Preserving the real places and the real stories of Texas.
  • Sahawe Indian Dancers performing at Fort Griffin Visitor Center openingSahawe Indian Dancers performing at Fort Griffin Visitor Center opening
  • Conserved Painted Fan - part of the Sam Bell Maxey House artifact collectionConserved Painted Fan - part of the Sam Bell Maxey House artifact collection
  • Buffalo Soldiers at the new Fort Griffin Visitor Center Buffalo Soldiers at the new Fort Griffin Visitor Center
  • Jan Bullock gives opening remarks at La Belle exhibit openingJan Bullock gives opening remarks at La Belle exhibit opening
  • Clara Starr's Opera Glass - part of Starr Family Home artifact collectionClara Starr's Opera Glass - part of Starr Family Home artifact collection

Larutha M. Odom Clay - Pioneer in Texas history

Mrs. Clay was born June 25, 1926 to A.T. and Addie Odom in the Historic Community of Shankleville, in Newton County, TX. She met Matthew Honer Clay, Sr., of Beaumont, while both were students at Prairie View A&M University; and they were married in 1950, at Mount Hope Baptist Church in Shankleville.

Mrs. Clay served for more than 36 years as an English, speech, debate, drama and journalism teacher at Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, TX, and at Hebert, Forest Park and Westbrook High Schools in Beaumont. Beyond the classroom, she helped the children of former students improve their writing skills, and conducted symposia, seminars, workshops and demonstrations via church and civic organizations to improve speaking and writing skills. Mrs. Clay also was known throughout the area and the state as a dynamic motivational and spiritual speaker.

An advocate of civic and spiritual engagement, Mrs. Clay was a Life Member of the NAACP, as well as a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and the Order of the Eastern Star. In 2003, Mrs. Clay became the first black woman to be inducted into the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, whose applicants must prove they are direct descendants of citizens who helped establish the Republic of Texas. As a founding member and secretary/treasurer of the Shankleville Historical Society, Inc., Mrs. Clay helped drive the Society’s 20-plus-years scholarship program for college-bound students.

Make a gift to the Matthew Honer and Larutha Odom Clay Diversity Internship Fund

Fort Griffin State Historic Site

Holding command over the Southern Plains, Fort Griffin served as one in a line of western defensive forts from 1867 to 1881. Remnants of the fort remain today at Fort Griffin State Historic Site, which is also home to the Official State of Texas Longhorn Herd and offers camping, fishing, hiking, stargazing and living history.

Making a Difference