Daughters of the Republic of Texas celebrate milestone

Shirley Smith (right) was presented with a certificate of appreciation by  Arlene Garey.

Members of the Joshua D. Brown Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the chapter’s founding. A large celebration was planned to commemorate the event, but due to COVID restrictions, those plans had to be canceled.

The Chapter organized with 26 members on Jan. 9, 1996, in Kerrville. Charter officers were  President Shirley Smith, Vice-president Eva Smith, Secretary Peggy Tombs, Recording Secretary June Spencer, Registrar Dora Colley, Treasurer Marjorie Wilson, and Chaplain Billie Bryant.  The chapter first met at the KPUB meeting room.  Later, the location was moved to Trinity Baptist Church, and most recently to First United Methodist Church in Kerrville.

In the early days, the JDB Chapter undertook many fundraising projects to help raise money for the purchase of land and construction of the Republic of Texas History Center, to be located next to the French Legation building in downtown Austin.  The chapter held a silent auction, luncheon, and style show featuring 24 models (including gentlemen), which raised more than $11,000.  According to Past President GayNell Wells, the fashions included everyday dresses, aprons, bonnets, beautiful ball gowns, church attire, a wedding dress, and a widow’s frock, all clothing applicable to the Republic Era.  Eighteen of the costumes were created by Emeritus member Joy Putnam.  Members sold hotdogs and soft drinks at many local events, and provided parade floats manned by members in period dresses from the Republic Era.  The History Center is now under construction at 810 San Marcos Street in Austin.

The Chapter also awards two scholarships annually to deserving area seniors, places cemetery markers on Republic of Texas Veterans’ graves, and delivers Christmas cards to all area nursing homes and VA Hospital patients. Past President Pat Gaines noted, “Our Chapter is known state-wide as a good, hardworking group.  We weren’t just DRT members, we were friends, and I feel that made the difference in our Chapter.”

Since 1996, the Chapter has grown from the original 26 members to 149 in 2021.  Any woman interested in Texas History, or in learning if their ancestors were in Texas prior to February 19, 1846, when Texas became the 28th state of the Union, is welcome to attend meetings and apply for membership.  

Registrar Anne Lieck and others are always available to assist in finding records that prove residence during that time.

Meetings are held on the fourth Monday of the month, September through May. Until further notice, chapter meetings will be held via Zoom, and the next meeting will be on Feb. 22 at 10 a.m.

The speaker will be Dr. William Rector, who will present “Plans for Heart of the Hills Heritage Center.” Rector is the chairman of the board of directors of the Center, which will be the first official history museum in Kerr County.  Anyone interested in attending may contact Judy McVay at jmcvay@gvtc.com.

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