On this day in 1836, after losing his bid for a fourth term as a Tennessee representative to the U. S. Congress and traveling to Texas, Davy Crockett wrote his last extant letter and praised Texas as "the garden spot of the world," with the "best land and the best prospects for health I ever saw." With high optimism for his political future, he wrote that he fully expected to take part in writing a constitution for Texas. "I am in hopes," he wrote, "of making a fortune yet for my self and my family, bad as my prospect has been." Crockett could not foresee his fate at the battle of the Alamo, which occurred just two months later.
On this day in 1984, veteran Texas newspaperman and chili aficionado Frank X. Tolbert died of heart failure. Francis Tolbert was born in Amarillo in 1912 and attended four different Texas colleges but never received a degree. He began his career in journalism as a sportswriter for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and later worked for papers in Wichita Falls and Amarillo before joining the staff of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He also published two novels, numerous short stories, and various nonfiction works. Tolbert began using the name Frank X. Tolbert when he enlisted in the United States Marines in 1942. He served as combat correspondent in the Pacific for the marines' official publication, Leatherneck, and later as its managing editor in Washington, D.C. He joined the staff of the Dallas Morning News in 1946 and began publishing his "Tolbert's Texas" column. Tolbert's most popular work, A Bowl of Red (1962), was devoted to chili con carne. Soon after the publication of A Bowl of Red Tolbert founded the Chili Appreciation Society International, which is based in the ghost town of Terlingua, where annual chili-cooking contests are held. He officially retired from the Morning News in 1977 but continued to write one column a week until his death.
On this day in 1858, Anson Jones, last president of the Republic of Texas, committed suicide at Houston. Jones, a physician born in Massachusetts in 1798, came to Texas in 1833 and served in the Texas Revolution. He was elected to the Second Congress of the Republic of Texas and also served as minister to the United States and in the Republic of Texas Senate before being elected president in 1844. In 1845 he ignored mounting pressures for annexation until he had a treaty of recognition of the republic from Mexico. After Jones presented to the people of Texas the alternative of peace and independence or annexation, the Texas Congress rejected the treaty with Mexico, approved the joint resolution of annexation, and adopted resolutions censuring Jones. In 1846, at the ceremony setting up the government of Texas as a state in the Union, Jones declared, "The Republic of Texas is no more." He hoped to be elected to the United States Senate, but Sam Houston and Thomas J. Rusk were chosen instead. Jones brooded over his neglect while he became a prosperous planter and accumulated a vast estate. After an injury that disabled his left arm in 1849, he became increasingly moody and introspective. In 1857 he believed that the legislature would send him to Washington as senator, but he received no votes.
On this day in 1892, fourteen scientists organized the first Texas Academy of Science at the University of Texas to investigate and report upon such scientific problems as might be submitted by the state. Edgar Everhart, a chemist, served as the first president. The group was to advance the exact and natural sciences both by research and discussion, and they established a publication, Transactions. By 1907 the academy had publication exchange arrangements with seventy-five institutions. Throughout the twenty years of its existence patrons George W. Brackenridge and Mrs. George B. Halsted each gave $500 to the organization. By 1911 it had 154 members. The organization became defunct after 1913, but a second Texas Academy of Science organized in 1929 with approximately 100 members, including many from the first Texas academy. The group resumed publication of Transactions which was later absorbed by the new Texas Journal of Science, a journal still distributed to members and institutional libraries worldwide.