Katherine Stinson Didn’t Plan on Being a Pilot

We know this because when Katherine was born, aviation as we know it hadn’t yet been invented. Katherine came to flying musically. A fantastic musician, Katherine won a piano in her city’s competition. One day, her music teacher told her it was time for Katherine to go study music in Europe, as Katherine’s teacher reached the limit of what she was able to teach Katherine. Excited, Katherine ran home to tell her mother the news. Emma Stinson, divorced with four children, was not as excited as her eldest daughter.

Although Emma ran the City Directory in Fort Payne, Alabama, Katherine’s birthplace, she didn’t have the extra money to spend on flying lessons. Telling her daughter this, Katherine’s eyes fell, fell right to the newspaper laying on the living room coffee table where the headlines screamed, “Barnstormers earn $1000 a day!” Snatching up the paper, Katherine told her mother, “That’s how I’ll get to Europe, I’ll learn to fly!” Thus, the career of the fourth woman in the United States to earn her pilot’s license, in 1912, was born.

If it hadn’t been for that knock on the door, the Alamo would be no more…

Adina de Zavala, a fifth-generation Texan whose great-grandfather fought in the Battle of San Jacinto, spent all her spare time working to preserve historic Texas missions. Adina was horrified when she found out that the site of the Alamo was about to be sold to a businessman with plans to tear it down and build a hotel. As it was, all that remained of the site where the famous battle took place was the mission’s small chapel building. Adina, a woman of small means but big dreams, headed over to the Hotel Menge, where she heard a prominent Texas philanthropist and his wife were staying. Questioning the bell man, Adina discovered to her dismay that the couple left for Europe the day before. She was a day late!

The bell man, seeing how upset Adina was, asked her why she wanted to see the couple. Adina explained her predicament. The bellman said another young women, twenty-three year-old Clara Driscoll was also a guest at the hotel and might be willing to help her. Adina knocked on Clara’s door and explained her dilemma. Clara was so impressed with Adina’s passion for historic preservation, an interest Clara shared, that Clara agreed to help Adina. Clara sat down and wrote out a check for $5000 as a down payment for what would eventually be a $63,000 promissory note to the Hug0-Smeltzer Company, the owners of the property on which the Alamo resided. Clara saved the Alamo. She bought it!

The Second Battle of the Alamo

Remember the Alamo! The battle cry is ingrained in Texas school children’s heads starting in the fourth grade. Images of lines in the sand being drawn, brave Texans crossing the line, those too weak to stand being carried over on stretchers, all pledging to give their lives rather than surrender to Santa Anna.

While much is made of the glory of the gallons of blood spilled in an attempt to defend the Mission, seldom is the story of the second battle of the Alamo told. This second battle, although waged quietly in the early 20th century, allowed us to still have the remnants of the earlier Mission and an actual building and grounds left to remember. And, like most of the historical memorabilia preserved in Texas, we owe its preservation to two women, one with the historical knowledge to know to fight for the Alamo, and one with the money.