On this day in 1850, Carlos Esparza, a supporter of the Mexican folk hero Juan N. Cortina, and various followers attempted to establish a territorial government and separate themselves from the rest of Texas. The Territory of the Rio Grande was intended to protect the interests of Hispanics, but the proposal became politically complicated and was dropped. Esparza, born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in 1828, was to all appearances an ordinary rancher, possessing neither Cortina's striking appearance nor leadership qualities. The eccentric, sharp-tongued Esparza remained Cortina's man in the shadows, however. During the Civil War, he managed to aid Union and Confederate forces against each other while promoting the Cortinista cause. In 1873 Esparza was appointed special deputy inspector of hides and animals in Cameron County. Texas Ranger Leander H. McNelly was probably referring to Esparza when in 1876 he described the Cortinistas' "organization ... called the 'rural police.' The chief man is owner of a ranch, or the superintendent... He is a civil officer... He sends an alarm to one ranch, and it is sent from ranch to ranch in every direction." After Cortina was arrested in 1875, Esparza retreated to his ranch and became a recluse to avoid criminal charges for his controversial political activities. He died in 1885.
On this day in 1917, future governor John B. Connally, Jr., was born on a farm near Floresville. Although he was associated with Lyndon Johnson, Connally switched to the Republican party in the middle of his political career. The most famous, and the gravest, moment in his public life came when he was wounded in the Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963.
On this day in 1907, Justina Luckenbach died, four years to the day before the death of her husband Jacob. Both Luckenbachs were born in Germany and came to Texas in late 1845. In January 1846 they were among the first settlers in Fredericksburg. Jacob Luckenbach was allocated a town lot in the new village and a ten-acre lot southwest of town, where he built the family's first home. The Luckenbach family became American citizens in 1852 and shortly thereafter sold both Fredericksburg properties and moved twelve miles southeast. When she was appointed postmistress at the site, Sophie Engel named the post office Luckenbach in honor of her fiancé, Jacob and Justina's son Albert. Jacob and Justina Luckenbach raised three boys and nine girls in all. In 1883 they sold their property in Luckenbach and retired in Boerne, to be near six of their children who lived there. The population of Luckenbach peaked at 492 in 1904, but declined dramatically in the following decades. John Russell (Hondo) Crouch, from nearby Comfort, bought the "town" in 1971. Styling himself the "mayor" and "Clown Prince of Luckenbach," Crouch declared Luckenbach "a free state...of mind." Popularized in regional culture as the place where "Everybody is Somebody," Luckenbach achieved mythic proportions in 1977, the year after Crouch's death, when the Waylon Jennings song "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" became a national favorite.