General Sam Houston’s Stamp of Approval

SH stamp 1964 SH stamp postcard087

On January 10th, 1964 a first day issue commemorative stamp was unveiled in Houston, Texas, bearing the portrait of the man the city was named after, General Sam Houston.

Tom Lea, a Texas artist, designed the 5-cent stamp of Sam Houston, the first President of the Republic of Texas, in a heroic pose based upon a lithograph that was done in 1848 by F. Davignon.

A well-known Texas artist, Mr. Lea was also a war correspondent and artist for Life Magazine during WWII. His WWII works hang in the war art collection at the Pentagon.

This program from the Sam Houston Commemorative Stamp First Day of Issue Ceremony, January 10, 1964 is housed along with a sheet of first day issue General Sam Houston commemorative stamps in the Sam Houston Box Collection in the Sam Houston State University Archives.

Sam Houston Celebration Collection, 1900-1993


Sam Houston Bicentennial Birthday celebration ephemera

The Sam Houston Bicentennial Collection consists of correspondence, articles, clippings, catalogues and materials relating to the Bicentennial celebration.  This collection is housed in two archival boxes, arranged in two series. Series one contains correspondence related to seeking additional Sam Houston materials, clippings and articles about Sam Houston the man. Series two has materials relating to Sam Houston’s Bicentennial celebrations. Materials in both series are dated 1992 and 1993.

The materials that make up the first series are a part of efforts made to acquire Sam Houston (the man) related materials. Correspondence between Mr. Paul Culp and various University and College libraries make up a large part of this series. There are also catalogues and other lists showing Sam Houston-related holdings. The second series consists entirely of materials related to Sam Houston’s Centennial Celebrations including brochures, invitations and newspaper clippings. Many of these items have biographical information about Sam Houston the man including timelines of his life and accomplishments, as well as information about the celebrations themselves which took place all over Huntsville, Texas in 1993 (two hundred years after Sam Houston’s birth.)

View a detailed finding aid of this collection at Sam Houston State University’s Archon page and see just what materials are in the collection.

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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Daisy Smith Writings on Sam Houston, 1922


Daisy Lauretta Smith was born in Kansas in 1893.  She was a student of Sam Houston Normal Institute, class of 1919.  She earned her B.S. degree from SHNI in 1922 and the M.A. from Peabody in 1934.  Daisy L. Smith went on to teach for over 43 years for Houston Independent School District.  She died in Houston, Texas in June 1979.

The Daisy Smith writings on Sam Houston (1922; one file folder) contain reminisces of General Sam Houston gathered from the citizens of Huntsville, Texas in February 1922.  The writings consist of 34 handwritten pages by Daisy Smith.

View a detailed finding aid of this collection at Sam Houston State University’s Archon page and see just what materials are in the collection.

Daisy Smith Writings on Sam Houston, 1922

150th Anniversary of the Death of Sam Houston

Funeral Announcement for Sam Houston

Funeral Announcement for Sam Houston

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the death of General Sam Houston. This is the notice for the funeral that occurred the next day.

Our friends at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum are holding a number of activities to mark the occasion. There are to many to go into detail here. If you are interested then follow this link for more information.

Museum to Honor Houston’s Memory with Funeral Reenactment

Sam Houston State University has a handful of documents from Sam Houston  or relating to Sam Houston digitized in our Digital Collections

Sam Houston related papers

We are also working  with the Sam Houston Memorial Museum to make Sam Houston’s personal letters to his wife Margaret Lea available online in the near future.

General Sam Houston Folk Festival is here!


Hey everyone!

Today is the first day of the General Sam Houston Folk Festival and I am excited. The festival runs from May 3-5 and is hosted by our great friends at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum. The festival was created in 1988 as a way to celebrate the Houston family and the life that they lived in 1800s Huntsville, TX.  The festival will be held on the grounds of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum which sits on the land inhabited by Gen. Sam Houston and his family.

Members of the staff, volunteers, and others will bring the 1800s to life through re-enactors performing short theater pieces, wearing elaborate costumes, and storytelling. There will be lots of food, dancing, crafts, demonstrations and ,of course, great folk music. Musicians and performers cover a wide range of folk styles from Americana, gospel, county, Scottish and Irish tunes, and maybe even Native American music.

The admission for Friday is $3 for all ages. Two-day passes for the weekend will also be sold for is $8 for students, $10 adults. The price for children ages 5-11 is $3 per day, and admission is free for children under 5 years old. Group rates are also available. For more information and to view the complete entertainment lineup, visit or find the Gen. Sam Houston Folk Festival on Facebook. You can also call the Sam Houston Memorial Museum at 936.294.1832

This is my first year living in Huntsville and I am glad to have the opportunity to attend — I hope to see you there!

President James Buchanan’s birthday

James Buchanan

President James Buchanan (1857-1861), sometimes known as the “bachelor president,” celebrates his birthday today,  April 23. Buchanan entered an increasingly divisive political climate that eventually led to the civil war.

We have one item in our collections relating to the former president. A letter to Sam Houston discussing the capture of an American ship captain.  The Texas Senator and two time Governor Sam Houston was his contemporary and sometime correspondent.


This letter is part of the Sam Houston related papers collection housed in the Thomason Room and available to view online at

March to the Grave

On March 2nd, the people of Huntsville, TX celebrate two important events. The first is Texas Independence day and the other is the birthday of beloved Texas hero General Sam Houston. To honor these two events, Huntsville residents throw a number of celebrations and tributes. One of those tributes is a march to the grave of General Sam Houston who is buried in Oakwood cemetery. Starting in 1889, students, faculty, and others would march from Austin College building on the Sam Houston campus to Sam Houston’s grave.

Check out these pictures of people marching to the grave throughout the years.

1914 march to Sam Houston’s grave


(credit  University Archives)

Ceremony at Sam Houston’s grave in 1921

Alcalde 1921

(credit The Alcalde, University Archives)

March to the grave in 1942


(credit The Alcalde, University Archives)

Possible ROTC members taking part in the 1965 march

Alcalde 1965

(credit The Alcalde, University Archives)

Marches in the new millennium


The Bearkat March 2 Brigade steps lively on its way to the grave site

(credit Computer Services)


If you are interested in learning more, check out this podcast on the subject from Cheryl Spencer, Library Associate in Special Collections.

If you want to participate in the march, be at Austin Hall at 10:15 where the march begins. The ceremony at the grave begins at 11:00 am March 2nd, 2013 with Dr. Howard Horton as the speaker.

The Walker County Historical Commission will be hosting a “Toast to Texas” at the Sam Houston Statue and Visitors Center at 2:00pm on March 2nd as well.