Twenty-eight-year-old James Babbage Wells, Jr. arrived at the southern tip of Texas on July 22, 1878, with a burning desire to make the most of a fresh start.

The son of a proud but far from prosperous hero of the Lone Star Revolution had been in Brownsville only a few days, when he was surprised by an unexpected offer of employment. Judge Stephen Powers, the man who called the shots in South Texas, needed to replace a junior partner killed in a duel and wanted to know if the newcomer would consider joining his prestigious law firm.

Bartee Haile writes This Week In Texas History, which appears every Sunday. He welcomes your comments and questions at barteehaile@gmail.com or P.O. Box 130011, Spring, TX 77393 and invites you to visit his website at barteehaile.com .

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