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Founders Day Showcases Texas Revolutionary Jesse Burnam, Local History

Doris Phillips of Spicewood donated this friendship quilt to The Falls on the Colorado Museum in the memory of James Feuge, a former Marble Falls High School English and German languages teacher. The quilt, which is one of many displays at the museum, is available for viewing during the its Founders Day celebration July 14. Courtesy photo

MARBLE FALLS — Stories of a true Texas hero highlight this year’s Founders Day celebration at The Falls on the Colorado Museum.

The event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 14, at the museum, 2001 Broadway, with a performance from the Bluebonnet Chorale. There is no cost to attend.

Longtime resident Sam Burnam will talk about his ancestor Capt. Jesse Burnam, who moved to Burnet County in 1855 and established one of the first sheep-raising operations in the area as well as a large wheat farm.

Resident Vashti Tucker Smith will give a virtual tour of “old town Marble Falls,” centering on the Roper Hotel, which was purchased by her grandparents Mary and Willis S. Smith in 1926. Vashti grew up in the hotel, so she will speak about the Marble Falls of her childhood.

Visitors also will get an up-close look at a special friendship quilt donated by Doris Phillips of Spicewood in memory of James Feuge, a former English and German languages teacher at Marble Falls High School.

Darlene Oostermeyer, chair of the museum’s board of directors, noted that Phillips and Feuge “went on a detective trip to find out who” sewed the quilt and for what purpose.

What they discovered, she said, is that the quilt was a wedding gift, and the names of the quilter, who were local, are stitched into its blocks.

Jesse Burnam exuded Texas toughness. He owned land located southeast of present-day Marble Falls on Double Horn Creek. He and his wife, Nancy, followed two of Jesse’s older sons to the area. The couple had seven children.

Nancy was Jesse’s second wife. His first, Temperance Null Baker, and their nine children came to Texas in 1821 and settled at Pecan Point in Red River County. They became part of Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred,” a group of settlers that received land grants in Austin’s first colony in Mexico. They built a home, a trading post, and a ferry service on the Colorado River frontier.

In May 1824, Austin commissioned Burnam as a captain of the militia, which was fitting since Burnam was a private in the mounted volunteers of Tennessee during the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans.

By the time he married Nancy, he was a delegate to the conventions of 1832 and 1833 during which Texas settlers sought reforms from the Mexican government to ease calls for secession as well as the Consultation of 1835, which served as a provisional government during the Texas Revolution. He helped Col. James W. Fannin in recruiting volunteers and gathering supplies during the fight for independence. When Gen. Sam Houston arrived at Burnam’s crossing on May 17, 1836, he ordered the ferry, homestead, and store burned before the advancing Mexican army could get there.

Burnam was a representative in the Republic of Texas’s provisional government and first congress.

The Falls on the Colorado Museum, which is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, will have items in display cases available for viewing during Founders Day on Saturday.

Go to or call (830) 798-2571 for more information.

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