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Inventor and early settler born in Norway
October 14, 1843

On this day in 1843, Ole Ringness was born in Norway. He and his parents arrived in Texas in 1852 and eventually settled in a Bosque County Norwegian community. As the community's first mail carrier, Ole made a regular four-day round trip between Norman Hills, seven miles west of Clifton, and Fort Worth. In his work on the family farm, he observed a wheel of his wagon cup on the axle. As the wheel became more cupped, it moved larger amounts of mud. Thus he conceived the idea of a disc plow and disc harrow and made models of them in his father's blacksmith shop. On July 26, 1872, as he journeyed to Washington, D.C., to present his case for a patent on his inventions, he died under mysterious circumstances. The family never pursued a patent for his inventions, and similar farm equipment was patented by a plow company. A model of one of Ringness's three original disc plows is in the Texas Memorial Museum in Austin.

Frustrated ex-ranger killed when he smashes his malfunctioning rifle against rock
October 14, 1867

On this day in 1867, Lt. James Pike of the First United States Cavalry allegedly died when his rifle, which had malfunctioned during an Indian attack, accidentally discharged when he smashed it against a rock in frustration. Pike, whose birth date is unknown, arrived in Texas in 1859 and joined John Henry Brown's company of Texas Rangers. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Pike left Texas and went to Ohio, where he passed himself off as the nephew of Albert Pike. He joined the Fourth Ohio Cavalry in 1861 and saw considerable action as a scout, spy, and courier under Gen. William T. Sherman, who praised his "skill, courage and zeal" but warned him to "cool down." Pike was captured in 1864 and imprisoned in South Carolina, but escaped and returned to Ohio, where he wrote his memoirs of ranger and army service. In the reorganization of the army after the war, he was commissioned a lieutenant in the First U.S. Cavalry and saw at least some duty in California. The Scout and Ranger: Being the Personal Adventures of Corporal Pike, of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry (1865) is highly readable and thought to be generally factual, though many of Pike's claims are demonstrably false. J. Frank Dobie and John H. Jenkins both praised it highly.