On this day in 1870, the Texas legislature approved the Kansas charter of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, commonly known as the M-K-T or the Katy. The company had no charter to build in Texas, but was given the same rights as if it were incorporated in Texas. The Katy, the first railroad to enter Texas from the north, originated in 1865, when its earliest predecessor, the Union Pacific Railway Company, Southern Branch, was chartered by the State of Kansas. In 1870 the railway's name was changed to the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway Company, a change which defined both the company's strategic intent and its service area. The newly named railroad was intended to funnel business from Missouri, Kansas, and the north and east to and through Texas. The Katy, touted in advertisements as the Gateway to Texas, breached the Texas frontier near the site of present Denison, where the first regular train arrived on Christmas Day, 1872. In 1880 the Katy was acquired by Jay Gould, who leased the railroad to his Missouri Pacific Railway Company, and by 1882 the Katy had 638 miles of track in Texas. In 1915 all of the Katy properties in and out of Texas went into receivership, and in 1923 the company was reorganized as the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Company of Texas. In 1989 Union Pacific and its subsidiary, the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, bought the Katy, and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas was no more.
On this day in 1882, the commissioners of Pecos County officially appointed Roy Bean justice of the peace. He retained the post, with short interruptions, until he retired voluntarily in 1902. As he gained fame for being an eccentric and original interpreter of the law, the Kentucky native became known as the "Law West of the Pecos." For example, when a man carrying forty dollars and a pistol fell off a bridge, Bean fined the corpse forty dollars for carrying a concealed weapon. The forty dollars covered the man's funeral expenses. Bean died in his saloon on March 16, 1903, of lung and heart ailments and was buried in the Del Rio cemetery. His shrewdness, audacity, unscrupulousness, and humor, aided by his knack for self-dramatization, made him an enduring part of American folklore.
On this day in 1832, Texas settlers refused an order to surrender their arms to José de las Piedras, commander of the Mexican battalion at Nacogdoches. The ensuing battle of Nacogdoches is sometimes called the opening gun of the Texas Revolution. Piedras had issued his inflammatory order in the wake of the Anahuac Disturbances. The ayuntamiento of Nacogdoches resisted the order, organized a "National Militia," and sent messengers to outlying settlements requesting military aid. Those who responded elected James W. Bullock their commander. On the morning of August 2 Bullock demanded that Piedras rescind his order and declare for Antonio López de Santa Anna and against the Centralist Mexican government, but Piedras refused. Bullock's men entered the town that afternoon and eventually captured the Old Stone Fort and other key locations. That night Piedras evacuated his soldiers and headed for San Antonio. A detachment of mounted Texans, including James Bowie, caught them the next day; after a running fight along the Angelina River, Piedras's men turned against him and surrendered him to the Texans. In the battle of Nacogdoches, Piedras lost forty-seven men killed and forty or more wounded. Three Texans were killed (a fourth died later) and four were wounded.