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Scholar Harriet Smither dies
March 20, 1955

On this day in 1955, Harriet Wingfield Smither died. She had been the archivist of the Texas State Library for fifty-four years. Her scholarly editions included the Papers of Mirabeau Lamar, the Journals of the Fourth Congress, the Journals of the Sixth Congress, and the Diary of Adolphus Sterne. She retired in 1953 and was recognized by a resolution by the Texas State Library and the Texas Historical Commission.

Aguayo expedition enters Texas
March 20, 1721

On this day in 1721, an expedition under the Marqués de Aguayo crossed the Rio Grande into Texas. José de Azlor y Virto de Vera, Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo, was governor of Coahuila and Texas when the viceroy of New Spain accepted his offer to reestablish Spanish control of East Texas in the wake of the French invasion of 1719. Aguayo organized a force of some 500 men, which he called the Battalion of San Miguel de Aragón, with Juan Rodríguez as guide. Aguayo reached San Antonio on April 4 before proceeding to East Texas. A detachment under Domingo Ramón occupied La Bahía del Espíritu Santo on the same day. The Indians east of the Trinity welcomed the Spanish, as did the French commander Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, who agreed to withdraw to Natchitoches. Leaving 219 of his men at various presidios in Texas, Aguayo returned to Coahuila, where the force was disbanded on May 31, 1722. The expedition resulted in the increase in the number of missions in Texas from two to ten, the increase in the number of presidios from one to four, and the establishment of so definite a Spanish claim to Texas that it was never again disputed by France or by the French in Louisiana.

Legendary Texas yodeler silenced
March 20, 1987

On this day in 1987, legendary Austin country singer and tavern owner Kenneth Threadgill died of a pulmonary embolism. Threadgill was born in Peniel, Texas, in 1909, the son of a minister. As a youngster, Threadgill was working at Beaumont's Tivoli Theater when Jimmie Rodgers performed. Backstage, Rodgers heard Threadgill imitating his yodeling and was impressed. Threadgill incorporated yodeling into his country singing act later in his life to make a unique style that fans loved. In 1933 Threadgill moved to Austin and began working at an old service station. He soon bought the establishment and renamed it Threadgill's Tavern, which still sold gas and food but operated with the first beer license in Austin after the repeal of Prohibition. After closing temporarily during World War II, Threadgill's reopened and became known for its Wednesday night hootenannies, at which university students and local residents congregated for beer, country music, yodeling, and the "Alabama Jubilee," the song that would usually get Kenneth to dance his patented shuffle. Bill Neely and Janis Joplin were among the many performers who found Threadgill's a congenial spot to launch or further musical careers. Threadgill gained some measure of national celebrity himself when he acted and sang in the Willie Nelson movie Honeysuckle Rose (1980). He sold the tavern in the early eighties, but Threadgill's Restaurant remains an Austin institution.