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Indians attack San Sabá mission
March 16, 1758

On this day in 1758, some 2,000 Comanches and allied North Texas Indians descended on Mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá, on the San Saba River near the present site of Menard. The mission had been established the previous year to Christianize the eastern Apaches. The attackers killed two priests, Fray Alonso Giraldo de Terreros and Fray José de Santiesteban Aberín, and six others, then looted and set fire to the log stockade. In late summer 1759 Col. Diego Ortiz Parrilla, commander of the nearby Presidio San Luis de las Amarillas, undertook a military campaign to punish the Norteños but suffered an ignominious defeat near the site of present-day Spanish Fort. With French firearms and Spanish horses, the northern tribes now constituted a stronger force than the Spaniards themselves could muster. The attack on the mission marked the beginning of warfare in Texas between the Comanches and the European invaders and signaled retreat for the Spanish frontier. In 1762, Mexican mining magnate Pedro Romero de Terreros, who had financed the ill-fated mission with the stipulation that his cousin Alonso de Terreros be placed in charge, commissioned a huge painting to honor the memory of his martyred cousin. The Destruction of Mission San Sabá in the Province of Texas and the Martyrdom of the Fathers Alonso Giraldo de Terreros, Joseph Santiesteban now hangs in the Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Historia in Mexico City.

Despite ranchhands' desperate rides, Panhandle cattleman dies of smallpox
March 16, 1883

On this day in 1883, pioneer Panhandle rancher Joe Morgan died of smallpox despite the heroic efforts of two of his cowboys. Little is known of Morgan's life before he arrived in Texas in 1877. He located his spread in Lipscomb County on a Canadian River tributary. Morgan was a charter member of the Panhandle Stock Association, organized in 1880, and served on the Wheeler County grand jury in 1882. By the summer of that year he was reported to have significantly increased his rangeland. Because of his triangle brand, his ranch became known locally as the Triangle. In March 1883 he and his two small sons came down with smallpox. Edward H. Brainard, who had been working at the Triangle for two months, rode thirty-five miles to Mobeetie for a doctor while another ranchhand, Frank Biggers, rode 150 miles to Fort Dodge, Kansas, trying to find a doctor there in time to save his employer's life. Though both doctors came, it was too late to save Joe Morgan. Brainard and another cowboy, John Dilly, drove Mrs. Morgan and the two boys to Fort Dodge with the doctor in hopes of saving them there. Six-month-old Johnny recovered, but his three-year-old brother died. Mrs. Morgan eventually sold the ranch to Henry W. Cresswell.

Script writer and future Texan born in Chicago
March 16, 1939

On this day in 1939, Carol O'Brien Sobieski, television and film writer, was born in Chicago, Illinois. When she was five the family moved to the Frying Pan Ranch in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo. In 1964 she was hired as a scriptwriter for the television series "Mr. Novak." She also wrote scripts for "The Mod Squad" and "Peyton Place." Her writing credits for television movies included The Neon Ceiling, Sunshine,Sunshine Christmas, Amelia Earhart, and Harry Truman: Plain Speaking. In the 1980s Sobieski became known for her film screenplays, which included Annie, Winter People, Honeysuckle Rose and Fried Green Tomatoes.