As the Houston's pulled out of Rockbridge County, Virginia heading for Tennessee, young Sam Houston had no idea he would have such an impact on American history.
Sam Houston was born in an area called Timber Ridge, in Rockbridge County, Virginia on March 2, 1793. Here, Sam grew up on a large farm and attended an old field school. It was once occupied by Washington & Lee University, before they located to the nearest town, Lexington, Virginia.
Sam was a rascal, and he didn't care much for schooling. He had more fun running around on the farm with his five brothers, and three sisters. His father was gone much of the time, and his mother has been described as being "strong and brave rather than motherly and feminine."
The Houston's had a few slaves, and Sam was close to one in particular named Peggy. Peggy, took care of young Sam, and he became extremely fond of her. When his father died about 1807, he left debts behind so Mrs. Houston sold the family farm, livestock, and at least five slaves. The Houstons loaded up two Conestoga wagons, and left Rockbridge County, headed for Tennessee.
As they were pulling off Sam's uncle was overheard to say,"that boy will never amount to a hill of beans."
Once in Tennessee, the Houstons settled in the wilderness of Blount County, eight miles from the Tennessee River, at the boundary line between the whites and Cherokee. They built a log cabin, and Mrs. Houston bought part in Maryville General Store. Sam worked in the store for awhile, but being the rascal that he was, he soon became bored, and started off for new adventures.
Young Sam crossed the Tennessee River, and came upon a Cherokee Indian Village. Sam stayed with the Cherokee, and was even adopted by the Chief himself. While living in the village, Sam read to the Indians from Greek novels about Trojan horses. From time to time, young Sam would return to his mother's store to load up supplies for the Indians, and take off again. Before long Sam had ran up a large bill at the General Store.
By age eighteen, "with a long queue down his back" he was teaching school in a rickety cabin. He wore "a hunting shirt of flowered calico" while teaching, and read to the students from The Iliad.
Houston's School Price:
1/3 in cash
1/3 in corn
1/3 in cotton cloth
Later, Sam closed down his school to pursue further education in teaching. He entered the academy at Maryville, and it was said that young Houston hated one subject in particular - mathematics!
By age twenty-one, war broke out with England, and Sam became a private in the 39th Regiment of Tennessee volunteers. During the War of 1812, Sam and Major-General Andrew Jackson "Old Hickory" became close friends. When Sam was wounded in the war he was given up for dead, but being tough as he was, he managed to pull through.
Houston, went through many careers in his life, and in 1836, he was elected President of the Texas Republic. He married three times, and started a family with his last wife. Houston passed away at his farm in Huntsville, Texas on July 26, 1863. Some have told that his last words were "Texas." Sam Houston's extraordinary adventures in life continue to marvel people even to this day, and the city of Houston is named in his honor.
The History of Rockbridge County, Va. Baltimore.
History of Rockbridge Co., Va. Staunton.
© 2000 jcpinkerton