On this day in 1891, the organizational meeting of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas was held in the Houston home of Mary Jane Briscoe. Mary S. M. Jones, widow of the last president of the Republic of Texas, agreed to serve as president. The name first chosen for this group was Daughters of Female Descendants of the Heroes of '36. The association was soon renamed Daughters of the Lone Star Republic, then Daughters of the Republic of Texas at the first annual meeting in April 1892. The objectives of the association are to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the people who achieved and maintained the independence of Texas and to encourage historical research into the earliest records of Texas, especially those relating to the revolutionary and republic periods.
On this day in 1528, some eighty survivors of the Narváez expedition washed up on an island off the Texas coast. The castaways included Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and three other men: the slave Estevanico, Alonso Castillo Maldonado, and Andrés Dorantes de Carranza. These "four ragged castaways" became the first non-Indians to tread on Texas soil and live to tell their remarkable story. Cabeza de Vaca, born about 1490 in Spain, recovered from an almost fatal illness shortly after landing on the coast and then traveled the Texas coast and interior as a trader with native groups, including the Karankawas. The Indians revered him as a medicine man. He eventually rendezvoused with the three other survivors, and their journey ended when they arrived at the Spanish outpost of Culiacán near the Pacific Coast of Mexico in 1536. Cabeza de Vaca’s account of his amazing odyssey in his Relación detailed valuable ethnographic, geographic, and biotic information on Texas. He died in Spain in the mid-1550s.
On this day in 1906, Stanley Welch, South Texas politician and "silver-tongued orator of the Southwest," was murdered in Rio Grande City. After settling in Corpus Christi in the 1870s, Welch led the local Democratic party and was a personal friend of James B. Wells Jr., the regional Democratic leader. Welch was elected Nueces county attorney and then city attorney for Corpus Christi. In 1898, when an appointed incumbent declined to run, Welch won an election, succeeding John C. Russell as district judge of the vast South Texas Trans-Nueces region. He was reelected twice. While judge, Welch heard the case against Gregorio Cortez Lira for the murder of Sheriff W. T. Morris on April 25, 1904; the murder and trial eventually became the subject of a well-known corrido. Early on the morning of November 6, 1906, Welch was murdered as he slept in the Casa de los Abogados at Rio Grande City. In town to supervise a hotly contested election between factions known as the Reds and Blues, he had been accused of favoring local Democrats over the Republican "Red Club." In 1908 Alberto Cabrera of Starr County was tried in Cuero and convicted for the murder of Stanley Welch.