ARTIFACTS

Here is a small sample of Houston-related items that can be seen in museums across the country. Each artifact has its own story and a special place in the narrative of General Houston's life.





Andrew Jackson's Letter to Thomas Jefferson Introducing Sam Houston

It is unclear whether the two actually met, but Houston had Jackson write a letter of introduction for him to Thomas Jefferson who in 1823 was in retirement at Monticello. The road to Washington from Tennessee passed right by Charlottesville and the newly elected Congressman would have undoubtedly followed its path.  The Jackson letter describes Sam Houston as one who had risen to the rank of Major General and to Congress on his own merit without the advantages of privilege.  It was recently moved from the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty, TX to the Texas State Archives in Austin for restoration.




Brown Hat

This hat is one of the last hats belonging to Sam Houston.  It is typical of the period and is kept at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, TX.




Bust of Houston by Henry Dexter

This bust of Sam Houston is from a life mask, c.1860 by Henry Dexter.  It is kept at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, TX.




Bust of Sam Houston by Elizabeth Ney

This bust of Sam Houston by the famed sculptress Elizabeth Ney adorns the Sam Houston bedroom of the Texas Governor’s Mansion.  Ney sculpted Houston on a few occasions, including the full bodied statue of him that is displayed in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. 




Carvings by Sam Houston

Whittling was a favorite pastime of Houston’s and these small items are surviving pieces of his handiwork.  The letter opener was carved while he was in the U.S. Senate.  These items are at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, TX.




Dueling Pistol, Powder Horn and Sword

Pictured is one of two dueling pistols presented to General Sam Houston by the citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 20, 1836 “As a token of esteem.” The powder horn also belonged to him, as did this ceremonial sword.  Some scholars believe this sword may be the one that Santa Anna surrendered to Houston after the battle of San Jacinto.  All three items are at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, TX.




Garnet Pendant

This garnet pendant hair locket was given to Sam Houston by the Marquis de Lafayette during his return visit to the United States in 1823.  The hair inside is most likely Lafayette’s.  Sam Houston Memorial Museum, Huntsville, TX.




Green Parisian Hat

This green velvet hat of Houston’s was made in Paris.  He had intended to wear it at his 1841 inauguration as President of the Republic of Texas.  Sam Houston Memorial Museum , Huntsville, TX.




Honor Ring

The Honor Ring is perhaps the crown jewel of Houston artifacts.  It was given to him by his mother, Elizabeth Paxton Houston, when Sam was twenty years old and he wore it for the rest of his life.  When he died at age 70, Margaret slipped it off of his finger and passed it around for the children to look at.  San Jacinto Museum of History, La Porte, Texas.




Lead Knuckles

When the Sam Houston Schoolhouse was renovated in the 1950s these lead knuckles with Sam Houston’s name carved in them were found, forgotten, wedged above the door frame.  They are on display at the Sam Houston Schoolhouse Museum in Maryville, TN.




Leopard Skin (Jaguar) Vest

This vest was worn by General Houston in the 1840’s and 1850’s and was one of his favorites.  He referred to it as his “leopard skin vest” though it is actually jaguar. While defending his pro-union views to Southern senators he said he had always been pro-union and, “A leopard can’t change his spots.”  This vest can be seen at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, TX.




Moccasin, Beadwork Purse, and Cameo Portrait

This beautiful beadwork purse was given to Houston by an Indian girl.  Sam gave it to Mary Rhode Goodrich Muldrow when she was sixteen.  She was the daughter of Benjamin Goodrich, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.  The moccasin was given to Houston by the Cherokees, and the picture of him in Cherokee attire was painted in 1830 while he was an Ambassador of the Cherokee Nation to the U.S. Government.  All three items are on display at the San Jacinto Museum of History in La Porte, TX.




Pen and Glasses

This pen was given to Margaret Houston by her brother Martin Lea and is engraved “Margaret L. Houston”.  It was used by Sam Houston in the U. S. Senate.  The glasses are Houston’s reading glasses.  These items are on display at the San Jacinto Museum of History in La Porte, TX.




Republic of Texas Currency

When the United States would not annex Texas as a state the young republic printed its own currency to begin conducting business.  This sample is at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, TX.




Rocking Chair and Walking Cane

This rocking chair was made for Sam Houston by inmates at the Huntsville Prison in 1858.  The walking cane, one of several owned by Houston, was donated to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum by General Houston’s great-grandson, Sam Houston, IV




Sam Jr.'s Bible

This bible was carried by Sam Houston, Jr. during the Battle of Shiloh in 1862 and saved his life when it stopped a bullet while in the breast pocket of his coat.  The bullet stopped at the 70th Psalm and the entry hole is pointed out in this picture by Sam Houston, IV.  This item is in the collection of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, TX.




San Jacinto Battle Flag

This flag, believed to be the only battle flag of the Texas Army at San Jacinto, was carried by Captain Sidney Sherman’s Kentucky volunteers and was donated to the state by his descendants.  Conservation work was done on it in 1933 and again in 1990.  This flag now hangs in the Texas House Chamber at the Capitol in Austin, TX.




Silver Service

Sam and Margaret Houston’s silver service was made in Philadelphia and purchased from M.W. Galt and Brothers in Washington D.C. around 1850.  Houston used the $500 in silver coins he received for his service in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812 to acquire this set.  Sam Houston Memorial Museum, Huntsville, TX.




Travis' letter

One of the most moving and heroic letters of all time, Travis’ plea for aid from the besieged Alamo is perhaps the most treasured document in Texas History.  It is kept at the Texas Archives in Austin, TX.






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