The Texas History List: Pappy O'Daniel, Texas A&M and what happ -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

The Texas History List: Pappy O'Daniel, Texas A&M and what happened to Jack Ruby

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Jack Ruby (Source: Wikipedia) Jack Ruby (Source: Wikipedia)
Pappy O'Daniel (Source: Wikipedia) Pappy O'Daniel (Source: Wikipedia)
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Our beloved state has such an amazing history, full of drama, fun and tragedy. Check out what happened in Texas on March 9-15 through the years.

On March 11, 1878, eight young men enrolled in the short-lived Alta Vista Agricultural College, the first public black college in Texas. In 1876 the Fifteenth Texas Legislature had authorized an "Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Benefit of Colored Youth" as part of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University).

A three-man commission bought Alta Vista Plantation, near Hempstead in Waller County, from Helen Marr Kirby for some $15,000. Texas A&M president Thomas S. Gathright hired Mississippian L. W. Minor as the first principal, and in March 1878 the first students enrolled at a tuition of $130 for nine months of instruction, board, and one uniform. The school was rechartered as Prairie View Normal Institute the following year, and continues today as Prairie View A&M University.

On March 11, 1890, future Texas governor and U.S. senator W. Lee (Pappy) O'Daniel was born in Malta, Ohio. He came to Texas in 1925 as sales manager of the Burrus Mill and Elevator Company in Fort Worth, manufacturer of Light Crust Flour. He took over the company's radio advertising in 1928 and hired and named the Light Crust Doughboys, the influential western swing band that featured Bob Wills and Milton Brown.

O'Daniel organized his own flour company in 1935 and filed for governor in 1938. Accompanied by his band, the Hillbilly Boys, he attracted huge audiences, especially in rural areas. He won the 1938 election and was reelected in 1940. In a special U.S. Senate election in 1941, he edged Lyndon Johnson in a flurry of controversial late returns. In a desperate reelection fight the next year, O'Daniel charged that the professional politicians, the politically controlled newspapers, and the "communistic labor leader racketeers" were conspiring against him, but he hung on to enough rural and elderly voters to eke out a win.

O'Daniel was ineffective in the Senate, however, and by 1948, with public opinion polls giving him only 7 percent support, he announced that he would not run again since there was only slight hope of saving America from the communists. He bought a ranch near Fort Worth, invested in Dallas real estate, and founded an insurance company. He died in Dallas in 1969.

According to Wikipedia, The 2000 Coen Brothers film O Brother Where Art Thou featured a character played by Charles Durning and named Governor Pappy O'Daniel, loosely based on the real O'Daniel, and set in Mississippi.

On March 14, 1964, Dallas night club owner Jack Ruby was convicted of the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused killer of President John F. Kennedy. The assassination of the president occurred on November 22, 1963, and when Oswald was being transferred from the city jail in Dallas to the county jail on November 24, Ruby shot him, later insisting it was an act of grief and outrage, not a part of any conspiracy.

Want even more Texas history? Check out these links:

Rejected portrait of LBJ draws record crowd to Snyder museum

Galveston Longshoremen strike

Spanish expedition enters Texas

State of Texas steps into the sheep wars

Big band leader Harry James born in Georgia

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