On this day in 1849, Austin College in Huntsville was incorporated. The college was established by the Brazos Presbytery of the Old School Presbyterian Church as a men's college and theological school. It was founded at Huntsville by Daniel Baker, James Weston Miller, and William Cochran Blair, who were appointed by the presbytery in June 1849 to select a college site somewhere between the Brazos and Trinity rivers. Huntsville citizens provided $10,000 and five acres of land to secure the location. Sam Houston and Anson Jones--both presidents of the Republic of Texas--were charter members of the board of trustees. The school opened in the fall of 1850 and generally prospered until the Civil War and Reconstruction periods, when it lost enrollment and suffered financially. In 1876 the Texas Synod of the Presbyterian Church, United States, decided to move the college to Sherman, where the first college building was completed and fifty-three students were enrolled in 1878. After 1930 Austin College was strengthened by its consolidation with Texas Presbyterian College at Milford and has enjoyed its most dynamic period of growth in students, endowment, and campus facilities since 1950.
On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. After breakfast in Fort Worth he flew to Dallas and, with his wife and Governor and Mrs. John Connally, began a motorcade trip in an open car toward downtown Dallas. As the car passed through Dealy Plaza several shots rang out. Both Kennedy and Connally were hit. Kennedy died at 1:00 PM in Parkland Hospital. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president of the United States at 2:38 PM.
On this day in 1933, Houston real estate developer Daniel Denton Cooley died. Cooley, known as the "Father of Houston Heights," was born in Pennsylvania in 1850. In 1887 he became a director, treasurer, and general manager of the Omaha and South Texas Land Company, for which he worked until the company was dissolved in 1895. In 1891 the Omaha and South Texas Land Company's parent company purchased 1,765 acres of land west of downtown Houston. The property, twenty feet higher in elevation than the downtown area, came to be known as Houston Heights. At the time it was one of the country's largest real estate projects. Cooley's home was one of the first houses in the division. He installed the electric lights by hooking wires from the house to the electric trolley. Marmion Park, at the site of the former Cooley residence, contains a pavilion modeled after Cooley's home, which was razed in 1965.
On this day in 1821, James Beard (or Baird), one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, signed an agreement with Austin to come to Texas on the Lively and to work for him until December 1822 at building cabins and a stockade and cultivating five acres of corn. Beard was a saddler from St. Louis, Missouri, who was later known as "Deaf" Beard. He joined Austin in New Orleans on June 18, 1821, and accompanied him on the Beaver to Natchitoches, Louisiana, and thence to Texas. According to the terms of the agreement, Austin was to provide tools, provisions, a section of land, and a town lot. Beard served as a cook and steward aboard the Lively and was left in command of the vessel while some of the passengers explored the Brazos River. On August 10, 1824, he received a sitio of land and settled on the San Bernard River in what later became Fort Bend County. The census of 1826 listed Beard as a single man aged between twenty-five and forty.