On this day in 1825, the Mexican legislature, meeting in Saltillo, passed the State Colonization Law of March 24, 1825. The legislation was designed to bring about the peopling of Coahuila and Texas. It encouraged farming, ranching, and commerce. For a nominal fee, the law granted settlers as much as a square league (4,428.4 acres) of pastureland and a labor (177.1 acres) of farmland. Immigrants were temporarily free of every kind of tax. Newcomers had to take an oath promising to abide by the federal and state constitutions, to worship according to the Christian (i.e., Catholic) religion, and to display sound moral principles and good conduct. After accepting these terms and settling in Texas, immigrants earned the standing of naturalized Mexicans. Empresarios Stephen F. Austin and Green DeWitt, among others, started their colonies under this law.
On this day in 1912, Sam Kruger, Jewish immigrant and founder of Kruger Jewelry Company, married poet Fania Feldman in Fort Worth. Sam Kruger was born in the Ukraine in 1882. He and his brother Julius immigrated to New York in 1904, then around 1907 moved to Texas. Sam brought his other relatives from the Ukraine to New York and Fort Worth, where he trained them in the jewelry business. His nephews, Morris and William Zale, joined the family business and in 1912 moved to Wichita Falls and opened the Kruger Jewelry Company. In 1926, Kruger helped Morris Zale open what became the first Zale Jewelry Store, and eventually the Zale Jewelry Corporation. The daughter of a rabbi, Fania Feldman was born in 1893 in Sevastopol and became a partisan in the political underground during the 1905 Russian revolution. The family emigrated to the United States three years later. While her husband's business prospered, Fania Kruger blossomed as a poet and social activist. Her experiences in Russia inspired her poetry and were the basis for a lifelong commitment to human rights. She published three collections of poetry, Cossack Laughter (1938), The Tenth Jew (1949), and Selected Poems (1973). She became known internationally and corresponded with a variety of writers and editors in literary circles. She knew Langston Hughes well enough to trade poems with him and to send him her homemade strudel from time to time.
On this day in 1963, Baylor University honored W. R. (Billy) White with the position of president emeritus. White was born on a farm in Henderson County, Texas, in 1892. White was licensed to preach by the Saline Baptist Association at fourteen and was ordained just before his eighteenth birthday. He attended preparatory school at Rusk Academy before enrolling at Baylor University in the fall of 1913. Illness, however, forced White to leave Baylor, and he earned his B.A. from Howard Payne in 1917. In 1919 White enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned a Th.M. in 1922 and a Th.D. in 1924. After holding a number of pastoral, denominational, and educational positions, including three years as president of Hardin-Simmons University, White was elected president of Baylor University in 1948, a position he held until 1961, when he became chancellor of the university. He oversaw the postwar growth at Baylor, both physical and in student enrollment. White died in 1977.