On this day in 1984, shareholders in the Dr Pepper Company accepted a buyout offer from a New York investment-banking firm, and Texas's preeminent soft-drink company went private. Dr Pepper originated in Waco in 1885. Wade B. Morrison, owner of Morrison's Old Corner Drug, employed a pharmacist named Charles Courtice Alderton, who often served soft drinks to customers. Alderton enjoyed experimenting with various combinations of fruit extracts and sweeteners. One combination proved enormously popular, and Morrison named it after Dr. Charles T. Pepper, a physician and pharmacist for whom he had worked in Virginia. In 1898 the Southwestern Soda Fountain Company of Dallas purchased the rights to produce and sell Dr Pepper, and four years later changed its name to the Dr Pepper Company. The Dr Pepper Company was officially incorporated in 1923. By the early 1980s changes in the soft-drink business led to decreasing profits, and the company began looking for a buyer. After the buyout, Dr Pepper sold a majority of its fixed assets and within a year had reestablished itself as the third most popular soft drink in the U.S. In 1986 Dr Pepper merged with the Seven-Up Company and soon thereafter moved its manufacturing operations to St. Louis, although the company's corporate headquarters remained in Dallas.
On this day in 1948, the Girls Rodeo Association, forerunner of the Women's Professional Rodeo Association, was formed in San Angelo. The event followed the historic "all-girl" rodeo produced the previous fall in Amarillo. The founders, who met to organize and established goals, determined to raise the standards of cowgirl contests and to protect cowgirls from unfair practices. The WPRA is the oldest organization of women athletes in America.
On this day in 1859, Anson Mills submitted a street map of a settlement at the far western tip of Texas called variously Ponce's Rancho, Franklin, and Smithsville. He called the little community El Paso, and the name stuck. The city's downtown is still practically as he platted it. Mills was born in Indiana in 1834. After flunking out of West Point, he rode the Butterfield Overland Mail stage to El Paso in 1858. He was appointed district surveyor and surveyed forts Quitman, Davis, Stockton, and Bliss. He also built the Overland Building, for three decades the city's largest structure, and the Mills Building, which remains a major El Paso landmark. Mills is best remembered, however, as the boundary commissioner who refused to accept the 1911 arbitration agreement that gave the disputed Chamizal tract to Mexico. He died in 1924.