On Monday, March 2, 2020, the Seguin Abishai Mercer Dickson Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic will celebrate Texas Independence Day at the Sebastopol Historic Home located at 704 Zorn St. The celebration is free to the public and will begin at 1:30 p.m. with State Rep. John Kuempel acting as master of ceremonies.
In 1986, the late Nora Naumann organized Seguin’s annual “Toast of Texas” celebration commemorating the March 2, 1836, signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico. In 1998, she invited Gov. George W. Bush, and he accepted, to be the master of ceremonies for the Toast of Texas celebration. State Rep. Edmund Kuempel then served each year after that until his death on Nov. 4, 2010. His son, Rep. John Kuempel has served each year since his father’s death.
Mayor Don Keil will join Rep. John Kuempel in leading the celebration. Doug Parker will read the famous William B. Travis letter to the world, asking for men to come help defend the Alamo. The Seguin High School Chamber Choir will perform “Texas Our Texas” followed by Ron Wright singing the National Anthem. The Seguin ROTC will then post the colors.
The Daughters of the Republic of Texas is the oldest patriotic women’s organization in Texas. In 1891, two women, Betty Ballinger and Holly Bryn Perry, formulated plans for an association to be composed of women who were direct descendants of the men and women who established the Republic of Texas. The motto of the DRT is “Texas, One and Indivisible.” The name first chosen for this organization was “Daughters of Female Descendants of the Heroes of ’36.” They later changed the name to “Daughters of the Lone Star Republic of Texas.” At their annual meeting in 1892, the women renamed their association “The Daughters of the Republic.”
The goal of the association is to preserve historical documents, records and narratives and to celebrate important days in our state’s history. It also encourages the teaching of Texas history in our public schools and sponsors the placement of historical markers.
The Daughters hold their annual meeting on May 14, the date on which the Treaties of Velasco were signed. At that time, the board outlines the objectives for the association during the coming year.
All members of the DRT are women who can show lineal descent through official records such as birth certificates, death records, census records, etc., to a man or woman who served Texas before Texas was annexed into the Union in December 1845.
Throughout the state there are 108 Chapters with more than 7,000 members. One of the earliest projects was to persuade the Texas Legislature to purchase the land on which the Battle of San Jacinto was fought. Battlefield markers were then placed on historical sites identified by the Veterans Association.
The Daughters were also instrumental in the state’s decision to purchase life size statues of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston for the rotunda of the capitol in Austin. They also placed a monument at Washington-on-the-Brazos where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed on March 2, 1836.
In 1905, through the efforts of Clara Driscoll and Adina de Zavala, the Daughters became custodians of the Alamo. In an agreement with the state, they would maintain the Alamo Chapel, surrounding grounds and gardens without cost to the taxpayer and there would be no admission charged. Additionally, the Daughters of the Republic Library at the Alamo, with manuscripts dating back to the 1500s, would be open to all researchers.
In 2015, after many years under the DRT management, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush removed the control of the Alamo from the DRT and placed it under the Texas Land Office, which then placed it under the Texas Parks Division for the state of Texas.
The Seguin Chapter of the DRT was formed in 1969 and named after Abishai Mercer Dickson, a native of Alabama who joined the Alabama Red Rovers and supported the Texas Revolution. In November 1835, requests for volunteers were sent throughout the United States to join Texas in its fight for independence from Mexico. The Red Rovers were 60 volunteers from northern Alabama of Cortland and Tuscumbia. (Tuscumbia was the other name considered for Seguin in February 1839.) Abishai Mercer Dickson, along with most of the Red Rovers, died in the Goliad massacre on Palm Sunday, 1836.
Kreschendalyn Elley Backus, president of the Abishai Mercer Dickson Chapter, said anyone who meets the membership requirements and is interested in joining the DRT can e-mail their information to SeguinDRT@gmail.com or contact her, Karen Willis, Sandra Peters, Jody Stevenson or Christy Trammel.