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"Great Captain" of the rangers retires
November 15, 1906

On this day in 1906, John Abijah Brooks resigned his commission as captain of the Texas Rangers. He is known in the annals of the rangers as one of the "Four Great Captains," the others being John R. Hughes, William J. McDonald, and John H. Rogers. Brooks had a lean frame, angular features, a mustache, a soft voice, and kindly yet determined manners. He joined the service as a private at the beginning of 1883 and rose through the ranks--corporal, sergeant, and lieutenant--to become captain in 1889 of Company F in the Frontier Battalion. Of the "Four Great Captains" Brooks and Rogers received the least publicity, but they were said to be "dependable, intelligent, and wise in the ways of criminals." After leaving the rangers and moving to Falfurrias, Brooks served in the House of Representatives in the Thirty-first and Thirty-second legislatures and was instrumental in establishing the new county named in his honor. He also served as county judge of Brooks County for many years. Brooks died in 1944 and was buried in Falfurrias.

Woman cattle rancher born in San Antonio
November 15, 1901

On this day in 1901, Armel Keeran, the granddaughter of Texas cattleman John N. Keeran, was born in San Antonio. As a child she developed an interest in Brahman cattle on her father's ranch, and after graduating from college she moved back to the ranch and spent her life raising Brahmans. She was widely known as a Brahman breeder and was an outspoken advocate of the hump-backed cattle. She was the first woman in the United States to raise Brahmans and the second woman to sit on a board of a major cattle association. She developed the largest herd of Brahman cattle in the United States at that time. She was married to Henry Clay Koontz II of the Koontz Ranch in 1928, but the couple divorced after eleven years of marriage. She later married Hugh Baker. She died of a stroke and complications of diabetes in 1967 in Victoria.

Lorenzo de Zavala dies
November 15, 1836

On this day in 1836, Lorenzo de Zavala, the first vice president of the Republic of Texas, died. Zavala was born in 1788 in Mexico. His support of democratic reforms led to his imprisonment in 1814 in Veracruz, where he gained enough knowledge from reading medical textbooks to qualify him to practice medicine upon his release in 1817. He also taught himself to read English during his imprisonment. In the early 1820s he helped establish a republican government in newly independent Mexico, but due to Federalist-Centralist strife was forced into exile in 1830. Zavala returned to Mexico in 1832 and was named by President Antonio López de Santa Anna to serve as the first minister plenipotentiary of the Mexican legation in Paris. When he learned that Santa Anna had assumed dictatorial powers in 1834, Zavala denounced his former ally, resigned his post, and eventually went to Texas. Although he first advocated the cause of Mexican Federalism, he soon became an active supporter of the independence movement. Zavala's legislative, executive, ministerial, and diplomatic experience, together with his education and linguistic ability, uniquely qualified him for the role he was to play in the drafting of the constitution of the Republic of Texas. Under the Treaties of Velasco Zavala was appointed a peace commissioner to accompany Santa Anna to Mexico City, but returned to his home in poor health shortly thereafter. He resigned the vice presidency on October 17, 1836. Less than a month later, soaked and half-frozen by a norther after his rowboat overturned in Buffalo Bayou, he developed pneumonia and died.

Santa Anna's policies lead to abortive invasion of Tampico
November 15, 1835

On this day in 1835, an armed invasion of Mexico by North Americans led by George Fisher and José Antonio Mexía unsuccessfully assaulted the Mexican garrison at Tampico. The Tampico Expedition, like the incipient Texas Revolution, was launched in response to the reactionary policies of Antonio López de Santa Anna. The expedition sailed from New Orleans on the schooner Mary Jane on November 6. The Mary Jane ran aground off the bar of Tampico on November 14. Mexía attacked the city on November 15 and was defeated. The rebels retreated aboard the American schooner Halcyon, which arrived at the mouth of the Brazos on December 3. Thirty-one prisoners were left at Tampico. All either died from wounds or were executed.