George Adolphus Scarborough

George Adolphus Scarborough was born October 2, 1859 in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana to George Washington Scarborough and the former Martha Elizabeth Rutland. He was one of at least five siblings. In the 1860 census, the father is described as being a planter with 4,000 acres of land. In the 1870 census the father was shown as keeping a hotel. Between 1870 and 1880, the family had moved to Jones County, Texas. By then, George Adolphus had married the former Mary Frances McMahan on August 30, 1877 in McLennan County, Texas and began to raise their family.

A news report in the Fort Worth Daily Gazette of October 20, 1887 describes an incident in Haskell, Texas in which Sheriff George A. Scarborough and his brother Will, a deputy, shot and killed one A. J. Williams. The two Scarborough brothers had been in Haskell on their way to transport another prisoner to Seymour for trial in a district court. They were in a local saloon and George was sitting at a table writing when Williams and another man came in. The report said that Williams entered the saloon, cocked a double barrel shotgun and told George he was going to kill him. Hearing this, brother Will shot Williams, who fell to the floor and and later died. The article continued to say that Williams had previously been arrested by Scarborough in New Mexico and had brought him back to Texas where he was under indictment for attempted bribery of a law officer. George was to be a witness against Williams who may have wanted to prevent this by doing away with George. The case had been up for a change of venue.

Though the Williams killing was held to be justified, George was not reelected when his term ended and he moved on to work as a detective for several years before being hired as a deputy United States Marshal in 1893. In 1895, he was involved in another killing, one of cattle rustler and outlaw Martin Mrose (or Morose). Mrose had fled to Mexico but had sent his wife (or common law wife) Beulah “Bessie” Mrose to hire former outlaw turned lawyer John Wesley Hardin to defend him. Late at night on the evening of June 21, 1895 Scarborough, El Paso Police Chief Jeff Milton, Frank McMahon and possibly John Selman confronted Mrose as he exited the bridge from Mexico to El Paso for a prearranged meeting with Scarborough. According to an article in the Carlsbad (NM) Current-Argus of July 5, 1895, Milton and McMahon ordered Mrose to raise his hands. Mrose went for a Colt 45 he was carrying. Shots rang out and Mrose was killed. His body was taken to the Star stables undertaking rooms and he was pronounced dead. An inquest began shortly afterwards. Scarborough testified that he had received a letter from Mrose when Mrose was confined in a Juarez, Mexico jail. Mrose had asked for Scarborough to come to Mexico and meet him. Scarborough said that Mrose had replied that he was not able to meet at the time suggested and said he would send Scarborough a second letter suggesting another time. The two finally met in Mexico. Initially, Mrose had said he was not coming across to the United States but later decided to do so. Scarborough informed local officers Milton and McMahon that Mrose was coming over. Mrose and Scarborough met on the bridge after which Mrose crossed the bridge and was confronted by Milton and McMahon who had a warrant for Mrose’s arrest. Mrose was shot after raising his gun and pointing it at Scarborough.

The inquest cleared the lawmen of wrongdoing in the death of Mrose. During the procedings, John Wesley Hardin is said to have claimed that he had paid Milton and Scarborough to kill Mrose. Hardin was also romantically linked to Beulah Mrose in several other separate accounts. Hardin later withdrew his claim of it being a murder for hire. Though Scarborough was cleared of any improper actions, he lost his job as a United States Marshal. About two months later on August 19, 1895, Hardin was killed by lawman John Selman.

The following year, on April 5, 1896, Selman was killed by Scarborough. Conflicts between the two that are usually cited include Selman’s killing of Scarborough’s former friend and associate Bass Outlaw and Scarborough’s apparent refusal to help secure the release of Selman’s son from a Mexican jail where he was being held for attempting to elope with the fifteen year old daughter of a Mexican consular official. Scarborough was tried and acquitted for the murder of Selman.

Image believed to be in the public domain.

For the next several years, Scarborough lived near the Texas-New Mexico border, at one time living in Deming, New Mexico and working for the Grant (NM) County Cattlemen’s Association. On April 1, 1900, he was involved in a shootout with escaped prisoner George Stevens (or Stevenson) and murderer James Brooks near Benson, Arizona. According to an article in the San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) of April 5, 1900, he and deputy Walt Birchfield were caught in an ambush by the suspects. In the ensuing battle, one of the suspects was killed and both Scarborough and Birchfield were wounded, Birchfield less seriously than Scarborough. Scarborough’s leg was amputated but he later died from complications of his wound. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Deming, New Mexico. At the time of his death, Scarborough was forty years old.

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Posted by on February 25, 2021 in biography


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Apollo 13

Apollo 13 may be the most well known Apollo mission, save for the first lunar landing mission, Apollo 11. It included a crew of three, Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. It was also conceived to be a lunar landing, but that part of the proposed mission was aborted after two days into the flight when an explosion of an oxygen tank damaged the service module. The flight had launched on April 11, 1970 from Cape Kennedy. It was the seventh manned mission of the Apollo series and was intended to be the third to have included a lunar landing.

Image credit: NASA

Apollo 13 could have easily ended in tragedy, since the service module’s systems were critical to the completion of the mission as it had been planned. The service module was intended to provide life support and maneuvering capabilities, among other functions. In an oversimplification of the actions taken to save the crew and return them back to Earth, the astronauts shut down the systems of the command module, in an effort to preserve resources for reentry and landing, and moved into the lunar module. Mission Control, headed up by lead flight controller Gene Kranz, quickly improvised a revised plan that included the spacecraft making a loop around the moon, exiting the lunar orbit at just the right point, returning to Earth, reentering Earth’s atmosphere and a splashdown. Numerous issues had to be dealt with and new procedures developed to safely accomplish this.

The explosion occurred just under fifty-six hours into the mission, shortly after the crew had completed a television broadcast which, not surprisingly, was not even carried by American television networks. The public had grown somewhat complacent with the space program after two successful lunar landings. Jim Lovell later said that the scheduled action to stir the oxygen tanks was routine and designed to make sure that the liquid in them was properly mixed in order that their gauges would provide accurate readings. Jack Swigert was instructed to trip switches that engaged fans inside the tanks. Ninety-some minutes after he did, he crew heard a bang and an alarm sounded. Personnel on the ground were also monitoring the instrument readings and realized that they were irregular. Lovell reported back to Houston what had happened and that the crew observed that material was venting out into space. One of three oxygen tanks appeared to have completely emptied and a second was also losing oxygen. On the ground, efforts quickly changed to focus on bringing the crew back alive. Lovell would later say that the astronauts themselves had no immediate ideas about how to complete the flight and return to Earth.

The lunar module was the section of the spacecraft designed to support two of the astronauts on the surface of the moon for two days. In the revised plan it became the “lifeboat” for the three crew members for the four days of the flight, should it be possible to complete it. The issues included having limited power, not much potable water and poor environmental conditions. Further difficulties included the buildup of carbon dioxide from the exhaled breath of the crew. The ground personnel and the astronauts dealt with these and many other issues and the crew returned to Earth on April 17, 1970.

There were many people responsible for the completion of the flight and dealing with all the issues that arose, one of which issues was to deal with the buildup of carbon dioxide in the lunar module. Around the time the spacecraft looped around the moon, carbon dioxide monitors began to register high levels. This was not a completely unknown eventuality, since one aspect of the training included a similar scenario in which the astronauts might have to use the lunar module in such a manner. One of the complications was carbon dioxide buildup. Astronaut Ken Mattingly had initially been selected to be one of the three astronauts but was grounded in favor of Swigert after Mattingly was determined to have been exposed to German measles. Mattingly was extremely familiar with the spacecraft, and helped the ground personnel improvise a carbon dioxide “scrubber” using a scavenged filtration canister from the command/service module (they were attached to one another). The scrubber of the lunar module was circular in shape, whereas the device from the command/service module was rectangular. Both scrubbers operated by channeling air through a filter that not only trapped particles but by using lithium hydroxide, also filtered carbon dioxide. Devising a makeshift method that required duct tape, plastic bags, cardboard, an air hose from a space suit and the command/service module canister, the ground personnel relayed the procedures to the astronauts who were able to recreate the improvised filtration system for the lunar module.

Another of them was engineer John Aaron. Aaron had been born in the Texas Panhandle town of Wellington and raised just across the state line in Oklahoma. He had started his college education at Bethany Nazarene College and finished at Southwestern Oklahoma State in Weatherford with a degree in physics. Aaron had been hired during the Gemini program and was serving as EECOM (electrical, environmental and communications officer) on Apollo 13. His interesting account of Apollo 13 (and the rest of his career) is available in three oral history interviews on the NASA website. When the explosion occurred on Apollo 13, he was at home shaving, getting ready for his shift. He received a call from NASA describing the situation and remembered observing that the spacecraft’s displays indicating depleting oxygen levels did not sound like instrument failure to him, but rather pointed toward a serious hardware issue. Aaron contributed to the decision to shut down the command module, realizing that another problem would be the order in which the module was powered up for reentry, also to be as certain as possible that there would be enough battery power to do so. He and his associates had no kind of simulator on the ground, but worked out the power-up procedure using graph paper, slide rules and arithmetic. They came up with a check list of the timing and order in which this sequence was to be performed. He also recalled when they rushed into Mission Control with the completed check list, they were immediately asked by other controllers “Where’s my copy?” Accordingly, they quickly ran back and made copies for the others. The sequence of steps was then relayed to the astronauts who executed them perfectly.

Aaron recounted that his team’s preparation (and his personal orientation) included trying to consider “what if” problems. Because spacecraft systems are so integrated, he tried to learn as much as he could about other systems beside those of his responsibility. In his comments, he was quick to give credit to all the other teams that worked on Apollo 13, those on the ground as well as the astronauts. He also noted that during the crisis, he and his group were so compartmentalized that they were not even aware of some of the other issues, including carbon dioxide buildup. Likewise, he observed that the astronauts had done a first rate job of dealing with everything, given the harsh environment in which they were working.

Many hardware modifications were made as a result of the Apollo 13 mission. The program continued with more successful lunar landings.

Several good books have been written about this mission, including astronaut Jim Lovell’s book originally titled “Lost Moon.” Numerous documentaries and films have also been made, including the 1995 feature film directed by Ron Howard. Despite the necessary time compression and having to condense four days into the better part of two hours, the 1995 film gets high marks for historical and factual accuracy.

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Posted by on February 18, 2021 in space program


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Ivory Joe Hunter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ivory Joe Hunter, 63, who wrote between 2,000 and 3,000 country, blues and popular songs, died Friday of lung cancer in a Memphis, hospital. Among his best-known numbers are “My Wish Came True,” “I Need You So,” “Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby,” “and “I Almost Lost My Mind.” – The Kane Republican (Kane, Pennsylvania) Sat. Nov 9, 1974.

Ivory Joe Hunter was born to a musical family in 1914 (some accounts say 1911) in Kirbyville, south of Jasper, Texas. There is not much between Kirbyville and the Texas-Louisiana border other than farm land and woods. His father Dave Hunter was a guitar player and laborer and his mother Anna Smith Hunter was a gospel singer and a housewife. In the 1920 federal census, Ivory Joe was one of twelve children. Both of his parents seem to have died while he was young. By the 1930 census, Ivory Joe was living with an older sister Georgia and her family, along with several more of the Hunter siblings in the Port Arthur area where he attended school. Some accounts say that Ivory was a nickname, but as far back as the 1920 census, he was listed with the name Ivory Joe Hunter and his name was given to him by his mother.

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Posted by on February 11, 2021 in biography, black history, entertainers


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Sanger Brothers

Phillip, Isaac and Alexander Sanger are credited for having founded Sanger Brothers. They were three sons of Elias and Barbetta Sanger of Bavaria. Elias was a wine merchant and farmer. Isaac had been born in Bavaria (Germany) in 1836 and emigrated to the United States when he was 16, in 1852. Lehman (born in 1838) and Phillip (born in 1841) followed him when they each turned 16. They had all learned the mercantile business from Elias. Isaac worked for a few years in Connecticut for an uncle before coming to Texas in 1857. There he settled in McKinney and co-founded a store, Baum and Sanger. Lehman soon joined them. The partners relocated their store to Weatherford for a while and gradually expanded to other north Texas towns including Decatur, adding Morris Lasker as an associate.

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Posted by on February 4, 2021 in biography


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Katherine Anne Porter

Katherine Anne Porter was born in 1890 at Indian Creek, Brown County, Texas to Harrison Boone Porter and the former Mary Alice Jones, both of whom were native Texans. Although it is sometimes discussed, as far as we can determine, she is not closely related either to explorer Daniel Boone or author William Sydney Porter (perhaps better known by his pen name as O. Henry). Her mother died when she was about two years old, after which she, her father and her siblings lived with her widowed grandmother, Catherine Anne Skaggs Porter in Kyle, Hays County, Texas. Her father was a school teacher and/or a farmer. Her grandmother died when Katherine was eleven years old out in Marfa, Texas when they were on a family visit there. Afterward, Katherine moved with her family wherever they were living until she married at age fifteen. She was very bright, but did not have an extensive formal education.

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Posted by on January 28, 2021 in biography, films


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