On this day in 1960, singer Johnny Horton died in a car accident in Milano, Texas. Though he was born in Los Angeles in 1925, Horton grew up in East Texas and graduated from high school in Gallatin. He attended junior college in Jacksonville and Kilgore and eventually went to Seattle University. He worked in the fishing industry in California and Alaska but embarked on a country music singing career in 1950. In 1955 Horton joined the Louisiana Hayride under the stage name “The Singing Fisherman.” Recognized for his honky tonk sound, he scored his first hit “Honky Tonk Man” in 1956 and achieved his first number-one country recording with “When It’s Springtime in Alaska” several years later. The singer had crossover appeal on both country and popular-music radio stations and songs such as “The Battle of New Orleans” attracted a wide audience.
On this day in 1806, the United States and Spain signed an agreement establishing the Neutral Ground. After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 the United States and Spain were unable to agree on the boundary between Louisiana and Texas. In 1806, in order to avert an armed clash, Gen. James Wilkinson and Lt. Col. Simón de Herrera, the American and Spanish military commanders respectively, entered into an agreement declaring the disputed territory Neutral Ground. The boundaries of the Neutral Ground were never officially described beyond a general statement that the Arroyo Hondo on the east and the Sabine River on the west were to serve as boundaries. Ownership of the strip was awarded the United States by the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1821.
On this day in 1918, Peter Bentsen and his family left their South Dakota homestead and headed for Sharyland, an irrigated citrus and vegetable utopia envisioned by John H. Shary and developed by him near Mission, Texas. It took the family seventeen days to drive the 1,675 miles to the Rio Grande valley by car. They arrived penniless. Bentsen's sons, Lloyd, Sr., and Elmer, joined him after they were mustered out of the service at the end of World War I. All saved diligently and invested in Valley land as soon as they could, and the two brothers became the premier colonizers and developers of Hidalgo County. Lloyd Bentsen, Sr., and his wife had four children, one of whom, Lloyd Bentsen, Jr., was a congressman, a United States senator, a vice-presidential candidate, and secretary of the treasury.