Statues, Organizations and other Commemorations of Dick Dowling, The Jefferson Davis Guard and the Battle of Sabine Pass

An Interpretive Display From The Sabine Pass Battleground Park

The United Confederate Veterans, was a national organization made up of Confederate survivors. The organization's local chapters were called Camps. The Camps were usually named after a famous Confederate. In Houston, Texas, in the latter part of the nineteenth century the local chapter was Dick Dowling Camp #197. Sometime near 1886, Will Lambert, who was the first Commander of the Dick Dowling Camp , established a deposit of forty dollars that was made for the erection of a monument to the memory of Richard Dowling and the forty-two fellow Irishmen of the Jefferson Davis Guard who comprised the artillery battery that won the Battle of Sabine Pass for the Confederacy and Texas in 1863.

Philip H. Fall, who was elected Adjutant of the Dick Dowling Camp in 1886, and found interest in the project lagging, decided to give the project a boost in 1897. He offered a resolution to the Camp members that fifty additional dollars be added to the deposit. The motion passed unanimously. An early bas-relief design was offered by Dick Dowling Camp member Lawrence L Cohen.

Adjutant Philip Fall then began to write articles in area and other Texas city newspapers. He told the story of Dick Dowling and the Davis Guard who made their stand at Sabine Pass and the need to erect a monument to remember them and what they did for Texas. Response came from other United Confederate Veteran Camps, and from an off shoot organization known as the Sons of Confederate Veterans (whose local organizations are also known as Camps), Irish organizations and individuals. Over the years the effort continued. In 1904, the Dick Dowling Camp of the United Confederate Veterans together with the Irish organizations led by the Emmet Council, Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Hibernian Society of Houston came together under an umbrella organization for the various entities involved known as The Dick Dowling Monument Association. The association collected enough money to have a larger monument than originally planned. A statue of Dick Dowling was commissioned. German born sculpto Frank Teich began to sculpt the statue from a single block of Carrara marble imported from Italy at his studio outside Llano, Texas. The statue was to stand upon a large base of Texas granite upon which would be inscribed the names of the Davis Guard who participated in the battle.

The Dick Dowling Monument Association was established in about 1900. Dudley D. Bryan of the Dick Dowling Camp of the United Confederate Veterans was appointed to the difficult task of getting the names right for the monument. He relied on known survivors who were then living in the Confederate Home in Austin, a retirement home for Confederate soldiers. Visits and correspondence led to a collection of documents which Mrs. Neta V. Taylor put together into a scrapbook for the Dick Dowling Monument Association. This scrapbook is in the Houston Public Library, Julia Ideson Building, Texana Collection.

On Saint Patrick's Day, March 17, 1905, the monument was dedicated with the Governor of Texas Lanham delivering the main address. It was Houston's first civic statue.

The statue was placed at the east side of the Houston City Hall located on the north side of Market Square. Attending the dedication was Dowling's wife, now Mrs. Daniel as she had remarried, and their daughter, Annie Dowling, now Mrs. Robertson. Also present were survivors of the famous battle who were brought from the Confederate Home in Austin. Mr. O.C. Drew, Commander of the Dick Dowling Camp of the United Confederate Veterans in 1905 and a longtime supporter of the project was there along with the many dignitaries and representatives of interested and contributing organization

 

 

 

The statue of Dick Dowling beside the Houston City Hall at Market Square where it stood for 34 years. It was a city landmark one of those places where you would meet someone and everyone knew where you meant.

In 1940, the statue was moved to Sam Houston Park when the city hall was to be demolished. Members of the Houston chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy held a ceremony dedicating the plot for the statue which was provided by the city of Houston. Houston Mayor Oscar Fitz Allen Holcombe declared the day - Dick Dowling Day. Former Houston Mayor John Browne, who was then Commander of the of the Dick Dowling Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, took part in the program as did Mrs. R. F. Pray, President of the Beaumont chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

After World War II the statue was placed in storage as the site in Sam Houston Park was used for something else. In 1958 it was moved again, this time to a plot donated by the city in Hermann Park.

Through the years the statue had its caretakers, individuals who took on the responsibility of periodic cleanings and especially getting it ready for Saint Patrick's Day. Pat Needham was one of these. He took care of the statue from before World War II until the 1960s except while it was in storage. The mantle was then passed to Larry Miggins and his family who still care for the statue. Larry was instrumental in raising funds to have the statue repaired after the moves, and years of weathering and air pollution had taken its toll.

Larry Miggins supported by his wife Kathleen and their children have been the driving force behind the annual ceremony at the Dick Dowling statue and while different Irish organizations names were on the program through the years as the sponsor of the event, it was Larry and his family that made it happen.

< The statue as it stands to day in Hermann Park

 

 

 

The map on the right shows where in the Hermann Park/Zoo area the statue is located >

 

 

 

Dick Dowling was buried in the cemetery at St. Vincent's Church along with other victims of a yellow fever epidemic. His grave was marked for many years with only a single cannon ball. In 1935 a monument was erected at the cemetery. The Al Hambra Club of Houston elected an arch over the cemetery that read "St. Vincent's Cemetery, burial place of Dick Dowling, Hero of Sabine Pass ..."

In 1949, a monument of Texas granite was erected in the center of this cemetery "In memory of the fallen heroes of San Jacinto and Sabine Pass, who are buried here." The monument featured a gray-blue shaft of marble. Houston Mayor, Oscar Holcombe, took part in the ceremonies as did Attorney General William McGraw. Father Anton J. Frank gave the Invocation. Also present was Dick Dowling's daughter, Annie, the wife of Judge W. F. Robertson of Austin as well as great-grand daughters Ruby Farned and Lucille Farned who were 14 and 11 respectively. Grand Nephew J. A. Collerain of Houston and his three children: Joseph B., Agnes, Pat H. Collerain and Mrs. I.V. Stepchinski (Katy Collerain Stepchinski, a great grandniece of Dick Dowling) were present as was Mrs. Mary Hennessey a niece of Dick Dowling. The ceremony was organized and presented by the Max Autry Post of the American Legion.

Another person present was Bishop C. E. Byrne of the Catholic Diocese of Galveston. Bishop Byrne took note of Dowling's youth and told those assembled "Dowling's valor should teach us a reverence for the youth of today. We do not know what is in the youth around us. There may be courage and nobility of the most heroic sort and in the most obscure youth in our midst."

Hurricane Alicia in 1983 damaged the monument when it caused a tree to fall onto the obelisk and break it in two.

In April of 1962, Confederate organizations and the Order of Al Hambra had a historical headstone marker placed in Saint Vincent's Cemetery for Dick Dowling

Dick Dowling's daughter Mary Anne at the ceremony for the marble obelisk >

 

 

 

In 1937, a monument was erected with the leadership of the United Daughters of the Confederacy on a two-acre plot at the approximate site of Fort Griffin. The property was purchased by 1936 Texas Centennial Commission. Local businesses assisted in the funding to purchase the land. The State of Texas assisted in funding by donating $7, 500 to the monument. The Texas Historical Advisory Board presnted the statue and land in the 1937 ceremonies to Jefferson County. The statue stands seven feet and was made of bronze and sculpted by Herring Coe of Beaumont. The statue has Dick Dowling poised with a burning torch in his right hand and binoculars in his left hand. The statue sits on a base of Texas granite obtained from L. W. Stolz Marble Works of La Grange, Texas. Inscribed on the base is a description of the battle and the words "Texas remembers the faithfullness and valor of her sons and commends their example to the future generations."

In 1972, the Texas Parks And Wildlife Department purchased 54.12 adjoining acres to the original 1.88 acres to make an hisorical park. The park opened in 1974. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department maintained the site as the Sabine Pass Battleground State Park and Historic Site. The park features facilities for, camping, fishing, boating (a boat ramp) and picnicking. Two ammunition bunkers that are now used for equipment storage came with the additional property. One of them can be seen in the picture above to the left of the monument in the background. There is also, of course, the monument and an outdoor exhibit explaining the battle. In 2009 the Texas Historical Commission took responsibility for the park and calls it Sabine Pass Battleground, State Historic Site.

In 1963 at the 100th anniversary of the battle, the 28 County Historical Survey Committees of the Southeast Texas Region met to hold a centennial commemorative event at the park. Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr gave a talk at an associated luncheon on "The Significance of Battle of Sabine Pass." Part of the ceremonies was the celebration of High Mass by Father Robert E. Daigle of Saint Mary's Church in Port Arthur at the statue area. The destroyer U.S.S. Wren was docked near the park and participated in the festivities. The Sabine Pass Coast Guard Station held an open house in support of the event.

For years following the big anniversary celebration, different organizations sponsored commemorative ceremonies such as re-enactments. Some of the organizations participating were the cities of Port Arthur, Orange and Beaumont, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Jefferson County Historical Society, Dick Dowling Camp 1295 (Beaumont) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Kate Dorman Chapter of the Order of the Confederate Rose, the Dick Dowling Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Beaumont, the Gulf Coast Living History Association and the Southwest Louisiana Living History Association and the Museum of the Gulf Coast to name a few. In recent years this tradition has been continued by the Sabine City Dick Dowling Lions Club on alternating years as part of the city of Port Arthur's Dick Dowling Days celebration.

 

Below a scene from a re-enactment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a map to the park go to this link >

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the right is a 1920s picture of the Dick Dowling Hotel in Port Arthur, Texas. Its name was later changed to the Goodhue Hotel. The hotel was demolished in 1990 >

 

On September 9, 1963, one hundred and one days after the battle, a new Ancient Order of Hibernians division was organized in Houston to be known as the Dick Dowling Division. Together with its Ladies Auxiliary organization, the Hibernians have been an important part of the staging of the annual Saint Patrick's Day parade in Houston.

In 1970 the Texas Chapter of the Stars And Bars was organized by Weaver P.Moore. One of the organizations functions was to award the "Sabine Pass Medal", in gold or silver, in recognition of members of the hereditary Confederate organizations who made substantial contributions to the preservation of Southern Heritage.

The medal was a replica of the medal presented to the Davis Guard by the grateful citizens of Houston after their victory at Sabine Pass. It was the only medal to be presented to Confederate soldiers during the war.

In December of 1950, an oil painting of the battle painted by General and former U. S. Senator Andrew Jackson Houston, son of Sam Houston, was presented to the San Jacinto Museum by Misses Adriadne and Marguerite Houston, his daughters and Houston Endowment Inc. The painting measures 86 by 47 inches. It was painted in the General's La Porte bay shore home. Also presented was a painting entitled "The March to the Massacre, Goliad."

In September of 1978, Tom Hopkins, Editor of the Dick Dowling Digest the newsletter of the Dick Dowling Division of the Ancient Order of Houston was on a trip to the ancient homeland when he found himself only 41 miles from Tuam, the nearest large town to where Dick Dowling was born. He sought out town officials and was astounded to learn the town was unaware of the Battle of Sabine Pass or even Dick Dowling! Hopkins arranged to have a plaque presented the city by the Dick Dowling Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians stating "We the people of Houston, Texas, shall forever be indebted to the people of Tuam, Galway, for sharing one of their finest treasures, Dick Dowling, the hero of Sabine Pass."

In 1989, Larry Miggins teamed with others including Dowling descendants Joseph Collerain and Ann Caraway Ivins, and organized the Dick Dowling Heritage Society with the expressed first goal of restoring the monument to Dick Dowling and the Davis Guard to a better condition than weather, pollution and vandals had left it over the years. They were successful and the restoration and repairs to the monument was completed prior to the end of the century. The City of Houston became involved and funded much of the repair and today considers the monument an integral part of the city's historical artifacts. The Dick Dowling Heritage Society arranges for the annual ceremony at the statue - now held the Sunday before Saint Patrick's Day to avoid conflict with other organization events on Saint Patrick's Day and to insure a good crowd for Dick and the boyos.

In 1998 The Old Tuam Society unveiled a bronze plaque memorializing Dick Dowling on their most historic structure, the market hall in the center of Tuam. Dick Dowling descendant Ann Carraway Ivens reported she was there for the unveiling which was quite an occasion:

It seemed that the whole town turned out for the ceremony. They even had the Lone Star flying above the Market Hall! In addition, Dowling descendants presented the Tuam town library with a portrait of Dick Dowling, a native son of whom they are very proud. The Dowling memorial is probably the only tribute to a Confederate soldier in all of Ireland.

Back to Chapter VI, Confederate Texas, just after the Battle of Sabine Pass II >

Back to the Table of Contents >

Back to Appendix on The Davis Guard >