south texas college

HIST 2301 Course Guide

Texas History Timeline

14,000 BCE: The First Peoples

Peoples settled in what is now Texas thousands of years before European explorers arrived in North America. Some American Indian oral histories recount how their ancestors traveled to the area by water or land. A large amount of stone artifacts made at least 16,000 years ago have been found in Central Texas. 

6,000 BCE: The Archaic Period

The “Archaic” people that called the present-day Texas Panhandle home lived in an environment that was rich in various plants and animals. They were slowly transitioning from being nomadic hunter-gatherers to farmers. They gathered various types of plant materials: seeds, roots, berries, and anything else that was edible. 

3,000 BCE: The First Farms

More than 5000 years ago in present-day Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, people began to grow corn, beans, and squash. The switch from a nomadic hunter-gatherer life style to horticulture contributed to more reliable food sources and settled lifestyles. Populations grew and cultures flourished.

Pecos cave drawings

2,500 BCE: Pecos Rock Art

"Rock art" including pictographs (painted images) and petroglyphs (carved, or incised images) was made by people at least 4,500 years ago throughout the Lower Pecos region of present-day Texas. 

Circa 100: Ceremonial Cave

Beginning at least 2,000 years ago in a Hueco Mountains’ canyon near El Paso, ancient Puebloans held ceremonies where they placed offerings in a cave. The Pueblo people believed that caves were portals to a watery underworld. Among the artifacts found in Ceremonial Cave were a finely crafted bracelet and pendants made of shells from coastal areas hundreds of miles away. These artifacts are evidence of the vast trade routes that existed between diverse communities.

Circa 800: Caddo

It is said that Texas owes its name to the Caddo. "Tejas" is a Spanish spelling of the Caddo word that means "those who are friends." The agriculture-based Caddoes lived in villages and large fortified towns surrounding large plazas with earthen mounds. Atop of the mounds were temples, council houses, and the houses of the tribe’s elites.

1150: Antelope Creek

The “Antelope Creek” people lived in the present-day Texas panhandle between 1150 and 1450. They lived in pueblo like villages where they practiced horticulture and bison hunting. Over a period of 300 years, they dug hundreds of quarries for better flint to make stone tools. Pottery fragments found at Antelope Creek sites provide evidence of extensive trade. The Antelope Creek people left the area abruptly around 1450 AD, perhaps because of drought conditions, disease, or the arrival of hostile Apaches to the area.

Adapted from the Bullock Museum's Texas History Timeline

Lipan Apache1400: The Lipan Apache Arrive

Historians believe that the Apache moved down from their native territory in Canada and into North America sometime between 1000 and 1400. By the 1600s two groups settled in Texas — the Lipan Apache and the Mescalero. The Mescalero eventually moved on to present-day New Mexico. The arrival of the Apache would begin to alter the trade and territorial claims among the diverse tribes who had settled the area before them.

1492: Columbus Sets Sail from Spain

On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed west from Palos, Spain, to explore a new route to Asia. On October 12, he reached the Bahamas. Six months later, he returned to Spain with gold, cotton, American Indian handicrafts, exotic parrots, and other strange beasts. His tales of the native peoples, land, and resources in North America ignited the era of Spanish colonization.

Adapted from the Bullock Museum's Texas History Timeline

Photo credit: Arthur Schott, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

1519: Exploration of Gulf of Mexico

Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda is credited with being the first European to explore and map the Gulf of Mexico. He set out with four ships and 270 men to find a passage to the Pacific Ocean. 

1527: Pánfilo de Narváez

In 1527, with five ships, 600 men, and a supply of horses, Pánfilo de Narváez set out for Florida to claim gold and glory for the Spanish empire. Many of his men died, deserted, or were killed by the American Indians whose people and villages the expedition attacked and pillaged. In an effort to escape, Narváez and the remaining members of the expedition set sail in flimsy rafts that were eventually washed up on the Texas Gulf Coast near Galveston. Narvárez drowned on the voyage.

1528: Karankawa Encounter Cabeza de Vaca

Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, one of four survivors of the failed Narváez expedition, washed up on the beach of a Texas Gulf Coast island he named "Malhado," which means "misfortune." He kept a detailed diary which has become an invaluable primary source describing the life and peoples of early Texas. In 1536, Spanish soldiers returned Cabeza de Vaca to Mexico City. He eventually made his way back to Spain where he published his memoirs, The Narrative of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, in 1542.

1536: Bartolomé de las Casas Argues for Human Rights

Bartolomé de las Casas was the first priest to be ordained in the Americas. Conscience-stricken by the abuse of American Indians at the hands of Spanish conquistadors, he crusaded on the native peoples' behalf for over five decades. His blistering work in 1542, A Brief Report on the Destruction of the Indians, convinced King Charles V to outlaw the conversion practices, but riots among land holders in New Spain (Mexico) convinced authorities not to make any changes in their treatment of American Indians.

1541: Coronado Searches for Gold

Finding gold was one objective of Spanish colonization in North America. Following the report of an explorer who claimed to have seen a gold city in the desert, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado organized an expedition that traveled through the Texas Panhandle. Various historical accounts describe the soldiers' astonishment at the Texas landscape, including Palo Duro Canyon, and the huge, hump-backed cows (buffalo) that roamed the grasslands. Coronado never found any gold in the Panhandle, and the expedition returned to Mexico in 1542.

1542: Moscoso Enters East Texas

Luis de Moscoso led the explorers into East Texas, home of the powerful Caddo Indians, in an attempt to find an overland route back to New Spain (Mexico). Recent scholarship suggests that they traveled south from East Texas toward present-day Nacogdoches and then into the Hill Country before turning back toward the Mississippi River in Arkansas.

1581: Missionary System Spreads

The Spanish missionary system was intended to convert American Indians to Christianity and teach them how to live according to Spanish ways. Missionaries often accompanied conquistadors on their explorations in North America. The first missionaries passed through far west Texas in 1581 on their way to the pueblos of New Mexico.

1598: Claiming All the Land

After a difficult march through present-day New Mexico and Texas, conquistador Juan de Oñate and hundreds of settlers finally reached the Rio Grande in April. They were so grateful to have survived the journey that they held what some believe was the first "thanksgiving" feast in what would become the United States. During this stop, Oñate officially claimed all the land drained by the Rio Grande as Spanish territory. With this act, the foundation was laid for two centuries of Spanish control of Texas and the American southwest.

Adapted from the Bullock Museum's Texas History Timeline

Photo credit: Unidentified painter. National Geographic & Álvaro Huerga, Bartolomé de Las Casas: Vie et œuvres., Public Domain

1610: Pueblo Missions

Spanish conquistadors first crossed Texas in search of gold in New Mexico. By 1610, the Spanish had established a capital at Santa Fe. From the pueblos of New Mexico, a few priests began to venture into West Texas.

1632: First Mission

Fray Juan de Salas and Fray Diego León were the first Spanish missionaries in Texas. In 1629, they traveled to evangelize the Jumanos. In 1632, Juan de Salas and Juan de Ortega established a mission near present-day San Angelo. They were unable to supply or defend the outpost, and after six months, they were forced to abandon the mission.

1680: Birth of El Paso

In 1680, the Pueblo people rose up, killed 400 Spanish colonizers, and drove the remaining 2,000 Spanish out of New Mexico. The village of El Paso became the base of Spanish operations for the next 12 years. During this time, the Franciscans established the first successful missions in the El Paso area: Corpus Christi de Isleta, Nuestra Señora de la Limpia Concepción de Socorro, and San Antonio de Senecú.

1687: Tonkawa Encounter French Colonists

The Mayeye, a Tonkawa Tribe, first encountered La Salle and his French colonists in 1687. In the years to come the Tonkawa would have changing relationships with the Spanish and the French.

1690: Spanish Entradas

The Spanish began making entradas into Texas in the 1690s. They intended to explore and expand into the far reaches of Spanish territory in order to buffer any encroachment from the French. From 1709 to 1722, the Spanish led roughly seven expeditions from Mexico to Texas. These early explorers brought cattle, sheep, and goats to the Texas frontier.

1690: El Camino Real

By 1690, the Spanish realized the need to defend Texas against the French and blazed a network of trails from Mexico City to Louisiana. Missionaries traveled to East Texas along El Camino Real (the King's Highway). The missions of San Francisco de los Tejas and Santísimo Nombre de María were established along the Neches River. By 1693, both missions were abandoned.

Adapted from the Bullock Museum's Texas History Timeline

Circa 1700: Apache Displaced

Circa 1700 In 1706 Spanish officials in New Mexico documented the presence of numerous Comanches on the northeastern frontier of that province. The Apaches were forced south by the Comanche and the two became mortal enemies.

May 1, 1718: San Antonio Founded

On May 1, 1718, the Spanish established a mission-presidio complex approximately midway between the Rio Grande Valley and the missions of East Texas. This was the founding of the city of San Antonio, the most significant Texas settlement of the Spanish era. The mission of San Antonio de Valero, later known as the Alamo, was moved to its present location in 1724.

1730: Early Ranching

Ranching in Texas originated near San Antonio and Goliad in the 1730s. As the missions continued to fade into decline, individual ranchers became prominent due to generous land grants received from the Spanish Crown. One large ranch resulted from the Cavazos land grant, which was a sprawling 4,605 acres.

1743: Comancheria

The first reference to the Comanche in present-day Texas comes in 1743, when a small scouting band appeared in San Antonio looking for their enemies, the Lipan Apache. The name "Comanche" comes from an Ute word that means "enemy." They refer to themselves as the "Nʉmʉnʉʉ" or the "people." The Comanche were originally a Great Plains hunter-gatherer group, but after acquiring horses, they expanded their territory. They became horse experts and migrated into Texas in order to hunt bison and capture the wild horses that roamed the land. They eventually claimed vast areas of north, central, and west Texas as part of "Comancheria."

1749: Apache and Spanish Peace

Ever since the Spanish arrived in the San Antonio area, the Lipan Apache have been at war with them. When the enemy Comanche arrived to the area, the Apache agreed to a peace treaty with the Spanish. The two buried a hatchet in the ground in a ceremony in San Antonio. This led the Spanish to move forward with plans to build missions in Apache territory.

1750: Ranching Lands Expand

Once the Spanish formed an alliance with the Apaches, expansion of ranching lands became safer. Missions tended to have the best land, which put them in direct competition with the ranchers. Conflicts developed, and lawsuits between missions and ranchers became common at this time.

1758: San Saba Disaster

In 1757, the Spanish established Santa Cruz de San Sabá as a mission to the Apache. In March of 1758, over 2,000 Comanche and allied norther tribes staged a massive attack, burning down the mission and killing all but one of the missionaries.

1759: Battle of the Twin Villages

In response to the destruction of Mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá, forces of 600 Spanish soldiers attacked the Taovaya (Wichita) village on the Red River. With horses and French weapons, the Wichita were a stronger force than the Spanish. The Spanish were defeated and forced to retreat.

1762: Changing Alliances

The Spanish negotiated a treaty with the Comanche, who agreed not to make war on missionized Apaches. Continued conflicts with Apaches made it impossible for Comanches to keep their promise. This ultimately led Spanish officials to advocate for breaking their alliance with the Apache in favor of a Spanish-Comanche alliance aimed at subduing the Apaches.

1775: Smallpox

In 1775 a smallpox epidemic killed hundreds of thousands of Europeans and Native peoples in North America. An estimated 90% of the American Indian population died from epidemics. The deadly diseases greatly shifted the balance of power between American Indians and Europeans.

1778: Unpopular Laws

According to a newly enacted law, all wild animals and unbranded livestock were the property of the Spanish treasury. The law also established the "Mustang Fund" which imposed a tax on ranchers for all the branded livestock they rounded up.

1779: Trade Opens Up

Trade between Texas and Louisiana had been prohibited early in the 18th century. That ban was lifted in 1779. New Orleans soon became a major new market for ranchers.

1780: Reversing the Decision

Shortly after the trade ban was lifted in 1779, the Spanish colonial government reversed their decision because of the surge of smuggling. Since trade with Louisiana was hugely profitable, however, illicit trade continued. In a rare moment of unity, ranchers and missionaries became allies in their opposition to Spain's regulation of trade.

1785: Comanche Peace Treaty

The Comanche accepted a peace deal with the Spanish, allowing Spaniards to travel through their lands. In exchange, Spain offered to help the Comanche in their war with the Apache. Peace between the Spanish and Comanche lasted 30 years. The Comanches were to become the dominate force in the area, both in trade and warfare.

Adapted from the Bullock Museum's Texas History Timeline

1800: Horses, Not Cows

Cattle herds became severely depleted because of continual predator attacks as well as the increased market demands for cattle products. The cattle industry declined and ranchers turned their money-making efforts toward a new livestock source— wild mustangs.

1820 - 1824: Mexico Wins Independence from Spain; Austin Founds New Colony

In search of new opportunities in the unsettled territory of Tejas, Moses Austin hoped to bring 300 families to the Mexican province in 1820. With the help of Baron de Bastrop, Austin received approval from the Spanish governor to bring settlers into Tejas. Moses Austin died in 1821, however, and his son, Stephen F. Austin, inherited the land grant for 300 families.

1821: Reviving Ranchland in Tejas

Stephen F. Austin established a settlement of Anglo Americans who found the ranching system in Texas in decline. The ranching knowledge and outstanding roping skills of vaqueros (Mexican cowboys) helped revive and rebuild the flagging ranching industry.

September 27, 1821: Mexican Independence

As the people of Mexico began to feel exploited by Spanish colonialism, a series of revolts began in 1801. On September 27, 1821, the Spanish signed a treaty recognizing Mexico's independence. Since Moses Austin had been granted permission by Spain to bring American families to Texas, his son Stephen had to renegotiate the land grant and settlements with the new Mexican government.

1823: Arriving in Texas

In 1823, Stephen F. Austin received permission from Mexican authorities to bring settlers from the United States to Texas. Of the first families, known as the "Old Three Hundred," sixty-nine brought enslaved people. By 1825, Austin's colony had grown to 1,790, which included a few free people of color and 443 enslaved people-- almost 25% of the population.

August 4, 1823: 10 to Range

The Mexican government advised Stephen F. Austin that it would not provide resources to administer or defend the fledgling Tejas colonies. Austin hired ten men to "act as rangers for the common defense" against Indian raids. With that, the legend of the Texas Rangers began.

March 24, 1825: Colonization Law of 1825

Mexico encouraged Anglo Americans to settle the sparsely-populated Texas territory, both to increase ranching and commerce and to defend against American Indians and aggressive European powers. On March 24, 1825, the Mexican Congress passed colonization laws that stipulated that settlers practice Christianity and take loyalty oaths to the Mexican and state constitutions in order to become citizens.

1828: Conflict on the Horizon

Largely, settlers didn't see themselves as Mexican nationals and, in fact, referred to themselves as "Texians." Additionally, many of Austin's settlers came from the American south who brought enslaved African Americans with them, despite Mexico's laws prohibiting slavery. Because of the lack of allegiance to the nation, Mexican officials feared they would lose control of the state. They began encouraging more migration from Mexicans into the area.

1830: Mexico Bans U.S. Immigration

Fearing the possibility of losing control of Texas, Mexico banned further immigration from the United States on April 6, 1830. They encouraged immigration from Mexico and European countries, placed more restrictions on slavery, and increased military presence in the region. This initiative angered Texans, who pushed for statehood and self-rule.

1833: Santa Anna becomes President of Mexico

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led a successful revolt against President Bustamante. Texans were initially okay with this development because of Santa Anna's support for the Constitution of 1824, which was very similar to the U.S. Constitution. However, Santa Anna nullified the 1824 Constitution in favor of a more centralized government and was no longer supportive of Texas self-rule.

1833 - 1834: Texans Respond to Santa Anna; Stephen F. Austin Imprisoned

At the Convention of 1833, 56 Texas delegates drafted a resolution requesting that Mexico roll back many of the changes in Mexican law that took place in 1830. Stephen F. Austin, along with Dr. James B. Miller, presented the proposals to Santa Anna. Austin was imprisoned in Mexico City on suspicion of inciting insurrection. Eventually, the Mexican government repealed the Law of 1830, but would not grant statehood to Texas. Amidst the conflict, thousands upon thousands of Americans were immigrating to Texas.

October 2, 1835: Come and Take It!

Texans, with a growing influx of American settlers, pushed for separate statehood, resulting in many minor skirmishes with Mexico. The first notable battle of the Texas Revolution occurred when Texans at Gonzales refused to return a small cannon lent to them by Mexican authorities. On October 2, Colonel John H. Moore and his company famously rolled out the cannon under a flag that read, “Come and Take It.” The short fight that resulted sparked the beginning of the Revolution.

November 24, 1835: Official Rangers

The provisional Texas government passed a resolution officially creating a corps of over 50 rangers. These Rangers engaged in many skirmishes with American Indians and often joined with the Texian Army in fighting against Mexican troops in what became the opening battles of the Texas Revolution.

March 2, 1836: The Republic of Texas

On March 1, 59 delegates held the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. There they drafted the Texas Declaration of Independence and adopted it on March 2. During the Convention, delegates also drafted the Texas Constitution, outlining their plan for the new Republic. This took place only a month after Santa Anna entered Texas with his army of 6,000 men. Mexico’s army vastly outnumbered the Texas rebels.

The Constitution of the Republic of Texas severely restricted the rights of free African Americans. Anyone with one-eighth or more African heritage had to obtain permission from Congress to remain in Texas. Free blacks were prohibited from voting or owning property, and interracial marriage was banned. Records show that whites petitioned frequently for exemptions to these rules on behalf of free black neighbors, but the tough rules remained in place.

March 6, 1836: The Fall of the Alamo

On March 6, 1836, Santa Anna led an attack on the Alamo. Under the command of William B. Travis and James Bowie, Texas rebels fought a fierce battle against the Mexican army. Casualties were high on both sides, but Santa Anna’s army ultimately triumphed. 

April 21, 1836: The Battle of San Jacinto; Texas wins Independence

At 3:30 p.m. on April 21, outnumbered and facing impossible odds, Houston ordered the attack on Mexican army. With shouts of "Remember the Alamo!" and "Remember Goliad!"It is widely believed Santa Anna and his soldiers were indulging in an afternoon siesta and therefore were not ready to face the attack, which lasted approximately 18 minutes. Nine Texans were killed, and 630 Mexicans lost their lives. Santa Anna was captured after the battle. 

September 1, 1836: The Republic of Texas

In September of 1836, the citizens of the new Republic of Texas quickly elected Sam Houston as their first president, and Mirabeau B. Lamar as vice president. Houston appointed Stephen F. Austin to be Secretary of State. Austin died in office on December 27, 1836, at the age of 43.

1837: Slavery in the Republic

At its beginning, Texas had a population of 38,470. Of these, 5,000 were enslaved. As more settlers arrived from the American South, the enslaved population grew rapidly. By 1845, when Texas was annexed to the United States, there were at least 30,000 enslaved people, mostly working on plantations in East Texas. The African slave trade had been outlawed by this time, but Galveston and Houston both still had slave dealers.

January 1, 1839: Austin Becomes Capital of Texas

Under the second president of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, the capital was relocated to Austin. Many in Congress believed that Houston was too far from the original Texas settlements, so the commission surveyed land north of San Antonio between the Trinity and Colorado Rivers. Lamar set up a commission to begin researching potential locations for the new capital. They ultimately chose the village of Waterloo and changed the name to Austin to honor the legacy of Stephen F. Austin.

January 26, 1839: Texas Adopts Lone Star flag

The flag you know today as the official State flag of Texas was adopted in January of 1839 as the official flag of the Republic of Texas.

July 16, 1839: Cherokee War

Republic of Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar ordered the expulsion or extermination of all American Indian tribes. In the Battle of the Neches, near present-day Tyler, Cherokees were defeated in their attempt to retain land granted to them by a previous state treaty. Cherokee Chief Bowles died clutching a sword given to him by his close friend, Sam Houston.

December 29, 1845: Republic of Texas Annexed

In 1836, the Republic of Texas voted in favor of annexation by the United States, but the U.S. wasn't interested because of concerns over the Republic's pro-slavery stance and an impending war with Mexico. By 1843, with the threat of British involvement in the Texas issue, U.S. President John Tyler proposed annexation. Texas drew up a state constitution in October 1845 and was admitted as the 28th U.S. state by the end of the year. Texas became the 28th U.S. state on December 29, 1845.

May 8, 1846: The Beginning of the U.S.-Mexican War

President Polk defined the border between Texas and Mexico at the Rio Grande, but Mexico did not agree. Diplomatic solutions failed. Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor to position troops along the north bank of the Rio Grande to protect the Texas boundary. The Mexican government saw this as an invasion and thus an act of war, resulting in the Battle of Palo Alto in Brownsville on May 8, 1846—the first major battle of the U.S.-Mexican War. War was officially declared by U.S. Congress on May 13.

February 2, 1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and the End of the War

The treaty established boundaries between the United States and Mexico, with Mexico officially recognizing Texas as a part of the United States. Additionally, the treaty included the acquisition of Mexico's northern territory—which included California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona, as well as parts of Wyoming and Colorado—for $15 million. The United States added more than 25% of its present day size, and Mexico lost over half its land as a result of the treaty.

1850: Gold Rush Cattle Drives

When the California gold rush began in 1849, Texas ranchers organized cattle drives to provide food for the "Forty-Niners." The drives left from San Antonio and Fredericksburg and took a perilous six-month journey through El Paso to San Diego and Los Angeles.

1860 - 1865: Texas Joins Confederacy; Civil War Begins

The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 prompted the secession of Southern, slave-holding states. Although Governor Sam Houston himself was a slave-owner and opposed abolition, he was a Unionist who actively worked to keep the state from seceding. Houston was evicted from office when he refused to take an oath to the Confederacy and was replaced by Lieutenant Governor Edward Clark.

February 1, 1861: Texas Secedes

By a vote of 166 to 8, the Secession Convention of Texas voted to withdraw from the Union. Independence was declared on March 2, and on March 5, Texas joined the Confederate States of America.

June 19, 1865: Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, federal authority was established in Texas when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston. Granger proclaimed the end of slavery for 250,000 African Americans as well as the end of the Confederacy. "Juneteenth," celebrating that declaration of emancipation, was declared an official holiday in the state of Texas in 1980.

March 30, 1870: Texas Readmitted

During Reconstruction, southern states were required to nullify acts of secession, abolish slavery, and ratify the 13th Amendment in order to be readmitted to the Union. Texas balked on the slavery issue, which prompted Congress to require that the Texas Legislature also pass the 14th and 15th Amendments before being considered for readmission. When Texas finally met all conditions, President Ulysses S. Grant readmitted Texas to the United States.

June 1, 1874: Red River War

The U.S. Army began a campaign to remove all Comanche, Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne, and Arapaho from the southwest plains and relocate them to reservations in Indian Territory. Led by Comanche Chief Quanah Parker, the Indian tribes fought one last battle for their native lands. The U.S. Army, including all regiments of the Buffalo Soldiers, engaged the Indians in over 20 battles from 1874 to 1875 in the Texas panhandle around the Red River.

1875: Quanah Parker Surrendered

The Red River War officially ended in June 1875 when Quanah Parker and his band of Quahadi Comanche entered Fort Sill and surrendered. They were the last large band in Texas. The United States had now defeated the unified Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa and forcibly confined them to reservations.

February 15, 1876: Present Texas Constitution Adopted

Since Texas gained independence from Mexico in 1836, the Texas Constitution has undergone five revisions. The Constitution of 1876 was the sixth revision of the document and established the foundation for the law still in effect in Texas today. The 1875 constitution, in part a reaction to Reconstruction, shortened terms and lowered salaries of elected officials, decentralized control of public education, limited powers of both the legislature and governor, and provided biennial legislative sessions. The new constitution also created the University of Texas and confirmed the creation of Texas A&M, setting aside one million acres of land for the Permanent University Fund.

1880: Put 'Em on Ice

Two factors ended the legendary cattle drives. By 1879, the railroads had fully extended their reach into Texas, with 2,440 miles of track. The next year saw the first patent for refrigerated railcars, meaning meat no longer needed to be transported "on the hoof." The Chisolm Trail was obsolete and the Texas cattle industry entered a new era.

1888: New State Capitol Completed

Plans for a new capitol were in the works when the old building burned down in 1881. The new capitol was designed by Elijah E. Meyers, who had previously designed the 1871 Michigan capitol. The opening ceremony took place in May 1888, but the building didn't reach completion until late November of that year with the placement of the Goddess of Liberty atop the dome.

Adapted from the Bullock Museum's Texas History Timeline

Photo credit: Unknown Original publication: Unknown date. Public Domain

1900: U.S. Census Report

The U.S. census counted only 470 American Indians in living Texas.

January 10, 1901: Spindletop Changes the World

On January 10, 1901, at 10:30 a.m., a gusher called Spindletop blew in—and changed Texas forever. Wildcatter Anthony F. Lucas had been right about what lay under the salt dome near Beaumont. Spindletop nearly ripped its derrick to pieces and shot a tower of pure crude 100 feet in the air. It took more than a week to bring the giant gusher under control. The black gold headlines spread around the world.

March 2, 1910: First Military Air Flight Takes Place in San Antonio

Wilbur and Orville Wright, who in 1903 had designed and flown the first successful aircraft at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina, also built the Army's first airplane. Pioneering pilot Lieutenant Benjamin Foulois brought the new plane to San Antonio and publicly demonstrated it in flight on March 2 at Fort Sam Houston. Although he crashed on the last of the four flights, Foulois's flight marked the beginning of the U.S. Air Force.

1911: 20,000 U.S. Troops Sent to Mexican Border

Fearing the resurgence of Mexican nationalism spurred on by the Mexican Revolution, President Taft stationed 20,000 U.S. troops to the Mexican border for national security purposes. The Mexican Revolution raged between 1910 and 1919.

1914: A Link to the Sea

In 1909, dredging began on the Houston Ship Channel. It was completed in 1914, providing the link to the sea for the interior of Texas. It remains one of the most heavily utilized waterways in the U.S.

January 23, 1915: Rangers Run Wild

Raids by Mexican outlaws intent on reclaiming Texas land escalated into guerrilla warfare. The Texas Legislature authorized mass inductions of men to serve as Ranger forces. Reports of vigilante-like brutality inflicted on both Mexicans and Tejanos increased.

1919: Prohibition Goes into Effect in Texas

"Wets" and "Drys"— those opposed to and for prohibition, respectively— battled over the issue in the Texas legislature for decades. Prohibition gained momentum nationally, in part due to the efforts of Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas. Texas approved the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1919. But by the mid-1920s, Prohibition had become unpopular as anti-prohibitionists took control of the Texas legislature. Prohibition was ended in 1933.

March 31, 1919: Under Investigation

Some estimates place the number of Hispanic citizen deaths by Texas Rangers during the 1915-1918 wars with Mexico as high as 3,000. Representative Josė T. Canales of Brownsville insisted on a legislative investigation. As a result of the findings, the Texas Legislature reduced the number of Ranger companies as well as the number of men in each company. More stringent Ranger selection criteria and a citizen complaint process were also put in place.

June 28, 1919: Texas Adopts the 19th Amendment

By June 1918, there were 98 suffrage organizations in Texas alone! After years of struggle, a bill permitting women to vote passed in both the Texas House and Senate. Governor William P. Hobby signed it into law on March 26, 1918. On June 28, 1919, Texas became the first state to approve the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, winning women the right to vote in national elections.

1924: Ma Ferguson First Woman Governor Elected in Texas

Miriam "Ma" Ferguson was the first woman governor of Texas, serving two terms (1924-1926, and 1932-1934). She ran on a platform condemning the Ku Klux Klan, proposing spending cuts, and opposing Prohibition. Her husband, James E. "Pa" Ferguson, had served as governor from 1915 until he was impeached and removed from office in 1917, preventing him from seeking high office again in his own right.

January 18, 1933: Ma Cleans House

The day after her inauguration, Governor Miriam "Ma" Ferguson disbanded the entire Texas Ranger force as payback for their support of her gubernatorial opponent. She personally appointed 39 men as replacements. Ferguson's men formed an ineffective and often sleazy "Special Ranger" force and crime rose steadily. Gangsters such as Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd and Machine Gun Kelly found Texas a good place to hide out.

August 10, 1935: A New Era

Governor James V. Allred took office in January and fired every Special Ranger appointed by Ma Ferguson. Allred overhauled the Ranger force by placing them under the newly-created Department of Public Safety (DPS). Rangers retained law enforcement responsibilities but were now also required to keep careful records of criminal investigations. A scientific crime lab was built that rivaled the FBI's lab.

June 1, 1943: Beaumont Riot

A direct result of the War, Beaumont's population boomed as people moved there to take jobs in the shipyards and war plants. The rapid increase of population forced integration due to the sheer lack of facilities in the town. In June 1943, overcrowding, Ku Klux Klan activity, and Juneteenth plans combined with an explosive incident—an African-American man was accused of assaulting an 18 year-old white woman. The suspect was shot and killed by police for allegedly resisting arrest. A second sexual assault was reported on June 15. The accuser was unable to identify her attacker, but still a riot erupted that evening. The mayor of Beaumont called in the Texas National Guard and the city remained under martial law for five days. Beaumont was one of many cities in the U.S.—including Detroit, New York, Mobile, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Saint Louis, and Indianapolis—where intense race riots occurred during World War II.

1954: Brown v. Board of Education; End of Segregation in Public Schools

Following the Supreme Court decision to end segregation in profession schools, the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education further extended those rights to all schools in the United States. Students of all races were allowed to attend the same schools. San Antonio was among the first cities in the U.S. to comply with the order.

1962: Manned Spacecraft Center Opens in Houston

In 1957, the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik and Sputnik II, the first artificial satellites sent into orbit from Earth. The American response to the Sputnik launches resulted in the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), allocating funds for numerous space projects. The Manned Spacecraft Center was built in 1962 just outside of Houston. Mission control responsibilities were designated to the Center in 1963.

November 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy Assassinated in Dallas

On November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy flew to Dallas to speak at a luncheon. En route from the airport, Kennedy rode in an open car motorcade through downtown Dallas, along with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Texas First Lady Nellie Connally,. As they entered Dealey Plaza on Elm Street, both Kennedy and Connally were shot. They were rushed to Parkland Hospital where President Kennedy was pronounced dead shortly after. Connally was seriously wounded and took months to recover. Kennedy’s body was transported back to Washington D.C. aboard Air Force One. Before the flight, Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been riding in a separate car with his wife Lady Bird, was sworn in as president of the United States by Texas judge Sarah Hughes.

1967: Barbara Jordan Elected to Texas Senate

Barbara Jordan was elected to the Texas Senate in 1967, the first African American to serve in the Texas Legislature since 1883. In the Senate, she gained popularity among her colleagues that in 1972 she was elected unanimously to serve as president pro tempore of the body. The following year, she became the first African American woman from a Southern state to be elected to the U.S. Congress. Noted for her leadership during the Watergate scandal, she retired from politics in 1979 due to her battle with multiple sclerosis. She taught at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin until her death in 1996.

1991: Ann Richards Elected 45th Governor of Texas

Born in 1933 (during Ma Ferguson's second term as governor), Ann Richards served as governor of Texas from 1991-1995. Beginning her career as a schoolteacher, Richards volunteered for progressive causes and candidates for decades before winning her first office in 1976, a seat on the Travis County Commissioner's Court. In 1982, Richards was elected Texas state treasurer, and reelected without opposition four years later. As governor, Richards boosted the Texas economy while the U.S. was in an economic slump, reformed the prison system, and instituted the Texas Lottery, which supplements Texas educational finances. Ann Richards died in 2006 after battling esophageal cancer.

1993: Kay Bailey Hutchison First Woman from Texas Elected to U.S. Senate

In 1993, Kay Bailey Hutchison became the first woman to represent the state of Texas in the U.S. Senate, winning the election by an overwhelming majority. Hutchison had begun her political career two decades earlier when she was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. She served as vice-chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board in the 1970s, then went on to a career as a bank executive. Hutchison reentered politics in 1990 when she was elected Texas state treasurer. Hutchison served in the U.S. Senate until her retirement in 2013.

Adapted from the Bullock Museum's Texas History Timeline

Photo credit: Bain News Service, publisher - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ggbain.19646. Public Domain.