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Higher education develops in Beaumont
March 23, 1923

On this day in 1923, Lamar University originated as South Park Junior College when the South Park Independent School District in Beaumont instructed superintendent L. R. Pietzch to develop plans for "a Junior college of the first class." SPJC opened on September 17, 1923, with an enrollment of 125 students and a faculty of fourteen. Classes were held on the third floor of the new South Park High School. In 1923 the name of the institution was changed to Lamar College, in honor of Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the Republic of Texas. The college was later renamed Lamar State College of Technology and, in 1971, Lamar University.

Fort Worth Stockyards incorporated
March 23, 1893

On this day in 1893, the Fort Worth Stock Yards were officially incorporated. The Fort Worth livestock market became the largest in Texas and the Southwest, the biggest market south of Kansas City, and consistently ranked between third and fourth among the nation's large terminal livestock markets for five decades, from about 1905 to the mid-1950s. When the Texas and Pacific Railway arrived in Fort Worth in 1876 promoters built pens to hold cattle, but business leaders were already dreaming of packing plants and stockyards to make their community a permanent focus of the cattle industry. By 1886 four stockyards had been built near the railroads. Boston capitalist Greenleif W. Simpson, with a half dozen Boston and Chicago associates, incorporated the Fort Worth Stock Yards Company and purchased the Union Stock Yards and the Fort Worth Packing Company in 1893. In 1896 the company began a fat-stock show that has survived to the present as one of the largest livestock shows in the nation, the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show. An agreement with Armour and Swift brought in two of the nation's largest meatpackers, who constructed modern plants adjacent to the stockyards. By 1936 Texas had become the largest-producing state for both cattle and sheep, with Fort Worth as the industry's hub. The stockyards began to decline in the 1950s as the industry became more decentralized, and today the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District is primarily a tourist attraction.

Texas conductor leads farewell concert in Antwerp
March 23, 1927

On this day in 1927, Frank Van der Stucken, composer and conductor, gave his farewell symphonic concert in the hall of the Royal Society of Zoology in Antwerp. The child of Belgian immigrants to Castro's Colony, he was born in Fredericksburg, Texas, in 1858. His family returned to Antwerp in 1866. By age sixteen he had completed two major original works. After a visit to Wagner's Bayreuth Festival in 1876, Van der Stucken settled in Leipzig, Germany, for two years of study with Carl Reinecke, Victor Langer, and Edvard Grieg. Grieg was the first of a number of important composers to befriend the young composer and conductor; among the others were Franz Liszt, Giuseppe Verdi, Emmanuel Chabrier, and Jules Massenet. Van der Stucken returned to America in 1884, where he became director of the New York Arion Society, a male chorus. He also worked with other German male choruses in the Sängerbund movement. In April 1885 in New York City he conducted the first concert in this country devoted exclusively to works by American composers, and in 1889 he conducted the first European concert with an entirely American program at the World Exposition in Paris. In 1895 Van der Stucken moved to Cincinnati to become the first conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, a post he held until 1907. From 1907 until his death in 1929, Van der Stucken lived in Germany and worked throughout Europe, where he was in great demand as a conductor of festivals.