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Friday, December 23, 2011

Moments in Texas History ~ 12.23.2011

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"Santa Claus" robs bank but muffs getaway
December 23, 1927
On this day in 1927, the Santa Claus Bank Robbery occurred in Cisco, Texas. At noon Marshall Ratliff, Henry Helms, Robert Hill, and Louis Davis entered the First National Bank of Cisco with guns drawn. Ratliff, dressed in a borrowed Santa Claus costume, entered the bank vault. Some of the bank customers escaped and alerted the police and town citizens. Gunfire ensued when Ratliff came out of the vault with a sack containing money. Two policemen were mortally wounded, and Ratliff and Davis were also wounded, Davis severely. As their escape car was almost out of gas and one of the tires had been shot out, the robbers commandeered another car, but the driver took the keys with him. They then left the wounded Davis in the car, forgetting the moneybag. The fugitives escaped on foot, stole a series of cars, and had more gunfights over the next several days. They were finally captured in Graham, Texas. The infamous Santa Claus Bank Robbery led to the largest manhunt ever seen in the state at that time.
Scott and White becomes nonprofit hospital foundation
December 23, 1949
On this day in 1949, Scott and White Memorial Hospital became a nonprofit hospital foundation. The Temple, Texas, hospital was established by Arthur Carroll Scott and Raleigh R. White in 1904. It started in a converted house and was moved shortly thereafter to a former Catholic convent, which became the nucleus of a collection of thirty-one buildings in the fifty-nine years the hospital remained at the location. The hospital was first called Temple Sanitarium, but in 1922 the name was changed to Scott and White Hospital. White died in 1917, and Scott stayed at the hospital until his death in 1940. The hospital was converted to a nonprofit hospital foundation by its charter of December 23, 1949. In December 1963 it moved to its present plant, a 354-bed hospital and clinic of 880,000 square feet. In 1993 the complex consisted of over a million square feet, including a magnetic-resonance-imaging building, dialysis center, and cancer prevention and treatment center. The hospital has pioneered group practice, with private medical specialists working as teams, for the Southwest.
Bob Lemmons, "the most original mustanger," dies
December 23, 1947
On this day in 1947, Bob Lemmons, whom J. Frank Dobie called "the most original mustanger," died in Dimmit County. Lemmons (sometimes spelled Lemons) was born about 1847 and came to Texas as a slave in 1854. Lemmons's birth name is not known. After being freed, he came under the tutelage of Texas rancher Duncan Lemmons, who took the seventeen-year-old youth to work on his Eagle Pass ranch. Out of respect for his new employer and friend, Lemmons adopted the rancher's last name. When Duncan Lemmons died, Bob worked in the Carrizo Springs area and eventually purchased his own ranch there. His fame came about as a result of his mustanging methods. Said Lemmons, "I grew up with the mustangs.... I acted like I was a mustang ... made them think I was one of them." The legend of the man who lived as a mustang and gained the confidence of the wild horses spread throughout Texas, but his career as a mustanger ended when the Carrizo Springs area population began to grow and when fences sprang up on the landscape. In 1931 Dobie interviewed Lemmons for his book The Mustangs (1952).
Black militia company organizes in Nueces County
December 23, 1879
On this day in 1879, the Roberts Rifles, made up entirely of African American citizens, organized in Nueces County. The company, the county's first since the Civil War, secured armaments through the adjutant general. The organizational meeting was called by Capt. George Wilson, a commissioned officer from Galveston; Evan M. Mack, a Corpus Christi brickmason, was elected the company's first captain. In 1880 the Roberts Rifles were one of nine "colored" and thirty-eight white units in the Texas militia. The company was the centerpiece of Juneteenth celebrations between 1883 and 1886. The legislature rewrote the statutes relating to military groups in 1889, however, and continuation of such companies became much more troublesome than before. In 1892, a white company in Hempstead asked to use the name Roberts Rifles, and the black company, which had been in decline, relinquished it and adopted the name Bluff City Guards.
posted - 12.23.2011  -  The Texas State Historical Association
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