Gertrude Irene Cogdell

1881 – 1956

FromĀ History of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1918 – 1938, Volume II


Texas has a government Indian reservation, located in East Texas, near the town of Livingston, Polk County. It is inhabited by the Coushatta and Alabama, sometimes called the Polk County Indians, the only remaining full-blooded Indians in Texas.

This band of Indians formerly lived east of the Mississippi but after the Louisiana Purchase, moved to Texas where, in 1854, they were given 1280 acres of land, tax-free, through the efforts of General Sam Houston.

The Indians were not regarded as actual wards of the government and, as a result, were neglected by both the Federal government and the state of Texas.

In 1922 the T.F.W.C. appointed Mrs. Earl Cogdell, Granbury, state chairman of Indian Welfare. Mrs. Cogdell soon learned of the Polk County Indians and set about remedying their destitute condition. She succeeded in arousing the interest of Congress until an appropriation was secured to purchase 3000 acres of land adjoining their reservation. Agricultural implements and other necessities were purchased to aid their work. Later, Mrs. Cogdell enlisted the cooperation of the public-spirited citizens of Polk County and together with the Federation, they secured an appropriation from the state of Texas.

In 1927 a Senate committee was appointed by the Texas Legislature to visit the Reservation. They investigated carefully and an appropriation was made by the Federal government of $40,000. Later the Texas Legislature set aside $37,500, under the Eleemosynary Appropriations bill. New houses, a large gymnasium, new school, and a modern cannery were built. A hospital was erected, a full-time nurse was employed, and medical-dental care was provided.

An agent is now employed, by the state, who lives on the Reservation and supervises all Indian activities – farming, canning, manual training and so forth.

Mrs. Cogdell found the Indians responsive to all aids offered them. The women of the two tribes excell [sic] in basket-making and bead work, and also help in the fields and raise gardens.

White missionaries sent out by the Presbyterian Church have worked unselfishly to raise the standards of their religious beliefs and their daily life.

Through the years the tribes have dwindled from 5000 to about three hundred souls. Disease and starvation have taken their toll. Today they are a peaceful, law-abiding people, governed by the laws of the white man. They are now provided for, and are being educated to become and remain useful citizens.

Gertrude Irene Cogdell was born January 29, 1881 and died October 17, 1956. She was buried in the Granbury Cemetery in Hood County, Texas. Her headstone reads, “Wife, Sweetheart & Pal of Earl Cogdell.”

History of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1918-1938, Volume II. Edited and compiled by Fannie C. Potter (Mrs. W.R. Potter). Published by the Authority of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1941. Wm. H. McNitzky, Master Printer, Denton, Texas.