The Honorable Chet Edwards, former longtime Congressman, will be the speaker at the annual fall meeting of the T. Whitfield Davidson Foundation, held at the Josephine Davidson Memorial Chapel in the pine-clad woods near Harleton, a part of one of the most unique events in Harrison County.
This event begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, and following Congressman Edwards’ appearance, all those in attendance are invited to remain and enjoy a complimentary catered lunch on the chapel grounds.
Congressman Edwards is a longtime resident of Waco, though he was born in Corpus Christi. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Texas A&M as well as an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Upon graduation from A&M, he received the Earl Rudder Award as one of two outstanding seniors.
He was elected to and served in the Texas Senate from 1983 to 1991. In 1991, he was elected to represent Central Texas in the U. S. House of Representatives, where he served until 2011. While in Congress, Edwards served on both the House Budget Committee and the powerful Appropriations Committee.
He is married to the former Lea Ann Wood and they have two grown sons. Chet Edwards is a man whose speaking and leadership skills are both inviting and compelling. The public is urged to attend.
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, self-educated, “read law,” then passed the Texas Bar Exam, 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 Davidson 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 his 100th birthday.
When he established the Davidson Foundation, he gave its trustees two tasks: 1. maintaining the chapel and 2. holding two public gatherings each year. One gathering was to be in the fall (third Saturday in September), where someone “learned in the Constitution and laws of the land” would speak, and one in the spring (third Saturday in May) for a celebration of “the faith of our fathers.”
Reflecting, perhaps, on his own memories of arduous trips to the county seat 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 Texas 154 to Harleton, there turn onto FM 450 North and follow it northward (towards Ore City) 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 Gilmer, take Texas 154 south to Harleton and follow the same directions. From Longview, take Alpine Road (FM 2208) to Harleton and then follow the same instructions.
The foundation’s trustees invite the public to attend and enjoy this unique East Texas tradition in one of our area’s most picturesque settings.