On this day in 1886, the Texas State Fair opened on a section of John Cole's farm in north Dallas. A rival organization, the Dallas Exposition, opened its first fair the following day. Both fairs were successful and together drew over 35,000 people a day. Eventually, the two groups decided to merge and form the Texas State Fair and Dallas Exposition, which eventually became the State Fair of Texas.
On this day in 1886, Franklin Wingot Shaeffer died as a result of a broken leg. This Ohio native had operated a freight line in northern California during the gold rush of 1849, had lost his money on the stock exchange in New York in the 1850s, and had moved to Texas in 1857. From Boerne, where he bought 40,000 acres, he moved to Nueces County to start a sheep ranch. Shaeffer invested in the Corpus Christi ship channel but lost his money after the Civil War. He tried raising sheep in fenced pastures with regularly spaced wells--a technique that failed with sheep but subsequently succeeded with cattle. His ancillary discovery of artesian water in South Texas promoted growth in the region. Shaeffer died because the surgeon working on his leg, broken accidentally in a carriage accident near San Diego, Texas, muffed the job.
On this day in 1991, "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry died in Santa Monica, California. Roddenberry was born in El Paso in 1921, and grew up in Los Angeles. He began writing for television in the 1950s and his scripts were produced on "Dragnet," "Naked City," "The U.S. Steel Hour," and "Goodyear Theater," among other series. He received his first Emmy award as head writer for "Have Gun, Will Travel," a western series, and produced the television series "The Lieutenant" in 1960-61. Roddenberry is best remembered, however, for "Star Trek," which premiered in 1966 and ran until 1969. The series became a cult favorite, spawned numerous fan clubs, products, and conventions, and later became one of the most popular syndicated shows in reruns. Roddenberry once deprecatingly described "Star Trek" as "'Wagon Train' to the stars," but one critic wrote that Roddenberry "establish[ed] a new level of quality for television science fiction." He received awards from the Writers Guild of America, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and other television organizations, and "Star Trek" won an Emmy, an international Hugo Award for outstanding science fiction writing, and an Image award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.