Mr. Texas - Texas Governors Series LbNA # 40369
|Placed Date||May 27 2008|
Coke Robert Stevenson, the 35th governor of Texas, was born on March 20, 1888, in a log cabin in Mason County, Texas. His father was a schoolteacher and surveyor in various Hill Country areas, including Sutton County, where Stevenson finished his formal schooling (a total of seven years of three-month school terms). His father opened a general store in Junction, Kimble County, and as a teenager Coke went into the business of hauling freight between Junction and Brady. He studied history and bookkeeping by the light of campfires, sold the freight line, and went to work as a janitor for the Junction State Bank. He was soon doing the bank's bookkeeping, and by the time he was twenty he was made cashier. He studied law at night, passed the state bar examination in 1913, left the bank to practice law, and organized and became president of the First National Bank in Junction. As a young man he was involved in many small businesses in Kimble County, including the Junction Warehouse Company, a motion-picture house, a hardware store, an automobile agency, a weekly newspaper, a drug business, and the establishment of the Las Lomas Hotel in Junction. In Kimble County he served as county attorney (1914-18) and as county judge (1919-21). He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1928, and he was a member of that body from 1929 to 1939. He served as speaker of the House from 1933 to 1937, the first person ever to hold that office for two successive terms. Stevenson was elected lieutenant governor of Texas, and served from 1939 to August 4, 1941, when he became governor after W. Lee O’Daniel resigned to become United States senator. Stevenson was elected governor on his own in 1942. He was reelected in 1944 by an overwhelming vote. Since Texas was a one party state (Democratic), the main contest was the Democratic primary. Coke ran for reelection against eight primary opponents by driving around Texas and making conversation with folks he’d meet. Rarely did he make a formal speech, or talk on the radio. And, he wouldn’t stoop to reply to negative attacks from the other campaigns. In this primary, Coke Stevenson received 85% of the vote while the other eight candidates combined for 15%. Incredibly, he carried all 254 counties in a 9 person race. The entire state adored him and he was called “Mr. Texas”. When he left the Governor's Mansion in 1947, Stevenson returned to his 15,000-acre ranch at Telegraph, near Junction. His last political race, for United States senator in 1948, was the only one he ever lost, and it perhaps gave him more national attention than he had ever received before. That election, which he lost to Lyndon Baines Johnson by eighty-seven votes, may have changed the course of history, for Johnson went on to become president of the United States. The contest between Stevenson and Johnson was the closest senatorial race in the nation's history; after Stevenson appeared to be the winner, an amended return came in from Precinct 13 in Jim Wells County, a stronghold of George B. Parr, giving Johnson 201 votes and Stevenson only 2 votes; this decided the election in Johnson's favor, with a total state vote of 494,191 for Johnson and 494,104 for Stevenson. Stevenson contested the election, claiming there had been fraudulent votes cast in Duval County and in Precinct 13 in Jim Wells County. The dispute was carried all the way to the United States Supreme Court, but after the voting lists from Box 13 were lost or stolen and the Duval County returns were burned prior to the date set by law, the federal court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction in the case. Stevenson's plea to the United States Senate was refused, and he took the defeat with bitterness. He remained disenchanted with the Democratic party during his long retirement from active politics.
This box is located at South Llano River State Park. From I-10 in Junction, go south on US Highway 377 for 5 miles to Park Road 73 on the left. On your left you will see a walking path that runs along the entry road. Watch for a sign that identifies a bird blind viewing area. NOTICE: YOU MUST GO TO THE OFFICE TO PAY YOUR FEES AND GET A PERMIT BEFORE UTILIZING ANY PARK FACILITIES, TRAILS, BIRD BLINDS, PICNIC AREAS OR CAMPSITES. Proceed to the park office, then return to the parking area for the bird viewing area.
To the box:
Walk along the path to the bird blind. It's a short walk. As you leave the main path you will pass the barn on the left and go sit in Lora's Blind to watch the birds feed. When we were there we saw 3 painted buntings feeding at the same time. We also saw wild turkeys in the field. Go back out toward the path with the barn on your right and follow the stick fence to its corner. Turn right and go past the big tree to where the rusty corrugated tin ends. Look between the tin sheeting and the fence, under 2 white rocks for the box.