On this day in 1881, the first issue of the San Antonio Light was published. The original appearance of the paper was heralded in an occasional paper called the San Antonio Surprise, a four-page sheet which explained the necessity for a lively daily devoted to the issues and interests of San Antonio. The Light was first published as a daily, except Sunday, at the office of the Texas Sun, which was published by A. W. Gifford and James Pearson Newcomb. In 1890 the paper was described as the only Republican daily in Texas, but after 1911, when Harrison L. Beach and Charles S. Diehl bought the paper, the Light became liberal-Democratic in its political views. In 1924 William Randolph Hearst bought the Light and by 1945 the circulation had climbed to 70,000. In 1972 the Light, with a daily circulation of 122,292 and a Sunday circulation of 160,905, was one of the leading Hearst newspapers in the United States. By 1987, however, it was operating on a deficit, and in October 1992 the Hearst corporation, after purchasing the rival San Antonio Express-News, closed the Light.
On this day in 1944, the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division, nicknamed the "Texas Division," began its "two-day nightmare," the crossing of the Rapido River in Italy. General Mark Clark needed pressure on the German defensive line below Rome to prevent the Germans from counterattacking the projected Allied beachhead at Anzio. Further, an Allied breakthrough into the Liri valley would facilitate the march toward Rome. The Rapido’s swift current and muddy banks, together with the lack of adequate boats and bridging equipment, compounded the difficulties—not to mention the strong German defenses. The division suffered heavy casualties, including 143 killed, 663 wounded, and 875 missing. The division participated in the continuing Italian campaign, including the liberation of Rome, and went on to invade Southern France and advance into Germany.
On this day in 1879, Claude Carr Cody became professor of mathematics at Southwestern University in Georgetown. This Georgia native, born in 1854, taught and served Southwestern for thirty-seven years. He was also Southwestern's first dean and at various times manager of the dormitories, secretary and chairman of the faculty, secretary of the executive committee, treasurer of the university, and librarian. Known in his later years as the "Grand Old Man of Southwestern," he was "a leading candidate for the honor of being the most beloved teacher in the history of the institution" and was twice its acting president. In 1910-11 Cody led the successful fight against a proposal to move the university to Dallas; Southern Methodist University was founded in Dallas instead. Cody died in 1923. In 1939 the Cody Memorial Library was completed and dedicated to his memory.
On this day in 1853, John McMullen, cofounder of the McMullen-McGloin Colony, was murdered by an unidentified assassin in San Antonio. McMullen, born in Ireland in 1785, was a merchant in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, when he was attracted by the 1825 colonization law of Coahuila and Texas and became an empresario. He entered into a partnership with James McGloin, and they received a contract in 1828 which authorized them to settle 200 families on the left bank of the Nueces River. McMullen and McGloin personally accompanied the first group of Irish colonists from New York to Texas in October 1829. The Irish remained about a year at Nuestra Señora del Refugio Mission and then moved to San Patricio. During the Texas Revolution McMullen was a member of the General Council. He was fluent in Spanish and translated for the provisional government; upon the impeachment of Governor Henry Smith he served in January and February 1836 as temporary president of the council. After the revolution he moved from San Patricio to San Antonio, where he served as alderman from 1840 to 1844. In 1844 he sold the majority of his San Patricio holdings to McGloin and became a merchant at San Antonio.