January 27, 2001
To TAHP Members:
It is with great sorrow and a deep sense of personal loss, that I express my thoughts on the loss of Dr. Margaret Swett Henson.
Dr. Henson, along with her late husband Scott Henson, was one of TAHP's charter members of the organization. From the very first (1989), she played an active and strong role in making the organization a success. The very fact that she was a member of the organization, gave TAHP an enormous endorsement, as anyone and everyone in the fields of preservation and history within the State of Texas knew and respected Dr. Henson. However, she did alot more, she gave us many suggestions and ideas and opened doors within the historical community whenever TAHP needed assistance.
The obtaining of the historical marker for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Houston within record time (less than one year) has to be credited to Dr. Henson. Dr. Henson reviewed all the historical data and prepared the proposed text for the marker. One small revision from the state was all that was required. Her expertise and her contacts within the Texas Historical Commission made the event a minor miracle as markers were normally requiring at least a full two year period before a marker could be acquired.
We often discussed little known places or occurrences related to Texas history and Dr. Henson had either personally visited the site and/or had studied about the sites. These sites were often swampy or heavily dense areas that were infested with snakes, insects and other undesirable creatures and of course, they were usually very isolated places. The song "Battle of New Orleans" always came into association with Dr. Henson as she talked about some of the places, "...places where a rabbit couldn't go."
I always atttempted to make sure that my comments on history were accurate before I discussed them with Dr. Henson because Dr. Henson had a talent for being precise and would easily pick out any errors immediately. She had a true talent for the retention of materials, data, facts. She always was meticulous and methodical in her research and I was always highly respectful for her tenacity for the truth.
Dr. Henson's desire for the truth made her a strong and vocal champion for the Tejano Association for Historical Preservation because she was one of the first, if not the first Texas historian to know that the truth did not all rest with the Anglozied version of history. Dr. Henson found the truth where ever it could be found and then she presented it along with her explanations as to why it may have resulted in that manner.
Dr. Henson's book on DeZavala, which was dedicated to TAHP, is the last published book by Dr. Henson and it is a classic example of Dr. Henson's desire to tell the truth as she saw it. The book neither condemns nor condones De Zavala's actions but rather tells his story as accurately as she could portray it according to the facts that were available. If only we could all have our personal stories told in that manner! Dr.Henson proudly called herself a "revisionist" because she often rewrote the history pages and often because her facts revealed truths that had either been ignored or misrepresented with regard to the great confrontation between the Anglo and Hispanic cultures in the 1800's in Tejas.
I know that I will sorely miss her calls that were always started with, "Margaret, here - have you got a minute?" I always replied that I did, and not one of those minutes was ever wasted in my opinion. The state has lost one of its finest historians, the Tejanos have lost one of its greatest supporters and I have lost a very good friend.
Rest in peace,
Rolando M. Romo