Sunday, June 09, 2019

Sam Houston Memorial Museum (With Excerpts from Exiled by Ron Rozelle)

Sam Houston portrait (museum)
The Sam Houston Memorial Museum located in Huntsville, Texas, very near the campus of the university named after Houston, is a remarkable place.  I spent much of the day there Saturday taking photographs of the various buildings and stunning Sam Houston artifacts located there.  The rented home in which the Texas hero died in 1863 was moved to its present location there in 1936, and the home in which Houston lived for most of the years he spent in the United States senate and in which his children were raised sits right there where it has always been.

Upstairs room in which funeral was held
Non-Texans will not know how big a hero Sam Houston is to me and my fellow Texans.  Houston was in charge of the Texas army at the time it claimed its independence from Mexico by defeating General Santa Ana's Mexican army in the Battle of San Jacinto, forever changing both Texas and United States history.  Seeing the Mexican general's saddle (taken from him at the battle as a war prize) was almost as thrilling to me as seeing Houston's famous leopard-skin vest, a gift from the Cherokee Indian tribe). 

Below is an excerpt from Exiled: The Last Days of Sam Houston  by Ron Rozelle (published by Texas A&M University Press in 2017) that sets the scene for the attached photos:
His funeral was a small event, held the next day directly above the little room in which he died, in the parlor of the Steamboat House.  Every straight-back chair in the house was placed facing the casket that had been built recently in the prison by the ship's carpenter of the Harriet Lane.  The Baptist preacher was out of town, so Margaret had to make do with the pastor of the Presbyterians, Reverend James Cochran.  
The death room
After the final prayer the coffin was maneuvered down the steep steps by pallbearers who were Houston's fellow Masons and carried in a steadily falling summer rain across the muddy road to the cemetery.  He was buried at the far end, in a place he had chosen himself just a few feet from the grave of his friend Henderson Yoakam.  
Neither ceremony was attended by many people, possibly because of the small room in which the funeral had been held and the rain that fell on the burial.  But it is unlikely that many more would have shown up in a big church on a sunny day.  In the midst of the war, and given the low regard in which so many held him, many papers wouldn't have wasted space needed for war news and casualty lists on even a tiny notice of his death.

 These last two photos are meant to give some perspective as to the physical proximity of the two rooms pictured above.  This is The Steamboat House that the Houstons were forced to rent after they sold their nearby home to pay off debts incurred during one of Houston's political campaigns.

View directly up the stairs to the funeral room

View of the home showing the death room at ground level and the funeral room above 


  1. Sounds like an amazing place to visit- and so full of history. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It is really a well fun museum, and it's displays are world class. That's why it amazes me how poorly visited the museum and surrounding buildings are. My visit took place in the middle of a beautiful Saturday, and yet I saw only another ten or so patrons there during the almost three hours that I was there. Then at the cemetery located about two miles north of the old homesites, I didn't see one single person during the hour I wandered through the old graves. Kind of sad, really.