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Texas History: Captured by Comanches

The Texas Legislature came to a hush as Mrs. Rebecca Fisher stepped to the podium to offer the invocation for the lawmaking body's new session. As the 20th Century began, this inspiring woman of prayer reminded the legislators to seek the wisdom of God in all decisions.

But why was Rebecca Jane Gilleland Fisher chosen to invoke the blessings of God upon this respected body of governing officials? What was it about her background that stirred intrigue and respect?

When Rebecca was seven, she and her brother William were playing with their parents in the yard of their home in Refugio County. In the 1840’s, this part of Texas faced the constant threat of vicious attacks by roving bands of Comanches. Suddenly, a war party of Indians killed Rebecca’s parents and captured her and William.

In 1913, Rebecca told the Galveston News, “I remember that when Mother received the fatal stroke she had hold of the arms of my brother and me and was praying to God to ’save her children.’ We were baptized in her blood and her prayers were answered for her children, and we were rescued within a few hours after our capture.”

Rebecca and William were in the custody of the Comanches for a day and night before they were rescued by Albert Sidney Johnston and a unit of Texas soldiers. Later, Rebecca was sent to live with her aunt, Jane Trimble, in Galveston.

At the age of 13, Rebecca attended Rutersville Female College in Fayette County, and married Methodist minister Rev. Orceneth Fisher when she was age 15. After 15 years of ministry on the Pacific Coast where they founded the Methodist Church in Oregon, they returned to Texas with six children and a desire to preserve the history of Texas.

In the ensuing years, Rebecca Fisher became a charter member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the president of the William B. Travis chapter of the DRT. Rebecca and preservationist Clara Driscoll led the effort to save the Alamo from destruction. Mrs. Fisher is the first woman to be elected to the Texas Veterans Association, and to have her portrait hung in the Senate Chamber at the Texas Capitol.

Upon her death on March 21, 1926, Rebecca’s body lay in state in the Senate chamber where the funeral services were held. Her portrait was draped in mourning cloth, and her casket was borne to her grave in Austin’s Oakwood Cemetery by two United States senators, and four former governors.

In addition to her love for historical preservation, the temperance movement, and philanthropy, Rebecca Fisher was a strong leader in her local church, and an advocate for missionary causes.

Prayer was sacred to Mrs. Fisher, and the legislators recognized her deep commitment to God. May the Lord raise up more influential leaders like Rebecca Jane Gilleland Fisher.

As it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (NIV), “Acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.”


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