On this day in 1906, William Carlton Farmer established the San Antonio Tent Colony, an open-air colony for the treatment of tuberculosis. Farmer, born in 1866, moved to Texas as a child. After studying medicine in Louisville, Kentucky, he worked in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Paris, Texas, and established a reputation as a tuberculosis specialist. In 1905 he moved to San Antonio, where he lived the rest of his life and continued his study of lung diseases. From 1931 to 1934 he was director of the National Tuberculosis Association. Farmer’s pioneering research included the use of X-rays to diagnose tuberculosis, and it is believed that his experimentation with them led to the development of the carcinoma which caused his death in 1944.
On this day in 1925, Governor Pat M. Neff appointed an all-woman state Supreme Court, the first in Texas and probably in the nation. The case before the court involved the Woodmen of the World. All three justices belonged to this organization and were consequently disqualified. Since most of the other judges in Texas were also Woodmen, Neff decided to choose female lawyers, who were ineligible for lodge membership. The special court first met on January 8, 1925. Women did not serve on juries in the state until 1954.
On this day in 1863, Confederate forces under Gen. J. B. Magruder began their assault on Union forces that had held Galveston since October. Magruder placed artillery and dismounted cavalry aboard two river steamers, the Bayou City and the Neptune. He also gathered infantry and cavalry, supported by artillery, to cross the railroad bridge onto the island. The Confederates entered Galveston on New Year's night, January 1, 1863, and opened fire before dawn. The Union ship Harriet Lane sank the Neptune, but the Bayou City's crew seized the Federal vessel. Union commander William B. Renshaw's flagship, the Westfield, ran aground, and the commander died trying to blow it up rather than surrender it. The other Union ships sailed out to sea, ignoring Confederate surrender demands, while their infantry comrades in town surrendered. Magruder had retaken Galveston with a moderate loss. Although the port remained under Confederate control for the rest of the war, only a week elapsed before it was again blockaded.