“Mexican children in Texas need an education. There is no other means to do it but ourselves, so that we are not devalued and humiliated by the strangers who surround us.”
Philanthropist and Author, 1881-1945
Daughter of a prominent Texas ranching family, Clara Driscoll managed her own bank account from an early age. She resolved to leave a legacy by funding the causes in which she believed.
In 1900, fresh out of finishing school in New York and Paris, Clara learned that the Alamo faced grave danger. Outside investors intended to purchase the grounds and build a hotel next to the chapel. Clara mobilized the DRT, wrote editorials, lobbied legislators, and solicited support from schoolchildren. When these efforts failed to raise enough money, Clara signed a personal check and promissory notes for the property, then promptly turned over her purchase to the State of Texas. She became known as “Savior of the Alamo.”
For the next few years, Clara pursued a writing career. She published a romantic novel and short stories set in the South Texas ranchlands of her childhood. Relocating in New York, she wrote a play that enjoyed a three-month run on Broadway. Clara married Hal Sevier, financial editor of the New York Sun and a former Texas state legislator whom she had met during her campaign to save the Alamo.
Upon the death of Clara’s father, the couple moved back to Texas. Hal founded the Austin American newspaper, while Clara dedicated herself to designing and entertaining at their Italianate mansion, Laguna Gloria. When her older brother died, Clara moved to Corpus Christi to assume her family’s financial interests. She capably managed ranch and oil properties and presided over the Corpus Christi Bank. Keenly involved in Democratic Party politics, Clara gained a reputation for rowdy language and decisive action.
After a two-year ambassadorship in Chile, the couple dissolved their 31-year marriage, with Clara reclaiming her maiden name. She continued to underwrite conservation at the Alamo as well as other civic causes. Clara donated Laguna Gloria to become an art museum, paid off the building debt of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs, and financed a luxury hotel in Corpus Christi, boosting the town’s economy. When she died, Clara left her entire estate to establish a children’s hospital in Corpus Christi.
The Alamo, weather-beaten by time, is what will endure in the memory of all who have seen or heard of the old city of San Antonio.