On this day in 1972, the new forty-seven-foot scoreboard at the University of Texas's remodeled Memorial Stadium was dedicated to former Longhorn football player Freddie Steinmark. Steinmark, born in Colorado in 1949, played defensive back on the UT varsity during his sophomore and junior years. As a sophomore he was the team's leading punt returner and was named an All-Southwest Conference athlete-scholar. In December 1969, six days after helping Texas defeat Arkansas in the "Big Shootout," Steinmark was diagnosed with cancer in his left leg. Twenty days after doctors amputated the limb, Steinmark, on crutches, attended the Cotton Bowl game between Texas and Notre Dame, gaining national recognition for his determination and stamina and becoming an inspiration to thousands of cancer victims. The game, won by Texas, was dedicated to Steinmark by his teammates. The university's board of regents took on responsibility for Steinmark's medical and educational expenses, and friends and fans were invited to contribute. The response to Steinmark's illness was nationwide. In 1970, Steinmark received a special citation from President Nixon for "steadfast faith in God, his country and himself." Despite extensive therapy the disease continued to progress, and Steinmark died in June 1971.
On this day in 1824, James Franklin Perry married Emily Margaret Austin Bryan, the widowed sister of Stephen F. Austin, in Potosi, Missouri. At Stephen Austin's urging, Perry came to Texas in 1830 and, pleased with what he saw of the country, moved his family to San Felipe de Austin in 1831. Shortly thereafter the Perrys began developing Peach Point Plantation near Brazoria; Stephen F. Austin considered Peach Point to be his only home in Texas, and was buried in the family plot there, though his remains were moved to the State Cemetery in Austin in 1910. James Perry's loyalty to Austin was complete. Perry took care of Austin's papers and tried to collect some notes while Austin was imprisoned in Mexico. Following his brother-in-law's advice, Perry "steered totally clear of politics" until Austin's return but thereafter became active in the movement for independence. After the Texas Revolution Perry settled down to plantation life but was soon called into service as the administrator of Austin's estate. He was one of the first to shift from cotton to sugar as a plantation product. Mrs. Perry died in 1851, and Perry moved to Biloxi in 1853 for health reasons. He died of yellow fever on September 13 of that year.
On this day in 1867, John Avery Lomax, folklorist, was born in Goodman, Mississippi. His family moved to Bosque County, Texas, in 1869. As his home was located on a branch of the Chisholm Trail, Lomax heard many cowboy ballads and other folk songs; before he was twenty, he began to write some of them down. In 1906 he received a scholarship to Harvard University, where he was encouraged to undertake the systematic collection of western ballads. In the back room of the White Elephant Saloon in Fort Worth he found cowhands who knew many stanzas of "The Old Chisholm Trail." A Gypsy woman living in a truck near Fort Worth sang "Git Along, Little Dogies." In Abilene an old buffalo hunter gave Lomax the words and tune of "Buffalo Skinners." In San Antonio in 1908 a black saloonkeeper who had been a trail cook sang "Home on the Range." Lomax's first collection, Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, was published in 1910. He went on to have a long and brilliant career as a collector of American folksongs, and encouraged the musical talents of Huddie Ledbetter and other performers.