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Words of Wisdom

"Time is what we want most, but what we use the worst."
~William Penn

Friday, May 25, 2012

Moments in Texas History ~ 5.25.2012


Woman joins Union army in male disguise
May 25, 1861
On this day in 1861, Sarah Seelye enlisted in Company F, Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment, under the alias Franklin Thompson. She was one of a number of women who disguised themselves as men to enlist in the Civil War. She had run away from home at age seventeen, disguised as a boy, to avoid an unwanted marriage. After enlisting in the Union army in 1861, she served for nearly two years as a male. Ironically, in her secret-service duty she penetrated Confederate lines "disguised" as a woman. She deserted the army and resumed life as a female in 1863. She later published a fanciful, but highly successful, account of her experiences in the army, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army (1865). She and her husband moved to La Porte, Texas in the early 1890s. On April 22, 1897, Sarah Seelye became a member of the McClellan Post, Grand Army of the Republic, in Houston. She was the only woman member in the history of the GAR.

First meeting of Texas Division of United Daughters of the Confederacy
May 25, 1896
On this day in 1896, the Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy met for the first time in Victoria. The United Daughters of the Confederacy was established in 1894 by the merger of state groups in Georgia, Missouri, and Tennessee. The Texas Division was organized by Kate Cabell Muse, who had earlier organized a local chapter in her hometown, Dallas. The Texas Division has been active in marking historic locations and holds annual memorial observances to remember not only Confederate veterans but veterans of all wars. The division formerly sponsored the Texas Confederate Home and the Confederate Woman's Home and each year awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to descendants of Confederate veterans. It also maintains the Texas Confederate Museum.

American Academy of Arts and Letters honors black Texas poet
May 25, 1966
On this day in 1966, Melvin B. Tolson received the annual poetry award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Tolson, born in Missouri in 1898, was only fourteen when his first poem was printed. He began teaching English and speech at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, in 1924, and remained there for twenty-three years. Several of Tolson's poems were published in Modern Monthly and the Modern Quarterly in the late 1930s, and in September 1941 the Atlantic Monthly published his prize-winning "Dark Symphony," which was later set to music by Earl Robinson and performed by Paul Robeson. Tolson wrote a weekly column about black life in America for the Washington Tribune from 1937 to 1944. In the latter year his first collection of poetry, Rendezvous with America, made its appearance. In 1947 Tolson joined the faculty of Langston University in Oklahoma, where he remained until his retirement in 1964. Also in 1947, Tolson was named poet laureate of Liberia, inspiring his Libretto for the Republic of Liberia (1953). In his last book Tolson returned to the world of Harlem with The Curator (1965), the first part of a projected work, Harlem Gallery. He died in Dallas in August 1966.

posted - 5.25.2012  -  The Texas State Historical Association
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