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Historian Gambrell dies
December 30, 1982

On this day in 1982, Herbert P. Gambrell died. This native of Tyler, Texas, was the first managing editor of Southwest Review. In 1932 he co-wrote his first book with Lewis W. Newton, A Social and Political History of Texas. His book Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar: Troubadour and Crusader (1934) foreshadowed his doctoral dissertation at the University of Texas, which was published as Anson Jones: The Last President of Texas in 1948. This book, which J. Frank Dobie called "high art," made the New York Times best-seller list. Gambrell was director of historical exhibits for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936 and the Pan American Exposition the following year. He was instrumental in the founding of the Texas Institute of Letters and the museum of the Dallas Historical Society. His last book, A Pictorial History of Texas (1960), a joint venture with his wife, received the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. Gambrell taught that "only an autocratic government can afford to have historically ignorant citizens; it is a luxury we cannot afford."

Jury acquits traveling salesman of murder
December 30, 1880

On this day in 1880, the infamous "Diamond Bessie" case concluded when a Jefferson, Texas, jury acquitted Abraham Rothschild of murder. When a well-dressed man and woman calling themselves "A. Monroe and wife" got off the train and registered at the Brooks House in Jefferson on January 19, 1877, events were set in motion that led to the first big-name trial in Texas. A. Monroe was in reality traveling salesman Abraham Rothschild, the son of Meyer Rothschild, a Cincinnati jeweler, and the woman posing as his wife was a prostitute named Bessie Moore. "Diamond Bessie" was found murdered in the woods near Jefferson several weeks later, and Rothschild was arrested for the crime. After two and a half years and two sensational trials that involved most of the prominent lawyers in East Texas, including future governor Charles A. Culberson and future congressman David B. Culberson, Rothschild was finally acquitted in 1880. Since 1955 a courtroom drama relating the story has been presented each spring as part of the Jefferson Historic Pilgrimage.

Mayor of San Antonio indicted for misapplication of funds
December 30, 1938

On this day in 1938, San Antonio mayor Charles K. Quin was indicted for misapplication of funds. Quin, born in Louisiana in 1877, opened a law practice in San Antonio in 1923. In the late 1920s and early 1930s he was an assistant city attorney and later a city utilities attorney. In 1932 Quin returned to private practice as a partner of C. M. Chambers, the Democratic mayor of San Antonio. When Chambers died suddenly in 1933, Quin was selected to fill his unexpired term and subsequently won that year's regular election. As mayor, Quin worked in the political machine tradition of his predecessor and was an associate of the gambler and bootlegger Charles Bellinger. The Bexar County grand jury indicted Quin and two other city officials for allegedly using city funds to pay a day's wage of four dollars to more than 400 "precinct workers" in the previous July's primary election. The indictments were later quashed, but Maury Maverick defeated Quin in the election then underway. Quin defeated Maverick in 1941, but resigned in 1942 to accept an appointment as judge of the Fifty-seventh Judicial District. He died while still serving as judge in 1960.

Anson Jones throws Duff Green out of Texas
December 30, 1844

On this day in 1844, President Anson Jones expelled Duff Green from the Republic of Texas. Green, a native of Kentucky and a political ally of John C. Calhoun, was appointed United States consul at Galveston in 1844, with additional duties of carrying messages to Mexico in the interest of acquiring Texas, New Mexico, and California for the United States. During the absence of U.S. chargé d'affaires Andrew J. Donelson, Green tried to secure passage of a bill by the Texas Congress establishing the Texas Land Company and the Del Norte Company. These companies, aided by a Texas army and Indians from the United States, were to occupy and claim for Texas the northern provinces of Mexico. Green offered Jones stock in the proposed companies if he would support the plan. When Jones refused, Green allegedly threatened to start a revolution and overthrow the Jones administration. Jones gave Green his passport and barred him from Texas as a consular official. The incident did not seriously impair the friendly relations existing between Texas and the United States. After the Mexican War Green promoted coal, iron, and railway development projects in the South. He died in Georgia in 1875.