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Founder of Dewitt's colony dies in Mexico
May 18, 1835

On this day in 1835, Green Dewitt, empresario of Dewitt's colony, died in Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico. DeWitt was born on February 12, 1787, in Lincoln County, Kentucky. In 1821 he was inspired by Moses Austin's widely bruited success in obtaining a grant from the Mexican government to establish a colony in Texas. Having seen Texas and visited Austin, DeWitt journeyed in March 1825 to Saltillo, the capital of the Mexican state of Coahuila and Texas, where he petitioned the state government for a land grant. Aided by Austin and the Baron de Bastrop, he was awarded an empresario grant on April 15, 1825, to settle 400 Anglo-Americans on the Guadalupe River and was authorized to establish a colony adjacent to Stephen F. Austin's. Although he was successful in attracting settlers to the colony, he was unable to fulfill his contract by the time it expired on April 15, 1831, and he failed to get it renewed. He spent his last years engaging in some limited commercial investments and improving his own land on the right bank of the Guadalupe River across from the Gonzales townsite. In an attempt to improve his economic position and to secure premium land for settling eighty families, DeWitt journeyed in 1835 to Monclova. But he failed to acquire any land. While in Monclova DeWitt contracted a fatal illness, probably cholera, and died on May 18.

Legislature passes bill to study government reform
May 18, 1931

On this day in 1931, the Forty-second Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 58, establishing a joint committee of five members authorized to investigate all state departments, institutions, and the judiciary in an effort to reform the administrative machinery and to reduce the high cost of state government. Chaired by Rep. Harry N. Graves of Georgetown, the committee employed the consulting firm Griffenhagen and Associates to make a comprehensive survey of state government administration. The subsequent report, sometimes referred to as the Griffenhagen Report, ran to more than 2,000 pages and covered fiscal and administrative agencies, highways, law enforcement, the judiciary, welfare programs, prisons, health, and education. In 1933, the joint committee submitted its findings to the Forty-third Legislature along with a letter of transmittal suggesting reforms that might save the state government more than $6 million a year without impairing needed services. Despite the voluminous documentation, neither the Forty-third Legislature nor subsequent ones took effective action on the recommendations.

Attack on wagontrain precipitates decisive Indian war
May 18, 1871

On this day in 1871, more than 100 Kiowas, Comanches, Kiowa-Apaches, Arapahoes, and Cheyennes from the Fort Sill Reservation in Oklahoma attacked Henry Warren's wagontrain on the Butterfield Overland Mail route. They killed the wagonmaster and six teamsters and allowed five to escape. The Indians, who suffered one dead and five wounded, returned to the reservation. One of the escaped teamsters reached Fort Richardson, where he told his story to General Sherman and Colonel Mackenzie. Chiefs Satank, Satanta, and Big Tree, leaders of the raid, were subsequently arrested. Satank was killed while trying to escape, and Satanta and Big Tree were tried by civil courts in Texas (the first time Indians had been tried in civil courts), found guilty, and sentenced to hang. Governor Edmund Davis commuted the Indians' sentences to life imprisonment. The raid caused General Sherman to change his opinion about conditions on the Texas frontier, thus ending his own defensive policy and the Quaker peace policy as well. Sherman ordered soldiers to begin offensive operations against all Indians found off the reservation, a policy that culminated in the Red River War of 1874-75 and the resulting end of Indian raids in North Texas.