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"Time is what we want most, but what we use the worst."
~William Penn

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Moments in Texas History ~ 12.25.2011

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Mexican raiders attack Luke Brite's ranch
December 25, 1917
On this day in 1917, some forty-five Mexicans, possibly followers of Pancho Villa, crossed the border and attacked Luke Brite's Presidio County ranch. The Christmas holiday found the Brites and most of their workers away from the ranch; the family of ranch manager T. T. Van Neill fought the invaders, but were forced to surrender the key to the ranch store. The raiders looted the store of food, clothing, and cash and stole the best horses and all the ranch's saddles. The mail stage arrived during the raid and the postman and two passengers were murdered. After several hours, neighbors and members of the Eighth U.S. Cavalry arrived and drove off the raiders. On the following morning, the raiders crossed back into Mexico. Some 200 cavalry troopers followed, killing ten of the bandits and recovering some of the stolen goods. A few days later, Texas Rangers killed fifteen Mexicans in Porvenir, in part in retaliation for the Brite Ranch raid; the Porvenir Massacre was one of the most serious acts of ranger misconduct cited in the Texas Ranger investigation of 1919.

First Communion service for Texas Episcopalians
December 25, 1838
On this Christmas Day in 1838, Caleb Smith Ives, an Episcopal priest, celebrated the Holy Eucharist in Matagorda, Texas. This is believed to be the first time it had been celebrated in Texas according to the Episcopal rite. Ives, a native of Vermont, arrived in Texas late in 1838 and established an Episcopal church at Matagorda. He held occasional services in Brazoria and organized St. John's parish at Victoria, but continued to hold the pastorate at Christ Church in Matagorda, where he and his wife operated Matagorda Academy, said to be one of the best academies in Texas. Christ Church was the first Episcopal parish in Texas and, at the time, the most southern and western in the Protestant Episcopal Church of America. Ives died in 1849.

Kit Carson signs Sawtooth Mountain
December 25, 1839
On this day in 1839, frontiersman Kit Carson allegedly carved his name and the date on a huge boulder on Sawtooth Mountain in the Davis Mountains. Carson was born in 1809 in Kentucky and grew up in Missouri. He ran away to Santa Fe in 1826 and subsequently embarked on an arduous and wide-ranging career as a fur trapper. As a guide and hunter for John C. Frémont in the 1840s, he gained national fame through Frémont's published reports. Carson was an Indian agent in Taos, New Mexico, in the 1850s. He served in the Mexican War and in the Civil War, commanding a New Mexico volunteer regiment in the battle of Valverde. His connections to Texas history included helping foil the Snively Expedition in 1843 and leading the attack against a large number of Kiowas and Comanches in the first battle of Adobe Walls in 1864. He died in Colorado in 1868. Engineers of the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation discovered the inscription on Sawtooth Mountain in 1941.

Houston and Texas Central reaches Austin
December 25, 1871
On this day in 1871, the Houston and Texas Central Railroad reached Austin, making the city the westernmost rail terminus in Texas. The completion of the first railroad to the capital city marked a new era in Austin's development. As the only railroad town for scores of miles in most directions, Austin was transformed into a trading center for a vast area. Construction boomed and the population more than doubled in five years. Although a second railroad, the International-Great Northern, reached Austin in 1876, the town's fortunes turned downward after 1875 as rival lines traversed the region and diverted much of Austin's trade to other towns. Austin's expectations of rivaling other Texas cities for economic leadership faded, though the city solidified its position as a political and educational center.

posted - 12.25.2011  -  The Texas State Historical Association
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