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Philanthropists wed on Valentine's Day
February 14, 1904

On this day in 1904, Walter William Fondren married Ella Florence Cochrum at Corsicana, Texas. Walter Fondren came to Texas as a sixteen-year-old orphan. He entered the oil business as a roughneck in the Corsicana oilfields, and went on to become one of the most successful oilmen in the state and the major stockholder of Humble Oil Company. As a teenager, Ella Fondren worked in her family's boardinghouse in Corsicana, where she met her future husband, then working as a driller. Ella aided him throughout his career, beginning shortly after their marriage, when she settled the family in Houston and purchased stock in the firm that became Texaco, Incorporated, an investment that was eventually worth millions. The couple were known for their philanthropic efforts. The Fondrens established the Fondren Lectures in Religious Thought at Southern Methodist University, and donated nearly half a million dollars to SMU to build the Fondren Library. After Walter's death in 1939, Ella carried on their philanthropic interests, establishing the Fondren Library at Rice University and administering the Fondren Foundation. Ella died in 1982, shortly before her 102nd birthday.

Spanish nobleman calls for settlement of Texas
February 14, 1729

On this day in 1729, the Marqués de Aguayo proposed to the king of Spain that 400 families be transported from the Canary Islands, Galicia, or Havana to populate the province of Texas. Eventually some fifteen families from the Canary Islands came to Texas.The first of the Canary Islanders arrived at Presidio San Antonio de Béxar on March 9, 1731. The immigrants formed the nucleus of the villa of San Fernando de Béxar, the first regularly organized civil government in Texas. Several of the old families of San Antonio trace their descent from the Canary Island colonists.

Railroad crew founds Valentine, Texas
February 14, 1882

On this day in 1882, the town of Valentine, Texas, was founded and named when a Southern Pacific Railroad crew building east from El Paso reached the site. Valentine, in Jeff Davis County, is thirty-six miles west of Fort Davis. The trains started running in 1883, and Valentine got a post office in 1886. The town became a shipping point for local cattle ranchers, and by 1914 it had an estimated population of 500, five cattle breeders, a news company, a real estate office, a grocery store, a restaurant, and the Valentine Business Club. By the late 1990s, however, the estimated population had dropped to 267.