Kathryn (Kate) Carlisle Stoner O'Connor, preservationist, philanthropist, and historian, the daughter of George Overton and Zilpa (Rose) Stoner, was born on February 11, 1883, on her family's ranch in Victoria County. She is remembered primarily for her role in the restoration and preservation of Nuestra Señora de Loreto Presidio (Presidio La Bahía) in Goliad, an effort estimated to have cost more than $1 million. She was educated privately, at home and in Victoria. She was Catholic, a Republican, and a founder of the Kathryn Stoner O'Connor Foundation, which supports health and education in Texas. She belonged to many organizations, including the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the Texas Folklore Society, the Texas State Historical Association, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Mrs. O'Connor received many honors for her work with historical preservation and religious charities. Her principal awards were the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (1939) and the Lady Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (1957), both papal decorations; and the dignity of the Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Isabela la Católica, an honor bestowed in 1977 by order of King Juan Carlos I of Spain, which had previously been granted only to European heads of state. Other awards included the Award of Merit for Historic Preservation from the state of Texas, and awards from Victoria, Refugio, and Goliad counties for historic preservation. Mrs. O'Connor was a niece of the nineteenth-century journalist Victor Marion Rose, and revised his noted history of Victoria, Texas. She also wrote the first major history of La Bahía, which was published in 1966 as The Presidio La Bahía del Espíritu Santo De Zúñiga, 1721–1846. She funded the annual La Bahía Award, a monetary prize given by the Sons of the Republic of Texas for the best research on Hispanic influence in Texas culture.
In 1905 Kathryn Stoner married Thomas O'Connor, scion of a prominent ranching family in South Texas and a descendant of James Power, an Irish empresario who settled the area as cofounder of the Power and Hewetson colony. They had three children, all of whom continued the family ranching tradition and were active in the business community of Victoria. Kate O'Connor lived her entire life in Refugio and Victoria counties. She died in Victoria on February 8, 1979, and was buried at River Ranch in Refugio. In 1980 a library collection of rare documents about Texas-Mexico history, owned by the Sons of the Republic of Texas and housed at the University of Texas at San Antonio, was named in her honor.
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Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Victoria Advocate, September 5, 1977, February 9, 1979, March 1, 1980.
Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Louise S. O'Connor,
“O'Connor, Kathryn Carlisle Stoner,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 28, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 1, 1995
Most Recent Revision Date:
August 4, 2020
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: