On this day in 1862, Confederate soldiers attacked a force of Hill Country Unionists camped en route to Mexico beside the Nueces River in Kinney County. The skirmish is known as the battle of the Nueces. The sixty-odd Unionists, mostly German intellectuals, had camped without choosing a defensive position or posting a strong guard. Nineteen of them were killed and nine were wounded The wounded were executed by the Confederates later in the day. Two Confederates were killed and eighteen wounded. Of the Unionists who escaped from the battle, eight were killed on October 18 while trying to cross into Mexico. After the war the remains of the Unionists were gathered and interred at Comfort, where a monument commemorates them.
On this day in 1935, the Texas Department of Public Safety was established by the Texas legislature, prompted by the election of Governor James Allred, who ran on a platform of better law enforcement. The department was to enforce laws to protect public safety and to provide for crime prevention and detection. A three-member Public Safety Commission, appointed by the governor for six-year terms, oversaw the department and in turn named the director and assistant director. Homer Garrison, Jr., the first assistant director, became the director in 1938, and led the department for almost thirty years. Originally department operations were classified into six divisions: the Texas Highway Patrol, Texas Rangers, Bureau of Communications, Bureau of Intelligence, Bureau of Education, and Bureau of Identification and Records. Through the years the Department of Public Safety continued to reorganize and expand its operations into such activities as licensing of drivers, investigation of drug trafficking, accident records, emergency management, automated fingerprint identification, combating organized crime, and motor-vehicle theft.
On this day in 1958, Aline Triplette Michaelis, the first woman to be named poet laureate of Texas, died in Beaumont. Triplette was born in St. Louis in 1885. She was educated in St. Louis and Kansas City, and her early poems were published by the Kansas City Star. After marriage to F. G. Michaelis, she lived in Austin for several years before moving to Beaumont in 1919, where she worked as a staff member of the Beaumont Enterprise. Writing under her own name and the pen name Susan Arnold Taylor, she published more than ten thousand poems. Her poem "Courage" was distributed to servicemen with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. Her column "The Rhyming Optimist" was carried by King Features for some sixteen years and reached well over three million daily readers. Many of her poems dealt with nature; her work was characterized by its optimism. She published a volume of her verse, Courage and Other Poems, in 1931. She served as poet laureate of Texas from 1934 to 1936.