Texas History List: 'Hell's Half-Acre' gets cleaned up after gun - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Texas History List: 'Hell's Half-Acre' gets cleaned up after gunfight, death of prostitute

The Mittie Stephens sank on 2/12/1899 (Source: AfroTexan.com/marion) The Mittie Stephens sank on 2/12/1899 (Source: AfroTexan.com/marion)
Gunman Jim Courtright (Source: WikiCommons) Gunman Jim Courtright (Source: WikiCommons)
Madam Candalaria (MySanAntonio.com) Madam Candalaria (MySanAntonio.com)

This week in Texas history saw the violent end of the notorious red-light district in Fort Worth, along with other interesting facts and trivia you might not know about our amazing state.

On February 8, 1887, "Longhair Jim" Courtright, former marshall of Fort Worth, was killed in a true face-to-face shootout with a man named Luke Short. It was one of the most famous gunfights in western history, according to texasdaybyday.com. The duel was one of two events that drew attention to the brothels and bars that made up an area called Hell's Half Acre. The second was the murder of a prostitute named Sally. These events led to successful cleanup efforts in the area.

On February 9, 1902, Juanita Shanks Craft was born in Round Rock. Mrs. Craft was very active in establishing new branches of the NAACP in Texas. She was also the first black woman in Dallas County to vote. She died in Austin in 1985. 

On February 10, 1899, Andrea Castanon Villanueva, also known as Madam Candelaria, who claimed to be a survivor of the Alamo, died at the age of 113 in San Antonio. She claimed to have been in the Alamo during the 1836 battle and to have nursed the ailing Jim Bowie. Her claims were not able to be confirmed or disproved. She is buried in San Fernando Cemetery in San Antonio.

On February 12, 1899, 61 people died in a burning steamboat. The men, women and children died when the Mittie Stephens caught fire on Caddo Lake during a run from New Orleans to Jefferson, Texas. The fire was started when a spark from torches on board for light blew onto the hay bales being hauled on board. The people who died weren't burned to death, for the most part. Instead, they died when they were sucked from the water into the boat's wheels which the captain had kept running, hoping to force the boat ashore.

Other events of interest from the history of Texas this week:

First railroad in Texas chartered: The Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway was the first to begin operating in the state, and the second railroad west of the Mississippi River. 

Legislature passes bill to pay for governor's "chicken salad and punch" among other items, during his term in office. Believe it or not, the chicken salad case was a big deal in 1915.

On February 12, 1899, Tulia reported the coldest temperature ever recorded in Texas: minus 23 degrees Fahrenheit. That's cold, y'all. So cold, in fact, that it killed 40,000 cattle across the state overnight. The temperature was matched in 1933 in Seminole.

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