Chief Justice Josh R. Morriss III, presiding justice of the Texas Sixth Court of Appeals, sitting in Texarkana, will be the speaker at the annual fall meeting of the Davidson Foundation held at the Josephine Davidson Memorial Chapel in the pine-clad woods near Harleton, a part of one of the most unique events in Harrison County.
It begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 17, 2022, and following Judge Morriss’s appearance, all those in attendance are invited to remain and enjoy a complimentary catered lunch on the chapel grounds.
Josh Morriss hails from a family long settled in the Texarkana area of Northeast Texas. Since 2002 he has served as the Chief Justice of the Sixth Court of Appeals in Texas, one of 14 state intermediate appellate courts. Judge Morriss has long been known throughout the East Texas area for his renowned one-man re-enactments of historical figures. He will appear at this meeting as President George Washington. This promises to be a unique and thoughtful experience. Judge Morriss has been married to his wife, Diana, for more than 30 years. They are the parents of three daughters and enjoy their wonderful grandchildren
On a country road between Harleton and Gilmer, the Josephine Davidson Memorial Chapel was constructed to honor the mother of one of Harrison county’s most outstanding jurists and political figures. Judge T. Whitfield Davidson, self-educated, “read law,” then passed the Texas Bar Exam, served as City Attorney in Marshall, Texas State Senator, Lt. Governor, and ran for Governor of Texas in 1924 on a platform attacking the Ku Klux Klan which was then attempting to take over many state offices. Though he failed to win the governor’s chair, he was appointed Federal District Judge by F.D.R. and continued his battle against vigilante justice until he was in his 90s.
Childless, in 1955, he decided to use his wealth to honor his mother by building a stone chapel in her name on the farm where he was born. He intended it to last forever, he said. Upon his death, he was buried there in 1974, two years shy of his 100th birthday. When he established the Davidson Foundation, he gave its Trustees two tasks; maintaining the chapel and holding two gatherings each year. One
was to be in the fall where someone “learned in the Constitution and laws of the land” would speak and one in the spring for a celebration of “the faith of our fathers.” Reflecting, perhaps, on his own memories of arduous trips to town from the country, he made sure the guests at each gathering would be fed before they left the grounds.
To reach the chapel from Marshall, travel north on S.H. 154 to Harleton, there turn onto FM 450 North and follow it northward (toward Ore City) until it meets the Davidson Road (a TxDOT sign marks the turn) then turn left from FM 450 onto Davidson Road and follow it until it intersects the entrance to the Chapel property, which is marked with a sign for the entrance. From Gilmer, take S.H. 154 south to Harleton and follow the same directions. From Longview, take Alpine Road (FM 2208) to Harleton and then follow the same instructions.
The Foundation’s Trustees invite the public to enjoy this unique East Texas tradition in one of our area’s most picturesque settings.