Rebecca J. Fisher Papers
An Inventory to the Collection
Born August 31, 1831 in Philadelphia, Rebecca came to Texas along with her pioneer parents, Johnstone and Mary Barbour Gilleland, and a younger brother, William McCalla in 1836. The family eventually settled in Refugio County. In 1840 Rebecca was orphaned when Comanche Indians killed her parents. Rebecca and her brother William were taken prisoner and later left for dead. The children were rescued by Albert Sidney Johnston and a detachment of Texas soldiers and taken to Victoria, where they stayed with William C. Blair until they could be sent to live with Jane Trimble, an aunt in Galveston.
Rebecca attended school in Galveston and finished at Rutersville, the only girl’s college at that time. She married Rev. Orceneth Fisher, a prominent Methodist minister who was much older than herself. The couple had six children. A missionary, Rev. Fisher took his wife with him on a voyage across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to reach California. For nearly sixteen years Rev. Fisher served as a pastor in California and Oregon.
The Fishers returned to Texas about 1871 where Rev. Fisher edited the “Christian Advocate,” acted as pastor of the Shearn Methodist Church at Houston, and was chaplain of the last two Senates of the Republic of Texas. They established a home in Austin where Rev. Fisher died in 1880.
Rebecca Fisher is known as “The Mother of Texas.” She was a charter member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and served as its state president for eighteen years. She was also president of the Austin chapter. She delivered an oration at the unveiling of the Sam Houston monument at Huntsville and aided Clara Driscoll in saving the Alamo from destruction. For several years she gave the opening prayer when the Texas legislature convened. She was the only woman elected to the Texas Veterans Association and was its last surviving member. Her portrait was the first of a woman to be hung in the Senate chamber at the Capitol. She died in Austin on March 21, 1926. Her body lay in state in the Senate chamber, where funeral services were held. The Senate unanimously adopted a resolution in her memory and draped her portrait in mourning cloth. Honorary pallbearers included the two United States senators from Texas and four former governors. She was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin.
Rebecca Jane Blanford and Fannie Fisher Noble were daughters of Orceneth and Rebecca J. Fisher. Rebecca Jane Fisher Blandford was born in 1852 and died in 1938 in Austin, Texas. She was married to Richard Abner Blanford in 1871 and they had a daughter, Fannie Blanford, in 1874. Fannie married Henry Morrow Little, Jr. in 1895 in Austin. She died in 1951. Fannie Fisher Noble married Frank Noble, a lumber merchant in Temple, Texas. She died unexpectedly in 1884 at the age of 29.
SOURCE: Adapted from the Handbook of Texas Online
ACCESSED: 2011 December 6
The papers documenting Rebecca Jane Gilleland Fisher consist mostly of correspondence dating from 1847-1923 and general materials such as calling cards and invitations. Items of interest include a calling card signed by Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America, and letters from Elisabet Ney, a prominent artist. There is also a scrapbook documenting Rebecca J. Fisher primarily through news clippings from 1885 to 1922 and an 1872 diploma from a Methodist college. Three notebooks that are inscribed on the front "Fisher's Sacred Melodies" contain handwritten scriptures and poetry. Photographs document the 1914 Battle of the Roses in San Antonio, Texas and capture Rebecca J. Fisher in a rose covered horse-drawn carriage. There are also portraits of her and photographic documentation of Daughters of the Texas Revolution events. Also included in the papers are a few creative works by Mrs. Rebecca Fisher and a notebook of poetry from Lillie Terrel Shaver. Other materials include financial records and printed material.
Correspondence and memorabilia belonging to Rebecca J. Fisher's daughters, Rebecca J. Blandford and Fannie Fisher Noble, and granddaughter, Fannie Little, are also included in the collection. Letters and general materials dating from 1860 to 1936 document Rebecca Fisher Blandford. A scrapbook and portrait from the 1880s document Fannie Fisher Noble. Materials documenting Fannie Blandford Little include news clippings, correspondence, diplomas, and Daughters of the Republic of Texas materials. Of interest is a phrenology report on Fannie Blandford from 1884. Two scrapbooks likely created by Fannie Blandford Little from 1864 to 1937 are included in her materials. There are also photographs of Fannie's husband, Harry M. Little, and his associates in the Texas Secretary of State Office in 1907, and portraits of Joe Little and "Uncle Cephie" dating from approximately the 1880s to 1915.
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The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
On two different occasions during the spring of 1962, Mrs. Harry M. Little of Houston gave letters and other materials to the Library as a gift from the following great grandchildren of Mrs. Rebecca Jane (Gilleland) Fisher: Dr. Harry M. Little of Houston, Mrs. Reba Goodman of New York City, and Mrs. Hugh McMath and Dr. Benjamin F. Wright of Austin.
A second donation in November 2018 was given by the Little family. The scrapbooks and photographs were part of this donation.
Rebecca J. Fisher Papers (AR.A.002). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1962/015
Donation Date: 1962, 2018
Final Processing and Finding Aid by Alisha Little on April 10, 2003. Updated by Kelly Hanus in December 2018.
Detailed Description of the Collection