A Guide to the Rebecca J. Fisher Papers, 1827, 1860-1927, 1936, 1944, 1964
Called the "Mother of Texas," Rebecca Jane Gilleland Fisher (1831-1926), was born in Philadelphia on August 31, 1831, the daughter of Johnson Gilleland and Mary Barbour. Fisher moved with her family to Texas around 1837. Her father fought in the Texas Revolution under Captain Thomalson. Living near Don Carlos Rancho in Refugio County, the Gilleland family was attacked by members of the Comanche tribe in 1840. The Comanche murdered her parents and captured Fisher and her brother, William. Enduring captivity, they were rescued by Albert Sidney Johnston and a unit of Texas soldiers, and eventually sent to live with their aunt, Jane Trimble, in Galveston. From 1844 to 1848, Fisher attended Rutersville College in Fayette County. Upon her graduation, she married Orceneth Fisher, a Methodist minister, with whom she had six children. In 1855, Fisher accompanied her husband to the Pacific coast, where he worked as a pastor in California and Oregon for sixteen years. In 1871, they returned to Texas and resided in Austin.
After returning to Texas, Fisher became a charter member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and alongside Clara Driscoll, was instrumental in saving and preserving the Alamo. She was president of the William B. Travis chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas for nearly eighteen years. A prominent proponent for political and social issues in Texas, Fisher was asked to present a speech at the unveiling of the Sam Houston monument at Huntsville and also gave the opening prayer at the convening of the Texas legislature for several years. She was the only woman elected to the Texas Veterans Association and the first woman to have her portrait hang in the Senate Chamber at the Texas Capitol. After Fisher’s death on March 21, 1926, her funeral services were held in the Senate Chamber. Fisher was interred in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.
"Fisher, Rebecca Jane Gilleland. "Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed December 3, 2010. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffi22.
Consisting of correspondence, manuscript speeches and memoirs, receipts, books, photographs, and memorabilia, the Rebecca J. Fisher Papers, 1827, 1860-1927, 1936, 1944, 1964, chronicle the life of Rebecca J. Fisher during her tenure as a charter member and president of the William B. Travis chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The collection contains biographical material written by or about Fisher, as well as items pertaining to members of her family, such as her daughter’s certificate of membership for the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Also included are numerous photocopies of newspaper clippings about Fisher, which relate her captivity by the Comanche tribe and her prominence as a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Other newspaper clippings concern the Daughter of the Republic Texas’s preservation of the Alamo.
This collection is open for research use.
Rebecca J. Fisher Papers, 1827, 1860-1927, 1936, 1944, 1964, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Patti Woolery-Price, April 1996.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers