On this day in 1755, the stone church at Mission Concepción near San Antonio was dedicated. Its forty-five-inch-thick walls, two towers, latticed windows, and choir loft, among other features, would stand the test of time through years of tumultuous change. The mission was originally founded as Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de los Hainais in 1716 in East Texas, but famine, epidemics among the Caddoans, and French incursions forced the Spanish to retreat. They reestablished the facility in 1721, but had moved it to the Colorado River by 1730. The following year missionaries finally found a more suitable location on the east bank of the San Antonio River and renamed the mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña. Mexican independence in the nineteenth century brought secularization, and the property was sold at auction. During the Texas Revolution the battle of Concepción, in which James Bowie and his men defeated Mexican forces led by Martín Perfecto do Cos, took place on the mission grounds. In 1841 the Republic of Texas gave title of the building and land to the Catholic church, though the church continued to be used as a barn by settlers and, after annexation, as a supply depot by the United States Army. The Concepción church is considered by some historians to be the oldest unrestored church in the United States. The structure is now part of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and Mass is still celebrated each Sunday.
On this day in 1873, the community of Texarkana was established, and the first store in town, a combination drug and grocery store operated by George M. Clark, opened for business. The town is in two states, Texas and Arkansas, and near another, Louisiana; the name Texarkana combines the three state names. The strategic position of Texarkana is the keynote to its history and development. The Great Southwest Trail, for hundreds of years the main line of travel from Indian villages of the Mississippi River country to Indian villages of the South and West, passed by a Caddo Indian village on the future Texarkana site. When the builders of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad crossed Arkansas in the late 1850s, and by 1874 pushed their rails beyond the Red River to the border of Texas, they met at Texarkana the railhead that had been extended to the state line by the builders of the Texas and Pacific. The road from the south bank of the Red River was completed on January 15, 1874, to the state line, where the city of Texarkana had been established the previous month at the site where the two roads would join. In 2000, Texarkana was a transportation, commercial, and industrial center with a population of 61,230.
On this day in 1857, Bee County was formed from portions of San Patricio, Goliad, Refugio, Live Oak, and Karnes counties. The first Spanish grant in the area was made to Carlos Martínez in 1789. The first permanent settlers, Jeremiah O'Tool, his sons Martin and Michael, and James O'Reilly, sailed from Ireland in 1826. Bee County, named for Barnard E. Bee Sr., was established shortly after the settlement of the Cart War, which originated ten miles east of the site of Beeville.
On this day in 1914, the Southwest Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the future Southwest Conference, officially came into existence when the original eight member schools agreed on a constitution. The eight schools were Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State), Southwestern, and Rice, which was admitted provisionally. The new conference was the idea of L. Theo Bellmont, athletic director at Texas, who saw the need for the larger colleges of the area to organize to engage in intercollegiate athletics. Throughout its eighty-year history the Southwest Conference provided high-level competition in numerous sports for its member schools. In 1996, when the conference was broken up, the member schools were the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Rice, SMU, and the University of Houston.