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Historical Marker Dedication Ceremonies (1965)


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  •  Members of the Junior ROTC participate in a dedication ceremony for a historical marker in Sam Houston Heritage Park in 1965. The marker memorializes Houston’s history as a temporary capital for the Republic of Texas. 
  •  Houston Mayor Louie Welch 
  •  The marker reads: “By vote of Congress, Nov. 30, 1836, chosen temporary capital for new Republic of Texas. At the time a small townsite at the head of Buffalo Bayou navigation. Into a "Houston City" of mud, tents, cabins on April 1, 1837, came President Sam Houston and his government. Finding its quarters unfinished, Congress postponed its opening session until May 1. The capitol building was a 2-story plantation style house, with columned porches. It was scene of many important Indian treaties, diplomatic negotiations, legislative functions. As no church yet graced the city, it also was used for religious services. That muddy April saw the city hold its first big social event-- the anniversary celebration of the San Jacinto victory, with parade, reception and ball. On Dec. 5, 1837, some war heroes and other leaders founded in the capital the Texas Philosophical Society, the Republic's first learned organization. In a powdered wig, and dressed to resemble George Washington, President Houston made a 3-hour farewell address, after which Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar was inaugurated his successor on Dec. 10, 1838. In 1839, removed to Austin, the capital returned here, but only briefly, 1842, in Mexican invasion.” 
  •  Dick Dowling statue in Hermann Park 
  •  Dedication ceremony for a historical marker memorializing Lieutenant Richard “Dick” Dowling, a commander in the Confederate States Army best known for his role in the Second Battle of Sabine Pass. Following the Civil War, Dowling reopened his Houston bar, the Bank of Bacchus, and formed the city’s first oil company. He died of yellow fever in 1867. 
  •  Draped over the marker is the Confederate battle flag. Approximately 240 Confederate monuments, memorials, or symbols existed in Texas public spaces in 2015. Dozens were erected during the 1960s to both commemorate the centennial of the Civil War and conceivably serve as an implicit reproach of the Civil Rights Movement. The state has since removed 31, more than any other state where such emblems are common.  
  •  The marker dedicated in 1965 stresses Dowling’s military accomplishments as a leader in the Confederate Army. A new marker, dedicated in 1998, relates more of Dowling’s biography. It reads: “Born in 1837 near Tuam, County Galway, Ireland, Richard Dowling emigrated to New Orleans in 1846 during the Irish potato famine. In 1857, Dick married Elizabeth Anne Odlum in Houston. By 1860 he had owned 3 bars, installed Houston's first gas lighting in his home and business, and was a charter member of Houston Hook and Ladder company No. 1. During the Civil War, Dick was first lieutenant, Company F, Cook's Regiment, First Texas Heavy Artillery. He was in command at Fort Griffin in 1863. On September 8 he held fast with only 6 cannon and 47 men inside the fort despite reumors of a Federal invasion and orders to retreat. Twenty-seven ships carrying Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin and 5,000 Union troops sailed into Sabine Pass; Dowling and "the Irish Davis Guards" shot so accurately that Franklin's forces surrendered in 45 minutes. The Confederate Congress called the Battle of Sabine Pass "one of the most brilliant ... achievements ... of this war." Discharged as a major in 1865, Dick reopened his most famous bar, "The Bank of Bacchus." In 1866 he formed the first oil company in Houston. By 1867, he owned more than 22 square blocks of downtown Houston and vast lands across Texas. Dick Dowling died of yellow fever at age 30 and is buried in Houston's St. Vincent's Cemetery.” 
  •  Wreath-laying at the foot of Dowling’s statue 
  •  Dedication ceremony for a historical marker memorializing Old Harrisburg outside a Frost Bank near the intersection of Lawndale and Frio 
  •  The marker reads: “Early Texas port and trading post. Site of state's first steam saw, grist mills and railroad terminal. Town founded, 1826, by John R. Harris, who was first settler in 1823. Became shipping center for early colonies, established when Texas was part of Mexico, with boats carrying cargo to and from Texas ports and points in the United States and Mexico. Became the seat of government of the Republic of Texas, March 22 - April 13, 1836, when David G. Burnet, President of the ad interim government and several of his cabinet resided near here in the home of Mrs. Jane Harris (site marked), widow of town founder. Here President Burnet adopted the flag for the Texas Navy. In 1835, local resident, Mrs. Sarah Dodson, had made here the first tri-color lone star flag. General Santa Anna attacked the town with 750 Mexican soldiers on April 16 attempting to capture Burnet and his cabinet. The whole town was burned. After Texas gained its independence at nearby San Jacinto, the town was rebuilt and again thrived. The Buffalo, Bayou, Brazos and Colorado, first railroad in Texas began here in 1852 and by the Civil War made the town a Confederate rail center. Became a part of Houston, by annexation, in 1926.” 
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This 1965 news footage for Houston’s KPRC-TV captures a trio of dedication ceremonies unveiling new state historical markers around Houston. The first memorializes Houston’s history as a temporary capital for the Republic of Texas. Houston Mayor Louie Welch attends the ceremony in Sam Houston Heritage Park. The second honors Lieutenant Dick Dowling of the Confederate States Army. The marker was one of several Confederate emblems erected in Texas public spaces during the 1960s to commemorate the centennial of the Civil War. Following the ceremony, boy scouts lay a wreath at the foot of the Dick Dowling statue in Hermann Park. The third marker memorializes Old Harrisburg, an early Texas port and trading post that was annexed by Houston in 1926. Women dressed in period attire attend all three ceremonies. The Texas Historical Commission operates the state’s historical marker program. There are more than 16,000 markers across the state.
Politician Louie Welch was born in Lockney, Texas on December 9, 1918. He received a degree in history from Abilene Christian College, now Abilene Christian University.
Welch began his political career in 1950, serving four terms on the Houston City Council. He unsuccessfully sought the Houston mayoral office three times before being elected to the position in 1963. Houston grew immensely during Welch’s five terms as mayor, from the population topping one million people to the opening of the Astrodome in 1965 and the Houston Intercontinental Airport in 1969. 
His tenure, however, was not without its controversy. A 1967 conflict between police and Texas Southern University students created a rift between the local administration and many of Houston’s African Americans. Welch’s reputation also came under fire during his last term over his relationship with well-known crime leaders, leading to suspicions about how his second mayoral bid was financed. 
In 1985, Welch ran for mayor again, campaigning in opposition to the extension of job protection rights to members of the LGBTQ community employed by the city government. He lost to incumbent Kathy Whitmore. 
Welch died from lung cancer on January 27, 2008 in his Harris County residence. He was 89.