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The keepers of Texas history

PHOTO CAPTION: The Charter of the Ferdinand Lindheimer Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

PHOTO CAPTION: The Charter of the Ferdinand Lindheimer Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas: One and Indivisible

By Tara V. Kohlenberg —

PHOTO CAPTION: State Flag of Texas flying over Main Plaza.

PHOTO CAPTION: State Flag of Texas flying over Main Plaza.

There is nothing more beautiful to a Texan than the Lone Star Flag flying against a brilliant azure blue sky. You may have noticed the Texas flags posted around Main Plaza and on downtown streets earlier in the week. But do you know why? Or by whom they are posted?

Every good Texan should recognize March 2 as Texas Independence Day and March 6 as Alamo Day. For the “Newly Texan” or those who do not remember 7th grade history, here is a short explanation in a nutshell.

In 1835, Texian Colonists had grown discontent with the dictatorship of President Antonio López de Santa Anna. Things heated up in the fall of ’35 with a couple of battles taking place. On February 1, 1836, delegates, representing seventeen Texas municipalities, were elected to meet March 1 to discuss independence from Mexico. Before they could meet, Santa Anna’s army attacked the Alamo on February 23, where the battle raged for 13 days. On March 2, 1836, fifty-eight members signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, and the Republic of Texas was born! The Alamo fell on March 6, 1836, sparking the cry “Remember the Alamo” that carried Texians on to win the Battle at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836 (San Jacinto Day).

How do we know these things? There are people and groups that make it their life’s work to research old documents, diaries, and letters to keep history alive. One such group, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas have been sharing the stories of Texas for more than 130 years.

Founded in 1891, The Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) is the oldest patriotic women’s organization in Texas, as well as one of the oldest in the nation. It came about when Miss Betty Ballinger and her cousin, Miss Hally Bryan, both of Galveston, came up with the idea of honoring the memory of the Texas pioneer families and soldiers of the Republic of Texas by forming an association of their female descendants. They, along with fourteen other ladies at the Houston home of Mrs. Andrew Briscoe, formed the organization that is known today as the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

The DRT held their early meetings in conjunction with the Texas Veterans Association reunions, inviting the wives and daughters of these Veterans to join their organization. It had been fifty-five years since the Battle of San Jacinto. It was easy for the women to realize the necessity of a patriotic group to assist and carry on the work of the aging heroes identifying and preserving important historical sites.

The 34th and final reunion of the Texas Veterans Association took place in Austin in 1907. Only six Veterans answered roll call. The Veterans voted to dissolve the Veterans Association but chose to merge their memories and historical meaning with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

Building on the DRT mission of perpetuating the memory and spirit of those who achieved and maintained the independence of Texas, the organization provides education programs and preserves historic documents and memorial historic sites from the Republic of Texas period. The DRT chapter numbers have grown to ninety-one chapters statewide, plus one in Arkansas and one in Washington, D.C. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas is a genealogical organization. Membership is open to any woman who is a lineal descendant of a man or woman who rendered loyal service for Texas prior to annexation of Texas to the United States of America (February 19, 1846, Texas Statehood Day). Each chapter is a part of the larger organization, operating within the framework of Bylaws established by the Association.

In New Braunfels, the Ferdinand Lindheimer Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas was chartered on May 11, 1982 with nineteen Charter Members including: Agnes Glasscock Grimm, Sudie Wray Barker, Katherine Elva Grimm Burrell, Ann Cunningham Burrus, Martha Amanda Burrus, Mary Ellis Burrus, Esther Gerhardt, Mary Ann Moore Greaver, Marie Shelly Holm, Mattie Nelson Howard, Viola Mae Shearer Johns, Carolyn Grimm Appling, Mary Elizabeth Williams Lozo, Hilary K. Lyon, Joyce Avery Moore, Luciclaire Proud, Mary Jane Kincaid Schoch, Bronwyn Ann Wilson, and Jeanne Renni Wilson. The Chapter now boasts 145 members and associate members.

The Ferdinand Lindheimer Chapter name pays homage to the Father of Texas Botany, who rode with Prince Solms into New Braunfels, and qualifies as a Republic of Texas Ancestor. The local DRT Chapter has taken on multiple projects preserving and promoting Texas history: the purchase and posting of the Texas flags on Texas Honor Days (several mentioned above); provision of books and educational materials about Texas to local schools; holding essay contests promoting Texas history; awarding scholarships to graduating students in Comal County and to DRT descendants. The Ferdinand Lindheimer Chapter of DRT funds their local projects and the larger DRT State projects with fundraisers held throughout the year.

As part of their mission, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas has maintained the birthplace of DRT in Galveston, The Cradle, and other historic properties overseen by DRT chapters across the state. They also maintain and oversee the DRT Library Collection in San Antonio. Recently, the DRT opened the Republic of Texas Museum presented by the Nelson Pruett Foundation in the new Republic of Texas History Center’s state-of-the-art facility located at 810 San Marcos Street in Austin.

If you are interested in learning more about your Texas ancestors and celebrating Republic of Texas history, check out the Daughters of the Republic of Texas website or email questions to ferdinandlindheimer@drtinfo.org . Who knows? You might be a descendant of a Republic of Texas Ancestor.

Sources: Sophienburg Museum and Archives; Daughters of the Republic of Texas; Handbook of Texas Online.