On this day in 1884, Cayton Erhard died in Bastrop. This veteran and prisoner of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition was a native of Munich, Germany. He immigrated to Texas in 1839 and joined the Santa Fe Expedition in 1841. He was taken prisoner by Mexican troops and spent two years in Mexican prisons. Afterward, he was active in organizing the government of Hays County, where he served as the first county clerk and first postmaster. After Reconstruction he moved to Bastrop. There he was elected judge and delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1875. He later wrote reminiscences of the Santa Fe Expedition for the San Marcos Free Press. Erhard is buried in the Bastrop city cemetery.
On this day in 1821, the flag of Spain was lowered for the last time in San Antonio, ending three centuries of Spanish involvement in Texas. The successful independence movement in Mexico, led by Agustín de Iturbide and Vicente Guerrero, resulted in a treaty that brought Texas under the newly independent nation. The Mexican War of Independence marked the end of an era in which the Franciscan padres had founded and refounded missions at approximately forty different sites in Texas. Ten presidios had extended from Central Texas eastward to the site of present Robeline, Louisiana, and southward to Chambers Country. Municipalities ranged from Laredo to San Antonio and Nacogdoches. Ranches and farms dotted the landscape. The majority of the population was probably mestizo. After Mexican independence, Hispanics in Texas were soon outstripped in numbers by Americans. Modern Texas, however, reflects its Spanish origins in many ways.
On this day in 1851, notorious outlaw Sam Bass was born in Indiana; his short and violent life also ended on July 21, in 1878. Bass arrived in Texas in the fall of 1870 and, after trying his hand at a number of occupations, began robbing stagecoaches and trains in 1877. In the spring of 1878, Bass and his gang robbed four trains within twenty-five miles of Dallas. They did not get much money, but the robberies aroused citizens, and the bandits were the object of a spirited chase across North Texas by posses and a special company of Texas Rangers headed by Junius Peak. Bass eluded his pursuers until one of his party turned informer. In Round Rock on July 19 Bass and his men became engaged in a gun battle in which he was wounded. The next morning he was found lying helpless in a pasture north of town and was brought back to Round Rock. He died there on July 21, his twenty-seventh birthday. He was buried in Round Rock and soon became the subject of cowboy song and story.