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Repeat hurricane dooms Indianola
August 20, 1886

On this day in 1886, the town of Indianola suffered through the second day of a devastating two-day hurricane. The settlement, on Matagorda Bay in Calhoun County, was founded in August 1846 and named Indian Point. It was renamed in February 1849 and soon became the second busiest port in Texas (after Galveston). Indianola was the county seat of Calhoun County from 1852 to 1886. With a population of more than 5,000, the town was at the peak of its prosperity when a hurricane struck in 1875, causing great loss of life. The community rebuilt on a smaller scale, but then was almost obliterated by the hurricane of August 19-20, 1886, and the accompanying fire. By 1887 the site had been abandoned.

Peace--finally!--between the U.S. and Texas
August 20, 1866

On this day in 1866, President Andrew Johnson, declaring that "the insurrection in the State of Texas has been completely and everywhere suppressed and ended," officially ended the Civil War by issuing a proclamation of peace between the United States and Texas. Johnson had declared a state of peace between the U.S. and the other ten Confederate states on April 2, 1866. The last land battle of the Civil War took place at Palmito Ranch near Brownsville on May 13, 1865, more than a month after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse.

The future Fort Lancaster is established
August 20, 1855

On this day in 1855, Camp Lancaster was established. The camp became Fort Lancaster on August 21, 1856, and was commanded by Capt. Steven D. Carpenter. It was first manned by companies H and K of the First United States Infantry. Its mission was to protect the lower road from San Antonio to El Paso. The soldiers escorted mail and freight trains, and pursued marauding Comanches and Mescalero Apaches. The Butterfield Stage began using the lower road in 1859. Federal troops were removed in 1861, after secession. During the Civil War the fort was occupied by Walter P. Lane's rangers. After the war it was reoccupied in 1871 by a company of infantry and a detachment of cavalry. The original camp was constructed of picket canvas and portable Turnley prefabricated buildings. When it was abandoned in 1873 or 1874 all the buildings were of stone or adobe. Subsequently much of its masonry was used for buildings in Sheffield. The site of old Fort Lancaster was deeded to Crockett County in 1965 and donated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1968. Archeological exploration had located many of the original buildings, and many artifacts have been recovered. Much of this material is displayed at the visitors' center at Fort Lancaster State Historical Site. The state yielded management of the fort to Texas Rural Communities, Inc., in 1993.

Presidential parents wed
August 20, 1907

On this day in 1907, Samuel Ealy Johnson Jr. married Rebekah Baines. Johnson, whose father Samuel E. Johnson Sr. was a prominent cattleman, was born in Buda in 1877 but raised in Gillespie County. He was first elected to the state legislature in 1904, succeeding his future father-in-law Joseph Wilson Baines. He and his bride, born in McKinney in 1881, eventually had five children, including Lyndon Baines Johnson, the thirty-sixth president of the United States. As a state legislator, Samuel E. Johnson Jr. authored the Alamo Purchase Bill, the Blue Sky Law, and other important measures. In 1906 he suffered severe financial losses which wiped out his cotton holdings and left him deeply in debt. Disappointed in her husband and frustrated by the poverty and isolation of Hill Country farm life, Mrs. Johnson tried hard to instill her love of education and culture into her five children. She was especially close to the eldest, Lyndon, and relentlessly coached him to improve his indifferent schoolwork and encouraged him to be ambitious and idealistic. Samuel E. Johnson Jr. died in 1937. Rebekah Baines Johnson died in 1958.