On this day in 1925, Alexander Sanger, merchant, civic leader, and philanthropist, died in Dallas. The German native had followed his brothers to the United States in 1865. He arrived in Texas in 1872 and took over a branch of the family firm, Sanger Brothers, in Dallas. A pioneer of dry-goods wholesaling and retailing in Texas, Sanger Brothers was at one time the largest wholesale house in its line in the Southwest. For many years it was the premier department store of North Texas. Sanger helped to organize the first synagogue in Dallas in 1872, served as a city alderman in 1873-74, and encouraged the development of railroads in Dallas. He worked to support the State Fair of Texas, Southern Methodist University, the Dallas Public Library, the volunteer fire department, and many other civic enterprises.
On this day in 1883, free-grass cattle raisers began cutting the fences of Mabel Doss Day's ranch, the first fully fenced large ranch in Texas. She inherited the 85,000-acre, debt-ridden spread in Coleman County when her husband of 2 1/2 years, William H. Day, died from injuries received when his horse fell during a stampede. With the absence of any laws governing building or cutting fences, free-grass cattle raisers, long accustomed to an open range, responded to the summer drought by cutting the fences of the ranchers who had bought and fenced their land. Mabel Day responded to this threat to her ranch by lobbying in Austin for a law making fence cutting a felony; the law was passed in 1884. The fence-cutting war subsided, leaving her with miles of fence to repair. Even after her second marriage, she continued to own and operate the ranch and reduce her debt until, at her death in 1906, she was able to leave a debt-free portion of the ranch to her daughter.
On this day in 1860, abolitionist Methodist minister Anthony Bewley was lynched in Fort Worth. Bewley, born in Tennessee in 1804, had established a mission sixteen miles south of Fort Worth by 1858. When vigilance committees alleged in the summer of 1860 that there was a widespread abolitionist plot to burn Texas towns and murder their citizens, suspicion immediately fell upon Bewley and other outspoken critics of slavery. Special attention was focused on Bewley because of an incendiary letter, dated July 3, 1860, addressed to a Rev. William Bewley and supposedly written by a fellow abolitionist. Many argued that the letter, which urged Bewley to continue with his work in helping to free Texas from slavery, was a forgery. The letter was widely published, however, and taken by others as evidence of Bewley's involvement with the John Brownites in Texas. Recognizing the danger, Bewley left for Kansas in mid-July with part of his family. A Texas posse caught up with him near Cassville, Missouri, and returned him to Fort Worth on September 13. Late that night vigilantes seized Bewley and delivered him into the hands of a waiting lynch mob. His body was allowed to hang until the next day, when he was buried in a shallow grave. Three weeks later his bones were unearthed, stripped of their remaining flesh, and placed on top of Ephraim Daggett's storehouse, where children made a habit of playing with them.