Temple Houston, the Son of Sam LbNA # 62426
|Placed Date||Jul 5 2012|
|Location||Oakwood Cemetery, Huntsville, TX|
|Last Update||Jul 19 2014|
Temple Houston, youngest son of none other than Sam Houston, was the first baby born in the governor’s mansion in Texas, on August 12, 1860. Orphaned at the age of seven, he lived with an older sister in Georgetown for six years before basically lighting out for the territories. Though he would become an eloquent and respected attorney both in Texas and in Oklahoma Territory, he was in essence a frontiersman who kept pushing his way toward open land and new opportunities. He was known as a dandy and a gunfighter in addition to his legal and oratorical skills. He has been called the patron saint of Texas lawyers. “Temple would have charged hell with only a bucket of water,” said one old-time panhandle lawyer of Sam’s son. Temple lived a short but eventful life, usually on the often-anonymous fringes of the frontier. Like other Texas and Old West legends, much of what has filtered down to us about Temple Houston is pure fiction – compelling fiction, to be sure, but fiction nonetheless. The truth is only the starting point. Temple joined a cattle drive from Texas to Kansas when he was just 13 years old, eventually working his way east on a riverboat. New Orleans, an old friend of his father’s helped him get a job in Washington, D.C. as a page for the Senate. The work impressed the young Houston so much that he returned to Texas and enrolled in the brand new Agricultural and Mechanical College. He transferred to Baylor when that school was located at Independence and studied philosophy and law, graduating with honors. He was appointed Brazoria county attorney when he was 21 and was a state senator at age 24. He served two terms, then worked as an attorney for the old Santa Fe railroad. Before that he was appointed district attorney of the 35th Judicial District, which was made up of 26 unorganized counties in the vast and mostly unsettled Texas panhandle. He was said to have a fondness for ties made of rattlesnake skins that matched the bands on his wide-brimmed, Mexican-style hats. He wore his hair shoulder length or longer and dressed in Prince Albert coats, starched shirts, pinstripe trousers and expensive handmade boots. Like his father, Temple Houston had a way with words. As a defense attorney he once described an opposing prosecutor as “a man who can strut sitting down.” His defense of the “soiled dove” (a local prostitute) not only earned his client an acquittal but also marked Houston as a man who could mingle compassion, the Bible and classical literature into a compelling legal narrative. The character Yancey Cravat in Edna Ferber’s novel and the movie version of “Cimarron” in based on Temple Houston. He was also the namesake if not exactly the subject for a short-lived 1950’s TV series called simply enough “Temple Houston”. At a time when the real Temple Houston seemed to have the world on a string, around 1890, he gave up his promising political and legal career in Texas to join the Oklahoma land rush. He quickly earned the same kind of respect and admiration in Oklahoma that he had enjoyed in Texas. He was among the candidates vying to become Oklahoma’s first state governor, but he died in August of 1905, at just 45 years of age, of a brain hemorrhage. In a final contrary-to-ordinary irony to Temple Houston’s life, the first baby born in the Texas governor’s mansion is buried in Oklahoma. I chose to place this letterbox in Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas just so he could be near his father.
Oakwood Cemetery is located at the intersection of Avenue I and 9th Street in Huntsville, Texas.
To the box:
First, find the grave of Temple Houston's famous father, Sam Houston. You will have no problem. After seeing the impressive monument, turn and walk along the sidewalk into the cemetery to an historical marker on your left which honors General John Besser. After reading the text, turn around and walk toward a large dead gray cedar tree. Keeping it to your right, walk along a faint path, bearing left. You will pass historical markers on your left for Dr. Kittrell and Rev. Bell. It is worth your time to read of these pioneers. After passing Rev. Bell, continue straight to the fence and find a large stump. In the stump you'll find the box, under a brick. Temple liked to live on the edge. Please replace and cover the box as you found it.