On this day in 1960, the city of San Antonio officially honored the longtime director of the Witte Memorial Museum by proclaiming the day as Ellen S. Quillin Day. Born Ellen Dorothy Schulz in Michigan in 1892, she did postgraduate study at the University of Texas in the early 1920s and held various positions in the field of science in the San Antonio public school system. She helped found the San Antonio Museum Association in 1925 and was the driving force behind the establishment of the Witte Memorial Museum in 1926, serving as its first director until her retirement in 1960. In 1927 she married ornithologist Roy W. Quillin. Ellen Quillin successfully guided the Witte through the lean Depression years and added the facility’s Reptile Garden in the 1930s. This popular tourist attraction also became an important center of research for herpetologists. Quillin was active in numerous civic and professional organizations, and she authored several books on Texas flora and fauna and coauthored The Story of the Witte Memorial Museum, 1922-1960.
On this day in 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed a compromise bill establishing five wilderness areas that comprised almost 35,000 acres in East Texas. The five are Big Slough Wilderness Area in Houston County, Indian Mounds Wilderness Area in Sabine County, Little Lake Creek Wilderness Area in Montgomery County, Turkey Hill Wilderness Area in Angelina County, and Upland Island Wilderness Area in Angelina and Jasper counties. In 1979 the U.S. secretary of agriculture had recommended to Congress the establishment of only three wilderness areas totaling 10,712 acres. In response, Texas congressman John Bryant in 1983 sponsored legislation that would have set up ten wilderness areas in Texas covering 65,000 acres, but the bill went nowhere until citizen support expanded in the district of Congressman Charles Wilson, where three of the wildernesses lie. Wilson agreed to a compromise of five wilderness areas totaling 34,700 acres. That compromise was made possible by the willingness of lumber giant Temple-Eastex to trade some of its land inside Upland Island and Indian Mounds for Forest Service land outside. In response to lobbying by citizen groups, President Reagan signed a bill adding 1,200 acres to the protected wilderness areas in 1986.
On this day in 1946, Crone Webster Furr, food merchant, died in Amarillo. Starting with a small crossroads grocery store near McKinney, Crone Furr and his family controlled, at the time of his death, a chain of forty-three supermarkets in an area from Denver, Colorado, to El Paso, Texas; a creamery, bakery, packing plant, and warehouse in Lubbock; and a packing plant in Amarillo. Furr's son Roy carried on the family business and founded Furrs, Incorporated.