On this day in 1878, Kiowa chief Satanta committed suicide by jumping out his prison window. Satanta was born around 1820, probably in what is now Kansas or Oklahoma. He first emerged as an orator at the Medicine Lodge Treaty council in October 1867, where he came to be known as the "Orator of the Plains," although that title may have been a tongue-in-cheek reference to his long-winded speeches rather than sincere praise for his speaking abilities. In 1871 Satanta and his fellow chiefs Satank and Big Tree were arrested for their part in the Warren wagontrain raid. Satank was killed while trying to escape. The trial of Satanta and Big Tree at Jacksboro was a celebrated event, primarily because it marked the first time Indian chiefs were forced to stand trial in a civil court. The jury convicted the two men and sentenced them to hang, but Texas governor E. J. Davis commuted the sentences to life imprisonment. Satanta was paroled in 1873, but was re-arrested for his role in the attack on Lyman's wagontrain in Palo Duro canyon and in the second battle of Adobe Walls. He was imprisoned in the Texas penitentiary in Hunstville until 1878, when, demoralized over the prospect of spending the rest of his life in confinement, he took his own life.
On this day in 1915, the Texas Woman's Fair, called the "first of its kind in the world," opened near the Houston City Hall. For six days visitors viewed exhibits of needlework, canning, and artwork and heard tips about milk pasteurizing, sanitary baking, gardening, caring for livestock, and eliminating household pests. A better-baby show and contest at the Rice Hotel encouraged mothers to bring infants for weighing and measuring.
On this day in 1847, Texas gubernatorial candidate Isaac Van Zandt died of yellow fever. Van Zandt, born in Tennessee in 1813, moved to Texas in 1838 and is considered by many to be the founder of Marshall. In 1842 Sam Houston appointed him the Republic of Texas chargé d'affaires to the United States, in which capacity he worked for annexation. He was stricken while campaigning in Houston and was buried in Marshall; George T. Wood won the election. Yellow fever was a persistent threat in nineteenth-century Texas; there were at least nine epidemics of the disease in Galveston alone between 1839 and 1867. In one such outbreak, in 1853, approximately 60 percent of the city's residents became sick and more than 500 persons died. With dramatic improvements in sanitation and better control of the mosquito that carries the yellow fever virus, the disease receded.