Moving History: The Roberts/Farris Cabin, Sam Houston Memorial Museum, and a few thoughts….

Standing by the Reynolds/Farris cabin on the grounds of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.

Standing by the Reynolds/Farris cabin on the grounds of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.

Putting together the pieces of the Cabin on the Square

SHSU students help in putting together the pieces of the Cabin on the Square, The Houstonian, 9/11/2001

On Sunday, my daughter, granddaughter, and your SHSU University Archivist headed to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum Park to run off some of my 2-year old granddaughter’s energy.

Heading up the driveway by the Steamboat House there in front of us on a trailer was the Roberts/Farris Cabin; also known as, “The Cabin on the Square.” Fighting the crazy wind blowing I immediately walked towards the cabin and realized two things: I never knew just how small the 176-year-old cabin was and how sad I felt for the little cabin. Taken apart in pieces in 2001, than put back together by history students from Sam Houston State on the square where it finally found a new home only to move again 15 years later. Thankfully, all in one piece this time. Sitting there on a trailer besides the Woodland Home, Bear Bend Cabin, and the old Exhibit Hall, the cabin just looked tired and unhappy.

Not to worry little cabin, you are in BearKat country now. Here we take our motto seriously, “The Measure of a Life is It’s Service.” The people, who work at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, know how to treat historic buildings big and small. They will have you settled in no time and once again, there will be all kinds of visitors to come visit you to ooh and awe over your simple beauty.

To see more history about the Roberts/Ferris cabin come and visit the Special Collection Department in the Newton Gresham Library.  You can also read, Cabin Fever: The Roberts-Farris Cabin: A Campus, A Cabin, A Community.” A brief account of the Life and Times of the Builders and Residents of a Small Log Cabin in Walker County. This title is available at call number: F392 .W24 C75 2002.

Santa Anna’s Saddle and Bridle


General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s Saddle and Bridle

On April 21, 1836, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and the Mexican army were defeated at the Battle of Jacinto by the Texas forces led by General Sam Houston. After the battle, Santa Anna tried to elude capture by dressing as a common soldier, but was soon discovered when prisoners saluted their leader. A few weeks later, Santa Anna signed the Treaty of Velasco and removed his troop from Texas.

It was during this time that someone took possession of a saddle and bridle belonging to Santa Anna that found its way into the hands of Sam Houston. There are two versions of how this happened, and they are both based on eyewitness accounts.

The first version of the story says that sometime after the Battle of San Jacinto, Santa Anna presented the saddle and bridle along with other items to Sam Houston. The second version tells a different story. After the battle, items were seized as spoils of war including a large sum of money. This money was divided up amongst the soldiers who used the money to buy the belongings of Santa Anna and others in an auction. An unknown individual purchased the saddle and bridle and gave the items to Sam Houston sometime later. Whether either story is true is up to debate.

What we do know is that the family of General Sam Houston, specifically Andrew Jackson Houston, gave the saddle and bridle to Sam Houston Normal Institute professor J.L Clark whose collection became the basis for the Texana Collection which turned into SHSU Special Collections. Sam Houston Memorial Museum also received many items from the J.L. Clark collection, including the saddle and bridle. To see the saddle and bridle, visit SHSU Digital Collections and view the Sam Houston Memorial Museum digital collection, here: LINK.

*A big thanks to Mikey Sproat from the Sam Houston Memorial Museum for his help with this story!

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Sam Houston Memorial Museum Digital Collection


Sam Houston circa 1859

Sam Houston circa 1859

We here at Newton Gresham Library enjoy partnering with other historical institutions in the area. One of those institutions is the Sam Houston Memorial Museum. The museum is dedicated to the life and times of  General and Texas Governor Sam Houston. They house numerous documents, photographs, and artifacts related to Sam Houston.

We have worked with the museum to make some of their digitized materials available through our digital collections. The digital collection has a small sampling of everything you can find at the museum.

Take a look!

Sam Houston Memorial Museum Digital Collection