History Month began in earnest on March 5 for the local chapter of The Daughters of the Republic of Texas as they offered a program featuring the life and contributions of Edward Burleson.
The presentation at the San Marcos Public Library drew a standing-room-only crowd and generated a high level of interest in the old Burleson homestead on the hill above San Marcos Springs.
It was there in 1848 that Burleson — a dominant figure in early Texas history — made his last home. The DRT's program began with a history of the old Burleson homestead and then turned to consider how the property might once again become an attraction of historical and educational interest. Now owned by Texas State University, the old homesite sits within an area currently closed to the public.
Interested members of the public, representatives of civic and historical organizations and members of other DRT chapters and the Burleson Family Association participated in a lively discussion and offered suggestions for developing the property. Staff members of Texas State University provided factual information and answered questions.
“Edward Burleson was huge in the fight for Texas independence, in the creation of the Republic of Texas, and in state government after Texas joined the Union,” Judy Tannehill, president of the Moon-McGehee Chapter of DRT, said. “He raised troops, commanded the First Division at the Battle of San Jacinto, served as vice president of the Republic, and became president pro tempore of the Texas State Senate.”
The list of accomplishments goes on and on. Burleson moved with ease from saddle to desk chair and back, contributing to frontier defense, serving on committees, battling Mexican insurrectionists and surveying roads. And it was Burleson who helped lay out the town of San Marcos and sponsored legislation in 1848 to create Hays County and designate San Marcos as its county seat.
The program was not the first time DRT has focused on the old Burleson homestead. Following the collapse of the original log cabin in a 1917 rainstorm, early members of the San Marcos Moon-McGehee Chapter erected a limestone marker at the site in 1932.
A recent discovery of this old marker story turned the current chapter's attention to the historical significance of the Burleson property and the many accomplishments of its distinguished owner.
“We were surprised to learn about the old marker,” Tannehill continued. “Many of our chapter members are new to San Marcos and weren't even aware of its existence. Now it is at the center of a new chapter project.”
The DRT chapter's interest in the Burleson homesite coincides with that of Texas State University. The homestead property is managed through the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, which has adopted a multidisciplinary approach to the restoration of the artesian spring at the foot of the hill and now begins to consider the hillside where Burleson made his home. University personnel and members of DRT have already been in meetings to explore common goals for the area.
Several members of Tuesday's audience reminisced that local schoolteachers once brought their students to a replica of the Burleson cabin for a hands-on history experience. During the second half of the 20th century when the Aquarena Springs theme park operated, visitors took a Swiss-style gondola to the hillside or walked hiking trails to visit the old cabin site.
DRT is a nonprofit organization of more than 7,000 women descended from individuals who rendered loyal service to Texas prior to statehood. Organized in 1891, DRT continues to grow and through its committed volunteers and more than 100 chapters to perpetuate the spirit of Texas independence; encourage historical research; and aid in the preservation of documents and historically significant properties such as the Alamo Complex and French Legation.
For more about DRT, visit www.drtinfo.org  or call Judy Tannehill at (512) 667-7778. To register your own interest in the historical restoration of the Burleson homesite, please visit the local chapter's website http://www.sanmarcosdrt.org .