Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Children of the Republic of Texas

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College ( in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

Most Texans are familiar with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The DRT adopted its name at an organizational meeting in Lampasas in 1892 and the first president was the widow of Dr. Anson B. Jones, last president of the Republic of Texas. The Sons of the Republic of Texas date from 1893, although there were predecessor organizations. My sister and my daughters are members of the DRT, and I am a proud member of the San Jacinto Chapter of the SRT. As State Historian I’ve provided various programs to DRT and SRT chapters. But I’ve had little contact with Children of the Republic of Texas – until weekend before last.

The CRT was organized in 1929 to foster the study of Texas history among Texans to young to join DRT or SRT chapters. There is a special focus on fourth- and seventh-grade schoolchildren, who study Texas history in the classroom. Today CRT boasts more than 2,000 members statewide.

With L to R: Jodi, Joseph, Jacob,
and their mother, Arlene Lopez
On Sunday, August 16, I attended an afternoon reception for the new President General of the CRT, Sarah Elizabeth Funderburk of Carthage. The previous day, at the 202nd celebration of the Battle of Medina at Pleasanton, I met two other state officers of the CRT, brothers Joseph and Jacob Lopez. Their mother, Arlene Lopez, asked me to pose for a photo with her children. She explained that Joseph recently had been elected Corresponding Secretary General of the CRT, while Jacob was the new Historian General. Furthermore their sister, Jodi, is an officer in the Alamo Courier Chapter. The Lopez family home is in Bulverde, and husband-father Jose was a re-enactor at the Medina Battlefield. A few years ago Jose told his children that a direct ancestor had fought at the Battle of Medina. The family began to investigate their ancestor and his descendants and their background, which provide material for requisite CRT projects. Each of the Lopez children joined CRT and became officers in the Alamo Courier Chapter. Joseph and Jacob have become state officers, and their parents are to be commended for encouraging their Texas history efforts.
Arlene and her husband Jose Lopez (at far right)

The day after I met the Lopez family, I was back in Carthage. Following church I went to our Old Jail Museum, where a reception was being held for the CRT President General, Sarah Funderburk. Sarah is the granddaughter of a longtime faculty colleague of mine, Liz Hedges, and Sarah’s parents are former students of mine – Jason and Kim Hedges Funderburk. Following her retirement from Panola College, Liz became active in family genealogy research, as well as in Daughters of the Republic of Texas and Daughters of the American Revolution. Indeed, through the years Liz enlisted me to provide an occasional program for chapters that she led.

Old Jail Museum in Carthage
President General Sarah Funderburk and the CRT
Grandmother of the Year Liz Hedges
Her activities piqued the interest of her granddaughter, and Liz guided Sarah into membership, and soon, leadership roles. Sarah is a member of the Mary Jane Lyday CRT Chapter of Longview, and she has developed excellent research projects. Leadership in her local chapter soon led to state offices: chaplain general, second vice president general, and last year first vice president. In June, at the 2015 CRT State Convention in Brenham, Sarah was elected President General.

 “This year was one of our biggest conventions,” related Sarah, “and I was very honored to be participating in it and being elected as president general for the upcoming year.”

President General Funderburk has ambitious plans, and her senior year at Carthage High School will include a great deal of travel. And as Sarah has advanced to the presidency general, her grandmother has become a member of the DRT Board of Management, while also serving as CRT Registrar General for the DRT. Furthermore, at the state convention in Brenham, Liz was selected as the Grandmother of the Year. While I was learning about these matters from Sarah and Liz, I received an invitation as State Historian to deliver the keynote address at the 2016 State Convention of CRT in Castroville. I eagerly accepted, and I’m already looking forward to my first CRT event on June 25, 2016.

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