A Little Bit of Texas History – Sam Houston

17 August 2014 AD

The History of Houston You Don’t Know

Sam Houston "Colonneh" - "The Raven"
Sam Houston
“Colonneh” – “The Raven”

Native Texans who learned some Texas history in public school know Sam as first president of the Republic of Texas. Public School lessons also teach how he was the commanding general of the Texian army and it was he who captured Mexican ‘Mandatario’ General Antonio López de Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.

The largest city in Texas was named for him, numerous streets throughout our great state have a “Houston Street”, a state university bears his name. It seems appropriate that Houston County is where you find the Davy Crockett National Forest.

Sam was an imposing figure, but not quite so as that humongous statue outside Huntsville portrays him. (Personal note: that statue is an embarrassment to me)

Sam Houston’s story ended in Texas, but began elsewhere. He and George Washington shared Virginia as the state of their nativity. Coincidentally, if you believe in coincidences, Washington was called “Father of our country” and Houston earned the title “Father of Texas”.

Sam Houston's 'second home' - the Cherokee Nation
Sam Houston’s ‘second home’ – the Cherokee Nation

His family moved to Tennessee where, for whatever reason, as a young teen he ran away from home and found his place with the Cherokee Nation. Chief Oolooteka named him “Colonneh” – “The Raven.” While living with his Cherokee family, he learned their ways, their language and developed a lifelong love of Native Americans. Your Texas history teacher probably didn’t tell you this. Am I right? There is more to the Indian story.

Later in life, the people of Tennessee elected him governor. It was during this time in office his marriage fell apart. Devastated to the core, he abandoned his office and fled to the people who most influenced his life: the Cherokee Nation. While under the care of his Indian brothers, he was cured of alcoholism and heartbreak.

Sam's Cherokee Wife (her first husband was David Gentry)
Sam’s Cherokee Wife Tiana
(her first husband was David Gentry)

According to the Raab Collection, “He married a Cherokee woman named Diana Rogers Gentry, became a Cherokee citizen and was actively involved in peacekeeping, trade, and other tribal affairs.”

Unlike the United States to the east, under President Sam Houston, American Indian tribes were treated with great respect and protected from predatory settlements. Sam’s perspective on Native Americans differed greatly from that of other white men. He assiduously protected his adopted Indian brothers and their lands.

Later on, after Texas became and state and ‘push came to shove’ over slavery and secession from the Union, Sam Houston sided with the Union.

Today, about 1,200 people per day migrate to the Great State of Texas. It will take them sometimes years to understand those of us who are native sons of the Lone Star State. We say, “Ya’ll come, but leave your liberal un-Texan ways behind you.”

Houston served as our U.S. Senator as a Union Democrat. Union Democrats in today’s Texas are called Republicans. There was stark difference between Union Democrats and Dixie Democrats.

Personal Note

TEXAS-TX-FLAGGrowing up in South Texas, everyone I knew was a Democrat. I continued my affiliation with the Democrat Party right up to the time I voted for Jimmy Carter for president. Jimmy was no Sam Houston. I next voted in the Republican Primary for Ronald Reagan and never looked back. I am pleased to be in the company of other former Texas Democrats like Rick Perry and Ralph Hall.

I will be forever thankful for being born in the Great State of Texas

John White

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