Washington on the Brazos State Park Association celebrated 181 years of Texas independence as a Republic with a sell-out crowd at its annual Sundown Social fundraising event on Saturday, April 22, at Rockin’ Star Ranch in Brenham.
“Thanks to the event chairmen—Association board member Hondo Powell and his wife Carrie—and all who volunteered and attended this wonderful event, the association raised over $100,000,” says Cyndee Smith, president of Washington on the Brazos State Park Association.
All proceeds from the Texas-sized party benefit the park association’s educational programming, events and maintenance of the expansive 293-acre park grounds encompassing Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site—the site where 59 delegates bravely met in 1836 to make a formal declaration of independence from Mexico.
The Association honored Gus Mutscher, former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, at the event, which featured musical entertainment by the 2016 Texas State Musician Joe Ely. “This year’s theme was ‘Texas, Where The Stars Are Big And Bright’ and there is no star brighter than Gus Mutscher,” says Jim Kolkhorst, Washington on the Brazos Park Association past president and present board member. “We honored him for his many political accomplishments and his success getting the funding for the Star of Republic Museum at Washington on the Brazos. Without his amazing work and diligence, we wouldn’t have that jewel at our Park.” Mutscher and several members of his family, including his children, grandson, sister, and brothers-in-law attended the event.
Mutscher’s life in politics began when he was offered a position on U.S. Representative Homer Thornberry’s staff, but instead, he decided to run for political office himself. He was elected into the Texas House of Representatives in 1960 where he served six terms. During his time in the legislature, Mutscher served as a member of the Legislative Budget Board and Texas Legislative Council, chairman of Legislative Redistricting Committee and Claims and Accounts committee and as vice-chairman of Appropriations Committee.
In 1969, he was elected to Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, one of the most powerful positions in the state. After his legislative career ended, Mutscher served as County Judge for many years in Washington County. He was elected president of the County Judges Association of Texas and National Association of Regional Councils in 1990. He has also served on many regional and state councils and business organizations.
Mutscher’s roots run deep in Brenham where he was born and raised, in the William Penn community of Washington County. He attended Brenham High School and Blinn College, where he played baseball on scholarship. He then graduated from the University of Texas in 1956, where he served as International President of Gamma Delta. After a stint as a Commissioned Reserve Officer in the U.S. Army, he returned to Houston to work for Borden Company.
Chartered in 1955, the Washington on the Brazos State Park Association is the oldest TPWD non-profit 501(c)(3) support group for WOB (23400 Park Road 12, Washington, Texas 77880), which includes Independence Hall, Star of the Republic Museum, Barrington Living History Farm and Fanthorp Inn in Anderson. Dedicated to supporting the site’s preservation projects, celebrations, and educational opportunities, the Association has played an integral part in the creation, expansion or reconstruction of the Star of the Republic Museum; the Visitor Center and its displays; Independence Hall; and Barrington Living History Farm, the home of Dr. Anson Jones. Additionally, the volunteer organization has purchased a mobile phone app; a new website for the complex; playground equipment; animals for the farm; bluebonnet and other wildflower seeds; and an important collection of historical papers and documents for the museum.
Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site is found on the Brazos River at the original town site of Washington, Texas, a major political and commercial center in early Texas. It is located at 23400 Park Road 12, Washington, TX, 77880—approximately halfway between Brenham and Navasota, off State Hwy. 105. From Hwy. 105, follow either FM 912 or FM 1155 to Park Road 12.
For additional information about this historic site, the Park Association or the 2018 Sundown Social, call (979) 830-1824 or visit the site’s website at www.wheretexasbecametexas.org.