Texas now and then

This week in the Hill Country

Saturday, March 19th


Rodeo Austin “Where weird meets western”rodeo-austin

March 12 – 26

Travis County Exposition Center

South by Southwest Music Festival

March 15 – 20

All over town.


Yesterday’s News


William Marsh Rice. Wikimedia Commons.

1816    William Marsh Rice, merchant, financier, and philanthropist, was born at Springfield, Massachusetts. He left school at the age of fifteen to begin business life as a general store clerk, and at twenty-one purchased an enterprise of his own. After the panic of 1837 Rice moved to Houston, Texas, where he contracted to furnish and serve liquor in the bar of the Milam Hotel in return for the cost of the liquor, three dollars a day, and board. He was issued a headright certificate to 320 acres of Houston land and soon received a first-class license for a mercantile business from the city on June 28, 1840. He owned several businesses over the course of his life, dealing in cotton, ice, insurance, and freight, among other things. After the Civil War he moved to Dunellen, New Jersey, where he was an agent for the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, which he had helped to promote. Rice retained his interest in Texas, however, for in 1885 he bought the Capitol Hotel, which became the Rice Hotel, and in 1891 he endowed and incorporated the William Marsh Rice Institute for the advancement of literature, science, and art. That is now Rice University.

1839    Evans Mabry, physician and legislator, was born in Tennessee in 1802 and moved to Texas in 1838. He was granted a conditional land certificate in Washington County on March 14, 1839, and received an unconditional certificate in Travis County on April 14, 1846. Mabry was a physician and operated the City Hotel in Bastrop. He represented Bastrop County in the House of the Ninth Congress, 1844–45, and of the First Legislature, 1846. In 1846 he was corresponding secretary for the central Democratic committee. From 1851 to 1853 he represented Bastrop in the House of the Fourth Legislature and was a member of the Democratic state convention in Austin in January 1852.

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