September 12, 2007
State Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin will be the guest speaker at the annual fall meeting of the Davidson Foundation at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Josephine Davidson Memorial Chapel near Harleton.Following Sen. Watson’s appearance, all those in attendance are invited to remain and enjoy a complimentary catered lunch on the chapel grounds.Watson’s credentials are impressive. He is a graduate of Baylor University and Baylor University School of Law where he was first in his class. In addition to serving in the Texas Senate, he is a former mayor of Austin as well as a lawyer, mediator, and public affairs consultant. In 1994 he was named Outstanding Young Lawyer in Texas by the State Bar, and he previously chaired the Texas Air Control Board for Gov. Ann Richards. After completing his first session in the Texas Senate in 2007, he was named “Rookie of The Year” by Texas Monthly Magazine — their choice as the most effective freshman member of the Senate. He brings a broad and thoughtful perspective to many of the most pressing of the state’s current issues. His comments on our constitutional system within this context promises to be riveting.On a country road between Harleton and Gilmer, the Josephine Davidson Memorial Chapel was constructed to honor the mother of one of Harrison County’s most outstanding jurists and political figures, Judge T. Whitfield Davidson. Davidson served as city attorney in Marshall, Texas State Senator, Lt. Governor and ran for Governor of Texas in 1924 on a platform attacking the Ku Klux Klan, which was then attempting to take over many state offices. Though he failed to win the governor’s chair, he was appointed Federal District Judge by F.D.R. and continued his battle against vigilante justice until he was in his 90s.Childless, in 1955 he decided to use his wealth to honor his mother by building a stone chapel in her name on the farm where he was born. He intended it to last forever, he said, and was buried there in 1974, two years shy of turning 100.When he established the Davidson Foundation he gave its trustees two tasks — maintaining the chapel and holding two gatherings each year. One was to be in the fall where someone “learned in the Constitution and laws of the land” would speak and one in the spring for a celebration of “the faith of our fathers.” Reflecting, perhaps, on his own memories of arduous trips to town from the country, he made sure the guests at each gathering would be fed before they left the grounds.To reach the chapel from Marshall, travel north on State Highway 154 to Harleton, then turn onto Farm-to-Market Road 450 North and follow it until it meets the Davidson Road (a TxDOT sign marks the turn) then turn left from FM 450 onto Davidson Road and follow it until it intersects the entrance to the chapel property, which is marked with a sign for the entrance. From Longview, take Alpine Road (Farm-to-Market Road 2208) north to Harleton and then follow the same instructions. From Jefferson, take Farm-to-Market Road 2208 West to Harleton and then follow the same instructions. From Gilmer take State Highway 154 southeast to Harleton and follow the same directions.The foundation’s trustees invite the public to enjoy this unique East Texas tradition with a truly impressive speaker in one of our area’s most picturesque settings.