Sam Houston Memorial Museum
This museum honors the life and legacy of Sam Houston (1793-1863), one of the country's most notable historical figures of the 19th century. The museum features historical buildings, including the house in which Houston and his family lived from 1847-1859, and the modern museum exhibit building. Other individuals and events surrounding the establishment of the Republic of Texas and its eventual annexation by the United States are also explored here. In addition to viewing the museum's exhibits, visitors can participate in various hands-on activities led by staff dressed in period clothing. The Sam Houston House was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
Backstory and Context
Sam Houston was born in Virginia in 1793 and later moved to Tennessee. There, he became close to the Cherokee Nation, which adopted him as one of their own. Houston served in the War of 1812 and after that started his political career. He was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1823 and served as Governor between 1827-1829. In 1832 he moved to what was then a northern state of Mexico (and now part of Texas). Houston became the leader of the Texas Revolution (1835-1836) which resulted in the establishment of the Republic of Texas. He served as the first and third President of the Republic and, after annexation to the United States, as Governor from 1859-1861. He also served as U.S. Senator from 1846-1859.
As calls secession in the South increased in the 1850s, Houston was the only southern senator to oppose it. When the Texas legislature voted to secede, Houston refused to recognize the decision and was forced out of office. He returned to Huntsville, moving his family from their farm in Chambers County. They lived in the Steamboat House, which is just a few steps away from the house he owned from 1847-1859. It was here there that Houston lived the rest of his days. His health worsened and he contracted pneumonia. He died in the house on July 26, 1863. The house, with its twin towers and galleries on the sides, was given that nickname since it resembled a river boat. It was built in 1855 by Rufus W. Bailey for, supposedly, his son and daughter-in-law, who had just gotten married. They refused to live in it, according to the story.
"Chronology of Sam Houston's Life." Sam Houston Memorial Museum. Accessed August 7, 2017. http://samhoustonmemorialmuseum.com/history.
Levy, Benjamin. "Sam Houston House; Woodland." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. May 30, 1974. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/b02d7cb7-8309-4f43-818c-c849d1896bbb.
Payne, John W. "Steamboat House." Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed November 09, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/steamboat-house.
Sam Houston House, via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woodland_(Sam_Houston%27s_Home)_in_Huntsville,_Texas.JPG
The Rotunda, via Sam Houston Memorial Museum
Sam Houston, via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SHouston_2.jpg