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GOD & TEXAS: Uvalde Heirloom

Matthew McConaughey and Dale Evans Rogers have few things in common. Born in 1912, Frances Octavia Smith was a big band singer who changed her name to Dale Evans. Following a Hollywood screentest, Dale became a cowgirl actress, and eventually married Roy Rogers.

McConaughey was born in 1969 and became an A-list movie star after his break-out film, “Dazed and Confused.” A graduate of the University of Texas – Austin, Matthew is also known for his efforts to help struggling teenagers and recent political activism.

Surprise! Dale and Matthew were both born in Uvalde, Texas! Where is Uvalde? Located about 80 miles west of San Antonio on the Leona River, Uvalde was founded by Reading Wood Black in 1853. Originally, Uvalde was named Encina, which is Spanish for the beautiful live oak trees that flourished along the banks of the river. But in 1856, Encina was renamed Uvalde in honor of Spanish general Juan de Ugalde.

Despite the natural beauty and compelling history of Uvalde, it was shaken by a horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School. On May 24, 2022, a gunman fatally shot 19 students and two teachers, while 17 others were injured but survived. The sorrow remains unabated for the precious lives that were lost in a place that should have been safe. Keep Uvalde in your prayers.

When I was a lad in the mid-1950’s, my grandfather Rose would take the grandkids to Uvalde to see his friends, and to get honey and pecans. I can still remember drinking Buck brand root beer and listening to old stories being told by the graybeards at the gas station. Good memories.

Reading Wood Black, a staunch Quaker, left New Jersey at the age of 22, to settle in Texas. A local historical marker states: “Black was instrumental in the formation of Uvalde County. An active civic leader and supporter of education, Black served as county judge, county commissioner, and state representative. As a result of his opposition to secession, he was led to live in Mexico during the Civil War.”

Unfortunately, he was murdered by a relative in 1867. Following his death, his elementary age daughter Mary was sent back east for schooling. Her mother had little money but gave Mary some family jewelry to sell for necessities. At 19, Mary returned to Uvalde and married a local man.

Devout Christians, Mary Black Nunn and her husband helped establish a local Methodist church. All she could give to the building fund was her treasured jewelry. Mary kept three pieces and gave the rest to the work of the Lord. The three remaining heirlooms were cherished by her descendants until 2021, when the great great granddaughter of Reading Black, Roberta Nunn Kostka, donated them to the El Progreso Memorial Library along with historical documents.

Mary loved the Lord and Uvalde. She gave sacrificially what she could and fulfilled Luke 21:4 (NASB), when she gave “out of her poverty.” May Mary’s humble heart provide an inspiring example to us today.

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