Wednesday , 16 August 2017
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This Week in History, Sept. 15: North Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn Elected Speaker of the House

By Don Newsom, TSB Contributing Writer

September 16 through September 22

Many origins of traditions and institutions, as well as some significant tragedies occurred this week in our history.

In 1777, American soldiers won the first Battle of Saratoga during the Revolutionary War.

In 1787, the U.S. Constitution was completed and signed by a majority of delegates attending the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

In 1793, President George Washington laid the cornerstone for a U.S. Capitol building in the area that would become known as Washington City and later Washington D C.

In 1846, town lots were auctioned in Buckner, the forerunner of McKinney, for the purpose of identifying where businesses and residents would be located.

In 1857, the song “Jingle Bells” by James Pierpont was copyrighted under its original title, “One Horse Open Sleigh.”

In 1862, Union forces hurled back a Confederate invasion of Maryland in the Civil War battle of Antietam. With nearly 23,000 killed, wounded and missing or captured, it remains the bloodiest day in U.S. military history. Days later, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves in rebel states free as of January 1, 1863.

In 1881, President James A. Garfield died of wounds inflicted by an assassin more than two months earlier. The next day, Chester Arthur was sworn in as President. Garfield was the fourth president to die while in office and the third to die who was elected in twenty year intervals beginning in 1840. Ninety-four years later, Sara Jane Moore failed in an attempt to shoot President Gerald R. Ford outside a San Francisco hotel.

In 1891, a public petition was validated which resulted in the consolidation of schools, public and private, into the Plano Independent School District.

In 1893, hundreds of thousands of settlers took part in a land run in Oklahoma’s “Cherokee Strip.” This was the official beginning of the development of our neighbor to the north.

In 1897, the New York Sun ran an editorial answering a question from an 8-year-old girl that included the line, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

In 1898, land was purchased by the City of Plano for the construction of an opera house and civic auditorium, which was completed on Avenue H in 1905.

In 1899, the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization was begun in McKinney and the first corporate (city) court was established in Plano.

In 1904, the Foote Baptist Church was organized. In 1994, the building was moved to the historic village at Chestnut Square in McKinney and rededicated as the Chapel at Chestnut Square. The same year, the town of Renner in southwest Collin County, petitioned the Cotton Belt Railroad to provide them passenger service, which it did.

In 1914, Comfort McMillen, a founding member of the Peters Colony and organizer of the Corinth Presbyterian Church, believed to be the oldest continuing church in the county, died at his home in present day Murphy.

In 1920, the American Professional Football Association, a precursor of the National Football League, was formed in Canton, Ohio.

In 1938, a new post office building was opened in Farmersville. The building was constructed through the WPA program and still stands today in the downtown historic district.

In 1940, Representative Samuel T. Rayburn, D-Texas and North Texas native was first elected as Speaker of the U S House at the age of 29. He would become the longest-serving House speaker in history. The same day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the first peacetime military draft in U.S. history.

Photo:  Sam Rayburn

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