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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Moments in Texas History ~ 3.25.2012

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Mexican raiders strike Texas ranch
March 25, 1918
On this day in 1918, in what proved to be the last serious incident of the border troubles initiated by the Mexican Revolution, Mexican raiders attacked the Neville ranch in northwest Presidio County. Edwin W. Neville's isolated ranch stretched for eighteen miles along the Rio Grande, six miles upriver from Porvenir. Neville and his son Glen were discussing the rumors of an attack when they heard a disturbance outside. Neville looked out and saw fifty approaching horsemen who opened fire on the house. Seeking protection, the Nevilles ran toward a ditch about 300 yards away. The older Neville reached the ditch uninjured, but the raiders shot Glen in the head and beat him with their rifle butts as he lay dying. The Nevilles' housekeeper, Rosa Castillo, was also shot and her body mutilated. As Neville wandered in the darkness, the raiders stole horses, clothes, bedding, and supplies. U.S. cavalry arrived soon after the raid and followed the trail of the bandits across the Rio Grande. In a gunfight at the village of Pilares thirty-three Mexicans were killed and eight were wounded. One American, private Carl Alberts, was also killed. The American soldiers destroyed all but one house in Pilares and recovered some of Neville's stolen property. It is likely that the Neville ranch raid was not a simple act of robbery, but retaliation for the Porvenir Massacre, which had taken place two months before. It is also likely that the raiders had Villista connections. In addition, soldiers found German-made Mauser rifles at Pilares, a fact that may suggest German involvement in the raid.

General Land Office gets new seal
March 25, 1986
On this day in 1986, the General Land Office received a new seal in commemoration of the Texas Sesquicentennial. Texas governmental seals usually feature a slightly modified version of the state seal or a single star. The most notable exception is that of the GLO, which has had three designs. The first, used from 1838 to 1842, depicted a bison standing before a live oak tree, a small star, and the words "GENERAL LAND OFFICE-TEXAS." This first seal was apparently broken or lost during the Archive War of December 1842, and the Land Office ordered a replacement that had the Lone Star emblem of the republic and "TEXAS" between the points of the star and "GENERAL LAND OFFICE" in the outer margin. This replacement proved unsatisfactory and was never used. Another seal was used from mid-1844 to 1986, with a device consisting of a cotton plant, plow, scythe, shovel, sheaf of wheat, fence, meridian sun, and the words "GENERAL LAND OFFICE-REPUBLIC OF TEXAS." (Soon after annexation a new die was cast that changed the words to "GENERAL LAND OFFICE-THE STATE OF TEXAS.") The 1986 seal featured a design representing the agency's land and resource management responsibilities. The seal consists of a bison in front of a fish-eye view of mountains, plateaus, prairies, bays, barrier islands, and the Gulf of Mexico, all surmounted by a Lone Star, and "1836-GENERAL LAND OFFICE-1836-THE STATE OF TEXAS."

Texas force decimated after black bean lottery
March 25, 1843
On this day in 1843, seventeen Texans were executed at Salado, Tamaulipas, Mexico. As the members of the defeated Mier expedition were being marched from Mier to Mexico City, they attempted a mass escape on February 11. Some 176 were recaptured, and Mexican dictator Santa Anna ordered that one in ten of the prisoners be shot. The victims were chosen by a lottery in which each man drew a bean from an earthen jar containing 176 beans, seventeen of which were black. This event has come to be known as the Black Bean Episode. The bodies were returned to Texas and are buried on Monument Hill at La Grange, Fayette County.
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