Huntsville honors Houston’s birthday, Texas independence

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Sam Houston State University and Huntsville communities came together yesterday to celebrate the life and the impact Gen. Sam Houston had on the state of Texas.

 

Couresy: SHSU Archives
Couresy: SHSU Archives

 

Sam Houston Memorial Museum marketing coordinator Megan Buro said the museum with the partnership of the Walker County Historical Commission and the Sam Houston Statue and Visitors Center enjoy joining together each year to celebrate the two events that forever intertwined.

“As Texans, it’s an important day to celebrate and remember our history,” Buro said. “March 2 is when Texas became Texas. Gen. Sam Houston was a signer on the Texas Declaration of Independence, and March 2 also happens to be Sam’s birthday.”

In an annual event, students and faculty followed SHSU’s ROTC down University Avenue to Houston’s gravesite and then proceeded into the Mance Park Junior High School Auditorium for a ceremony. The ceremony was moved inside due to rain.

Buro said the event has taken place since the late 1800s, when students at what was then called the Sam Houston Normal Institute, began the trek from Austin Hall to Houston’s grave.

Houston was baptized into the Baptist Church in Independence on Nov. 19, 1854. His Baptist faith directly correlated with featured ceremony speaker Alan Lefever, Ph.D., director of the Texas Baptist Historical Collection and adjunct professor at Baylor University.

“My address is entitled ‘Sam Houston the Baptist,’” Lefever said. “Not many people are aware that Sam Houston was an active member of the Baptist faith in his later years.”

Houston, once president of the Republic of Texas and governor of the state of Texas, even inspired non-Texans to declare their loyalty to the state. A continued tradition for the celebration is the “Baptized Texan Ceremony.”

“The Baptized Texan Ceremony gives non-native Texans this unique opportunity on Texas Independence Day to be baptized a Texan,” Buro said.

A luncheon was provided for those whom made reservation. This year’s “Toast to Texas” was different than past years due to the dedication of the Gene Pipes Amphitheater, which honors Pipes who was instrumental in the development of the Sam Houston Statue.

Like any birthday, family members were in the audience.

This year was Houston’s great-great-great-granddaughter Erica Houston Dallas’ fourth year to attend the ceremony. She said the impact Houston still has on people manifests meaningful sentiments for her and her family.

“We greatly enjoy attending the event because we get to see family that we are related to and do not see very often,” Dallas said. “Although this year is the 152nd anniversary of his death, it is an emotional thing for me to see how he still influences so many people. I am proud and honored to be related to such a great man.”

The Houston bloodline is filled with men and women pleased to be related to such an influential man. Dallas praised her grandmother who integrated the history of their lineage into Dallas’ life from an early age.

“My maternal grandmother, to whom I’m related to Sam through and also one of his great granddaughters, taught me to be proud of and never forget our amazing lineage,” Dallas said. “It is in honor of my grandmother, Mary Louise Teasdale, and Sam that I continue to attend [these] events because she attended the birthday events regularly. I think his birthday and Texas Independence Day being on the same day couldn’t be more perfectly celebrated.”

Dallas commended the community of Huntsville and SHSU for annually recognizing Houston. She also emphasized the importance of celebrating Texas Independence.

“I think it is a great thing to continue,” Dallas said. “Not only is March 2 Texas Independence [Day,] but it is the birthday of a great man who fought physically and verbally for such independence for such an amazing state. I think that carrying on the tradition in a town where he lived and where a school is named for him is important.”

In July, in Huntsville at his Steamboat House – that can be found on the museum grounds – Houston died of pneumonia with his wife near by. Descendants from Houston’s family tree know the emphasis he put on family and amount of weight that the great state of Texas held within his life.

“I am proud to be the great-great-great-granddaughter of such an amazing and courageous man that was a fighter, general, and above all loving to his wife Margaret Lea and Texas,” Dallas said. “For his last words were ‘Texas, Texas, Margaret.’”