On this day in 1830, business partners John Stryker and James Wiley Magoffin arrived at Matamoros in the sloop Washington. They made port carrying a newly designed cotton gin and several hundred bags of upland cotton seed and set out distributing free seed to landowners in the Rio Grande Valley. Magoffin eventually moved to Chihuahua, but Stryker purchased property along the Rio Grande. Stryker, an agriculturalist, was appointed consul for the port of Goliad (later the port of Matagorda) by President Andrew Jackson in 1835. He bought a league of land in Victoria, where he was living at the time of his death in 1844. His efforts in cotton seed distribution and the introduction of the cotton gin enabled the profitable cotton culture of the Rio Grande Valley. Years later those same cotton fields provided the pathway for the dreaded boll weevil’s entry into the United States.
On this date in 1874, the Ursuline Sisters started their academy in Dallas. The Ursulines, founded in Italy in 1535, came to Quebec in 1639, New Orleans in 1727, Galveston in 1847, and San Antonio in 1851. Their academies welcome girls of all denominations without regard for race, color, or national or ethnic origin. The original school in Dallas, in a four-room building on Bryan Street, opened with seven students. The academy, now located in Preston Hollow, is the oldest continuously operated Catholic school in Dallas.
On this day in 1620, María Coronel took religious vows in a Franciscan order of nuns who wore an outer cloak of coarse blue cloth over the traditional brown habit. As a nun, now known as María de Jesús de Agreda, she had numerous mystic experiences (more than 500) in which she thought she visited a distant, unknown land. Franciscan authorities determined that the land was eastern New Mexico and far western Texas. Sister María supposedly contacted several Indian cultures, including the Jumanos, and told the natives to seek instruction from the Spanish. Shortly thereafter, some fifty Jumano Indians appeared at the Franciscan convent of old Isleta, south of present Albuquerque, in July 1629 and said that they had been sent to find religious teachers. They already demonstrated rudimentary knowledge of Christianity, and when asked who had instructed them replied, "the Woman in Blue." A subsequent expedition to the Jumanos, led by Fray Juan de Salas, encountered a large band of Indians in Southwest Texas. The Indians claimed that they had been advised by the Woman in Blue of approaching Christian missionaries. Subsequently, some 2,000 natives presented themselves for baptism and further religious instruction. Two years later, Fray Alonso de Benavides traveled to Spain, where he interviewed María de Jesús at Agreda. Sister María told of her bilocations and acknowledged that she was indeed the Lady in Blue. After she died in 1665, her story was published in Spain. Although she said her last visitation to the New World was in 1631, the legend of her appearances was current until the 1690s. In the 1840s a mysterious woman in blue reportedly traveled the Sabine River valley aiding malaria victims, and her apparition was reported as recently as World War II.