(Seguin) -- Who was Jose' Antonio Navarro and how is he credited to the naming of the Navarro ISD and to the establishment of the state of Texas?
Described as a true Texas patriot, the hero's story will be shared this weekend by his great-great-great granddaughter, Sylvia Navarro Tillotson, president of the Friends of Casa Navarro State Historic Site in San Antonio.
Tillotson, who has spent the last several years, piecing together the many aspects of her grandfather's legacy will be on hand to speak Saturday morning at the Texas Agricultural Education & Heritage Center, a.k.a, The Big Red Barn.
Tillotson says Navarro was a lifelong patriot who supported many independence movements for Texas, including Mexico's Independence from Spain and the Texas Revolution against Mexico.
"He was at Washington-on-the-Brazos and signed the Declaration of Independence and that's what he's most known for or I say people have heard that, but there are many other important contributions that he made. One that is probably even more important than that is that he helped to draft the Constitution of Texas and he is the only native born Tejano on that committee that helped draft the constitution and he was also instrumental and having the word ‘white’ struck from the writing so that everyone was included, that there would be no exclusion of people of color and there was a big debate during that timeframe, between whether or not that people of darker skin should be allowed their political rights -- to vote and all of that. He single-handedly was the one who got that overturned," said Tillotson.
Throughout most of his years, Navarro remained an influential figure in Texas and San Antonio, serving in the state legislature and on the San Antonio City Council. In 1846, Navarro was too humble to have a newly established county in North Texas named after him. He, however, had his contributions recognized by having the county seat designated as Corsicana, in honor of his father's birthplace. Since that time, numerous schools and streets have also been named after the family.
Tillotson says she was originally drawn to the local community following the preservation of the original Navarro school house that now sits among the properties of the Big Red Barn's Heritage Village - a collection of historic properties from the area. She says unlike other schools named after the Texas Patriot, the Navarro ISD in Geronimo holds the original claim for his passion for education. Although self-taught, he helped his family establish the first Navarro school where his brother served as the teacher. She says throughout his life, the native born Texan placed plenty of importance on education.
"Navarro was very keen on education. It was very important to him and he thought that was a way to succeed and do the most that you could in life, accomplish the most you could. His son Angel Navarro III, who I decent from, he sent to Harvard Law School. Back in those days in the 1800's, that was unheard of -- to send someone living in San Antonio, a tiny little community that would go off to Harvard. We think he may be the first Hispanic graduate of Harvard Law School, but he certainly is the first from San Antonio," said Tillotson.
Tillotson will share the full Navarro story at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Big Red Barn. Other events slated for this weekend at the Ag Center include sausage making, spinning, viewing of antiques, wildlife exhibits, live entertainment, a baking contest and a turkey and dressing lunch. A complete schedule of events for this year's Pecan Fest and Heritage Days, including those activities at the Big Red Barn, can be found at seguingonuts.com.