Born in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Sam Houston made his childhood home among the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and Tennessee. He lived among the Cherokee Indians in eastern Tennessee and also in today's Oklahoma, and went on to lead the revolution against tyranny in Mexican Texas. When the Republic of Texas was annexed to the United States he traveled extensively as a U.S. Senator. Here are some of the places where important events in his life took place.


Hiwassee Island, TN


Sam Houston ran away from home at sixteen and lived with a band of 300 Cherokee Indians for three years on Hiwassee Island in the middle of the Tennessee River.  It was here that he met Chief Oo-loo-tek-a, known to the whites as John Jolly, who became his adopted father and gave him his Cherokee name "Colonneh", the Raven.  Hiwassee Island is located approximately 22 miles northeast of Chattanooga, TN. (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down list on left and click Hiwassee Island, then zoom in to see exact location.)



Houston Farm Site, Maryville, TN


When her husband unexpectedly passed away Elizabeth Paxton Houston moved her family from Rockbridge County, Virginia to Maryville, TN near the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.  There, she patented a farm on 419 acres and opened a store.  Sam, the youngest of five sons, cared for neither farming or storekeeping and ran away at 16 to live with the Cherokees.  When his brothers came looking for him he said, "I would rather measure deer tracks with the Indians than cloth at the store." The site of the Houston homestead has a stone marker with three flagpoles enclosed by a wrought iron fence.  (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down list on left and click Boyhood Home Site, then zoom in for exact location.)



Independence, TX


Sam and Margaret Houston first lived in Independence in 1854 and attended the Baptist Church there, which is still active.  Pastor Rufus Burleson, one of the founders of Baylor University, baptized Houston about a mile south of town in Rocky Creek.  When he raised Houston out of the water he said, "Congratulations General Houston, the Lord has washed away all of your sins." Houston is said to have replied, "If that be the case, God help the fish down below." Margaret moved back to Independence from Huntsville to live with her mother when Sam died.  The house they lived in is still occupied and privately owned.  Margaret contracted yellow fever and passed away in 1867.  She and her mother, Nancy, are buried across the street from the Baptist church. (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down list on left and click Independence, TX, then zoom in for exact location.)



Lea House Marion, AL


Sam Houston and Margaret Moffette Lea were married in this house in Marion, Alabama on May 9, 1840.  The house was owned by Henry C. Lea, Margaret’s older brother, who was a successful businessman and state legislator.  On the death of her father in 1834 Margaret moved from the family farm near Pleasant Hill into this house.  Sam and Margaret were married in the upstairs room on the right amidst fiddles and flowers with the reception being held directly across the hall (the upstairs room on the left in this picture).  (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down list on left and click "Married in this house", then zoom in for exact location.)



Sam Houston Oak Tree Gonzales, TX


When Susanna Dickinson brought word to Gonzales from San Antonio that the Alamo had fallen Houston immediately ordered his 374-man Texas Army to retreat to the east.  The first night they walked nine miles in pitch darkness through post oak timberland to put some distance between themselves and Santa Anna’s cavalry.  They camped by this magnificent oak tree which is known today as the Sam Houston Oak Tree. To get there travel east from Gonzales on US Alt. 90 for 8.0 miles (cross Peach Creek), then left on CR 361 (a centennial marker is here). Go 0.3 miles to the entrance for the McClure-Braches House on the left.  It is on private property but is easily seen from the road. (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down list on left and click Sam Houston Oak Tree, then zoom in for exact location.)



San Felipe, TX


San Felipe was Stephen F. Austin’s colonial capital and base of operations bringing in Anglo settlers to settle Texas.  Upon entering Texas in December of 1832 Houston immediately made his way to San Felipe to receive a land grant.  It was there, over Christmas Eve dinner, that he met the legendary knife fighter Jim Bowie, and it was in San Felipe that Houston attended many of the civic gatherings that were convened to make decisions about Texas’ relationship with Mexico.  The site is approximately a mile north of I-10 on 1458 before reaching Stephen F. Austin State Park.  (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down list on left side and click San Felipe, then zoom in for exact location.)



San Jacinto Battlefield La Porte, TX


After weeks of retreat in horrendous conditions, and with an army on the verge of mutiny due to Houston’s apparent lack of spine, word came that Santa Anna had split away from the main body of his army with a smaller force and was supremely vulnerable.  Houston’s army attacked on the afternoon of April 21, 1836 and overran the Mexican camp in just eighteen minutes, securing Texas’ independence.  Over 600 Mexican solders were killed and 700 taken prisoner.  Only nine of Houston’s men lost their lives.  Houston himself had two horses shot from underneath him and was hit in the left ankle by a musket ball. Geopolitically, the Battle of San Jacinto was one of the most important battles in military history.  It eventually led to the United States acquiring nearly a million square mile of territory; approximately one third of the landmass of today’s lower forty-eight states.  (CLICK HERE for map, scroll all the way to the bottom of the list on the left and click San Jacinto Monument, then zoom in for exact location.)



Sterne-Hoya Museum Nacogdoches, TX


After crossing the Red River into Texas in 1832 Houston rode south to the largest east Texas town of Nacogdoches, where he already knew many of the civic leaders who had come from Tennessee.  One of his closest associates there was the town’s alcalde, or mayor, a German Jew named Adolphus Sterne, and his wife, in whose house Houston stayed.  To fulfill a requirement by the Mexican government to own land, Houston was baptized into the Catholic faith in the parlor of this house.  In February of 1836, as the fires of war with Mexico began to engulf the state, Houston, now Commander-In-Chief of the Texas Army, rode to Nacogdoches to negotiate a treaty with the Cherokee Indians. Houston wanted to make sure they stayed out of the fight.  After signing the treaty in their village, the chiefs were received at the Sterne house where Mrs. Sterne had just placed a prized possession, a marble-topped center table, in her parlor.  When the Cherokees entered, the 80 year old Chief Duwali assumed that it was placed there as a throne for him, and ceremoniously sat on it.  Horrified, Mrs. Sterne pulled her husband into an adjoining room and demanded, "Make that old Indian get off my table!" but no one besides her was willing to risk offending the Indians at that point.  (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down list on left and click Stern-Hoya House Library & Museum, then zoom in for exact location.)



Texas Governor's Mansion Austin, TX


When Sam Houston was elected Governor of Texas in 1859 it had been thirty-two years since he had served in the same capacity in Tennessee, and he is still the only person ever to have been the governor of two states.  The Houston family lived in the Mansion from 1859-1861 and received many important figures there including a Union Colonel named Robert E. Lee, whose wife’s hand Houston had once sought as a young congressman in Washington D.C.  On the evening of March 15, 1861, in what has been described as his great defining moment, Sam Houston paced the upstairs hallway all night before deciding that he would not swear allegiance to the Confederacy, a new requirement of all government officials in Texas.  He was immediately ejected from office and returned to Huntsville to spend the remaining years of his life in disgrace.  Interestingly, while packed but not yet out of the Mansion, Houston received a letter from Abraham Lincoln offering him 50,000 troops and a major general’s commission if he would try to keep Texas in the Union.  It was a terribly difficult decision, but Houston knew it could not be done and refused to start the Civil War on Texas soil.  After consulting with advisors and making up his mind he burned the letter in the fireplace of the Mansion’s library.  (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down left side and click Texas Governor’s Mansion, then zoom in for exact location.)



The Hermitage Nashville, TN


Andrew Jackson’s Nashville home was frequently visited by Sam Houston. Jackson took young Houston under his wing and helped steer him into the House of Representatives in Washington and the Governor’s Office in Tennessee.  Houston later served Jackson as an Indian agent, and it was Jackson who originally sent Sam Houston to Texas.  In 1845 when word reached Houston that Jackson was on his deathbed he raced to The Hermitage to see him a final time, but arrived just an hour or so too late.  Houston remained for the funeral and served as one of Jackson’s pallbearers.  (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down left side and click The Hermitage, then zoom in for exact location.)



The Steamboat House Huntsville, TX


The Steamboat House is located on the property of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville.  It was moved there from its original site a short distance away.  After losing his governorship and moving the family back to Huntsville, Houston was unable to re-purchase his beloved "Woodland" home (also located on museum grounds) and rented the strange looking "Steamboat House" of Rufus Bailey, the president of Austin College.  Built in 1855, Sam and Margaret Houston lived in the Steamboat House from December of 1862 until Sam’s death on July 26, 1863.  (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down left side and click "Woodland Home & Steamboat House", then zoom in for exact location.)



Timber Ridge, VA


Nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley just seven miles east of Lexington along Hwy 81 is Timber Ridge, the birthplace of Sam Houston.  Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church was founded in 1754 by Houston’s grandfather, John Houston, and is still an active congregation.  Houston’s father, Major Samuel Houston, founded a school there named Liberty Hall that later became Washington and Lee University.  When Major Houston unexpectedly passed away, Elizabeth Houston moved her young family to Tennessee. (CLICK HERE for map, on the list at left Timber Ridge is listed first, click on it then zoom in for exact location.)



U.S. Capitol Building Washington D.C.


As a young Tennessee congressman Houston arrived at the Capitol to take his seat in the U.S. House chamber, a room that is today Statuary Hall.  Later, in 1831, while in Washington on Cherokee business long after leaving Congress, he was falsely accused of corruption from the floor of the House by Ohio Representative William Stanberry.  The unfortunate incident, however, afforded Houston an opportunity to successfully defend himself and restored his place on the national stage.  In 1845, after the Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States, Houston served with Thomas J. Rusk as one of the first Senators from the new State of Texas.  He served a total of thirteen years in the Senate where he participated in many great debates over many important issues, including slavery, westward expansion, and states’ rights. (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down list at left and click U.S. Capitol, then zoom in for exact location.)



Washington-On-The-Brazos, TX


The fledgling Texas government, still part of Mexico, met at Washington-On-The-Brazos to decide how to respond to Santa Anna’s aggression.  The Texas Declaration of Independence was affirmed on March 2, 1836, a date still celebrated in Texas as Independence Day. The convention nearly broke up when news arrived that Santa Anna had laid siege to the Alamo and the delegates wanted to ride to its aid.  Houston insisted that they stay put and finish their work.  He would himself, he said, organize the defense of the country, and he departed to take command of troops gathering in Gonzales.  Today there is a beautiful park at Washington-On-The-Brazos, a reconstructed Independence Hall, a gift shop, a living history farm, and the Star Of The Republic Museum. (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down left side and click Washington On The Brazos, then zoom in for exact location.)



Wigwam Neosho Three Forks, OK


After resigning as Governor of Tennessee due to the scandal of his failed marriage, Sam Houston returned to the Cherokee Tribe he had lived with for three years as a youth and married a beautiful mixed-race woman named Diana Rogers.  The tribe had moved to the Indian Territory of today’s Oklahoma, and there he and Diana ran a trading post called “Wigwam Neosho.” It was located northwest of Ft. Gibson, OK near the intersection of the “Military Road” and the “Texas Road”, almost exactly halfway between Ft. Gibson and Three Forks. 



Woodland Home Huntsville, TX


Sam and Margaret’s Woodland Home is located on the property of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville.  It is a house of Houston’s own design, and after eight years in Texas was the first real house that Margaret Houston could call her own.  It was their favorite house but was sold to pay off the debts from Houston’s 1857 campaign for governor.  It is furnished with original and period pieces that reflect the time when it was occupied by the Houston family. (CLICK HERE for map, scroll down left side and click "Woodland Home & Steamboat House", then zoom in for exact location.)



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