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The following is the tribute that Dorothy Elkins Cox gave on June 28m 2008 at the Montgomery-Thatcher Cemetery when the Montgomery-Thatcher Historic Cemetery Association met for their 30 year reunion and the unveiling of the Daughter of the Republic of Texas marker for Mildred Thatcher.
Tribute to Mildred Thatcher
Aunt Millie would be pleased that you have come today to honor her memory.
Mildred Thatcher was born October 19, 1853 on the plantation of her parents not far from this cemetery. Millie was the youngest of nine children of George Washington Thatcher and Sarah Myrah Montgomery Thatcher.
From the beginning Millie seemed to be the darling of every eye. Well of course, she was the baby in the family. She took an interest in the Negroes on the farm and some of them her age were her playmates. Her mother, Sarah Myrah, writes to her daughter Fanny living in Ashwood Plantation in Tensas Parish, Louisiana, that Millie now five years old, had her own set of wine glasses. Sarah said that Millie was using the glasses to treat everyone as they visited their home and Millie was growing so fast. Sarah was teaching Millie to knit and Millie seemed pleased that she had something to do. A few days later she was out romping. I called her in and bade her go to her knitting, she would not go. I put knitting in her hands, Millie held it and said, Ma, I will tell you the reason I dont want to knit, ladies dont knit. In a letter dated November 1862, it stated that Millie and George are attending school, but does not say where the school is located. Millies early education was on the plantation. When Millie was nine years old there was a teacher by the name of Lindsey who was teaching on the Thatcher Plantation. We do know that private teachers from the east came to the Montgomery and Thatcher Plantations as teachers. Sarahs brother, Samuel married Josephine Estep who had come from South Carolina to teach on the Montgomery Plantation; Thornton Thatcher married Elizabeth Lookup of Virginia and John Thatchers second wife, Annie E. Davis, had also come to teach on the Thatcher Plantation.
Her father, George Thatcher, died in August 1867 when Millie was 14 and within a few months her youngest brother, George Montgomery Thatcher, died.
After the War Between the States Millie was sent to the Ursaline Academy in Galveston for her higher education. This was a tradition in the family that the girls attend this school. Her tuition in 1869 was $100.00 in gold.
In 1870 her brother-in-law, Robert Fulton Montgomery, wrote to Millie, as an authoritative brother-in-law and I quote, I dont want you to be sending me any more of your sass and your imprudence in your letters. So it seems that Millie had a precocious streak in her at an early age. This letter also mentions that the family is living in the great city of Eagle Lake.
After Millie finished her schooling she declared herself a femme sole and began to farm her 500-acres her father had given her before his death. She built her two-story home in Eagle Lake, located on the corner of McCarty and State Street. It stands today as the 2nd oldest house in Eagle Lake. She owned one half of this block. She later built a small cottage style home that sits on the corner. In her will she gave this cottage to the Episcopal Church for their parsonage. Millie was confirmed in the Episcopal Church of Heavenly Rest in 1881 by Bishop Gregg and was an active member, later this became the Christ Episcopal Church; there is a beautiful stained glass window dedicated to her in the sanctuary; she was a member of the Eastern Star, a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and she became a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas on February 6, 1897. Her papers were signed by Mary Jane Harris Briscoe, Mrs. Michael (Adele Briscoe) Looscan, Mrs. Anson (Mary Smith) Jones and Mrs. Minnie Phelps Vasmer. Her application was # 266 to be accepted into the DRT. Today I proudly wear her Daughters of the Republic of Texas pin on my ribbon and I have in my possession her Eastern Star pin.
Millie Thatcher was related on her mothers side of the family to Mary Jane Harris Briscoe, Adele Briscoe Looscan and Jessie Briscoe Howe. I quote Mary Jane Briscoe Her Writings by Adele Briscoe Looscan: Mildred Thatcher, a relative on my fathers side, how, for nearly a year, became a member of the family in order to share her companionship and by cheerful, gentle sympathy, drive away despondency, diffusing cheerfulness in its stead. Of course we know that Mary Jane Harris Briscoe was the wife of Andrew Briscoe; Andrew Briscoe was a nephew of James Steen Montgomery.
In 1859 Mrs. Briscoe and children spent Christmas with the Thatcher and Montgomery families on their plantations as evidenced in a letter of January 1860 from Sarah Myrah M. Thatcher to her daughter Fannie Thatcher Montgomery.
Millie was a supporter of Mrs. Briscoes work with the Sheltering Arms, an organization that provided support for aged women needing a temporary home.
The Cane Belt Railroad was charted in 1898. The Railroad was to run from Eagle Lake to Bonus going through the land of the Thatchers. Millie deeded some of her land for this purpose in 1899 and again in 1905. Her brother, John W. Thatcher, was a Director in this venture. He also deeded some of his land.
In early 1900 Millie ventured out west to Crosby County, Texas with Fanny and Mary Williamson to visit her niece Fannie Thatcher Wilson and family, Sophia, Summie, Ruth, Johnnie and Tom.
After a long illness Aunt Millie Thatcher died in Eagle Lake on Aug 19, 1914. Her funeral service was held in the Episcopal Church and was conducted by the Rev. A. J. Gayner Banks. Burial was here in the Montgomery-Thatcher Cemetery. Many floral arrangements were sent by many friends among those were Mrs. Adele Looscan and her sister Mrs. J. B. (Jessie) Howe. Her will directed that she be buried by the side of her mother and their remains placed in a brick vault. Many people have wondered how Mr. Keith made this vault.
May she rest in peace.
Unveil the marker.
I have referred to family letters they are a wonderful view of the lives of our ancestors. After I read these letters I felt as though I had lived next door to them, and it also gave me an insight into their character.
I hope you have enjoyed remembering Aunt Millie Thatcher with me today. I thank you for coming.
REQUIESCAT IN PEACE
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