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Wealthiest signer of Declaration of Independence arrives in Texas
December 15, 1834

On this day in 1834, Robert Hamilton, a native of Scotland, settled in the Red River area of Texas. Hamilton, a wealthy merchant, was one of the five men sent by Pecan Point and vicinity, or the Red River District, to the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. He was probably the wealthiest man to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence. Because of his financial experience, wealth, and extensive connections, Hamilton was appointed, with George C. Childress, on March 19, 1836, to go to Washington, D.C., to seek recognition of the independence of Texas and establishment of commercial relations with the United States.

Railroad runs excursion train to lure settlers
December 15, 1887

On this day in 1887, the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway, the first rail line to penetrate northwest Texas, ran an excursion train to the new community of Cheyenne in Oldham County to bring in potential settlers. The Fort Worth and Denver City actively promoted the growth of towns and farming to increase traffic for the line; "No settlers, no trains" was the company's rule. At Cheyenne they built a hotel, opened stores, and constructed cattle-loading pens to accommodate the surrounding LS Ranch. The new town was designed to replace nearby Tascosa (three miles east), and was based on a townsite donated by LS general manager William McDole Lee, who did not want Tascosa to become county seat because it would raise his taxes. Bitter rivalry ensued, particularly after hack service was instituted between the two towns. When Cheyenne applied for a post office, its name was changed to Magenta for the color of the red soil along the creek. Within a year the land boom subsided. Though the railroad kept an agent at Magenta for several years, the local population moved away, and only the depot and shipping pens remained.

John Woodward appointed Texas consul general to New York
December 15, 1836

On this day in 1836, John Woodward was appointed Texas consul general to New York. Woodward, a New York judge, had been interested in Texas land as early as 1812. In 1834 he secured settlement rights in Beales's Rio Grande Colony, and in 1836 he was appointed Texas consul general for the New York consulate, which embraced the ports of Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. He petitioned congress for 10,000 acres adjoining his settlement rights in the Ben Milam grant. While traveling in England, Woodward sold 40,000 acres of land to Jonathan Ikin, who sent 100 colonists to the grant but found that it did not exist. Because of the criticisms of his land speculations Woodward was dismissed as consul in 1840.

Elite cavalry regiment enters Texas
December 15, 1855

On this day in 1855, troopers of the Second United States Cavalry Regiment entered Texas for the first time. The Second, one of four new regiments approved by Congress in the spring of 1855, was organized specifically for service on the Texas frontier. The regiment left Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, in late October and rode through Missouri, part of Arkansas, and a corner of Indian Territory before crossing the Red River into Texas. Its officers were hand-picked by Secretary of War Jefferson Davis; thus the elite regiment was known as "Jeff Davis's Own." The Second Cavalry remained in Texas until the Civil War. During its stay, companies of the regiment were involved in some forty engagements along the western and northern frontiers of Texas and along the Rio Grande, fighting Apaches, Comanches, Kiowas, and Mexican marauders. The regiment was known for the outstanding quality of the sixteen general officers it produced in the 6½ years of its existence. The Second supplied one-half of the full generals of the Confederate Army: Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Edmund Kirby Smith, and John Bell Hood. The Second Cavalry was Lee's last command in the United States Army.