The record-setting rain that drenched north Texas finally gave way on Sunday just in time for Elise Clements’ big day: Beulah Harriss, the woman credited with starting the Girl Scout movement in Denton, is getting an official Texas historical marker!
As a part of her project for the Girl Scout Silver Award (the highest award girls in grades six, seven and eight can earn), Elise, her mother Judy, and a host of other helpful hands, worked to give Harriss the recognition she certainly deserves. After all, Harriss’ ties to north Texas run back for decades.
About Beulah Harriss
Her life in Denton began in 1914 after moving from Nebraska. Three years later she was recognized as the first Girl Scout in Texas, started the first troop, and in 1923, helped build the scout lodge at Hills and Hollows in south Denton. Today nearly 30,000 girls and 12,500 volunteers are active members of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, a council that includes Denton county. That means, every day our girls and volunteers are providing and sharing experiences with each other and the community to help make the world a better place. And it all started with Beulah.
She went on to become the first women’s physical education teacher at North Texas State Normal College, now the University of North Texas. In 1923, Harriss became a founder of the Texas State Physical Education Association, now the Texas Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, and served as its president in 1933. She continued to make significant contributions in education until her retirement in 1960 after spending 46 years at the University of North Texas as a professor and women’s athletics activist. In 1987, 10 years after her death, she was inducted into the North Texas Athletic Hall of Fame.
Knowing this about Beulah, it only made sense to have the state recognize her for her accomplishments.
Beulah Harriss Ceremony
There were a lot of smiling faces – many of them family, friends, mentors, educators and supporters – who came together for the October 25 ceremony. One by one, speakers including the Denton County Judge, Jennifer Bartkowski, Dr. Jack Watson, Emerson Vorel and many others took to the podium to share the significance of Beulah and her contributions to north Texas.
Afterwards, everyone shuffled outside into Denton’s Quakertown Park for the unveiling of the state marker. That day you could feel the heavy-hanging humidity in the air and the mud squish underneath your shoes, but the cloudy day didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Up until right before the unveiling, everything felt like a dream. To have an incredible idea like Elise’s come to life, and to be inspired by her hard work, really brought out our Girl Scout pride.
What Elise accomplished is nothing short of amazing. Through this project, she perfectly demonstrated what it means to give back to the community and the influence of the Silver Award.
Be sure to visit Quakertown Park in Denton to take in this great piece of history!