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In 1853,
Sam Houston,
first president of the Republic of Texas, bought the house that was on this site, and moved his wife and growing family to Independence because of its “advantages in an Educational point of view.”

 

 


Sam Houston
writing to his friend
Washington D. Miller
on September 13, 1853:

My Dear Miller,
I bought the premises of Mr. Hines on the Hill to the left as you go out of Independence, consisting of two hundred acres inclosed, and one hundred & sixty five acres of timbered land adjoining the town tract—all for $4000, in short payments. My friend, I did not think that Austin, or anywhere else presented the same advantages in an Educational point of view, that Independence does.

Barker, Eugene C., and Amelia W. Williams, eds. The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813-1863.
8 vols. Austin:  University of Texas Press, 1938-43.
This excerpt is
in Vol. V, 457.

 

 

 

Now and Then: The springhouse used during Sam Houston’s tenure on the property, and the Houstons’ Independence house, photographed on June 27, 1897, the day before it was demolished.

Although the Houstons already owned houses in Huntsville and Cedar Point, Independence actually offered several advantages: Mrs. Houston’s mother, Nancy Lea, lived here; of particular importance to Mrs. Houston, Independence was a Baptist stronghold; and the growing number of Houston children could be educated at Baylor.

During the years the family lived in Independence, Houston took an active interest in the community, making his extensive library available to Baylor students and faculty, and financially contributing to both Baylor University and the Independence Baptist Church. It was during this period that he was baptized.

But Houston was also absent for long periods of time completing his term as U.S. Senator in Washington, D.C. (February 1846-March 1859), and campaigning for the Governor’s office in summer 1857 (the only election he ever lost) and again in 1859 when he was elected. In summer 1859, the family moved to the Governor’s Mansion in Austin and rented their Independence house.

After Mrs. Houston was widowed in 1863, she returned to Independence, continued renting this house, and moved into a larger house overlooking the Town Square and nearer her mother. James W. Dallas, a field surveying instructor at Baylor University, bought the Houston homestead in the late 1870s. In 1897, Dallas built the present house utilizing some materials from the earlier structure.

In January 1911, John Coles McCrocklin, great grandson of John P. Coles, and his wife, Gertrude (Gertie Mae), acquired the property. Coles-McCrocklin descendants still own the surrounding acreage and the house which is a private residence.

Dallas House
The house above was built on the site by James W. Dallas in 1897. The granite marker commemorating the Houston homesite was installed during the Texas Centennial celebration in 1936.
Mrs Sam Houston
Margaret Lea Houston
(1819-1867)
Sam Houston
Sam Houston
(1793-1862)

“Farewell to Independence”

Sweet village!
Thou loveliest spot of earth to me,
Oh, I shall think of thee and weep,
As oft at day’s decline I see
The lengthening shadows as they creep
From out thy clustering oaks and glide
So soft, so spirit-like along
The quiet prairie and hill-side,
And hear the wild bird’s low sweet song
From every grove.

Excerpt from Farewell to Independence,
written by Margaret Lea (Mrs. Sam) Houston during a stay in Huntsville, November 1855
Collection of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, Huntsville.

 

Find where this site is located on our Independence Map.

Return to TOURING INDEPENDENCE to see other historic sites.

 
1897 photo: Texas Baptist Historical Collection. The Houston photos: Sam Houston Memorial Museum. Large springhouse photo: Bob Matlock. Other photos: Ellen Beasley. Research and content by Ellen Beasley.

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Independence Preservation Trust
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