On this day in 1891, the U.S. secretary of the treasury officially opened the new port of Velasco near the site of Old Velasco, on the Brazos River a few miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. The former town, one of the oldest communities in Texas, saw its heyday between the early Anglo settlement of Texas and the Civil War. The first Austin colonists landed there in 1821. Velasco was important during its early days as the site of the battle of Velasco, as a temporary capital of the Republic of Texas, and as the place where Santa Anna signed the treaties that ended the Texas Revolution. But the old town, subsequently a resort, declined after the Civil War and was mostly blown away by a hurricane in 1875. The new town of Velasco was laid out in 1891 and promoted throughout the Midwest. With its new deepwater port, it flourished--complete with railroad connections, two weekly newspapers, a lively shipping industry, and a population that reached 3,000--until another hurricane, the catastrophic Galveston Hurricane of 1900, wiped the place out again. Afterward, recovery was slow and uncertain until diversion of the Brazos River and the formation of a tidal estuary deep enough to accommodate large vessels in the old river channel gave life to both Velasco and the new town of Freeport. The two towns were incorporated under the name Freeport in 1957, when the population of Velasco was about 4,000. The Velasco post office became Velasco Station. The entire area is now part of the Brazosport industrial and port area.
On this day in 1960, María (Chata) Sada, pioneer businesswoman and community leader, attended a ceremony honoring improvements at Big Bend National Park. In the 1920s Sada and her husband owned a combination trading post, general store, cafe, and hotel in Boquillas, Texas, near the Rio Grande, known as Chata's Store or Chata's Place. It was one of about a dozen such businesses on the Texas side of the border in the Big Bend area. In 1927 the Sadas were one of only two families in Boquillas. Mrs. Sada offered visitors hot meals and lodging in the extra rooms she added to her house. She was known for the tacos she cooked on a flat-topped, wood-fired stove. Her friendly and affectionate disposition as a hostess received praise from many. María Sada's services were particularly welcomed because of the region's isolation. She raised goats, turkeys, and chickens and tended a garden. She was also able to shoot a rifle and once killed a mountain lion. She dispensed medicine, acted as midwife, and operated as judge and teacher. At the Big Bend National Park ceremony ranchmen, cowhands, bankers, educators, and business people greeted her, and her presence and reception resulted in a feature story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Sadas were friends of photographer Wilfred D. Smithers, who photographed them. María Sada died in 1973 in Del Rio.
On this day in 1842, Texas troops defeated a Mexican invasion at the battle of Lipantitlán. The Mexican incursion, part of a pattern of attack and counterattack between Mexico and the Republic of Texas, was commanded by Antonio Canales Rosillo. James Davis, adjutant general of the Army of the Republic of Texas, and Capt. Ewen Cameron led a mutinous, disorganized, ill-supplied command, which nonetheless succeeded in defeating a Mexican force three times its size. Lipantitlán had also been the site of a battle in 1836.
On this day in 1835, the Municipality of Gonzales passed resolutions of loyalty to Mexico, thanks to the influence of the mysterious Edward Gritten. Gritten, supposedly an Englishman and a long-time resident of Mexico, first visited Texas in 1834 as secretary to Juan N. Almonte. During July and August 1835 he worked to restore confidence between the Texas colonists and the Mexican government. He urged Mexican authorities to adopt conciliatory measures, assuring them that most Texans were law-abiding Mexican citizens. He was chosen as a commissioner to visit Martín Perfecto de Cos to explain the pacific attitude of the mass of the colonists. On the way to Matamoros, Gritten met a courier from Domingo de Ugartechea with orders to arrest William B. Travis and other Texans. Gritten hastened to Bexar and attempted to persuade Ugartechea to revoke the orders, but he refused. Gritten remained at Bexar as mediator between Ugartechea and the colonists and identified himself with the Texas cause. In December 1835 the General Council elected Gritten collector of the port of Copano, but Governor Henry Smith refused to sign the commission because he considered Gritten a spy. The last information found concerning Gritten is a receipt for money paid him by the government in October 1836 for his services as a translator.