Illuminating Texas History

Lone survivor of Bonilla expedition found

Feb. 16, 1599

 

On this day in 1599, Jusepe Guitiérrez, the lone survivor of the Bonilla expedition, was found by Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate. Francisco Leyva de Bonilla, a Portuguese captain in the service of Spain, was dispatched in 1594 by Governor Diego de Velasco of Nueva Vizcaya to pursue beyond the frontiers of that state a rebellious band of Indians that had committed acts of theft. Once across the border, Bonilla and his party determined to explore New Mexico and the plains beyond and to search for the fabled treasure of Quivira. They spent about a year at the upper Rio Grande pueblos, making Bove (San Ildefonso) their principal headquarters. They then explored into Arkansas and Nebraska. According to the statement of Gutiérrez, a Mexican Indian who was with the party, Bonilla was stabbed to death after a quarrel with his lieutenant, Antonio Gutiérrez de Humaña, who then assumed command. Sometime after the murder, Jusepe and five other Indians deserted the party and retraced their steps toward New Mexico. On the way, four were lost and a fifth was killed. Jusepe was taken captive by Apache and Vaquero Indians and kept for a year. At the end of that period, he made his way to Cicuyé and in 1599 was found at Picuris by Oñate, who secured his services as a guide and interpreter. When Oñate arrived at Quivira in the summer of 1601, he learned that hostile Indians had attacked and wiped out Humaña and nearly all his followers on their return journey, by setting fire to the grass at a place on the High Plains subsequently called La Matanza.


LULAC Founded

Feb. 17, 1929

On this day in 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens, originally called the United Latin American Citizens, was founded at Salón Obreros y Obreras in Corpus Christi, Texas. LULAC is the oldest and largest continually active Latino political association in the United States and was the first nationwide Mexican-American civil-rights organization. It grew out of the rising Texas-Mexican middle class and resistance to racial discrimination. The strength of the organization has historically been in Texas. Over the years LULAC has been a multi-issue organization. It was organized in response to political disfranchisement, racial segregation, and racial discrimination. It responded to bossism, the lack of political representation, the lack of a sizable independent Mexican-American vote, jury exclusion of Mexican-Americans, and white primaries. It also dealt with the segregation of public schools, housing, and public accommodations. The organization has attempted to solve the problems of poverty among Mexican Americans and has sought to build a substantial Mexican-American middle class.


Frenchman files first plane in Texas

Feb. 18, 1910

On this day in 1910, a Frenchman, Louis Paulhan, made the first recorded airplane flight in Texas. The first people in the state to fly, in the 1860s, were air-show balloonists and their passengers, although several inventors were also busy with plans for winged flying machines. The alleged flight of Jacob F. Brodbeck in 1865 has become a Texas legend. After the Wright brothers' controlled airplane flights in 1903, aeronautical progress generally was slow until 1909-10, when European aviation made rapid strides and the United States government acquired its first aircraft. Aerial demonstrations proliferated at sites across America, including Houston, where Paulhan made his flight. Military aviation developed at the same time. Lt. Benjamin Foulois, a colorful pioneer pilot, arrived at Fort Sam Houston in February 1910, assembled the army's recently purchased Wright biplane, and took to the air on March 2, 1910. More than a hundred years later, Texas continues to be a leader in civil and military aviation.

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