Zale Corporation

Morris Bernard Zale (1901 – 1995) came to Texas with his brother William and their parents Samuel and Libby Kruger Zalefsky (spelled Zalessky in some accounts) in the early 1900s from Shereshov, Russia. Samuel emigrated first and brought his family a few years later, first to New York and later to Texas. The family name Zale was “Americanized” from the name Zalefsky. The family initially settled in Fort Worth, where Morris’ uncle Sam Kruger was already established. Morris attended school in Fort Worth for a few years before he left to work in the jewelry store of his uncle Sam. In the early 1920s, Morris later managed a Kruger jewelry store in Burkburnett, Texas before he opened his own first store in a rented section of a drug store in Graham. There were few Jews in town, but Zale left Graham shortly afterward due to local Klan activity, eventually settling in Wichita Falls, Wichita County, Texas. The Zale brothers and Ben Lipshy (1910 – 1985) founded the company and opened their own store in 1924 at 8th Street and Ohio Avenue on the edge of downtown Wichita Falls. The building that housed their original store, formerly a Kruger outlet, is still standing in Wichita Falls.

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Henry O. Flipper

Henry Ossian Flipper was born March 21, 1856 to Festus Flipper (1832 – 1918) and Isabella Buckhalter Flipper (1837 – 1887) in Thomasville, Georga, both of mixed race. Accordingly, he was born a slave. In the 1870 census, Festus was shown to be a cobbler or shoemaker. Henry entered Atlanta University, a historically Black college, in 1873. While still a freshman there, he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, said to be the the fifth such appointment of a person of African American descent. Though his time at West Point was difficult due to prejudice, he graduated in 1877 as a 2nd Lieutenant. Accordingly, Flipper was the first African American graduate of West Point and the first African American commissioned officer in the United States Army.

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Mary Jane Harris Briscoe

Mary Jane Harris Briscoe (1819 – 1903) was the daughter of John Richardson Harris (1790 – 1829) and Jane Birdsall Harris (1791 – 1869). She was the sister of three other children, DeWitt Clinton Harris, Lewis Birdsall Harris and John Birdsall Harris. Her father John R. Harris is credited for being the founder of Harrisburg (now Houston), Texas.

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2nd Lt. Merlin Shepherd Neff

2nd Lt. Merlin Shepherd Neff was killed on April 2, 1945 when his B-25 Mitchell bomber was brought down by anti-aircraft fire near the current town of Taichung City, Taiwan (then known as Taichu, Formosa) during an attack on Japanese railroad rolling stock. Two aircraft from the mission went town close to the same time. One crashed on land while the one piloted by 2nd Lt. Neff crashed into the water just off the coast. There were no survivors of either aircraft. They were both assigned to the 5th Air Force, V Bomber Command, 308th Bombardment Wing, 38th Bombardment Command, 822nd Bombardment Squadron, nicknamed the Black Panthers.

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Vicente Filisola

Vicente Filisola is best known as being second in command to Gen. José López de Santa Anna in the latter days of the Texas Revolution. Filisola (1789-1850) was born in Ravello, Italy. Early in his life, Filisola’s family had moved from Italy to Spain, and he joined the Spanish army while still a young man in 1804. Filisola served in Europe for a time, but around 1811 is believed to have begun serving in Mexico, or New Spain as it was also known.

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