On this day in 1871, Governor Edmund J. Davis imposed martial law on Freestone County in response to reports of coercion and fraudulent voting in the county seat, Fairfield, during the election of October 3-6. Martial law was lifted a month later, on November 10. Freestone County was one of four Texas counties in which martial law was declared during Reconstruction.
On this day in 1866, the Houston Direct Navigation Company was chartered to improve transportation and navigation on Buffalo Bayou and avoid wharfage charges at Galveston. It replaced the Houston Navigation Company, which dominated shipping in the 1850s but failed to survive the Civil War. Under an agreement with the C. H. Mallory steamship line, the new company shipped freight between Houston and New York. In 1869 it transported an estimated 11,554 passengers and 815,466 barrels of materials, including those used in the construction of the International-Great Northern Railroad. The company was operating four passenger steamers, eighteen barges, and three tugs by 1872, when it grossed $165,000 in a single month. When Charles Morgan of the Morgan Lines bought the company in 1873, six steamers, forty barges, and five tugs were in operation. In 1896 the name of the company was changed to Direct Navigation Company by the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, which purchased it from Morgan. Rail competition made the company increasingly unprofitable, and it was abandoned in 1927, when terminal facilities were built at Clinton to serve steamers operating as the Southern Pacific Atlantic Steamship Lines.
On this day in 1995, legendary West Texas historian J. Evetts Haley died in Midland. Haley, born in Belton in 1901, graduated from West Texas Normal College at Canyon in 1925 and subsequently received a master's degree in history from the University of Texas, where he studied under Eugene C. Barker. His book The XIT Ranch of Texas and the Early Days of the Llano Estacado (1929) established him as a premier interpreter of the western range cattle industry. The book was also the subject of libel suits totaling $2.2 million, and set the tone for an often controversial career. Haley's books, including Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman (1936), won critical acclaim, but his conservative political views and outspoken nature often landed him in hot water. He lost his job at UT shortly after becoming chairman of the anti-Roosevelt Jeffersonian Democrats of Texas in 1936. In the early 1940s he sided with the university's board of regents in their notorious dispute with UT president Homer Rainey. In 1956 Haley ran unsuccessfully for governor on a platform that endorsed segregation and opposed labor unions. His book A Texan Looks at Lyndon, issued during the 1964 presidential campaign, was also controversial. Haley's library and personal papers became the cornerstone of the Nita Stewart Haley Memorial Library, which opened in 1976 in Midland.