On this day in 1839, the Republic of Texas Congress adopted the Texas coat of arms -- a white star of five points on an azure ground encircled by olive and live oak branches. The national seal bore these arms encircled by the words Republic of Texas. In 1845 the designation was altered from Republic to State.
On this day in 1779, Vicente Álvarez Travieso, leader of the isleño settlers of San Antonio, died. Álvarez Travieso was born on the island of Tenerife in 1705. When Spanish royal authorities, hoping to reduce the expense of a purely military settlement, decided on a plan to transfer a number of Canary Islanders to Texas, Álvarez Travieso joined them. When they arrived at their new home, San Fernando de Béxar (now San Antonio), in 1731, the isleños established the first regularly organized municipal government in Texas and elected Álvarez Travieso alguacil mayor (chief constable) for life. He soon became a leading spokesman for the colonists and something of a problem for the colonial administration. When the islanders were refused permission to travel to Saltillo for medical attention, Álvarez Travieso launched a series of lawsuits on behalf of his disgruntled companions. In the 1770s the Álvarez Travieso clan became known for their vigorous pursuit of unbranded stray cattle, many of which had wandered away from neighboring mission pastures. To stop such "excesses" Governor Vicencio de Ripperdá conducted two rustling trials against the ranchers of the San Antonio River valley. Álvarez Travieso died just after these proceedings.
On this day in 1834, the first Baptist church meeting in Texas took place at Daniel Parker's home in present Anderson County. Parker, who came to Texas in 1833 to apply for a land grant, realized that a Baptist church could not be organized in Texas without breaking Mexican law. Therefore, he went back to Illinois, where he and seven others organized the Pilgrim Predestinarian Regular Baptist Church. The group then traveled by wagon train to Texas. In 1837 Pilgrim Church gave Parker and Garrison Greenwood authority to organize Primitive Baptist churches and ordain ministers and deacons. By 1841 they had established eight churches in Texas. Pilgrim Church had met in many different locations since 1834, and in 1848 the members voted to build a meetinghouse where Parker had been buried, at the present location of Pilgrim Church, 2½ miles southeast of Elkhart.
On this day in 1919, rancher C. C. (Lum) Slaughter died, precipitating a tangled family financial scandal. Born in 1837 in Sabine County, Lum Slaughter claimed to be the first male child born of a marriage contracted under the Republic of Texas. About 1877 he established one of the largest ranches in West Texas, the Long S, on the headwaters of the Colorado River, and around 1898 he bought almost 250,000 acres in Cochran and Hockley counties and established the Lazy S Ranch. Frequently titled the "Cattle King of Texas," Slaughter became one of the country's largest individual owners of cattle and land (over a million acres and 40,000 cattle by 1906) and was for years the largest individual taxpayer in Texas. Less than a week after his death, however, his younger brother, Bill, with whom he had had a long and strained financial relationship but who managed the Long S, was accused of fraud. Bill had attempted to sell his nephew Bob Slaughter's new Western S Ranch on the Rio Grande in Hudspeth County to an "unknown company" from Mexico. Learning of the fraudulent negotiations, Bob, backed by his brothers, confronted and fired his uncle. Although he later filed a $3 million slander suit against his nephews, Bill Slaughter apparently never collected anything from it.