin | February 10, 2010

Marcy Nighswander/AP

“Good Time Charlie” was known for hard partying before he entered national politics, and his election to Congress in 1972 didn’t slow him down. Under pressure from a federal investigation, Wilson admitted to once being in a hot tub in Las Vegas with two showgirls and a bag of cocaine. “It was total happiness,” Wilson recounted. “Both of them had ten long, red fingernails with an endless supply of beautiful white powder.” Did he partake? “The Feds spent a million bucks trying to figure out whether, when those fingernails passed under my nose, did I inhale or exhale. And I ain’t telling.” Ah, the eighties. Between exhaling and inhaling, Wilson found a cause: the anti-Soviet mujahideen in Afghanistan, for whom he cajoled Congress into funding arms. The Wilson luster diminished slightly after the mujahideen and their Taliban successors gave refuge to al Qaeda, but Hollywood was sufficiently entranced to produce a major biopic, Charlie Wilson’s War. In February 2010 Wilson died at the age of 76 at Memorial Medical Center, in Lufkin. His friends couldn’t believe he’d lived so long.—HWB

45 | Texas carries out the first execution by electric chair

Huntsville Unit, Huntsville | February 8, 1924


Prior to 1924, executions in Texas were carried out—hanging was the usual method—by individual counties. But in 1923 the Legislature authorized the use of the electric chair and ordered that all executions take place at the penitentiary in Huntsville, also known as the Walls Unit for its tall walls of red brick. A brand-new, prisoner-built electric chair (later known as Old Sparky) was installed in an area of the unit located off what is now the infirmary, and on February 8 a man named Charles Reynolds, from Red River County, was the first to be put to death. That same day, Ewell Morris, George Washington, Mack Mathews, and Melvin Johnson would be electrocuted as well. (These first five also represent the most executions carried out by the state in a single day.) Old Sparky was in commission for forty years, until 1964, when Joseph Johnson of Harris County became the last man executed in Texas with the electric chair. Starting with Reynolds, Texas has put a total of 825 individuals to death, hundreds more than any other state. And though the method has changed (lethal injections began in 1982), all of them have drawn their last breaths at the Walls Unit. —DC

46 | James Byrd Jr. is dragged to his death

Along Huff Creek Road, Jasper | June 7, 1998

James Byrd Jr. must have been grateful when the truck pulled up beside him. It was a Saturday night, and Byrd was known to drink around town and then walk home. For him, catching a ride was nothing new. Except the three men in the truck—two of whom were ex-convicts with ties to white supremacist groups—had evil on their mind. And what they did in the early morning hours of June 7 instantly made the name “Jasper” a synonym for hate. They drove Byrd outside town, beat him, sprayed paint in his face, and urinated on him. Then they tied a logging chain around his ankles and dragged him nearly three miles along rural Huff Creek Road before dumping what was left of his body in front of an African American cemetery. The country was shocked at the brutality, and the local residents were horrified. The case became famous for another reason too: It was the first time in Texas history since 1854 that a white defendant received the death penalty for killing a black person. —BDS

47 | SMU recruits Jerry LeVias

2720 Glenwood, Beaumont | April 1965

In the early sixties, carloads of white men in cowboy hats who ventured into Pear Orchard, as the black side of Beaumont was known, seldom brought good news. When such a group came looking for high school senior Jerry LeVias at his home one spring evening in 1965, the neighbors expected him to be hauled off in handcuffs, even though he was an honor student and star athlete at segregated Hebert High School. But the men wanted to talk to him about playing football for Southern Methodist University. An informal agreement between coaches had kept blacks out of the Southwest Conference, but coach Hayden Fry had insisted on breaking that barrier when he arrived at SMU, in 1962. So he treated this recruiting visit like any other. “He walked straight into the kitchen and started talking to my mom about cooking pinto beans,” remembers LeVias, now a successful businessman in Houston. “When he turned to me, he talked about education. He said, ‘If you’re lucky, you’ll make my team, and if you’re real lucky, you’ll play pro ball for maybe five years. But then you’ll be twenty-six and need an education.’ He was the only coach who talked like that.” LeVias took Fry’s scholarship, then almost gave it back during a brutal, lonely season on the freshman team. But he made varsity in 1966, eventually becoming a three-year All-SWC selection, an academic All-American, and an AFL All-Pro. —JS

48 / Babe Didrikson practices for the Olympics

850 Doucette, Beaumont | 1928

Four years before Babe Didrikson took her place at the starting line of the eighty-meter hurdles in the 1932 Olympics, she faced down the hedges in her south end neighborhood in Beaumont. Still just a teenager with dreams of making it on the national stage, one day she raced her sister Lillie from the corner grocery to their two-bedroom home on Doucette. But as her sister sprinted on the sidewalk, Babe leaped over the neighbors’ hedges. Olympic glory was just around the corner.—AF

49 | The Lucas gusher erupts

Approximately one mile south of Texas Highway 69, just west of Spur 93; Beaumont | January 10, 1901

AP/Texas Energy Museum

Modern Texas was born 110 years ago at Spindletop, when the roughnecks who had been drilling more than a thousand feet below the earth’s surface noticed something miraculous: bubbling mud. Anticipating a gusher, they ran for cover. After a few moments, they crept back, only to hear another rumbling, which sent them running again. Suddenly, oil shot into the air with such force that it reached a height of more than one hundred feet. Needless to say, the success of Spindletop sparked a frenzy that would revolutionize everything we knew about being Texans. The site of the gusher is on private property, but from Spindletop Overlook Park’s elevated platform you can see a flag pole that marks the spot where it all began. —KV

50 | Robert Rauschenberg, Janis Joplin, and Jimmy Johnson graduate from Thomas Jefferson High School

2200 Jefferson Drive, Port Arthur | May 1943, 1960, and 1961, respectively


Of the three most famous alums of Thomas Jefferson High School, only one knew what he wanted to do with his life. Jimmy Johnson (class of ’61) was a football star who’d become the first coach in history to win a national championship and a Super Bowl, first with the University of Miami in 1987 and then with the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 and 1993. For him, coming-of-age in the freewheeling oil-industry boomtown of Port Arthur probably guaranteed that his teams would be known as trash-talking bad boys.

For Janis Joplin (class of ’60), even that anything-goes environment was something to kick against. Considered TJHS’s first beatnik, she graduated with dreams of being a painter. But friends had already played her the Bessie Smith and Odetta records that would point her to music, and driven by a high school misfit’s feelings of inferiority, Joplin, the gypsy blues belter, would go on to become a counterculture icon.

The most influential of the three is probably the least known in his home state. Robert Rauschenberg (class of ’43) concentrated on theater at TJHS, occasionally sketching costume designs. But he wouldn’t get serious about visual art until enrolling at the Kansas City Art Institute, in 1947. His singular take on painting and sculpture would bridge the Abstract Expressionism of the first half of the century with the raging experimentation of the second. When he died, in 2008, the New York Times called him an “irrepressibly prolific American artist who time and again reshaped art in the 20th century.” Though the two-story brick schoolhouse Rauschenberg attended at 3501 Twelfth is now slated for demolition, the midcentury glass-and-steel structure where Joplin and Johnson graduated is being renovated. In 2012 it will reopen as Thomas Jefferson Middle School—and begin educating another generation of athletes and artists.—JS


To visit every place on our list—or tell us what we missed—go to our Terquasquicentennial Blog.