Church, will be the speaker at the annual spring meeting of the Davidson Foundation
held at the Josephine Davidson Memorial Chapel situated on Davidson Road at the
center of the Foundation's 3000 acres near Harleton in northwestern Harrison County.
This annual event is recognized to be one of the most unique events in Northeast Texas.
This spring's program begins at 11a.m. on Saturday, May 18th, 2013 and
following Rev. Garbs’ appearance, all those in attendance are invited to remain and
enjoy a complimentary catered lunch on the chapel grounds.
Rodger Garbs’ credentials are impressive. He is a native Texan and is a
graduate of Texas A&M University receiving his BAA in Marketing in1993. During his
undergraduate days he served as “The Voice of Aggieland” at public events on campus
including football games at Kyle Field. After graduating from Texas A&M he attended
the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, receiving his Master
of Divinity degree in 1999. Rev. Garbs is active in the Marshall community as a
member of the Rotary Club and Lions Club. He is also President of the Sam Houston
Middle School PTA, a member of the Marshall Education Foundation and volunteers
his time with schools and Boy Scouts. Rev. Garbs brings a broad and thoughtful
perspective to many of the pressing religious issues of our day. His comments on “the
faith of our fathers” our within this context promises to be memorable.
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,
being largely self-educated “read the law,” and then passed the Texas Bar Exam. He
served as City Attorney in Marshall, Texas State Senator, Lt. Governor and
subsequently ran for Governor of Texas in 1924 on a platform opposing the Ku Klux
Klan which was then attempting to influence and control many state offices. Though he
failed to win the governor’s race, he was appointed United States District Judge by
President Franklin D. Roosevelt where 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 himself in 1974, just two years shy of his
When he established the Davidson Foundation he gave its Trustees two
mandatory tasks: maintaining the chapel and holding two gatherings there 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 as 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
To reach the chapel from Marshall, travel north on S.H. 154 to Harleton, then turn
onto FM 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 Gilmer take S.H. 154 southeast to Harleton and follow the same
directions. From Longview, take Alpine Road (FM 2208) north to Harleton and then
follow the same instructions. From Jefferson, take FM 2208 west to Harleton and then
follow the same instructions
The Foundation’s Trustees invite the public to enjoy this unique East Texas
tradition with a truly impressive jurist and speaker in one of our area’s most picturesque settings.