On this day in 1850, George Glenn, black traildriver, was born into slavery, probably in Colorado County, Texas. He was raised on the ranch of Robert B. Johnson of Columbus and trained in ranching skills and as a trail cook. After the Civil War and emancipation, Glenn evidently continued at the Johnson ranch as a cowhand. In the spring of 1870 he accompanied Johnson on a cattle drive to Abilene, Kansas. At the Red River, when a fresh group of cowhands displaced the original ones, Johnson and Glenn continued with the new group to Abilene, where they sold the herd. Johnson fell ill and died at age thirty-six in Abilene in July 1870. Glenn had his employer embalmed and buried in a metal casket in the area. The following September he decided to bring Johnson's body back to Texas for burial and had the casket disinterred and placed in a wagon. Reportedly, Glenn traveled alone with Johnson's body for forty-two days across three states, arriving in Columbus in November 1871. He did not continue as a cowhand but maintained a lifelong friendship with his former employer's nephew, Texas Ranger and cattleman John Edwards Folts. Glenn died in 1931; his death certificate lists his occupation as "laborer." He was honored as one of the handful of black members of the Old Trail Drivers Association at the 1924 and 1926 annual meetings.
On this day in 1798, Mathew Caldwell was born in Kentucky. He settled in Dewitt County, Texas, in 1831. Caldwell earned the name "Paul Revere of the Texas Revolution" because he rode from Gonzales to Bastrop to call men to arms before the battle of Gonzales in October 1835. He was also called "Old Paint" because his whiskers were dappled. He was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Caldwell commanded a company in the defense of Goliad. He was captured during the Santa Fe expedition and imprisoned in Mexico. He died at his home in Gonzales in 1842 and is buried there. Caldwell County was named in his honor.
On this day in 1862, the battle of the Civil War ironclads Merrimack and Monitor near Chesapeake Bay sounded the death knell for a Texas gunboat before it ever got out of the planning stages. Texas mapmaker Robert Creuzbaur had proposed an innovative design for an iron-plated gunboat called Sea King in November 1861. With a hot-air engine that powered propellers at the stern, this wood and iron vessel, Creuzbaur estimated, could reach a speed of 18 mph. Topside armaments would provide ample defense, but the ship’s most unique weapon was a gun beneath the waterline. This “submarine cannon” would surely blast through the Union fleet’s vulnerable wooden hulls. Fifty years before its time, the inventive cartographer envisioned a version of the modern torpedo tube. Governor Francis R. Lubbock appointed a scientific committee, and soon Texas legislators, excited about the great military potential of Sea King, appropriated $500 for Creuzbaur to present his plan to the Confederate War Department. But when the ironclads later engaged in their historic showdown all realistic chances for experimentation on a project like Sea King were lost.