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Black legislator wins disputed election
February 20, 1874

On this day in 1874, after considering a challenge from his Democratic opponents, the Texas Senate confirmed the election of Walter Moses Burton. Burton was brought to Texas as a slave from North Carolina in 1850 at the age of twenty-one. He belonged to a Fort Bend planter, Thomas Burke Burton, who taught him how to read and write, skills that served him well in later years. After the Civil War Burton became one of the wealthiest and most influential blacks in Fort Bend County. He became involved in politics as early as 1869, when he was elected sheriff and tax collector of Fort Bend County, and served as the president of the Fort Bend County Union League. In 1873 Burton campaigned for and won a seat in the Texas Senate, where he served for seven years, from 1874 to 1875 and from 1876 to 1882. In the Senate he championed the education of blacks. Among the many bills that he helped push through was one that called for the establishment of Prairie View Normal School (now Prairie View A&M University). When he left the Senate in 1882 Burton was given an ebony and gold cane for his service in that chamber. He remained active in state and local politics until his death in 1913.

Governor Edmund Davis imposes martial law in Walker County
February 20, 1871

On this day in 1871, martial law was declared in Walker County. Lawlessness was widespread during Reconstruction, and Republican efforts often seemed to exacerbate the problem. The so-called Walker County Rebellion, which led to the declaration of martial law, followed the murder of a freedman and the attempted trial of four white suspects.

Baptist missionary licensed to preach
February 20, 1875

On this day in 1875, Leander Randon Millican, Baptist missionary, was licensed to preach. He was born at the community of Millican, Texas, in 1853. In 1874, while he was deputy sheriff of Lampasas County, Millican was converted in a Methodist camp meeting. He joined the Baptist Church at Lampasas later that year. He attended Baylor University at Independence during the 1874-75 term. In 1879, he was commissioned as missionary for the San Saba Association; with the exception of three months, he was missionary for the Texas and Southern Baptists, particularly the El Paso Association, for the rest of his life. His work was with small, struggling churches on a half-time, quarter-time, or monthly basis in an area from San Angelo west to El Paso and south to Presidio. During his ministering travels on horseback he dreamed of a camp meeting to bring ranchers, cowboys, and churches together for preaching and classes. His dream was realized on July 28, 1915, when he and George W. Truett met with ranchers to begin an annual cowboy camp meeting that became known as Paisano Baptist Encampment. Millican was called "missionary to the mountains," "circuit rider of the plains," "trail-blazing minister," "sky pilot of the plains," and "Brother Lallie." He died in 1938.