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Texans found first black police organization in the country
October 17, 1935

On this day in 1935, black police officers in South Texas organized the Texas Negro Peace Officers Association, the first black police organization in the United States. Its early efforts included overcoming hostility toward black peace officers, providing burial and defense funds for its members, and promoting the hiring of black officers. Improvement in race relations and the formation of local black police associations have allowed the organization to concentrate on scholarships and assistance to the needy. In 2001 state headquarters of the organization, now called the Texas Peace Officers Association, were in Dallas.

Sam Houston issues passport
October 17, 1844

On this day in 1844, Republic of Texas president Sam Houston wrote a passport for the widow of Ben-Ash, chief of the Battise Village of the Coushatta Indians. The passport states: "Know Ye that the bearer hereof, the widow of Ben-Ash who died lately at this place (Washington-on-the-Brazos), is on her way home to the Coshattee tribe of Indians...near Smithfield on the Trinity river; and they are hereby recommended to the hospitality and kind treatment of the good people of the Republic on the road." Battise Village was on the west bank of the Trinity River at the Coushatta Trace crossing of the Trinity, near the site of present Point Blank in San Jacinto County. Records of the Republic of Texas indicate that Ben-Ash participated in the nation's activities relating to Indian affairs. The passport not only gave his widow safe passage, but also gave future historians his year and place of death.

President Lamar and cabinet arrive in new capital of Austin
October 17, 1839

On this day in 1839, Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the Republic of Texas, and his cabinet arrived in the new capital city of Austin. Lamar had appointed Edwin Waller to lay out the new capital at the site of the community of Waterloo, on what was then the Indian frontier, as the first step in a grand scheme to extend the republic all the way to the Pacific Ocean. When Sam Houston was elected president for the second time, in 1841, he feared a Mexican attack on Austin. Houston declared Washington-on-the-Brazos the capital of the republic and ordered the government archives removed from Austin, but his order touched off the Archive War, and Austin was ultimately reaffirmed as capital in 1844.