On this day in 1854, Hans P. N. Gammel was born in Denmark. As a young man he immigrated to America, arriving in Galveston in 1877 and walking the rest of the way to Austin. There he built a shelf between two chinaberry trees, at Eighth Street and Congress Avenue, where he bought books for five cents and sold them for ten cents, reading and learning from them in the meantime. Though he had little knowledge of English when he sailed to America, Gammel's ten-cent business became the basis for one of the first bookstores west of the Mississippi to carry a large assortment of miscellaneous literature, law books, and Texana. Gammel became a publisher of important works by John C. Duval, C. W. Raines, and Noah Smithwick, among others. His most important accomplishment, however, resulted from the 1881 fire that destroyed the old Capitol in Austin. From the debris scattered on the Capitol grounds, young Gammel gathered wet papers and charred documents, loaded them in a wagon, and took them to his home. He and his wife gradually dried the pages on clotheslines and stored them with their belongings. Years later he sorted and edited the crinkled papers, then published them beginning in 1898 as the famous first ten volumes of Gammel's Laws of Texas, 1822-1897. This work won immediate acclaim, and with the addition of other volumes in later years the set came to be a basic item in law libraries across the state.
On this day in 1903, a Gulf and Inter-State Railway passenger train from Beaumont pulled into Port Bolivar slightly more than three years behind schedule. The Galveston hurricane of September 8, 1900, had destroyed the G&I's tracks and trapped a G&I train near Port Bolivar; damage from the storm forced the company into receivership, though it was subsequently returned to its owners. It took three years, however, for the company to finance and complete the repairs to its track. The G&I had been chartered in 1894 and acquired in 1898 by two contractors interested in developing a new port on the upper Texas coast. In conjunction with their plan, the Santa Fe Railway organized the Santa Fe Dock and Channel Company to build docks and rail arteries at Port Bolivar. The railroad operated daily passenger service until 1930, when operations were reduced to a tri-weekly train between Port Bolivar and Beaumont. A number of cattle-shipping pens and flag stops made the train's schedule "highly irregular." By 1994, the line's last remaining track had been absorbed by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.
On this day in 1854, Alice Kirk and Benjamin Henry Grierson were married in Illinois. Grierson entered the army during the Civil War and rose to the rank of major general. After the war he commanded the "Buffalo Soldiers" of the Tenth Cavalry on the frontier. After their marriage the Griersons lived at Fort Riley, Kansas, and Fort Sill, Indian Territory, as well as Fort Concho and Fort Davis, Texas. Alice left behind a remarkably frank correspondence describing the problems of raising a family in the frontier army. Her letters were later published under the title The Colonel's Lady on the Western Frontier: The Correspondence of Alice Kirk Grierson (University of Nebraska Press, 1989). General Grierson's papers are in the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. The Griersons' written remains give a comprehensive picture of frontier life on the Texas frontier.