Oran M. Roberts
United Daughters of the Confederacy®
Houston, Harris County, Texas
At the 34th Texas Division Convention held in Austin, Texas, Dec. 2-6, 1930, the membership assembled at the Texas Capitol to dedicate an original copy of the "Texas Ordinance of Secession." The framed document was placed in a water fountain niche in the south foyer near the rotunda. This placement was under the direction of the Hon. Jane Y. McCallum, Texas Secretary of State with Mrs. Forrest Hartfield Farley, Mrs. John Preston and Mrs. W. T. Hunter of the Texas Division assisting.
The unveiling took place on 3 Dec 1930. I thought it would be nice to see if the document was still in place and what could be done by the Texas Division to observe this unique 70th Anniversary of the unveiling of this historical document. I contacted the State Preservation Board, a state agency charged with preserving the Texas Capitol and the General Land Office buildings and grounds. [ http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/ ]
Ali James, with the State Preservation Board kindly replied with the following:
"A newspaper article from the Austin American dated Dec. 3, 1930, indicates the original Ordinance was presented to the State by officials from the United Daughters of the Confederacy to be placed in what was a drinking fountain niche in the south foyer near the rotunda of the Capitol.It is worth noting that the original Texas Declaration of Independence was
placed in the opposite niche to the left of the first floor south wing elevator near the rotunda earlier that year on March 2nd.The documents remained on display there until July 23, 1940, when both were transferred to the Texas State Library for preservation and a copies of the originals were put on display in their place.
Once the restoration of the Capitol began, the reproduction documents and their metal frames were photographed, dismantled and moved to our archival warehouse facility in 1993. Because the documents were reproductions and the display postdated our 1888-1915 interpretation era for the building, these items were not reinstalled after the restoration.
Both the 'original' Declaration and the 'original' Ordinance are in the collection of the Texas State Library and Archives (TSLA). I have noted them as "original" because there are actually more than one of each in the TSLA collections. "
What a sad end to this historical document that it is relegated to an archival storage box instead it being on public display!
The Texas Ordinance of Secession was the document that officially separated Texas from the United States. It was adopted by the Secession Convention on 1 Feb 1861, by a vote of 166 to 8. The adoption of the ordinance was one of a series of events that led to Texas' entry into the Confederacy.
The Ordinance text is much less known and less accessible to the general public than the Texas Declaration of Independence. According to some historians, however, it ranks equally with the earlier document in its impact on Texas.
To read the full text of the Ordinance, visit Lone Star Junction on-line at [ http://www.lsjunction.com/docs/secesson.htm ] or the Texas State Library & Archives [ http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/treasures/earlystate/secess-01.html ]
Oran M. Roberts Chapter 440 and its involvement with this ceremony can be found in the Chapter Minutes of 11 Dec 1930 and the State Convention Report made by the delegation:
"At the convention of the State Division, the Oran M. Roberts Chapter of Houston had ten representatives, two Honorary Presidents, six delegates, one alternate and one State Officer.
The most interesting, historical event during this convention was the unveiling of the original document on parchment, of secession, in the rotunda of the Capitol. This document is highly protected from the ravages of time the first signature on it was that of Oran M. Roberts. Mr. Roberts’ daughter, Mrs. M. E. Spain and her grandson (no name given) were present during the unveiling."
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