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Red Rovers leave for Texas
December 12, 1835

On this day in 1835, the Red Rovers, a volunteer military company, left their camp in Alabama to join the Texas Revolution. The company was organized by its captain, Jack Shackelford, at Courtland, Alabama, in November 1835 and named for the fact that its members were uniformed in red jeans. The seventy members of the company were equipped with rifles and military supplies from the Alabama state arsenal. After being inspected by Stephen F. Austin and Nicholas Adolphus Sterne in New Orleans, the company reached Texas on January 19, 1836. They were sent on to Goliad, where they were assigned to the Lafayette Battalion under the command of James Fannin. During the Goliad Campaign of 1836 they were sent on several local expeditions. At the battle of Coleto the Red Rovers occupied the extreme right of the front side of the square and acquitted themselves like veterans. The unit was surrendered with Fannin's command, and most of the men sustained a common fate in the Goliad Massacre.

Toonerville Trolley opens for business
December 12, 1910

On this day in 1910, the "Toonerville Trolley" streetcar line began operating between Houston and the suburban community of Bellaire. Railroad executive William Wright Baldwin, acting as president of the South End Land Company, founded Bellaire and Westmoreland Farms after purchasing the 9,449-acre Rice Ranch in 1908. The development was six miles from Houston on the eastern edge of the ranch named for its former owner, William Marsh Rice. By 1910 Baldwin had invested over $150,000 in capital improvements to turn the treeless prairie into an attractive location for residences and small truck farms. From the site to Main Street in Houston he constructed Bellaire Boulevard. He also incorporated the Westmoreland Railroad Company to build an electric streetcar line down the center of the boulevard. The Toonerville Trolley operated from 1910 until bus service replaced it on September 26, 1927. The line was typical of the many electric streetcar lines that played an important role in the urban growth of Texas. The town of Bellaire was eventually surrounded by Houston, but it remained a separate community with a population of 15,642 in 2000.

Fiery preacher denounces professor
December 12, 1930

On this day in 1930, at a rally in the courthouse square in Canyon, J. Frank Norris, Baptist pastor and editor of The Fundamentalist, denounced Professor Joseph Leo Duflot of West Texas State Teachers College (now West Texas A&M University) for teaching evolution and for his "modernist" philosophy. Duflot, the organizer and chairman of the sociology department, had already been dismissed by the First Presbyterian Church of Canyon in 1921 for allegedly mixing evolution with the Genesis account of creation and questioning the veracity of certain passages in the Bible. As part of a series of revival meeings held in December 1930, Norris invited him to a debate on December 12, but the professor had politely declined, preferring instead to play golf that day. At the rally Norris condemned Duflot as "an orangutang, God-denying, Bible-destroying, evolutionist professor" with atheistic tendencies, and urged that he be dismissed from the West Texas State faculty. Although Duflot was called in for a hearing by the college's board of regents, he ably exonerated himself. He retired in 1955, after serving as department head for thirty-three years.