Sunday, May 23, 2010

Daughters of the Republic of Texas, "The Vision," Republic of Texas History Complex

By consolidating the activities of The Daughters of the Republic of Texas and The Republic of Texas Museum in one location in downtown Austin adjacent to the historic French Legation Museum, The Daughters of the Republic of Texas will be able to create the Republic of Texas History Complex. The Republic of Texas History Complex will provide a larger, more appropriate setting for exhibitions, educational programs, family gatherings, conferences and public festivals. In this way, the DRT will better serve the State of Texas and visitors seeking to learn about and appreciate the rich and fascinating history of the State of Texas.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas currently provide educational programs on Texas history for children of all ages and other special groups, in a building located in North Austin near the overpass at the intersection of U. S. Highway 183 and Interstate Highway 35. This is also the site of its daily business operations and The Republic of Texas Museum. Originally commercial in nature, the building was not designed as a museum. It is difficult for visitors to locate, and does not have adequate parking for school buses and larger numbers of visitors.

The French Legation grounds on historic Robertson Hill have been managed since 1949 by the Daughters of The Republic of Texas, and as a musem since 1956. The site is centrally located near downtown Austin at 802 San Marcos Street. A new building called the Republic of Texas history Center will be constructed on adjacent property. The Center will house the DRT Business Office and Republic of Texas Museum. It will be designed in keeping with the historic nature of the location. In addition, some existing spaces will be rearranged for improved public access, and more parking will be provided.

The Republic of Texas History Complex will contain new and existing areas:
  • Vistor Center, including a Viewing Theatre
  • Republic of Texas Museum (relocated)
  • French Legation Museum
  • Gift Shop
  • Children's Interactive Museum (relocated)
  • Business Office (relocated)
  • State-of-the-Art Texas Family Research Center
  • Meeting and Conference Accommodations
  • Expanded Parking
The Daughters of the Republic of Texas are rasing money for this project with their program called A Vision for the 21st Century. A Vision for the 21st Century is intended to help The Daughters of the Republic of Texas more effectively achieve their mission which includes the following goals:
  • To perpetuate the memory and spirit of those who achieved and maintained the independence of Texas.
  • To provide educational programs of the highest caliber in close cooperation with school districts, as well as ongoing educational programs for the general public.
  • To encourage research into early Texas records, preserve historic documents, and encourage the publication of historic records.
  • To secure and memorialize historic sites.

You can help. A Vision for the 21st Century's budget is $9.5 million. Of this amount, approximately $1 million will be provided from the sale of the DRT's North Austin building and charitable donations, already made. This leaves $8.5 million to raise to attain their Vision. Included are funds for land acquisition, construction, reprogramming exhibits, and endowment for long-term maintenance. Name recognition will be available for donors of $10,000 and more. For more information, contact Lana Boussidan, DRT Administrator at 512-339-1997.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Campaign

510 East Anderson Lane

Austin, Texas 78752



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Three Projects at the San Jacinto State Historic Site

This article was written by Steven K. Howell for the Spring 2010 editon of "The Dreadnought" the newsletter of the Battleship Texas Foundation and appears with his permission.

There are three significant projects in process at the San Jacinto State Historic Site. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is working on the Visitor Information Center; the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Battleship Texas Foundation are working jointly on the Dry Berth Project; and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Battleship Texas Foundation are also working jointly on the Wharf and Amenities Project. Details on each of these projects are presented below.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is working on the construction of a permanent Visitor Information Center at the San Jacinto State Historic Site. Five sites are under consideration, including two sites close to the location of the Texas. Public hearings have been heard to solicit input from interested parties regarding this Center. As planned the Visitor Information Center will provide a focal point for helping visitors to the Park to understand the Battle of San Jacinto, the Battleground, the San Jacinto Museum of History as well as the Battleship Texas. The Battleship Texas Foundation looks forward to working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as the Visitor Information Center Project moves forward. Funding for the Center comes from a Federal grant.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department continues to negotiate a contract with the top bidder for the Dry Berth Project. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department received written proposals from interested consultants in late 2009 and received in-person proposals from the top five bidders during November and December. The successful bidder will take on the responsibility to design and engineer the dry berth and to meet environmental compliance requirements for the construction of a permanent dry berth for the Texas. Funding for the Dry Berth Project comes from $25 million in voter-approved Bonds, suplemented by $4 million raised by the Battleship Texas Foundation.

As the Visitor Information Center Project has continued to develop, the Battleship Texas Foundation has modified the components of its Wharf and Amenities Project to coordinate with and be compatible with the Visitor Information Center. The Battleship Texas Foundation has prepared and presented revised designs to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and, once they are reviewed and accepted, the designs will be presented to the Battleship Texas Foundation Members and financial supporters. At this point in the design process, the Wharf and Amenities will be located on the north side of the existing slip. When constructed, this will permit two existing parking lots (to the south and to the east of the ship) to be removed; and this will allow additional interpretation of of the Battleground. The Amenities building is designed to include a staging area for the Overnight Education Program, a dedicated shop and restoration space for the First Texas Volunteers, a covered open-air space for the interpretation of large exhibits and new restrooms.

Many thanks to the members of the Texas Legislature, as well as to a host of other elected officials, who continue to be advocates for the preservation, restoration and presentation of the world's last dreadnought-type battleship through their continued support of the Dry Berth Project.

Click here for more information on the Battleship Texas Foundation at their web site.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2010 Texian Navy Day

David Hanover has provided some preliminary information regading the 2010 Texian Navy Day. The 2010 Texian Navy Day ceremony will be sponsored by the Sons of the Republic of Texas and will take place on September 18, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. This year's ceremony will honor the Secretary of the Republic of Texas Navy, S. Rhoads Fisher and the Republic of Texas Navy. The ceremony will be held in the Matagorda Cemetery in Matagorda, Texas. For more information, Texian Navy Day Chairman, David Hanover, can be reached at 903-509-2206 or Also check for any other changes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Texas Heritage Society - June 2010 Meeting Historian Gregg Dimmick "The Archeology of the Mexican Army in Texas"

The May meeting of the Texas Heritage Society is scheduled for June 17, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at 18 West Shaker Court in The Woodlands. The June meeting will feature Texas historian Gregg Dimmick. His topic will be "The Archeology of the Mexican Army in Texas."

Dr. Dimmick is a pediatrician in Wharton, Texas whose avocation for many years has been archeology. Beginning with his work with the "Sea of Mud" in Wharton County, Gregg Dimmick has done more to advance our understanding of the history of the Texas Revolution than any other historian in recent years. Dr. Dimmick is a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground and the Wharton County Museum.

Dimmick is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Sea of Mud, which completely modified our understanding of the retreating Texas Army following the Battle of San Jacinto. He is also the editor of General Filisola's Analysis of Jose Urrea's Military Diary which has also shed considerable light on this period in Texas history.

Texas Independence Web Site

In a collaborative project, the Star of the Republic Museum and the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site together with a number of sponsors and contributors have poduced an interactive web site for children and all students of Texas history around the world.

The promotional literature for the new "Texas Independence" web site provides the following information:

"Independence, Freedom and Democracy...What more important concepts can we teach our children? These crucial concepts were the motivation behind the convention held at Washington-on-the-Brazos, the Birthplace of Texas, in early March 1836. Texas was in turmoil, as fifty-nine elected delegates met to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico. Discover what motivated them to take this bold and unprecedented step for democracy at:

Students are immersed in the story of Texas Independence. Fun, educational activities, designed to complement both the 4th and 7th grade TEKS, include:

  • The Independence Story in 92 Seconds - an animated, action-packed overview.
  • In Washington Town - a 3D game which lets students interact with the citizens in 1836.
  • Convention Comicmaker - a fun activity which allows students to create their own story.
  • Timeline of Independence - notable events that led to the formation of the Republic of Texas.
  • Behind the Grievances - an interactive look at the Declaration of Independence based on primary sources.
  • Delegate Connection - a searchable database with key information about the delegates.
  • Primary Sources - a searchable collection of primary artifacts and documents.
  • Teachers Resources - lesson plans, TEKS correlation, activities and resources.
To learn more about Old Washington and the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence, see this interesting new web site.

Albert Sidney Johnston Camp No. 67 Meeting - May 19, 2010

The Albert Sidney Johnston Camp #67, Houston, Texas, will be holding their monthly meeting Wednesday, May 19, 2010. Mark Vogl will be making a presentation about "The Life and Times of Lt. Dick Dowling, CSA."The Albert Sidney Johnston Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans meets at The Briar Club located at Westheimer and Timmons Lane in Houston, Texas. There will be an Executive Board meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. (all camp members in good standing are invited to attend the Executive Board meeting). A happy hour-cash bar will follow at 6:30 p.m. The dinner and Camp Meeting will follow at 7:00 p.m. Please R.S.V.P. to Ev Gardner at 281-980-9054 or Dodd Eastham at

Image of "The Johnston Journal" masthead courtesy of Albert Sidney Johnston Camp #67. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 07, 2010

On May 6, 2010, the Conroe City Council voted unanimously to release bids for the construction of the Lone Star Monument and Historical Flag Park.

The Lone Star Monument and Historical Flag Park has been designed with a number of different elements to celebrate Texas and Montgomery County history. In the center of the park will be a life-sized bronze monument. The bronze monument will represent common man who volunteered to serve in the Texas Revolutionary Army to win and preserve Texas Independence. The bronze statue of the Texas Revolutionary Soldier will be holding the Lone Star Flag on a flag pole. The flag will also be made of bronze. In front of the monument will be a bronze plaque inscribed "The Texian."

Behind the monument, on flag poles, will fly several different flags significant to the Texas Revolution and to Texas as an independent nation. At the base of each flag pole will be a plaque that describes the flag and its place in Texas history.

At the entrance to the park will be a four-sided granite stand with a bronze bust of Charles B. Stewart. A biography of Stewart and directions to Montgomery, Texas where Stewart spent most of his adult life will be inscribed on this monument. Many historians credit Charles B. Stewart with the design of the Lone Star Flag of Texas in 1839 while residing in the Town of Montgomery then the county seat of Montgomery County, Texas.

The stated purpose of the park is to serve as an educational tool for the citizens of Texas, to become a source of local pride and inspiration for Montgomery, County; and to enhance heritage tourism by being a point of destination for the great number of tourists that pass through that area daily.

For more informaiton about the Lone Star Monument and Historical Flag Park, go to:

Monday, May 03, 2010

Madam Powell Marker Re-Dedicated

A Centennial Marker dedicated to Madam Powell in 1936 was re-dedicated on Saturday, May 1, 2010. This marker had been knocked down over the years and the Texas Star had been removed by vandals. The San Jacinto Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas took a leading role in the repair and cleaning of the Madam Powell 1936 marker. Jack Wendt, who now owns the property, up-righted the marker and improved the road to the marker site.

The Master of Ceremonies for the ceremony was Tom Green. Curt Osborne, Chaplain of the San Jacinto Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas led the invocation. Sam Clark, KSJ, the President General of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, led the pledge to the United States flag. Ron Brown, the President of San Jacinto Chapter #1 led the pledge to the Texas flag.

Jack Wendt then provided the history of the land that the Elizabeth Powell marker is located on going back to the original Mexican land grant and tracing the history of the ownership of the land to the present. Bert Bleil, the Chairman of the Ft. Bend County Historical Commission also spoke and welcomed everyone on behalf of the Ft. Bend County Historical Commission. Charles Sadnick, III, Historian with the Texas Historical Commission spoke about the history of the 1936 Centennial markers and the importance of efforts such as this one to preserve Texas history.

Several descendants of Elizabeth Powell were then introduced. Some of the Powell descendants had come all the way from Louisiana to be here for the re-dedication of the marker. Descendants of Elizabeth Powell included Frank and Vickie Deffes, and their son Frank and his wife, Alicia.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Gregg Dimmick, spoke about his archeological investigation of the Madam Powell site several years ago. His archeological investigation confirmed that the Mexican Army camped at the location where the Madam Powell marker was erected in 1936. Dr. Dimmick believes that the site of the Madam Powell marker marks a critical location in the history of Texas.

It was at this site, following the defeat of the Mexican Army at San Jacinto, that all the Mexican Generals met to decide what to do next. Should they take the large combined army they had (about 2500 and about 1,500 camp followers) and go after the much smaller Texas Army (about 800), or should they retreat. They decided to retreat to two towns within Texas. Shortly after leaving Powell's Tavern, it began to rain and the Mexican Army got stuck in what became known as the "Sea of Mud" or "El Mar de Lodo" near present day town of Wharton, Texas. It took the Mexican Army two weeks to extract itself from the mud. Having lost much of their supplies, General Filisola the commander of the Mexican Army decided to retreat across the Rio Grande River.

Had the Mexican Generals decided to take the attack to the much smaller Texian Army, Texas history would probably have been much different.

The up-righted, restored and cleaned marker was then unveiled by SRT President General Sam Clark and San Jacinto Chapter President Ron Brown while members of the Sons of the Republic of Texas (David Martin, Tom Houston, Carl Hill, and Dale Williamson) in 1836 period attire fired several black-powder rifle salutes.

Mr. and Mrs. Jack Wendt then welcomed everyone into their home for refreshments following the re-dedication ceremony.



Erected by the State of Texas

For more information on Madam Powell and the archeological investigation conducted by Gregg Dimmick, see Chapter Four of the book Sea of Mud. All photos courtesy of David L. Martin and K. K. Searle.