Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Ella Peyton Dancy Dibrell 1862 ~1920

 

By Hon. A. A. Terrell


Ella Peyton Dancy Dibrell

Ella Peyton Dancy was born in the Reconstruction Days and reared on the banks of the Colorado at La Grange, Texas, the plantation where her father settled in 1836, and which is still owned by this youngest child of the Dancy family. She was married in her sixteenth year and has two daughters born of this marriage. Her mother inherited the homestead of her father which was built in Austin, in 1847, in the primitive days of the capital, built by the hands of her grandfather's servants. While yet a very young woman, she and her little daughters removed with her mother, Mrs. Dancy, to Austin where she then entered the University, taking special courses in literature under Mark Harvey Liddell, the noted Shakespearian scholar, who is now editing his Shakespeare under the auspices of Princeton University.

She was married to Joseph B. Dibrell, member of the state senate in October, 1899, and is now the mother of John Winfield Dancy Dibrell, born four years after the marriage, now a lad of eight. She lived at Seguin, Texas, Mr. Dibrell's lifelong home until his recent appointment to the Supreme Bench of Texas, when she has again returned to the state capital at Austin, the home of her grandfather and distinguished father who was a member of Congress of the Republic of Texas.

Ella Dancy Dibrell comes of old revolutionary stock. Through her mother's line she descended from Anne Robinson Cockrell, who received distinction in the early days as a leader in establishing the church work in the French Lick where Nashville, Tennessee, is now located. Her father was John Winfield Dancy who descended from the Turners, Dancys and Colonel Masons, in Virginia, and was a direct kinsman of General Winfield Scott, for whom he was named. Being of a romantic nature, soon after leaving his home in Virginia, going to Alabama, he cast his fortune in the Golden West, then the New Republic of Texas.

Mrs. Dibrell is one of the charter members of the American History Club at Austin; member of the Altar Society of St. Davis' Church at Austin; first president of the Shakespeare Club of Austin, which consists of the University circle almost entirely; organizer of the History Club of San Antonio, the Shakespeare and Civic Improvement Club of Seguin; state president of the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs; state president of the Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, during which time the Confederate Woman's Home was begun and completed. She is now Texas regent of the Confederate Museum of Richmond, Va., and Texas director of the Arlington Monument Committee to be erected at Arlington, in Washington, D. C. At one time chairman of the Civic Committee of the General Federation of Woman's Clubs, One of the directors of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Mrs. Dibrell secured the first appropriation for a memorial to Stephen F. Austin, and General Sam Houston, by placing statues of these heroes in the national Capitol at Washington and replicas in the state Capitol of Texas, the works of the noted European artist Elizabeth Ney, a grandniece of Marshall Ney, who died in the city of Austin, June 29, 1907. Two years after this artist's death, Mrs. Dibrell purchased her studio and the grounds, on the condition that the valuable property of the artist, the works contained therein would be given to the University of Texas, in accordance with the artist's desire. A debt of many thousand dollars upon the studio prevented the gift being made direct, by this artist friend in whom Mrs. Dibrell has become deeply interested, after her exile from Europe. This is now the uppermost work of Mrs. Dibrell, having formed a Fine Arts Association for the state of Texas, which will have in charge the management of this collection in connection with the board of regents of the University of Texas, and the Fine Arts Association is always to have its home in this building, and this association is given the right to develop a Fine Arts Museum without charge, as a tribute to Texas and her friend, Elizabeth Ney. It was solely through the efforts of Mrs. Dibrell that the works of Elizabeth Ney were brought into prominence in the United States.

The officers of the Fine Arts Association are: Mr. James H. McClendon, president, friend and legal counselor of the artist; vice-presidents, S, E. Mezes, president of the University of Texas, and ex-Governor Joseph D, Sayers; secretary, Mrs. Mary Mitchell; treasurer, Miss Julia Pease, daughter of ex-Governor Pease. Mrs. Dibrell is chairman of the board of directors of this institution and Judge A. W. Terrell, ex-Minister to Turkey (prominent from a political, judiciary and educational standpoint, submitted the legal transfers of the statuary for Mrs. Dibrell to the regents of the University, while he was a member of that body.) During a former administration, the Library Commission bill, which has been conceived and fostered by Mrs. J. C. Terrell, of Fort Worth, Texas, was passed by the legislature, while Mrs. Dibrell as president of the Federation rendered active support and assistance in the passage of the bill which had failed for eight years, four legislatures. Mrs. Terrell was justly accredited the honor of being made the first lady appointed in the Library Commission.

Governor Oscar B. Colquitt of the present administration has appointed Mrs. Joseph B. Dibrell and Mrs. Sayers, wife of ex-Governor Sayers, as the lady members of the State Library Commission. Mrs. Dibrell not only holds this office, but is the Texas regent of Confederate Museum, chairman of the Fine Arts Association Board of Directors, director of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Texas regent of Confederate Museum in Richmond, Va., and state secretary of the General Federation of Woman's Clubs. She was elected a member of the University of Texas "Alumni Association" for the splendid services she had rendered to the woman's work of the state and the university. She is one of the directors of the United Charities, has an interest in all humanitarian and philanthropic propositions, as well as an advocator of civic and moral beauty and cleanliness. March loth has been established in Texas through her influence, while chairman of the General Federation of Woman's Clubs Civic Committee, as clean-up day for this state, and ordered annually by the state health officer. This generally observed day has been adopted by many states.

Mrs. Dibrell stands in the front rank of the women of her state who have achieved the best for Texas, humanity, progress and mankind. She has made a distinct impression upon her race and time, attained by few in any country, and among the "immortals" in her great state, no name will ever reach a higher plane.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.

 

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