On this day in 1939, the saxophonist and composer Herschel Evans died of heart disease in New York City. Evans, a native of Denton, Texas, was only thirty at the time of his death, but had already established a formidable reputation in the jazz world. His cousin Eddie Durham, himself a legendary musician, convinced a young Evans to switch from alto to tenor sax. After spending some years in Kansas City, Evans returned to Texas in the 1920s. By the mid-1930s he was a featured soloist with Count Basie's big band, and his musical duels with Lester Young, as on the Basie hit "One O'Clock Jump," are considered jazz classics. Evans also recorded with Teddy Wilson and composed the hit songs "Texas Shuffle" and "Doggin' Around." He was a major influence on such later tenor players as Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb.
On this day in 1854, Samuel K. Lewis finally received payment for two beeves he had furnished to the Army of the Republic of Texas in November 1842. Lewis, whose place and date of birth are unknown, had moved to Texas in 1838. He was issued an unconditional grant for land in Brazoria County in 1841 and was living in or near La Grange by 1842. In that year, president Sam Houston and Congress were pursuing a policy of retrenchment and economy. Despite their efforts, by the time Texas was annexed to the United States, in 1845, the money owed Lewis was part of a $12 million public debt. Lewis, who also represented Austin County in the House of Representatives of the Ninth Congress (1844-1845), died in 1867.
On this day in 1902, Juanita Shanks Craft was born in Round Rock, Texas. Her long record as a civil-rights activist began when she joined the Dallas branch of the NAACP in 1935. She was appointed Dallas NAACP membership chairman in 1942 and in 1946 was promoted to Texas NAACP field organizer. She and Lulu Belle White of Houston organized 182 branches of the NAACP in Texas over a period of eleven years. In 1944 Mrs. Craft became the first black woman in Dallas County to vote. She was appointed Youth Council advisor of the Dallas NAACP in 1946. Her work with the youth unit became a prototype for other NAACP youth groups throughout the country, as she challenged a series of educational barriers. She died in Austin in 1985.