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Leading black politician dies
October 31, 1882

On this day in 1882, George Ruby, black Reconstruction politician, died of malaria in New Orleans. Ruby was born and educated in the North. He moved to Galveston in 1866 and served with the Freedmen's Bureau. He was elected to the state Senate in 1869 and became one of the most influential men of the Twelfth and Thirteenth legislatures. As Reconstruction came to an end in Texas in 1872-73, Ruby moved to Louisiana. One historian has described Ruby as "the most important black politician in Texas during Reconstruction in terms of power and ability."

Military commander removes Texas Supreme Court justice
October 31, 1869

On this day in 1869, Colbert Caldwell was removed from his position on the Texas Supreme Court, a victim of the political infighting that characterized the Reconstruction period in Texas. The commander of the Military District of Texas took the action in response to complaints by Radical Republicans that Caldwell, though a member of the party, was unsympathetic to freedmen's aspirations and the goals of congressional Reconstruction. Caldwell, born in Tennessee in 1822, moved to Texas in 1859, and Gen. Phil Sheridan appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1867. Caldwell's outspoken Republican partisanship earned him a reputation among Democrats as a rabble-rouser; he was the subject of death threats in the Stockade Case, and successfully campaigned for a seat at the Constitutional Convention of 1868-69 despite an assassination attempt in Marshall. Radicals elected E. J. Davis over Caldwell as president of the convention, at which Caldwell led the moderate Republicans. Caldwell died in 1892.

Gulf Coast promoter and inventor dies
October 31, 1893

On this day in 1893, George Ware Fulton, founder of the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company, died. Fulton, born in Philadelphia in 1810, first came to Texas in 1837 and served in the Army of the Republic. In 1840 he married Harriet G. Smith, the daughter of friend and politician Henry Smith. Fulton acquired Smith’s land after his death, and between that property and additional grants and purchases owned some 25,000 acres in the Aransas Bay area on the Texas Gulf Coast. He founded the town of Fulton and helped organize the Coleman, Mathis, Fulton Cattle Company in 1871 (which became the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company in 1879). Fulton was a skilled engineer, surveyor, inventor, and businessman and received a patent for shipping beef under artificial cooling. His mansion, built in Fulton, featured indoor plumbing and ventilation and food preservation systems—advanced marvels for that day. Fulton promoted the development of the area and laid out the towns of Sinton, Gregory, and Portland. He was also a strong advocate for the construction of a deepwater port on the Texas Coast.