On this day in 1930, an angry mob stormed the Grayson County courthouse in Sherman and lynched an African-American farm hand accused of raping a white woman. The ensuing riot was one of the earliest and worst examples of racial violence during the Great Depression, and initiated a flurry of similar incidents in Texas. Despite the efforts of a small detachment of Texas Rangers, including the legendary Frank Hamer, the mob burned the courthouse and most of the town's black business section, prompting Governor Dan Moody to impose martial law. Eventually, fourteen men were indicted on various charges, though lynching was not among them. By October 1931, only two of the fourteen had been convicted, one for rioting and the other for arson.
On this day in 1972, some 4,000 workers at five Farah, Incorporated plants in El Paso went on strike for the right to be represented by a union. Their labor action lasted until they won union representation in March 1974. Before the strike Farah was the second-largest employer in El Paso. The attempt to organize the company's workers began in 1969 and soon spread to all five El Paso plants. When workers at the San Antonio plant were fired for joining a union-sponsored march in El Paso, more than 500 of them walked out; the El Paso workers followed suit on May 9. A month later a national boycott of Farah products began, endorsed by the AFL-CIO. The strike exacerbated ethnic tensions between Anglos and Hispanics, and split the Hispanic community as well. The company, its sales badly damaged by the national boycott, was ordered by the National Labor Relations Board in January 1974 to offer reinstatement to the strikers and to permit union organizing. But a national recession and company mistakes in production and marketing left Farah in a serious financial predicament. Layoffs, plant closures, and high turnover of the work force followed. Subsequent contracts removed many of the benefits won by the strike.
On this day in 1979, the Orange Show, an open-air, multimedia sculptural installation dedicated to the orange, was opened to the public. The show, located in east Houston on 2401 Munger Street, was conceived and built singlehandedly over a period of twenty-five years by Houston postman Jefferson D. McKissack. He first became interested in oranges when he trucked them from Florida throughout the Southeast during the Great Depression. He built the exterior walls of what became the Orange Show in the mid-1950s, as part of his plant nursery on two vacant lots across the street from the bungalow where he lived. He began work on the interior space in 1962. Built without architectural plans, the Orange Show evolved into a labyrinth of stairs, catwalks, and passageways encompassing two amphitheaters, several enclosed display areas, a guest shop, a wishing well, fountains, and two observation decks. The entire complex is painted in bright primary colors and festooned with striped awnings, banners, two United States flags, and seven Texas flags. Considered the state's leading example of a "folk art environment," the Orange Show is open to the public on weekends and holidays from March through December.
On this day in 1865, near Abbeville, Georgia, Jefferson Davis, former Texas governor Francis R. Lubbock, and Confederate postmaster and temporary treasurer John H. Reagan were captured by Union forces. Davis had been forced to flee Richmond with his cabinet on April 2, and the Confederate government had eluded Union patrols in both North and South Carolina. After his capture, Texan John Reagan was imprisoned until December.