The Daughters of the Republic of Texas need your support as we fight to maintain ownership of the DRT Library Collection. The DRT is now collecting donations for a Legal Defense Fund to help us cover costs as we move forward with the legal process. 100% of donations to this fund will go directly to saving the library.
Every dollar matters! You can click on link above, which will take you to our Legal Fund webpage. From there, click the yellow DONATE button to make a contribution using your credit card or PayPal account.
Thank you so much for your support!
One of the Alamo’s most famous heroes would be 229 years old today. Colonel David Crockett was born on August 17, 1786. You can read his autobiography for free as an ebook on Google Books to find out about his early years in the back woods of Tennessee. Here at the Alamo Research Center, we like to talk about how much he loved Texas!
Crockett was beginning to wear out his welcome during the elections of 1835. He was an excellent political stumper as well as one of the early master political propagandists. He cultivated the image of himself as a backwoods buckskin-clad Indian fighter and “Everyman.” However, his lack of results during his first three terms as well as his vehement opposition to Andrew Jackson cost him the 1835 Congressional election. In response, Crockett declared that he would be headed for Texas to participate in the rebellion there and take advantage of the possibilities afforded by the amount of land on offer. He became the best known person to join the Texas cause.
In a portion of his letter printed on the 10th of September, 1385, in the Essex Register (Salem, MA), Crockett declares “I do believe Santa Anna’s Kingdom will be a paradise, compared with this in a few years. The People are nearly ready to take the yoke of bondage…” The full letter appears in a different newspaper, the National Intelligencer. Crockett was so famous, though, that other newspapers through the United States picked up his letter and printed it. He and his unit of Tennessee Volunteers traveled to Texas over the fall and winter of 1835. They ended up at the Alamo in San Antonio and died with the rest of the defenders on the morning of March 6, 1836.
Resource Round-Up #4
One of the very important functions of an archives is to serve communities and histories that have not always been included in public discourse. We pride ourselves on the Daughters of Republic of Texas Library Collection’s content related to underrepresented groups. In particular, we house a great deal of material that illuminates women’s history and the history of women’s groups. Here’s a brief guide to some of the women you can learn more about in our collection!
Mary Milby Giles was born at Vance Ranch near San Antonio on 1890 January 22. She was the daughter of famed architect Alfred Giles and Annie Laura James. An accomplished pianist, Milby was also involved in a several local organizations, including St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and the Military-Civilian Club, San Antonio Conservation Society, and King William Area Conservation Society.
Mary Ann Adams Maverick married Texas revolutionary Samuel A. Maverick in 1836 and accompanied him to San Antonio in 1838. They had ten children, six of whom survived to adulthood. Four of her sons fought in the Civil War. Mary kept diaries of her experiences on the Texas frontier, including the Runaway of ’42 and the Council House Fight. She was also a dedicated correspondent and political observer in the dozens of family letters contained in the Maverick Family Papers.
After her 1934 marriage to M.H. (Martin Harold) Pugh, May Eckles moved to Donna, Texas, where she and her husband were involved in the fruit industry. She moved back to San Antonio after her husband’s death in 1945. Begun on her sixteenth birthday, her diary was maintained without significant interruption until two days before her death at age 82.
Elizabet Ney was one of the first professional sculptors in Texas. Her sculptures appear at the Texas Capitol, the United
States Capitol, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Art. In addition to her sculpting, Ney took an active role in artistic and civic activities in Austin, where she died on 1907 June 29. Four years later a number of her supporters founded the Texas Fine Arts Association in her honor.
Ellen Dorothy Schulz moved to San Antonio, Texas, where she taught science at Main Avenue High School. She soon became interested in establishing a museum in San Antonio and helped organize the acquisition of a large natural history collection, which was housed in Main Avenue High School. The collection was the nucleus of the Witte Memorial Museum, which opened in 1926 with Schulz as its director, a position she held until her retirement in 1960, while continuing to pursue her interest in botany.
The Sultanas de Bejar is a women’s organization that was formed in San Antonio, Texas, in 1948. It serves as a social auxiliary to Bejar Caravan No. 56, the local chapter of the International Order of the Alhambra. Solely social in nature, the organization’s mission is to foster fellowship among members of Bejar Caravan No. 56 and their wives and to assist in furthering the aims and objectives of the Caravan.
There are many other collections that include information about Texas women and women’s organizations. You can try our catalog, use the subject guide on our website, or search our manuscript finding aids in TARO (Texas Archival Resources Online). We’re here to help in person from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. So give us a call or send us an email to set up your research appointment today!
Summer in San Antonio is hot, sweaty, and a whole lot of family fun! For residents looking for entertainment in the summer of 1906, nighttime provided a new source of recreation.
Samuel Weiss opened the Electric Park Company across the street from San Antonio’s oldest public park, San Pedro Springs Park. Electric Park included all manner of attractions including a carousel, a toboggan track, a Ferris Wheel, shooting gallery, pool hall, and boat rides, among other exciting activities. In the 1950s, Renwick Cary’s “Around the Plaza” feature in the San Antonio Express recounted the exploits of “The Girl in Red” from Doc Carver’s Diving Horse act (one of the traveling companies that inspired the Disney movie Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken) that performed at Electric Park for several seasons.
The star of the Electric Park show came on after twilight fell. The theme park was fully electrified! Many of San Antonio’s children recalled summer nights at riding the circle swing and the roller coaster. The majority of electric parks would close by 1917 due to competition, increasing operating costs, and fires, but the memory of have fun at them would live on.
Come visit us tomorrow for a First Saturday exhibit all about summer fun in San Antonio! Some of our Texas Treasures will also be on display.
“The Alamo is not ancient history. It is no more ancient than love is an old story, for nothing is ancient and nothing is old which every day teaches something that is fine and beautiful and brave.” –Richard Harding Davis, 1892
The Daughters of the Republic of Texas have been dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of Texans since their inception in 1891. Many of their most visible activities occurred at the Alamo Shrine in San Antonio. In response to Clara Driscoll, Adina de Zavala, and other women who called for the rescue of the neglected and decayed site of the 1836 battle, the Texas legislature made the Daughters of the Republic of Texas the custodians of the Alamo in 1905. Without state assistance (prior to 2011), they operated and improved the Alamo using the proceeds from the gift shop. They transformed the Alamo into a tourist site that introduces Texas history to millions of school children and visitors from around the globe while at the same time supporting preservation efforts of the historic structure.
One hundred and ten years later, their last day as the official caretakers of the historic shrine is July 10, 2015.
Their Alamo legacy, however, will live on.
Because they needed a representative to be the face of the Alamo to the public, the DRT installed a desk in the chapel for the volunteer Shrine Hostess. She answered questions and explained the history of the battle and the site to visitors. The first hostess was Florence Eagar, who held the post from 1905 until 1907. After she married Major Harris L. Roberts, her mother, Sarah Riddle Eagar, took over the duties of hostess. A citizen of the Republic of Texas herself, Sarah had been the first Anglo American child born in San Antonio.
The 1905 legislation required that the DRT operate and preserve the Alamo “without charge to the state.” Prior to 2011, the DRT provided all of the funding used to maintain and operate the Alamo historic site through the proceeds of souvenir sales. In the early years, the Daughters sold small trinkets such as vases and crockery from the Shrine Hostess’ desk. The hostess logged inventory and sales in her ledger. The souvenir shop was moved into the Alamo Sales Museum in 1936.Leita Applewhite Small, who served as Alamo Hostess, historian, custodian, and business operator for over two decades, represented all that is good about the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Upon her death in 1946, the Alamo Mission Chapter observed that Mrs. Small had left the Alamo “in first class condition more beautiful, more beloved, more expansive in its influence.” Mrs. Edith Halter kept Alamo scrapbooks during her time as hostess in the 1950s. These scrapbooks are housed in the DRT Library Collection at the Alamo Research Center. Jacqueline Runnels Espy was another long-serving hostess during the 1960s. She greeted a number of famous guests upon their visit to the Alamo, including John F. Kennedy, and often appeared in Renwick Cary’s “Around the Plaza” feature for the San Antonio Light.
The Shrine Hostess continued to be an important figure for the DRT and the Alamo. For eleven decades, these ladies have presented the public face of the history of the Alamo, the Texas Revolution, and the Texas Republic. The last shrine hostess, Anne Burney, retired in March of 2015. As the Mission Chapter put it in their tribute to Leita Small: “May these words…serve as a reminder…to learn the lesson of the Alamo as she learned it- ‘to carry on loyally and unafraid, never surrendering even though she must ask to have the cot lifted across the line.'”