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Legislature approves appropriation for Agricultural and Mechanical College
April 17, 1871

On this day in 1871, the state legislature approved a bill providing for the organization of the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Texas A&M University) and appropriating $75,000 for the construction of academic buildings and suitable accommodations. A committee selected a site near Bryan, now known as College Station, following the donation of 2,416 acres by local citizens. The college, the oldest public institution of higher education in the state, opened in October 1876 with 106 students and a faculty of six under President Thomas S. Gathright. By the year 2000, the College Station campus was the fifth-largest university in the nation, with more than 44,000 students, and the Texas A&M University System included nine schools across the state.

Orphanage for black children founded in Gilmer
April 17, 1900

On this day in 1900, African-American Baptist minister W. L. Dickson founded the Dickson Colored Orphanage in Gilmer. Black and white Baptists contributed to its development, as did local Baptist churches and Gilmer businesses; Robert C. Buckner, a prominent Dallas Baptist minister, served as chairman of the orphanage's board of trustees. The Dickson Colored Orphanage was the only such institution for black children in Texas from 1900 to 1929. The state took over the home in the latter year and operated it as the State Colored Orphans' Home until 1943, when the resident orphans were moved to the Texas Blind, Deaf, and Orphan School in Austin.

Historic academy building dedicated in New Braunfels
April 17, 1856

On this day in 1856, a stone building was dedicated at the newly established New Braunfels Academy. A twenty-year charter granted in 1858 provided that the school be governed by a board of six trustees, the mayor of New Braunfels, and the Comal county judge. The academy was supported by a city tax and tuition. New Braunfels is said to be the first city in Texas in which the citizens voted unanimously for a school tax. In 1876 the school received support from the Peabody Fund. When the charter was about to expire in 1878, a legislative act to renew it was vetoed by Governor O. M. Roberts, who thought the act establishing the academy was not in harmony with Texas constitution. The original long, one-story building of New Braunfels Academy was razed in 1913 to be replaced by a two-story school building on the same location, at East Mill and Academy streets.