On this day in 1949, the French Legation in Austin was placed in the custody of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The legation was built in 1840 for the French diplomatic mission to the Republic of Texas. The Daughters researched the legation with the help of historians and architects, and the restored structure was opened to the public on April 15, 1956. Other restoration projects undertaken by the Daughters include the Alamo in San Antonio and the Old Land Office Building in Austin. The objectives of the DRT are to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the people who achieved and maintained the independence of Texas and to encourage historical research into the earliest records of Texas, especially those relating to the revolutionary and republic periods. The Daughters encourage the preservation of documents and relics, the publication of historical records and narratives, and the celebration of important days in the state's history. They also encourage the teaching of Texas history in public schools and sponsor the placement of historical markers.
On this day in 1917, the Ninetieth Division of the U.S. Army was activated at Camp Travis, Texas. It was initially composed of members from Texas and Oklahoma. It became known as the "Tough Ombres," "Texas' Own," or the Alamo Division. It adopted the monogram insignia T-O in France during World War I. The division set up headquarters in France in 1918 and saw action in Lorraine and in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne operations. After the Armistice the Ninetieth did occupation duty in Germany and came home in 1919 for demobilization. The division was reactivated at Camp Barkeley, Texas, in 1942. It fought on D-Day and in subsequent campaigns in Normandy, southern France, the Ardennes, the Rhineland, and Central Europe. Of its men in World War II, 2,963 were killed, 143,009 wounded, 1,052 missing, and 442 captured. The Ninetieth was on occupation duty in Germany until 1945, then was deactivated at Camp Shanks, New York, in December. The division was reactivated in 1947 as a part of the Organized Reserve Corps. It was not mobilized for Vietnam but has served in various humanitarian activities and played a major role in the Persian Gulf.
On this day in 1886, the second organization of black medical professionals in the nation was formed in Galveston. Doctors J. H. and L. M. Wilkins, pharmacist J. S. Cameron, and twelve other men established the Lone Star State Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association. The group formed its own organization after the Texas Medical Association had refused them admission. The founders included Monroe Alpheus Majors of Waco, the first African-American physician to practice medicine west of the Rockies, and Benjamin Jesse Covington, a founder of Houston Negro Hospital. After sporadic activity early in its existence, the association grew to almost 300 members in 1928. A. E. Hughes became the first female president in 1934. In 1939 the group received official endorsement from the Texas Medical Association. After TMA opened membership to blacks in 1955, Lone Star State Medical Association’s numbers declined, but the organization remained active into the twenty-first century.
On this day in 1849, Thomas Short ostensibly admitted his role in a cattle theft operation in a confession printed in the Texas State Gazette. His confession was surprisingly imaginative and vivid given the fact that he was only sixteen at the time. The Short family, headed by patriarch John Short (1790-1847), had settled near La Grange in Fayette County, where they engaged in agriculture, milling, speculation, trading, and controversy. They supported an underground railroad for runaway slaves. By repeatedly reselling the slaves at intervals along the way north and thereafter assisting with their escapes, they profited from their altruism. A similar cattle theft operation and counterfeiting ring with principals in five states, according to the Huntsville Texas Banner, resulted in the public hanging of John's son William Short and the incarceration of John's son-in-law William Greenbury Sansom as the first inmate of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville. Other members of the family were implicated but not tried and convicted; young Thomas had been one of these, and was acquitted because of his youth after his confession appeared in print.