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The railroad comes to Texas
December 24, 1852

On this day in 1852, the first railroad locomotive in Texas was placed in service by the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway. It was named for Gen. Sidney Sherman, one of the owners of the railroad. The engine, believed to have been built by the Baldwin Company about 1837, had a top speed of about thirty-five miles an hour. It was purchased used from a Massachusetts railroad company and arrived at Galveston in 1852. The locomotive operated until 1870. After retirement it stood as a derelict until 1899 when it was scrapped.

Spanish captain's arrival triggers construction of Presidio del Norte
December 24, 1759

On this day in 1759, Capt. Alonso Rubín de Celis reached La Junta de los Ríos, at the site of present Ojinaga, Chihuahua, where he began construction of Presidio del Norte. The junction of the Río Grande and the Río Conchos was the site of eight pueblos, the largest of which was Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe; the Spanish had sought since 1747 to build a presidio there, but not until Rubín de Celis arrived did construction begin. The long-awaited fort was completed by July 22, 1760, and its soldiers fought off an Indian attack the same day. The presidio was abandoned in the fall of 1766 and moved to Julimes on the Río Conchos. In 1772 the king ordered the reestablishment of the presidio at La Junta, and by 1773 the fort was back at its original site. Almost a century later, in November 1865, the garrison and the settlement were renamed Ojinaga for Manuel Ojinaga, governor of Chihuahua, who was executed by the French.

Early community incorporated
December 24, 1838

On this day in 1838, the pioneer community of Zavala was incorporated. Zavala, also known as Muster Point, was twelve miles northwest of Jasper and eighty-five miles north of Beaumont in northwestern Jasper County. The town was founded in 1834 and named for the empresario Lorenzo de Zavala, the original grantee of the land that was to become Jasper County. The town of Zavala, situated on land owned by Thomas B. Huling, was probably laid out by George Washington Smyth, a prominent Jasper County surveyor. Zavala was on the Old Beef Trail but was dependent on the Angelina River for trade. The town became a depot for surplus agricultural crops and imports. It also served as the seat of government for Bevil's Settlement and home of some thirty to forty families. A courthouse was built in 1838. A disastrous fire swept the town during the 1840s, and the courthouse, homes, and almost all records were destroyed. Huling sold most of his interest in the town, plus almost 5,000 acres of Jasper County land, to Jerich Durkee of London, England, in 1847. In return, Huling received $1,000 in cash and 5,000 "tin boxes of Green Mountain Vegitable Ointment." The little community declined rapidly thereafter. A marker erected in 1936 at Hamilton's Cemetery commemorates the abandoned settlement.

Museum benefactors Kay and Vera Fuller Kimbell marry
December 24, 1910

On this day in 1910, Kay Kimbell and Velma Fuller, future benefactors of Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum, married in Durant, Oklahoma. Kay Kimbell was born in 1886 in Leon County and attended public schools in Whitewright, where he met his future wife. At the time of his death in 1964 he was the head of more than seventy corporations, including flour, feed, and oil mills, grocery chains, an insurance company, and a wholesale grocery firm. Velma Fuller Kimbell, born in 1887 in Whitewright, prompted their art collecting in 1931, when she took her husband to an exhibition of old master paintings at the Fort Worth Public Library. Over the years the Kimbells assembled a multimillion-dollar art collection. In his will Kimbell left his fortune and collection to the Kimbell Art Foundation with the directive that a first-class museum be established. Upon his death Mrs. Kimbell generously supported her husband's plan by contributing her share of the community property to the foundation, making the proposed museum one of the most heavily endowed of the nation's privately funded art institutions. She turned the first shovel of earth in the groundbreaking ceremonies for the museum in 1969 and continued to take an active part in the museum's programs and activities after it opened in 1972. She died in 1982.