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"Village Blacksmith of Cumby" born in Tennessee
May 31, 1839

On this day in 1839, Robert R. Williams was born in Henderson County, Tennessee. He moved to Texas in 1868 and in 1872 became a blacksmith at Black Jack Grove, later Cumby, where he organized the Masonic lodge. At the age of sixty-five he began to study law. Known as the "Village Blacksmith of Cumby," he held county office for twenty-eight years and three times represented Hopkins County in the state legislature. At the age of ninety-three he tried to resign as justice of the peace, but his constituents returned him to the office. In 1908 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor of Texas against Thomas M. Campbell. Williams died at Cumby in 1941.

San Antonio merchant killed by Apaches
May 31, 1783

On this day in 1783, San Antonio merchant and alderman Fernando Veramendi was killed by Mescalero Apaches near the presidio of San Juan Bautista in Coahuila. Veramendi, born in Spain in 1743 or 1744, came to Texas around 1770. He married into a family of Canary Islanders in San Antonio in 1776. Once established in San Antonio, Veramendi's business thrived. He opened a store, acted as moneylender, and bought extensive tracts of agricultural land. His success allowed him to build an opulent house on Soledad Street that later came to be known as the Veramendi Palace. He served in the city's militia, was alderman in the ayuntamiento of 1779, and was elected senior alderman for the year 1783. He was killed while on a business trip to Mexico City. His son Juan Martín de Veramendi served as governor of Coahuila and Texas in 1832-33.

Last passenger train leaves Dallas terminal
May 31, 1969

On this day in 1969, the last passenger train left Dallas's Union Terminal. The Union Terminal Company was chartered in 1912 as part of a project to secure a union station for the seven railroads then serving Dallas. By 1916 the company built five miles of track within Dallas, and the terminal building was opened in October of that year. In 1926 the company owned one locomotive. The original owners of the Union Terminal company, each with an one-eighth interest, were the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf; Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe; Houston and Texas Central; Missouri, Kansas and Texas of Texas; St. Louis, San Francisco and Texas; St. Louis Southwestern of Texas; Texas and Pacific; and Trinity and Brazos Valley. In 1925 the Fort Worth and Denver City acquired the interest owned by the Trinity and Brazos Valley. The Union Terminal Company was abandoned in 1974. The headhouse and other facilities were sold to the City of Dallas, and the station is currently used by Amtrak. Texas Ranger of Today, an eight-foot bronze by Waldine Tauch, was erected at the terminal in 1960.

End of an era: Fort Griffin closes down
May 31, 1881

On this day in 1881, Capt. J. B. Irvine closed Fort Griffin and marched its single remaining army unit, Company A, Twenty-second Infantry, southward toward Fort Clark. Fort Griffin, a strategic unit in the string of border and frontier outposts defending Texas settlers against hostile Indians and outlaws, was established in 1867. It was located on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River in northeast Shackelford County. In time, Griffin became the nucleus of the border-defense line from Fort Richardson at Jacksboro to the Big Bend country. By 1879 the southern buffalo herd was depleted, and the fort and its outposts were within a settled area. Having lost its reason for being, the post was closed in 1881.