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Oran M. Roberts

Oran M. Roberts

Chapter 440

United Daughters of the Confederacy®

Houston, Harris County, Texas

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Adelia A. Dunovant

Founding President, Oran M. Roberts 440

Adelia A. Dunovant
Gravemaker Dedication Ceremony - Feb 2008

Adelia A. Dunovant was born on Tuesday, 12 Apr 1842, [1] in Columbia, Richmond Co., SC, and was the oldest child of Alexander Quay (A.Q.) Dunovant and Mary McLure Lowry. Her siblings include: William Dunovant, Mary Dunovant, Susan L. Dunovant, Margaret (Maggie) Quay Dunovant Calhoun, John Dunovant, Alexander Quay Dunovant (Jr.) and Kate Leslie Dunovant.

Adelia was a young woman during the War Between the States and experienced the glory of the flags whipping in the wind, the parades and soldiers marching off to do their duty only to be tempered with the fury and devastation after Appomattox and during Reconstruction.

Her father, A.Q. and uncle, R.G.M. Dunovant were both elected as delegates to the South Carolina Secession Convention and signed the Ordinance of Secession. Her father was appointed a Colonel and aide-de-camp to the Governor of South Carolina. Her uncle Brigadier General John Dunovant was killed-in-action and another uncle, Brigadier General R.G.M. Dunovant would lead the fire of artillery shots on Fort Sumter and assist with the defense of Charleston. Her brother, Captain William Dunovant, was twice wounded-in-action and lost an arm during The War.

After The War, her father lost his entire fortune and in the Winter of 1865. the family would remove from South Carolina for a plantation he owned in Colorado Co., TX. There are no surviving records of how Colonel Dunovant and the family traveled from South Carolina to Texas.

Did Adelia ever forget The War? Like many women of the South, she embodied a hope for the South and probably never saw that things had changed irrevocably and forever. She carried the torch of Southern history. She was one of the things that never changed, she never forgot and she believed there was a purpose to preserving the history and legacy of the Confederacy and its soldiers. She embodied this love of Southern Heritage and on Wednesday, 2 Nov 1898, Adelia applied for admission as a charter member of the Robert E. Lee Chapter 186, United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) in Houston, Harris Co., TX.

On Wednesday, 19 Feb 1901, Adelia founded the Oran M. Roberts Chapter 440, United Daughters of the Confederacy in Houston, Harris Co., TX and within a few months, the membership of the chapter had reached almost 350 ladies.

On Thursday, 5 Dec 1901, Adelia A. Dunovant was elected as the fourth President of the Texas Division, UDC and she served until December 1903, when Mrs. Cone Johnson was elected to the position.

On 3 Sept 1902, the Adelia A. Dunovant Chapter 602, UDC was organized and named in her honor at Creason, Hood Co., TX. [4]

Adelia died of “old age” on Sunday, 12 Dec 1926 in Gainsville, Cooke Co., TX. She was buried on Saturday, 25 Dec 1926, in the Glenwood Cemetery, Houston, Harris Co., TX, with her brother William, sister Margaret and brother-in-law, William E. Calhoun.

The one thing that Adelia wanted most was to be remembered for her work in saving and preserving the heritage of the South. It is the goal of the chapter to be faithful to Adelia’s memory as someone who should be remembered. Everyone has forgotten her name and the memory of all she had done to preserve Southern history and as an avid believer in the United Daughters of the Confederacy as all she accomplished seems to have faded into nothingness with the exception of the living legacy of the Oran M. Roberts Chapter 440.

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Tribute to Miss Adelia Dunovant [1]
By Margaret L. Watson

I am proud to be here once more and thank you for a chance to tell you I am here with a sacred trust to bring you a message of love and truth of Miss Adelia A. Dunovant, who has passed from this earthly life naming you, "the Noble Order of the confederacy."

In her highest thoughts you, stand along, the only order she ever joined. You were in this life her best beloved, her hope and pride of the poor wounded bird of cruel destiny!

It is my solemn duty to once more report her work and name her virtues.

She was born at Columbia, South Carolina on April 12, 1842. Educated at St. Mary's College (an Episcopal School) located at Raleigh, North Carolina. Later she continued the study French and Music on both Harp and Piano at Charleston, South Carolina. Later on she was the star pupil in music at Stanton, Virginia, where she was given a medal at Virginia Female Institute [2] in 1873, as "Star Musician."

Miss Dunovant was by birth and rearing a South Carolina; of Colonial and Revolutionary ancestry; her father and two uncles signed South Carolina's Ordinance of Secession; her uncle John Dunovant was killed on October 1, 1864, leading his brigade against the enemy at Petersburg, Virginia, her brother, Captain William Dunovant, was wounded in the right arm at the second battle of Manassas; lost his left arm at the battle of the Crater; and though "young as the youngest that wore the gray," he was appointed "for valor and skill" Captain of Company C, 17th Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers.

Through her mother her ancestors reached back to the Colonial days of South Carolina and the Gaston de Foix of France.

After the close of the War Between the States, her father, Colonel A. Q. Dunovant and family moved to Texas where they possessed acreage before the war.

When Texas Division united Daughters of the Confederacy was organized, she at once became a leader, in Historical study of the causes that led to Secession of the Southern States, and at once became noted as a speaker and debater upon Constitutional History.

Miss Adelia A. Dunovant, forth Division President, the "Joan of Arc of the Texas Division," is her official title bestowed upon her by unanimous vote of the Convention in 1911. The founding of "Literary Evening" was the most far-reaching act of Miss Dunovant's administration, for two reasons: (1) through her position as Chairman, General Historical Committee, U.D.C., the inauguration of "Literary Evening" in all Division was recommended by her and adopted by the General Convention and by many Divisions; (2) In the Texas Division is was the culmination of three years of her constructive work as Historian, Texas Division, during which time she "lifted our Association from one of memories into the vital present, and the energizing influence of history serving its true purpose." Other measures were: The introduction of the custom of a Message, announcing "entrance upon official duties, and calling attention to lines along which further activities will be direct." Creation of six new Standing Committees, viz: Libraries, Inspection of Textbooks, Chapters in Colleges, Children's Auxiliaries [3], Motto and Emblem, monument in Chickamauga Park. Thirteen Chapters were organized.

Miss Dunovant traveled 2,054 miles in her Confederate work, wrote 608 letters, signed 393 Certificates of Membership, had printed and distributed 1,050 Circulars, 500 copies of Chapter Constitution. She did not supplement this data (which involved quite an outlay of money) with the statement that she had personally borne all expenses. The Treasurer's Report states: "Our President has not called upon the Treasurer for funds for any purpose whatever." Four months before the completion of her term the sorrow of her life fell upon her - her brother's life was stolen. Prior to meeting the Convention she sent out circulars, announcing: "The waves of sorrow beat too close and hard for me to see beyond; and thus I ask that you choose another Leader."

Let us pause and realize what Miss Adelia A. Dunovant suffered; paralyzed with grief, she covered her head with the veil of sorrow and knelt a weeping hermit at his grave.

When in the hour of danger retired from all public work in the U.D.C. she lived on the mountain top of duty with heart and mind devoted to their safety from wandering from the sacred line led away with the sirens call to expediency.

The Priestess that had kept the Temple of our pure principal and sacrificed her life in its ministry, at once arose in heartfelt applause - remembering one other maiden who died for her France - who met a martyr's death - by a resolution made that, "Miss Dunovant" be named henceforth "Joan of Arc" of Texas Division U.D.C. be her title, in this she gloried and though passed from our sight! Her patriotic spirit, ministers to us now with the old spirit of truth ringing yet, "Eternal Vigilance is the price of Liberty." Her achievements, in honor of the South; her singleness of purpose, her brilliant intellect, her varied accomplishments, her command of language, her power in debate, her bravery for the Cause of Right. She knew no compromise in Truth, she hewed close to the line. With the legal mind of a Statesman, her presence was commanding. The only woman honored in Texas Military History.

Search history all down the ages, never can be found a cause as grand, never a Sacrifice without a parallel, never a people so strong in faith, that could endure for four years hunger and rags - heat and cold with endurance, sublime, with hearts so tender, with conscience so pure, such faith in divinity that shaped their end, that by some deep inborn spirit they faced death and poured out their life blood, without money, without price - such men and such a sacrifice - will in time teach the world with patriotism fired the Southern heart.

Miss Adelia A. Dunovant stood a priestess at the Altar of the South holding aloft the banner of right without a stain, with a vision in which she saw the ideal man the confederate Soldier. She died in the Faith that time will tear all falsity, all prejudice from this gem of purest ray serene, and will embody these principles in the History of the immortals.

In Memoriam Poem
By Mrs. C. F. Harris

They are not dead, these friends we love,
Though consigned to silent tomb,
They are not dead, they’ve gone above
To that Land where there’s no gloom.

They live again in leaf and flower,
In deeds of heroic renown,
They live again in nature’s bower,
Each wearing love’s golden crown.

They live in notes of night birds’ song,
In the winter’s fierce raging blast
They call, the road to us seems long
The road over which they have passed.

They are not dead, they sweetly sleep,
Awaiting the great judgment day.
They toil no more, no vigils keep;
Yea, they have only gone away.

Gone where the Father calls his own
Away from sorrow, pain and strife;
Gone where the echo of loves dear tone,
Lead us on to eternal life.


[1] Watson, Margaret L., “Tribute to Miss Adelia Dunovant,” Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Convention (1926-1927) of the Texas Division United Daughters of the Confederacy, (Wichita Falls, TX: Texas Div UDC), 1927, p. 77.

[2] In 1843, the Virginia Female Institute was founded and it is now known as Stuart Hall School. After The War Between the States, its headmistress was the widow Mrs. J.E.B. Stuart. Upon her retirement in 1909, the school was renamed, Stuart Hall. It remains is a private boarding and day school in Staunton, VA, and is affiliated with the Episcopal church.

[3] Precursor of the Children of the Confederacy organization.

[4] The Chartering Officers of the Adelia A. Dunovant Chapter 602, UDC: Mrs. Rachel Sledge, President; Mrs. Jennie Rayburn, 1st Vice President; Mrs. Dixie Bloss, 2nd Vice President; Miss Annie Harvey, Corresponding Secretary; Miss Nora Rhodes, Recording Secretary; Mrs. Della Kelly, Treasurer; Miss Mollie Bosson, Historian. Chartering Members were: Miss Mary Lee Harvey, Miss Bessie Dillahunty, Mrs. Deliza A. Horton, Miss Addie Bobo, Miss Zena Rhodes, Miss Maggie Garner, Miss Jessie Lay, Miss Mattie Harvey, Mrs. Mattie Shelton, Miss Jessie Harvey. The Charter was cancelled on 9 Oct 1928 by Mrs. Forrest H. Farley, President, Texas Division.

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