On this day in 1841, the Republic of Texas Congress authorized the firm of McKinney, Williams and Company to issue notes for circulation as money, using for security mortgages on real estate, slaves, and a sawmill. This desperate measure reflected the history of money in the republic, where the various issues of currency--including "exchequer bills," "interest notes," and "red backs"--all were textbook examples of "fiat money," or paper money not redeemable in specie. The republic issued a total of $4,095,990 in paper money. Until the approach of annexation, government-issued currency was typified by Sam Houston's promissory notes of 1837, called "Star Money" because they were decorated with a star. Houston printed this money "to avoid the absolute dissolution of the Government." Measured against United States dollars, red backs (issued by the Lamar administration in 1839) started with a value of 37½ cents and fell to two cents before expiring completely. Other currencies underwent a similar, if less dire, inflation, and citizens--especially government employees, who were paid in these currencies--suffered accordingly. Rich in natural resources, poor in manufactured goods, and chronically depleted of silver and gold (which had to be paid for imports), the Republic of Texas sorely needed the economic blessings that came with annexation to the United States.
On this day in 1959, Charles Hardin Holley, better known as Buddy Holly, died in a plane crash near Mason City, Iowa. After a show on the night of February 2 in Clear Lake, Holly, J. P. Richardson (the "Big Bopper"), and Richie Valens took off in a chartered plane for Fargo, North Dakota. The aircraft went down shortly after take-off, and all aboard were killed. The innovative Holly and his group, the Crickets, had achieved a high level of fame that persists more than forty years later. In Lubbock, Holly's hometown, a large statue of the musician stands near the Lubbock Memorial Center.
On this day in 1896, the Galveston Brewing Company began operations. St. Louis brewers Adolphus Busch and William J. Lemp were major stockholders. By this time Texas boasted more than fifty years of brewing history that began with small home operations and gradually expanded to commercial breweries, many centered on sizable German populations. The impressive Galveston complex included a large ice plant, cold-storage rooms, several water wells, railroad tracks, and a brewery that produced up to 75,000 barrels of beer annually. The facility survived the Galveston hurricane of 1900 with minor damage. Brewed brands High Grade and Seawall Bond were popular beers. During Prohibition, the company produced Galvo, a “nonintoxicating cereal beverage.” Though Galveston Brewing Company was one of the few regional breweries to survive Prohibition, small regional brewers declined in Texas as more national chains moved into the state.