Vol MMXIII, No 132
May 12, 1903
The Eyes of Texas First Performed at UT
Today in Sports
Ernie Banks hits his 500th Home Run
On this date in 1970, Dallas native Ernie Banks, playing for the Chicago Cubs, hit his 500th homerun to a packed house in Chicago. After his retirement a year later, the Cubs retired his number 14, the first number retired by the Chicago Cubs.
Born This Date
Mary Kathlyn Wagner, Mary Kay born in Hot Wells
On this day, Mary Kathlyn Wagner, better known as Mary Kay, was born in Hot Well, Texas. When she retired in 1963, she and her son started Mary Kay Cosmetics, today the largest company of its kind in the world.
Eyes of Texas first sung
On this date in 1903, "The Eyes of Texas" was sung for the first time at Hancock's Opera House in Austin by a four-part male quartet from the University of Texas.
Originally written as a prank directed at UT President (1899 to 1905) William Prather, the song quickly became a national favorite, and is often mistaken as the State Song of Texas. While attending Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, Prather often heard the school's president, none other than Robert E Lee, say to the students "The eyes of the South are upon you." So in 1899, as president of the University of Texas, Prather used his own adapted version of Lee's admonishment to the students, "And remember, the eyes of Texas are upon you."
It was John Lang Clair, roommate of Lewis Johnson, band director and in charge of the upcoming show, who was asked by Johnson to write a catchy tune for the show. Clair recalling Prather's address to the students the day before, put the presidents words to the popular tune "I've been working on the railroad". The tune was a hit, and played by the marching band the next day.
Two years later, in 1905, the family of president Prather requested that the song be sung at his funeral.
Construction on the Whitney Dam begins
On this date in 1947, construction began on the Whitney dam along the Brazos River between Hill and Bosque counties NW of Waco.
Union Forces attacked near Brownsville
On this date in 1865, Union forces camped at Fort Brown, traveled up the Rio Grande to attack a Confederate encampment in what would later be known as the Battle of Palmito Ranch. The Confederacy under Robert E Lee had already surrendered on April 9th, and in Texas there was already an agreement that hostilities would cease. But in an effort to keep Texas ports open to Cotton exports as wells as imports of needed supplies. In the battle that ensued along the Rio Grande, 118 Union soldiers died. There are some reports that some of the shooting came from across the river in Mexico from those sympathetic to the Confederacy. On May 26th, General Kirby Smith surrenders his remaining forces and the fighted ceased. Private John Williams of the Union was the last man killed in the Battle, and likely the last man to die in combat during the Civil War.