It would not be the first time the town's history was altered due to an event that happened in someone else's backyard.
In 1933, State Representative B. Frank Haag, former Midland mayor and county attorney, was killed in an automobile accident four miles northwest of Sterling City.
Haag is somewhat of a Midland mystery. He has but a thin file in the Midland County Historical Museum and only a brief mention of his life is included in the late Nancy McKinley's book, "Pioneer Families in Midland County History." His contributions -- which at least seem plentiful -- are not recorded in John Howard Griffin's early history, "Land of the High Sky" or in Gus Clemens' "Legacy," published in the 1980s.
The mention of him in McKinley's book ends after detailing his service as mayor, and says nothing about his time as a Midland lawmaker in the Texas House of Representatives.
Newspaper clippings and letters reflect a widely-held respect for the man. A proclamation memorializing him was read before the legislature upon his death and, according to his daughter-in-law, 92-year-old Merle Haag, who still lives in Midland, Coke Stevenson, the 35th governor of Texas, was said to have been a good friend. Mrs. Haag said that many thought her late father-in-law was himself being groomed for the governor's office.
Haag was an attorney for Frank Stubbeman's law firm in Midland, and a co-sponsor of a bill that established Big Bend National Park. He was also given much credit for the creation of Highway 349 that connects Midland with Lamesa.
When he died on Thursday, July 13, 1933, the Midland Reporter-Telegram ran a large, all-cap headline that read 'REPRESENTATIVE HAAG IS DEAD." The size of the head was large enough to clearly reflect Haag's significance in the town's history. His death came when he and four others -- including Clarence Scharbauer Sr. -- were returning from Austin and a meeting before the state highway commission. Haag reportedly swerved to miss an oncoming truck that had drifted into his lane and was thrown 40-feet from his vehicle, suffering injuries from which he would not recover.
The newspaper had kept up with his failing prognosis, printing a headline two days before his death that said Haag "May Not Live."
"Rep. Haag's condition grave. Doubt exists for his recovery. No operation yet performed. Three fractures of the parietal bone on the right side over the ear and eye and back along the the fissure of the rolans involving the motor area. Heart action good but slow and interrupted. Pulse 90 to 100. Respiration seven to nine a minute. Only a slight chance of recovery."
Paul Vickers, secretary of the Midland Chamber of Commerce at the time, who was also in the car at the time of the accident, called Haag, "a good man who was recognized as one of the most popular young members at Austin and one whose death without doubt will leave the entire representative district stunned. I am profoundly moved at his passing."
The Haag family received letters of condolence from dignitaries around the state, including Stevenson, the future governor.
Haag also formed the first Chamber of Commerce in Midland and in West Texas, according to his surviving daughter-in-law. Mrs. Haag also said her father-in-law helped other communities in the region establish chambers of their own.
His death brought the following sentiment from Clarence Scharbauer: "Rep. Haag was my friend and a friend to everyone. He was progressive and sought for the common good as few men have. His death is a blow to all."
A tribute published in the Texas Bar Journal and written by Frank Stubbeman said, "When B. Frank Haag died on July 13, 1933, every business establishment in the city closed for the funeral. According to the Midland newspaper, ministers from the Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian and Christian churches joined in conducting the funeral service."
Stubbeman's tribute proceeded to tell of the high esteem in which Haag was held, calling him a servant "with rare promise."
'The life of B. Frank Haag," Stubbeman memorialized, "is one more example of outstanding achievement by one who believed that in this country, possibilities are unlimited and who believed that by his own efforts, determination, right attitude and desire to be of service to his community he could accomplish what he set out to do."
He also served as a Midland County Attorney and on the Midland school board.
It remains somewhat of a mystery why more information has not been recorded on a man who obviously was quite decorated and honored.
Ms. Haag said recently that it was her father-in-law who donated the land that would come to be Midland Air Park. The airport, though, has never been named after the man who donated the land for it, and Mrs. Haag theorizes bad timing likely had something to do with that.
"It was war time," she said. "Haag is German. Our family name was not looked upon with much favor at the time."