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"Time is what we want most, but what we use the worst."
~William Penn

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Moments in Texas History ~ 1.24.2012

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"Tri-Cities" finally unite as Baytown
January 24, 1948
On this day in 1948, the former "Tri-Cities" of Baytown, Goose Creek, and Pelly united to form the city of Baytown. The area had been largely undeveloped until the opening of the Goose Creek oilfield in 1916. All three communities grew up around the oilfield, thanks in large part to the promotional efforts of Ross Sterling, president of Humble Oil and Refining Company. Sterling and his associates established a refinery near the oilfield and bought 2,200 acres there, calling their site Baytown. Construction began in the fall of 1919, though Baytown remained a collection of tents and shanties until 1923, when Humble laid out streets, provided utilities, sold lots, and even furnished financing for employees' homes. The residents of nearby Goose Creek voted to incorporate in January 1919, and the residents of neighboring Pelly, fearing that Goose Creek might absorb their town, followed suit a year later. Due to the pervasive paternalism of Humble, the community of Baytown never incorporated, and this enabled Pelly to annex the "contiguous and unincorporated" territory of Baytown in December 1945. But when Pelly and Goose Creek voted to consolidate in February 1947, the citizens selected the name Baytown for their new combined city. The voters approved a new city charter on January 24, 1948. Baytown today is a highly industrialized city of oil refineries and rubber, chemical, and carbon black plants

Reformist Freedmen's Bureau superintendent replaced
January 24, 1867
On this day in 1867, Joseph Barr Kiddoo was replaced as superintendent of the Freedmen's Bureau in Texas. Kiddoo, born in Pennsylvania in 1840, was appointed superintendent in 1866, following distinguished military service during the Civil War. During his tenure he was sympathetic to both planters and blacks. Kiddoo imposed heavy fines on whites caught enticing freedmen away from employers with whom they were under contract, limited bureau interference in the civil courts, and instituted free education for blacks in Galveston and Houston. Under Kiddoo's program perhaps 10,000 blacks learned to read and write. Although Texas planters recognized that Kiddoo was changing the social structure of the state by his reforms, many appreciated his attempts to help planters and freedmen work together. Eventually, however, because he thought the laws reduced blacks to a condition of involuntary servitude, he suspended some sections of the state's black codes, whereupon Gen. Charles Griffin relieved Kiddoo as superintendent; the excuse was that an old wound received during the war prevented him from fulfilling his duties. Kiddoo retired from the army in 1870 and died in 1880.

Famous former slave dies at the hands of Indians
January 24, 1871
On this date in 1871, Britton Johnson was killed by a band of Kiowas who attacked his wagontrain. He had become legendary in the previous decade for pursuing Indians who kidnapped his wife and children. After his adventures on the Llano Estacado, Johnson worked as a teamster hauling goods between Weatherford and Fort Griffin. The evidence of spent cartridges suggests that he defended himself fiercely before dying. He and his men were buried in a common grave beside the road.

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