Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Lone Star Diamonds

The Daughters of the Texas Revolution organized in 1891, and the first president was the widow of Dr. Anson B. Jones, final president of the Republic of Texas. Today there are 7,000 members and 107 chapters. Aside from the Elisabet Ney Chapter in Washington D.C. – where there are always numerous patriotic ladies from Texas – all of the chapters are located in the Lone Star State. Indeed, during the past five years I’ve had the privilege of addressing a number of DRT chapters across Texas.
But now there is a unique new DRT chapter: Lone Star Diamonds, based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Of course, because of proximity there are many Arkansas women with deep patriotic roots in Texas. During the latter part of 2016 several of these women worked to form a DRT chapter, and the organizational meeting was held in Little Rock on December 17. I was invited, as State Historian of Texas, to address the organizational meeting of the Lone Star Diamonds Chapter. To my great regret I had inescapable schedule conflicts. I especially wanted to post a blog on the spread of the DRT into Arkansas, and to my good fortune, just two weeks after the organizational meeting, I have the opportunity to put together this blog.
Membership of the newly chartered Arkansas chapter of the DRT
A driving force behind the organization of the Lone Star Diamonds Chapter is a dynamic young lady named Amber Friday-Brown. I met Amber Friday when she enrolled in one of my freshman history courses at Panola College in the fall of 2000. Amber was a recent graduate of Winnsboro High School who attended Panola on a band scholarship. But her passion was history.

Amber Friday-Brown

She approached me after my opening class session with the news that she recently had joined the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and she told me of the various antebellum costumes she already had accumulated. She announced that she could hardly wait until I began to lecture on the Civil War. I asked her to develop a presentation on antebellum women, clothing, and manners. Her program was so good that I asked her to present it to other classes of mine, and I realized that she had a talent for presentation. During Amber’s two years at Panola College I helped arrange several appearances at UDC and at Sons of Confederate Veterans chapters. She always was well received.

Kay Tatum UDC Division President 2014-2016 and Amber Friday-Brown
Amber transferred from Panola College to College of the Ozarks at Point Lookout, Missouri, where she earned a BA in history and music. She spent her summers at Fort Macon State Park in Georgia, re-enacting antebellum females for the tourists. Periodically the fort staged an artillery demonstration. A cannon crew requires several “men,” so as a staff member Amber donned a Confederate artillery uniform and served the cannon.
Amber has remained active in UDC through the years, serving as chapter president for four years. Currently, she is president of the Arkansas Division of UDC, and she is recording secretary of the President’s Council of UDC. In 2013 Amber married J.T. Brown of El Dorado, Arkansas. J.T. is an enthusiastic Civil War re-enactor, and he is highly supportive of the travels required of Amber as a national officer of UDC.

Officers of the newly formed Arkansas Chapter of the DRT
Through UDC Amber met other Arkansas women with Texas roots. In May 2016 several of these patriotic ladies made application to the DRT office in Texas to establish a chapter in Arkansas. Several of these ladies previously had belonged to DRT chapters in Texas. The fledgling Arkansas chapter benefited from the strong leadership of Martha Batchelor, who agreed to serve as president. By December the chapter received its charter. A clever chapter logo was devised, and a chapter newsletter already has begun publication.

When I learned that Amber and J.T. were going to spend a week at Winnsboro during Christmas, we arranged to meet in Jefferson. We greeted each other at the historic Excelsior House, then proceeded on for our blog photos at the magnificent House of Four Seasons, where Amber and J.T. spent the first night of their honeymoon (before traveling to Natchez and New Orleans). Next we went to Jefferson’s 1903 Carnegie Library – one of only four Carnegie structures in Texas that still serves its original purpose – and sat around a table discussing the Lone Star Diamonds. And so I was able to put together a blog about the first Arkansas chapter of the DRT, while learning of rumors that Texas ladies in at least one other state are working to obtain a charter.

J.T. and Amber Friday-Brown

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