On this day in 1917, William Ashton Vinson and James A. Elkins founded what was to become one of the largest and most profitable law firms in the world. The firm began in Houston as a small partnership. By 2001 it had grown to more than 780 lawyers, five domestic offices, and four foreign offices. Vinson and Elkins initially did business with the oil and gas industry, which continues to be the firm's mainstay. Over the years the firm has expanded to include business, energy and environmental regulation, international law, real estate, securities, and taxation.
On this day in 1863, Maj. Santos Benavides, the highest-ranking Mexican American to serve in the Confederacy, led seventy-nine men of the predominantly Tejano Thirty-third Texas Cavalry across the Rio Grande in pursuit of the bandit Octaviano Zapata. Union agents had recruited Zapata, a former associate of Juan N. Cortina, to lead raids into Texas and thus force Confederate troops to remain in the Rio Grande valley rather than participate in military campaigns in the east. Zapata was also associated with Edmund J. Davis, who was conducting Northern-sponsored military activities in the vicinity of Brownsville and Matamoros. For these reasons, and because his men often flew the American flag during their raids, Zapata's band was often referred to as the "First Regiment of Union Troops." Benavides caught up with Zapata on September 2 near Mier, Tamaulipas. After a brief exchange of gunfire, the Zapatistas dispersed, leaving ten men dead, including Zapata. Benavides later defended Laredo against Davis's First Texas Cavalry, and arranged for the safe passage of Texas cotton to Matamoros during the Union occupation of Brownsville. He died at his Laredo home in 1891.
On this day in 1969, Llerena B. Friend retired from the University of Texas as professor emeritus, ending her nineteen-year run as director of the Barker Texas History Center. The historian, teacher, and librarian was born in 1903 in Dublin, Texas. She received her B.A. in 1924, M.A. in 1928, and Ph.D. in 1951, all from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1945 she became a research associate in Texas history for the Texas State Historical Association. She worked on the preparation of the Handbook of Texas until 1950, when she became the founding director of the Barker Texas History Center. In addition to her extensive work as librarian for Texas history sources, she also taught Texas history at the university. During her lifetime Friend wrote numerous articles and book reviews. Her book Sam Houston, The Great Designer was published in 1954 and received the Summerfield Roberts Award. She also edited several books, including Check List of Texas Imprints, 1861-1876 (1963), M. K. Kellogg's Texas Journal, 1872 (1967), and Talks on Texas Books by Walter Prescott Webb (1970). In 1976 Governor Dolph Briscoe appointed her to the Texas State Historical Records Advisory Board, and in 1987 she was nominated to the Texas Women's Hall of Fame. Friend died in 1995.