This fall's program begins at 11a.m. on Saturday, September 21st, 2013 and following Chief Justice Jefferson’s appearance, all those in attendance are invited to remain and enjoy a complimentary catered lunch on the chapel grounds.
Chief Justice Jefferson’s credentials are impressive. He is the 26th Texan to serve as Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and later earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Before joining the high court, he practiced law in San Antonio where he was named San Antonio’s Outstanding Young Lawyer in 1997. Chief Justice Jefferson brings a broad and thoughtful perspective to many of the most pressing of our state's current legal issues. His comments on our constitutional system within this context promise 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.
Having no children of his own, 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 himself in 1974, just two years shy of his 100th birthday.
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 chapel grounds.
To reach the Davidson 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.