El Paso Chronicles

El Paso monthly history from the pages of
"El Paso Chronicles" by Leon Metz.


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1583: Jan. 19, the Antonio de Espejo Expedition approaches the Pass whilesearching for three friars lost in an earlier Spanish expedition. The name "New Mexico" appears for the first time in an expedition journal.

1673: Jan. 22, Fray Garcia de San Francisco dies in the convent of Senecu, where he is buried.

1849: In January, James Wiley Magoffin comes to El Paso and builds a hacienda known as Magoffinsville. The site is the modern corner of Magoffin and Willow streets.

1859: Jan. 30, William T. Smith sells most of the township of Franklin (Smithville) to a syndicate of investors, the El Paso Company, which hires Anson Mills to survey a town plat.

1883: Jan. 15 is the traditional date for the arrival of alligators in the public square (San Jacinto Plaza).

1901: The Midwinter Carnival, a predecessor to the Sun Carnival, is first held in January of this year.

1906: Mark and Mary Price, who live at 1616 Wyoming Street, purchase a family cow in January of this year. It is the beginning of Price's Creameries.

1911: Abraham Gonzalez of Chihuahua arrives in El Paso in January and establishes a Mexican Revolutionary junta on the 5th floor of the Caples Building. Meetings of revolutionary groups are openly held all over town.

1919: Jan. 16, the 18th Amendment - Prohibition - becomes the law of the land, but cabarets and saloons run wide open in Juarez.

1935: Jan. 1, the first Sun Bowl football game is played. The El Paso Kiwanis brought a Ranger, Texas, high school team to town to compete with a team of El Paso high school players. El Paso won.

1952: Jan. 14, Providence Memorial Hospital opens.

1953: January, KTSM TV goes on the air.

1992: El Paso Electric Co. files Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January.



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1540: Feb. 23, Coronado leaves Mexico for today's American Southwest during a search for El Dorado. He found no gold, just Indians.

1848: Feb. 2, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed, ending the war between Mexico and the United States.

1850: Feb. 18, El Paso County votes to join Texas. San Elizario becomes the first county seat.

1859: Feb. 28, the El Paso Company, with Anson Mills leading the way, changes the name of Franklin (also called Smithsville) to El Paso.

1861: Feb. 23, El Paso votes for secession. Only two ballots support the Union.

1881: The State National Bank opens in February.

1892: Feb. 2, four Sisters of Charity from Detroit open St. Mary's Hospital, a forerunner to Hotel Dieu hospital.

1899: Feb. 5, a Harry Block arrives from San Francisco and suggests that El Paso organize a new territory, with it as the capitol. The territory would include parts of West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. New Mexico counters by passing a resolution suggesting El Paso made part of the Territory of New Mexico.

1911: In February, Mexican Revolutionary Pascual Orozco's army camps outside Ciudad Juarez; Orozco announces his intention to attack the city. War correspondents from around the world arrive in El Paso, as does Revolution leader Francisco Madero.

1934: Feb. 13, a 12-foot-high wooden cross is erected on Rodadero Peak - later named Mount Cristo Rey.

1948: In February, construction begins on Paisano Drive over protests that the city will never need that wide a street.

1974: Feb. 4, the Chamizal National Memorial is established in El Paso.


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1853: March 23, the Ponce de Leon Grant is surveyed; it contains 599 acres. It is sold for $10,000 to William T. "Uncle Billy" Smith, a freighter who also imagines himself a developer. The community's new name is Smithville, but most residents still call it Franklin.

1854: March 8, the Post Opposite El Paso changes its name to Fort Bliss. It's named after Col. William Wallace Smith Bliss, who died the year before. Smith was a Mexican War veteran and son-in-law to General/President Taylor. He never set foot in the El Paso area.

1861: March 31, the same month that Texas joins the Confederacy, Union soldiers evacuate Fort Bliss.

1874: March 1, Bishop John B. Salpointe, over Tigua protests, removes St. Anthony as the patron saint of Ysleta and installs Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

1887: March 8, hoodlums throw stones and kill one of two alligators in the plaza.

1921: March 4, West Texas is placed on Central Standard Time. But El Paso ignores it and continues, as it does today, on Mountain Standard Time.

1927: The rights of Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon, a black physician, are vindicated at the U.S. Supreme Court. However the decision written by Oliver Wendell Holmes upholds "equal rights," not "voting rights," so Texas flouts voting rights for blacks for a few more years.

1934: March 24, an iron cross, fashioned by ASARCO employees, replaces the wooden one on what will become Mount Cristo Rey.

1955: March 13, Ysleta votes to incorporate. Three days later, El Paso annexes it. Ysleta protests. The case goes to the Supreme Court, which in 1958 decides in favor of El Paso.

1966: March 19, Coach Don Haskins leads his Texas Western College basketball team to the NCAA championship.

1971: March 6, Mexico limits divorces to Mexicans and permanent aliens - ending the "quickie divorce" traffic.


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1598: April 20, the Oñatae Expedition reades the Rio Grande 30 miles downstream from today's El Paso. Oñate party celebrates Thanksgiving April 30 near present-day San Elizario.

1662: April 2, Fray Garcia de San Francisco lays the foundation stone for Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Mission.

1851: April 24, International Boundary Marker No. 1 is dedicated 42 miles north of El Paso, Chihuahua, on the west bank of the Rio Grande.

1881: April 2, the El Paso Morning Times and El Paso Herald begin operation on substantially the same day. The newspapers report that crowds of new residents arrive almost hourly from the end of the approaching railroad track.

1881: April 14, brand-new city marshal Dallas Stoudenmire is involved in a gunfight in which four people are shot dead in five seconds. Three days after that, Stoudenmire kills the ex-deputy marshal who had ambushed him.

1883: A fire wipes out a block of El Paso Street. The firemen never heard the alarm because of the wind.

1889: April 9, Adolf Krakauer ends up 37 votes ahead of C.R. Morehead in the dirtiest mayoral election in local history. Both claim fraud, arguing that too many Juarez voters were "naturalized." Krakauer and the Republicans barricade city hall, moving in with boxes of Winchester rifles, water and food. Finally Krakauer is declared the winner by five votes, and then it is learned that he is a German citizen and ineligible to be mayor. The election results are thrown out, and two different opponents run for office.

1911: Tillie Howard, last of El Paso's "Big Five" madams, dies in El Paso.

1913:Texas Legislature creates the School of Mines and Metallurgy.

1918: April 17, Liberty Hall opens.

1968: April 12, The Tiguas are recognized as an American and Texas tribe. April 15, the United States transfers responsibility for the Tiguas to Texas.

1993: April 21, the Star on the mountain becomes a year-round ornament.



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1598: May 4, Oñate crosses the Rio Grande near the present-day Hacienda Cafe and names the ford "El Paso del Norte."

1846: May 13, the United States declares war on Mexico.

1849: May 2, the Ford-Neighbors Trail is established between Austin and El Paso.

1873: May 17, El Paso incorporates.

1874: The Texas Legislature introduces a bill, by Albert Jennings Fountain, called "An Act to Repeal an Act to Incorporate the Town of Ysleta in El Paso County." The bill goes into effect six months later, and costs the Tiguas almost all their land.

1881: The city booms as the railroad approaches. Tents line the streets, and people sleep in saloons. May 13, or thereabouts, the Southern Pacific arrives in El Paso.

1882: May 27, Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire threatens city council, which was meeting to discuss his dismissal. "I can straddle every goddamned alderman here," Stoudenmire says, twirling his six-shooter. The meeting is adjourned. May 29, he sobers up and resigns.

1887: May 13, El Paso has a one-minute, 12-second earthquake, barely noticed.

1907: May 14, Our Lady of Mount Carmel - the Ysleta mission - suffers a disastrous fire. Only the walls remain.

1911: May 8, El Pasoans had a ringside seat to a Revolution as the first Battle of Juarez began. Insurrectionists, led by Francisco Madero, had been gathering outside of Juarez, and revolutionary groups were standard fare in El Paso. Tourists and foreign reporters flooded the city. Madero had decided not to attack Juarez, fearing U.S. intervention, and had ordered a withdrawal south. His followers Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa had different ideas. Madero had hardly left the encampmente heard shooting and was forced to return and act as if he were in command of an assault he had no part in starting. When bullets started popping across the Rio Grande, El Pasoans ran down to the riverbank to watch. Six El Pasoans were slain, and 15 injured, by stray bullets that ignored the international boundary.

1955: In May, Douglass School closes as black students start integrating into formerly all-white schools.


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1849: In June, Benjamin Franklin Coons, a freighter and developer, arrived at the Pass. He gave his middle name to the town that developed around his store, and to the mountains nearby.

1881: June 2, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe arrived in El Paso, just two or three weeks behind the Southern Pacific.

1890: June 13, Alderman Joseph Magoffin recommends the discharge of the entire police department. Only 50 percent are dismissed, primarily because of their ties with gambling and prostitution.

1895: June 3, the Army band presented a great performance at the Myar Opera House. However, not a person claimed the 25- and 50-cent seats. Colonel Dangerfield Parker, the Fort Bliss commander, vowed that the band would never again perform in El Paso except for military functions.

1895: June 29, Martin Mroz, lured across the border into El Paso, is shot and killed by U.S. Deputy Marshal George Scarborough, former chief of police Jeff Milton, Texas Ranger Frank McMahon and, by some accounts, Constable John Selman. Mroz was buried the next day in Concordia. The burial was attended only by his wife, Helen Beulah Mroz, and his attorney and her lover, John Wesley Hardin. Selman would kill Hardin that August. Scarborough would kill Selman the next April.

1915: June 27, Former Mexican President Victoriano Huerta and Mexican revolutionary chieftain Pascual Orozco meet at Newman, in what is now Northeast El Paso, when Huerta steps off the Southern Pacific. Also in the crowd waiting for the train are federal troops. Huerta and Orozco are both charged with violating U.S. neutrality laws.

1916: June 16, Juarez organizes a Chamber of Commerce. It promptly boycotts El Paso merchants.

1919: June 15, Pancho Villa again attacks Juarez. Fort Bliss shells Juarez with cannon from downtown El Paso, then invades Juarez with infantry across the Paso del Norte Bridge. In the Lower Valley, three units of cavalry cross the border. All units battle the revolutionaries, drive them back, and then return to El Paso by the next morning.

1942: June 30, El Paso closes its Tenderloin District.

1949: June 1, the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy becomes Texas Western College.

1986: June 1, John Hancock Financial Services signs a three-year, $1.5 million contract to sponsor the Sun Bowl. The game becomes the John Hancock Sun Bowl. In June1989, John Hancock renews its bowl sponsorship and the game is renamed the John Hancock Bowl.



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1854: July 9, the El Paso County seat moves from San Elizario to Magoffinsville. It will move back to San Elizario by September.

1857: July 27, Lt. Edward Beales brings a unique camel experiment to Franklin. Twenty-eight camels from Tripoli and Syria left east Texas to walk to California. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis wanted to know if camels could supplement horses and mules in desert country. They could, but the Civil War caused the experiment to be abandoned.

1861: The Civil War hits the El Paso area in full force. Around July, Confederate troops occupy Fort Bliss. July 23, the last stage out of El Paso, carrying seven Union men fleeing to California, is attacked by Apaches led by Mangas Coloradas near Cook's Peak in New Mexico (near present-day Deming); all seven men are killed.

1881: July 14, Billy the Kid is shot dead by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, N.M.

1912: This month, refugees pour into El Paso fleeing the Mexican Revolution. They include English, German, Spanish, French settlers in Mexico, plus more than 2,000 Mormons - including 5-year-old George W. Romney, who would become governor of Michigan and a presidential candidate.

1921: In July, the Ku Klux Klan is organized in El Paso. Crosses burn on Mount Franklin.

1924: July 26, Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon, a black physician, is turned away from the East El Paso Fire Station when he tries to vote. He takes his legal challenges all the way to the Supreme Court.

1928: Plans for Rim Road development begin. The slum community of Stormsville is destroyed and the church, Nuestra Senora de La Luz, is torn down. The more than 400 residents have until July 1 to evacuate.



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1680: Aug. 10, the Pueblo Revolt begins in northern New Mexico. Two thousand Spanish and Indian refugees flee south toward El Paso, where they populate the present-day Lower Valley.

1828: In August, trader Hugh Stephenson marries Juana Maria Ascarate, whose parents have extensive land holdings that include much of present-day central and east-central El Paso.

1850: Aug. 9, the Compromise of 1850 settles the boundary question between New Mexico and Texas. Texas loses its claim to what is essentially the eastern half of New Mexico, but it does get to keep El Paso.

1852: Aug. 17, Boundary Commissioner John R. Bartlett, whose job it was to establish the international border, returns to El Paso on his way back to Washington. He is being recalled because he set the line north of Mesilla.

1873: Aug. 12, the first city elections are held, and saloon keeper Ben Dowell becomes the city's first mayor.

1895: Aug. 19, John Wesley Hardin was shot dead by Constable John Selman in the Acme Saloon, northwest corner of San Antonio and Utah (now South Mesa) streets.

1929: Aug. 22, KTSM radio goes on the air. Karl Wyler, a car insurance salesman, chucked his job and went to work as an announcer. At night he was "Karl the Kowhand," his resonant voice wailing, "Who's Gonna Wash Your Laundry When the Chinamen Go to War?"

1943: In August, a thousand Italian prisoners-of-war arrive in El Paso. They are housed in the El Paso Coliseum for six months and spend most of their time picking cotton on Lower Valley farms. German POWs join them a year later.

1973: A labor dispute halts streetcar operations between Juarez and El Paso. The public trolleys never run to Juarez again.


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1595: Don Juan de Onate is awarded a Spanish contract for the colonization of New Mexico. It is the first time early explorers are interested in occupying, not just exploring, the area.

1827: Sept. 27, Ponce de Leon acquires 211 acres north of the Rio Grande and builds a shack near today's northwest corner of Paisano and El Paso streets. It is the first building in what will be El Paso, Texas.

1849: Sept. 8, Major Jefferson Van Horne and six companies of the Third Infantry set up shop at Ponce's Rancho to protect U.S. wagon trains. They were called "The Post Opposite El Paso, New Mexico." "El Paso" referred to El Paso del Norte, which is now Juarez; "New Mexico" referred to the fact that the area on the U.S. side of the river was not considered Texas by most people.

1876: In September, Billy the Kid rides through El Paso, and stops for a drink at the Ben Dowell Saloon, on his way to break a friend out of the San Elizario jail.

1886: In September, Franklin, a school for blacks, is started. It was renamed Douglass in September 1888. In 1888, the El Paso School Board did not recognize any of the classes taken by older students, so all students started again at the primary level.

1888: Sept. 16, El Paso del Norte becomes Cd. Juarez.

1927: Sept. 24, Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis visit El Paso, and Lindbergh exhorts El Pasoans to build a municipal airport. Almost exactly a year later -- Sept. 8, 1928 -- the new municipal airport was dedicated, and Amelia Earhart flew in the next day. The airport was moved to its present site in September 1936.

1955: In September, Thelma White is admitted to Texas Western College, becoming the first black woman in Texas to gain admission to a state school.

1964: Sept. 24, Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Adolfo Lopez Mateos sign the Chamizal agreement.


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1680: Oct. 12, Ysleta and Socorro are established in the El Paso valley, and the first Catholic Mass is said on soil that eventually becomes part of Texas.

1870: Oct. 9, Parson Joseph W. Tays conducts the first Protestant church service in El Paso when the St. Clement Church opens.

1877: Oct. 10, the El Paso Salt War flares as Judge Charles Howard kills Hispanic factional leader Luis Cardis in El Paso with a shotgun.

1893: In October, the first units of Fort Bliss troops begin arriving at LaNoria Mesa, five miles east of El Paso. This is the sixth, and the present, location of the post.

1896: Oct. 29, Lt. William Jefferson Glasgow marries Josephine Richardson Magoffin, daughter of Joseph and granddaughter of James Magoffin. It is the social event of the 1890s.

1909: Oct. 16, Presidents William Howard Taft and Porfirio Diaz meet in El Paso. The conference had no little apparent agenda beyond showing the flags. In his only speech, Taft referred to stepping upon foreign soil and enjoying the hospitality of its government. One touch of humor occurred at the El Paso Chamber of Commerce when Taft plopped his ponderous bulk into a chair and cracked its leg. For Diaz, the visit was a triumph: A parade through El Paso brought thunderous applause from well-wishers, including U.S. soldiers and Secret Service men. The Mexican Revolution to overthrow him would begin about a year later.

1918: Within one week in early October, nearly 1,000 people catch the Spanish flu. The epidemic, which will run about two months, will kill nearly 600 El Pasoans; close schools, churches and movie houses; and cause a ban on public meetings.

1937: Oct. 31, Urbici Soler is retained by the El Paso Diocese to sculpt the statue for Mount Cristo Rey. A fund-raising campaign starts.

1961: The first-ever skyjacking has occurred, and it took place at the El Paso International Airport. Leon Bearden and his son, Cody, go on trial in October in federal court for aircraft hijacking. Cody is sentenced to a juvenile school in Colorado. His father received 20 years in Leavenworth.


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1685: Nov. 28, after numerous petitions from colonists to abandon the Pass have bombarded Mexico City, the Spanish government decides that El Paso del Norte must become a permanent settlement.

1854: Nov. 16, the U.S. government takes full possession of Gadsden Purchase lands. Mexican forces pull down the Mexican flag in Mesilla, N.M., and Fort Bliss units march in and run up the U.S. flag.

1869: Nov. 12, A.J. Fountain is elected to the Texas Legislature from El Paso, beating W.W. Mills in a bitterly contested election. Fountain becomes president of the Senate and chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, all within four years, the only term he serves.

1889: Nov. 8, the Law and Order League has served notice that it will no longer tolerate public gambling. Nov. 13, more than 300 El Pasoans gather to denounce the Law and Order League.

1895: Nov. 14, the Chamizal controversy gets its start when Pedro I. Garcia files suit in the Juarez Primary Court of Claims for the return of 7.82 acres of El Paso. The Rio Grande for years had eroded south into Mexico, putting portions of Garcia's land on the U.S. side of the river.

1912: Thanksgiving Day, Zach White opens the Hotel Paso del Norte. The hotel is on the site of the old Happy Hour Theatre, El Paso's vaudeville house. Before that, the site was the Manning Saloon, and before that it was the Ben Dowell Saloon.

1913: Nov. 15, Pancho Villa captures a train, puts his troops on it, and orders the engineer to steam backwards into Juarez. In this way, Villa and his revolutionaries enter and capture the city at 2:30 a.m. It is the fourth time in less than three years that Ciudad Juarez has changed hands.

1917: Nov. 29, St. Patrick's Cathedral is dedicated.


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1659: Dec. 6, Fray Garcia de San Francisco y Zuniga finishes building a little church of branches and mud, plus a monastery thatched with straw. Juarez dates its existence from this creation.

1846: Dec. 25, Col. Alexander Doniphan is victorious at the Battle of Brazito near modern-day Vado. Two days later, he and his conquering army of 800 Missouri Farm Boys walk through the mountain canyon past modern-day Asarco, cross the Rio Grande at Hart's Mill, and bloodlessly capture El Paso, Chihuahua.

1853: Dec. 30, the Gadsden Purchase is agreed upon by Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana and American Minister James Gadsden. The price is $15 million for Mexican land extending from western Arizona to West Texas, including Mesilla, N.M.

1861: Dec. 12, Confederate Gen. Henry Sibley arrives at Fort Bliss with three regiments of Texas Volunteers. Sibley will unsuccessfully try to take New Mexico for the Confederacy.

1870: Dec. 7, the Salt War explodes as politicians begin kiling each other on the streets of El Paso. Attorney Ben Williams and District Judge Gaylord Clarke are killed; Col. A.J. Fountain is shot but his life is saved by a pocket watch that stopped one of the bullets.

1883: Dec. 3, although the village of El Paso has only 300 voting residents, it gets 2,252 votes to transfer the county seat from Ysleta to El Paso. Presumably, large numbers of people from across the river voted illegally. The county seat is moved to El Paso and stays there permanently.

1940: El Paso Electric Co. begins its Star on the Mountain Christmas tradition. 1952: Dec. 14, KROD-TV (Channel 4) becomes the first El Paso television station on the air. Some of the local celebrities on its 7 1/2-hour-a-day programming are Bernie Bracher, Lois Kibbee, and Red Brown and Anna Lee.

1978: Dec. 23, prominent El Paso attorney Lee Chagra is shot and killed in his office.


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By supporting the XII Travelers project, you add your name to the list of those who have contributed to the history of the Pass of the North. Sculptor John Houser needs help from the citizens of El Paso to complete his visionary work of 12 monumental bronze figures as a testimony to our rich history and heritage. The XII Travelers Memorial of the Southwest, Inc. is a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) corporation. Send donations to P.O. Box 220243, El Paso, Texas 79912.

Copyright 1997 by Cristo Rey Communications. E-mail to epscene@epscene.com