Celebrations at Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site

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2016 is an important year for Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site; not only is it the 180th anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1836 at Washington on the Brazos, but it will also be the state park’s 100th birthday. It was March 2, 1836 when 59 delegates bravely met in Washington, Texas, to make a formal declaration of independence from Mexico. From 1836 until 1846, the Republic of Texas existed as a separate nation.

To commemorate the 180th anniversary of Texas Independence, the three entities that administer and support the site—Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept (TPWD), Blinn College, and Washington on the Brazos State Park Association—are planning some Texas-sized celebrations.

Texas Independence Day Celebration is an annual two-day celebration, from 10am to 5pm, Saturday, March 5, and Sunday, March 6, on the expansive 293-acre park grounds and its attractions: Independence Hall, replica of the site where representatives wrote the Texas Declaration of Independence; Star of the Republic Museum, collections and programs honoring history of early Texans, administered by Blinn College; and Barrington Living History Farm, where interpreters dress, work, and farm as did the original residents of this homestead. The birthday celebration features live music, food, traditional crafts, living history presentations, historical encampments, and commemorative programs so guests can experience life in Texas in 1836.

Admission fees are waived for the site’s attractions during the TIDC weekend celebration. Admission to the grounds, on-site shuttles, and parking are also free.

The Star of the Republic Museum at WOB will celebrate the 180th anniversary with its new exhibit “A Legacy of Leadership: The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence.” Elected as delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1836, these men determined the future of Texas. The exhibit will focus on their roles as leaders and includes personal artifacts such as Sam Maverick’s buckskins, a cameo of Michel Menard, oil portraits of Stephen Blount and his wife, and many others items. The Museum will also offer a sneak peek at the new Pioneer Playroom, which will open on March 12. The playroom will simulate a Texas frontier homestead, with inside and outside features. It will allow children to immerse themselves in the role of pioneers through role-playing, interactive experiences, and a variety of learning styles such as loading a covered wagon, dressing in period clothing, or building a log cabin.

Ride for Texas Independence” Riders on horseback will make their way down La Bahia Road and into the Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site to deliver letters from Alamo commander William Barret Travis to Washington on the Brazos, timed in conjunction with the annual Texas Independence Day Celebration at the state park.

Interpretive staff riding on horseback will retrace the route couriers traveled in 1836, while dressed in period clothing and using riding tack authentic to the era. The 12-day ride will begin on February 24, on the grounds of the Alamo and travel through towns including Seguin, Gonzales, Shiner, San Felipe, Belmont, Sublime, Altair, and Beard until reaching WOB on Saturday, March 5.

The horsemen will deliver reproductions of two of the eight letters Travis sent out while the Alamo was under siege. The well known “Victory or Death” letter was penned on February 24, 1836, to “The People of Texas and All Americans In The World” in which he declared: “I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch……If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country –VICTORY OR DEATH.”

The second letter was written on March 3, 1836, to Jesse Grimes, delegate at the Convention of 1836 and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, in which he declared: “Let the Convention go on and make a declaration of independence, and we will then understand, and the world will understand, what we are fighting for. If independence is not declared, I shall lay down my arms, and so will the men under my command.”

Updates on all festivities, including TIDC and the 180th celebrations, are continually posted at www.wheretexasbecametexas.org. The public can contact office@wheretexasbecametexas.org or call (936) 878-2214 for more information.