On this day in 1908, soldier-adventurer-artist Sam Chamberlain died at the age of seventy-eight. Chamberlain was born in New Hampshire in 1829, moved to Boston with his family at an early age, and ran away to Illinois in 1844. Shortly after the outbreak of the Mexican War he joined a volunteer regiment and came to Texas, where he transferred to the First United States Dragoons of the regular army. Chamberlain had many rollicking adventures in Mexico, fighting guerillas, drinking in cantinas, and having countless love affairs with Mexican women. He also participated in and painted numerous pictures of the battle of Buena Vista. In 1849 he was listed as a deserter, and subsequently rode with the notorious scalp-hunter Jack Glanton all over northern Mexico. Chamberlain had moved back to Boston by 1854. He returned to military service during the Civil War and rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general. He led the all-black Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry to Clarksville, near the mouth of the Rio Grande, after the war had ended. Chamberlain's My Confession: the Recollections of a Rogue, published in 1956, is perhaps the most vivid, revealing, earthy account of the life of an enlisted soldier in the war with Mexico.
On this day in 1967, the President's Ranch Trail was dedicated at Wimberley. The trail is a ninety-mile route through Hays, Blanco, and Gillespie counties. It extends from the LBJ Ranch, located on Ranch Road 1 near Stonewall, to San Marcos. The route touches places important in the life of Lyndon Baines Johnson, including the Lyndon B. Johnson Birthplace, Boyhood Home, and Ranch; the Johnson family cemetery; Lyndon B. Johnson State Historical Park; the Pedernales Electric Cooperative in Johnson City, which was brought into being under Johnson's influence in the United States Senate; the First Christian Church in Johnson City, to which Johnson belonged; the Hye Post office, where he mailed his first letter; the Albert post office, general store, and school building; and his alma mater, Southwest Texas State University, in San Marcos, where his student dwelling is also located.
On this day in 1837, eighteen Texas Rangers fought 150 to 180 Kichai Indians in present-day Archer County in a conflict called the battle of Stone Houses. In mid-October 1837, a ranger company pursued the raiding Kichais up the Colorado River. Lt. A. B. Van Benthusen and seventeen men split from the main group and headed north to the Brazos. Eventually, they found the Kichais. Cherokee and Delaware Indians who were present attempted to act as peace agents, but when one ranger killed an Indian and took a plug of tobacco from the dead man’s body the infuriated Kichais attacked. The rangers sought cover in a shallow ravine, but after fierce fighting, the Kichais set fire to the prairie and smoked them out. In the ensuing chaos, some rangers escaped into the woods. Eight rangers survived the battle, which was so named after three stone mounds that looked like houses to the Indians.