Chambers County History

Name:

Kevin Ladd is director of the Wallisville Heritage Park at Wallisville, Chambers County, TX and lives in Hardin, TX. He is chairman of the Liberty County Historical Commission and writes for "Texas Illustrated," a monthly publication of the Liberty Gazette newspaper, which is devoted to local history and folklore.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The 1912 Anahuac Courthouse

The Progress
Anahuac, Texas
Friday, September 13, 1912

THE NEW COURTHOUSE

This building is up-to-date in all its appointments. Architecturally it is commodious and strikingly beautiful. All apartments [offices] are large and present ample room to accommodate comfortably any possible attendance from the county for many years to come.

On the first floor are elegant quarters for theCounty Judge, Commissioners Court, Sheriff & Tax Collector, Tax Assessor, and County & District Clerk. The Clerk’s apartment is provided with all modern conveniences and compares favorably with clerk’s offices in any county in the state.

The eastern half of the second story is taken up with the Court room, the Judge’s private room and witness rooms. The main floor and balcony of the court roomare set with opera chairs. The furnishing for the accommodation of the judge, clerk, lawyers, litigants,witnesses and jury is in line with other first class courtrooms.

West of the courtroom is the offices of the District Attorney and the Petit Jury room. On the third floor are the grand jury room andsleeping apartments, and the County Surveyor’s office.

Large halls and ample seating capacity affordsresting opportunities for those who are compelled to wait or become tired of sitting in the court room. In the center of the halls on the first floor there is a sanitary drinking fountain.

Having a water works plant in connection the building is provided with toilets and sewerage. There also is a lighting plant. The jail stands on the southeast corner of the building [courthouse square] in the shade or of obscurity to a certain extent of a bunch of trees. It is a neat looking, strong building with steel cells.

In dimensions it is 70 x 80, 3 stories 50 feet from grade line, 110 feet to top of tower, which is intended for a clock, has 2 x 4 solid concrete foundations, walls are of rough brick finished on the outside with pressed brick, has reinforced concrete floors, double soundproof floors for second story, concrete steps at four entrances, and porticoes on three sides. The interior is finished in natural wood with non-absorbing plaster wainscoting. The roof is covered with five layers of tar paper and three inches of shell. The courthouse and jail was built at the cost of $60,000.

Note from Kevin Ladd: This courthouse was really a most attractive and handsome structure and could be easily seen from the harbor area and bayshore. Nonethless, during late 1934 and early 1935, the building began to experience some serious maintenance problems. Large chunks of plaster would sometimes fall from the walls or ceiling, striking fear in those who happened to be passing through the hallways. Under the leadership of County Judge Guy Cade Jackson Jr. and the Commissioners Court of that day, funds were authorized for repairs to the interior, but the courthouse burned in 1935. It's lifespan, therefore, was only 23 years. The county never got around to installing a clock in the tower mentioned in this article. If you happen to have photographs of this building, especially interior shots, please contact Kevin Ladd at wallis01@yahoo.com

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Lotz Family of Chambers County

If you have never visited the Chambers County, Texas page on the USGenWeb, I would certainly encourage you to visit this site frequently and make full use of this great resource page. Temple Dunaway is the Chambers County Webmaster for this site, and she is the daughter of the late Barbara (Fitzgerald) Benson, a fine genealogist who worked extensively with families in the Western part of Chambers County. Here is a link to the the Chambers County, Texas webpage:

http://www.rootsweb.com/~txchambe/

One of the old families in the Anahuac area is the Lotz family (pronounced Lutz). Here is a fine genealogy of the the Lotz family compiled by Diann Tooley and shared with Temple for use on the Chambers County webpage:

http://www.rootsweb.com/~txchambe/lotz.htm

The Lotz family came to Chambers County, TX by way of Saline County, Kansas -- part of a large concourse of folks who came from that place and settled in this county -- and before that the Lotz family can be traced back to Germany. One of my favorite people to read about is Frederick William Lotz, who was married to Miss Tassie Willcox. Mr. Lotz was one of the entreprenurial types and suffered some devastating finanical losses in the 1915 Hurricane. More on that later.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Robert Perry "Tex" Wallace

The Chambers County Slugger

One of the more interesting figures of recent Chambers County history is a gentleman by the name of Robert Perry “Tex” Wallace, a boxer of legendary proportions. He was born on September 30, 1908 at Anahuac, the son of Henry George Wallace and his wife Latetia Permelia Barrow. I’ve seen his mother’s name spelled any number of different of ways, both inside and outside of the Barrow family. Leticia and Letitia are just a couple of the variants. The “Latetia” spelling prevails on Robert Perry’s delayed birth certificate, but that’s sort of outside of our bailwick today.

Lorraine Barrow Silva, one of the premier genealogists of the Barrow family, never went with the “Tex” nickname. She preferred to call him by the name of Robert Perry, although she said his parents initially called him Perry. They later dropped that and switched over to calling him Robert.

In late 1930 and early 1931, Tex Wallace made some arrangements to rent, lease or otherwise use Frank Havenkott’s old machine shop and it was cleaned up to such a point that it or at least the rear portion of the shop was used for boxing entertainment purposes. Tex renamed the facility “The Anahuac Athletic Club” and referred to himself as the manager. The first so-called entertainment was held on either Thursday, January 15 or Thursday, January 22, 1931.

This is a great story, and you’ll be reading more about Tex Wallace, the Anahuac Athletic Club, and this whole subject.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Anahuac Courthouse Fire (1935)

The Progress
Thursday, May 2, 1935

COURTHOUSE HERE DESTROYED BY FIRE SUNDAY
ALL RECORDS SAVED BY QUICK WORK OF OFFICERS AND CITIZENS


On December 2, 1875, at 7 p. m., the Chambers County Courthouse, then located at Wallisville, burned. On December 6, 1875, the Chambers County Commissioners Court held a special meeting designating the top floor of the Joseph LaFour Hotel at Wallisville temporary headquarters for both county officers and District Court.
In 1908, the Courthouse was moved to Anahuac and housed in the building now occupied by Judge Louie Miller. The new Courthouse was finished in 1912 at a cost of approximately $50,000.00 for both the Courthouse and jail.

On Sunday, April 28, 1935, at about noon, the citizens of Anahuac were notified that the courthouse was on fire. Judging from the persons responding, we feel safe in saying that every one in Anahuac and also within a radius of 10 miles, answered the summons and through their heroic work all the files and county documents were preserved. Words do not express the wonderful way in which these citizens worked and all this in the face of the danger of the walls falling in on them at any time.

On Monday at 10 a.m. the Chambers County Commissioners Court held a special meeting in the Ford building so kindly turned over to them by Charles C. Bellar. The Court designated the Ford building to complete the present term of District Court and by noon Judge [Thomas B.] Coe had settled into his new quarters and was grinding away at his docket. The Commissioners Court next designated the County Jail as the temporary offices for the county and immediately our county offices began functioning. Mrs. [Anna Laura] Scherer, County Clerk, picked the best looking cell in the jail and started business, proudly telling everyone that all records were intact. Of course, Sheriff Sam Scherer and his deputy [Guy] Mendenhall came next. We note with pleasure that they are now occupying a cell long since used. Our County Judge [Guy C.] Jackson came next and we suppose that the dignity of his office rated the room outside the cell block. The County Attorney, Everett Cain, County Treasurer Grover Willcox and County Agent Mathis and County Surveyor Orville Work have not as yet been placed but we understand that there will be enough cells left to amply care for these.

The use of the jail was made possible by the kind offer of Liberty County. They have put at our disposal their vaults and jail. This is what we call a neighbor worth having. We are wondering how the boys that have in the past filled the County jail like their new home. All said in good sport, fellows.

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While the fire at the courthouse was burning there were several other persons working frantically to save their homes. Huge flames of sparks were flying in every direction. As the wind would change, so would the sparks. Perry Willcox extinguished his home four times. The home of Ernest Willcox also caught on fire and was put out without damage. A small shack situated between the rear end of the bank and the C. C. Bellar feed company was also set on fire and had it not been quickly extinguished would have caused much trouble as this building would have easily started all the oil and gasoline that are stored in the Bellar building. We should all take a lesson from this catastrophe and in the future when some fire starts be on the lookout for other buildings. Thanks to the watchfulness and thoughtfulness of Charles Bellar, he and his men were on the alert for other places to become ignited.

Note: One bit of information that should be included here. The editor of "The Progress" in 1935 was Sally (McWilliams) Sharp, who had inherited the job upon the death of her father David Twiggs McWilliams. The courthouse caught fire and burned on a Sunday morning, first noticed by folks coming out of their respective churches. At the time of this major news event, Sally's mother, Anahuac Postmaster Ida S. McWilliams, was dying and passed away. Sally somehow managed to put together the newspaper that week, cover the major news event of the year, and still tend to the final rites of her mother. My admiration for Sally McWilliams Sharp has only grown the more I learn about her.

Primary Election Returns (1914)

The Progress
Friday, August 7, 1914


Primary Election Results

In the Democratic Party primary election held here last Saturday, the voters gave County Judge R. J. McMurrey another chance and another two-year term. Judge McMurrey received 401 votes, compared to 185 for former county judge H. H. Jackson.
County and District Clerk John Wooten easily turned back another challenge, this time defeating challenger T. F. Allen by a margin of381 to 207.
Incumbent Sheriff F. R. “Rube” LaFour, however, didn’t fare quite as well. Challenger W. R. “Bill” Sherman defeated him. The vote was Sherman, 392; LaFour, 200. [It might be noted here that Rube LaFour was initially appointed to the office after the 1900 murder of Sheriff John L. Frost. Bill Sherman held the office from 1915 to the time of his death in 1932. Sherman’s 17 year tenure was a record for awhile, but was, of course, overturned by Sheriff Louis Otter, who served from 1947 to 1976]
In the contest for County Tax Assessor, Normie Sherman defeated former county judge W. B. Gordon by a margin of 370 to 217.
County Attorney A. W. Marshall defeated challenger Harry S. Williams by a margin of 403 to 177.
The race was considerably closer for County Treasurer, where Grover C. Willcox received 326 to 256 for former county treasurer R. E. Swinney.
County Surveyor W. Orville Work had no opposition and received 586 votes.
L. R. Miller was elected as county Democratic chairman with 89 votes, many of the voters obviously failing to work their way down to the lower extremities of the election ballot.
Voters in Chambers County supported James Ferguson in his campaign for the Governor’s Mansion. Ferguson received 361, to 170 for Thomas H. Ball. William P. Hobby won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.


Democratic precinct chairmen were: Paul Sherman, Pct. 1; Charles Hankamer, Pct. 2; G. M. Stephenson, Pct. 3; A. R. Shearer, Pct. 4; W. K. Finley, Pct. 6; H. N. Hughes, Pct. 7; J. O. Williams, Pct. 8; C. C. Rush, Pct. 10; and C. H. Morgan, Pct. 11. Nothing is listed for Precincts 5 or 9.

Primary Election Returns (1912)

The Progress
Published at Anahuac, Texas
Friday, August 2, 1912

Primary Election Returns

The Progress publishes the returns from last Saturday’s Democratic Primary Election [July 27].

In the race for county judge, R. J. McMurrey received a total of 286 votes, and H.H. Jackson [the incumbent], 229. [It is interesting to note that Judge H. H. Jackson had been appointed to this office in December 1907 following the tragic death of Judge Evander Light and won reelection in 1908 and 1910.]
For County Clerk, Incumbent John Wooten, 365; and Sam Scherer, 153.
For Sheriff, F. R. “Rube” LaFour, 332; J. H. “Jett” Willcox, 181.
For Tax Assessor, Normie Sherman, 262; W. B. Gordon, 256.
For Precinct 1 Commissioner, J. B. Jones, 49; N. V. Wallis, 46.
For Precinct 2 Commissioner, J. E. Broussard, 118; F. W. Plummer, 117.
For Precinct 3 Commissioner, J. C. Jackson, 47; W. A. Scherer, 18.
For Precinct 4 Commissioner, J. C. Stockbridge, 60; C. T. Joseph, 31.
Running unopposed, Incumbent 9th District Judge L. B. Hightower, 472; and District Attorney James Manry, 454.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Progress, News items from August 2, 1912

The Progress
Friday, August 2, 1912



Local News Items
Louis Broussard left Wednesday to join the Merchants Excursion to St. Louis.

C. C. Rush brought his ditching over for repairs thefirst of this week.

Sam Scherer accompanied by his mother, Mrs. P. J.Scherer, and the little children of Clint Scherer wentto Beaumont Tuesday. Carroll Agrelius also went for the ride.

The school in Penmanship opened by Prof. White isdoing well. There are 20 day and 9 night pupils.

I. A. Hankamer, B. S. Wilson, Will Albritton and J.C. Harmon of Hankamer were here Tuesday on businessregarding the new Hankamer schoolhouse.

Owing to the combined heat of the weather and countypolitics, the lecture delivered by Dr. George C. Fort last Friday night was not very well attended. The lecturer was a rare treat in oratory and depth of thought. The opening exercises consisted of songs by Misses Marguerite Johnson and Effie Rush with Mrs.Jackson at the organ. Anahuac is growing much more metropolitan every day.

Walter Bond has added a new ice box to his saloon fixtures. It contains the latest improvements forkeeping beer nice and cold.

The Priscillas
Mrs. S. D. Willcox was the gracious hostess to theembroidery club at their last meeting and was assistedin the entertaining by the daughter of the house, MissMyrtle. Miss Marguerite Johnson, who is a house guest,furnished some sweet music, both vocal andinstrumental. Also Miss Effie Rush contributed a niceselection, all adding greatly to the pleasure of themeeting. A dainty ice course was served before the departureof the ladies, who were:Mesdames L> G. Hamilton, G. F. Mitchell, F. W.Wolfean, L. R. Miller, Perry Willcox, Grover Willcox,Kate Willcox, Elwee Willcox, H. H. Jackson and MissesVivian Havens and Effie Rush. Mrs. Elwee Willcox will entertain at the nextmeeting.

Boat News Items
Capt. Sherman of the Mail boat Zelda has made a valuable business improvement by placing a sign on theboat which reads “U.S.M. Anahuac and Wallisville.”

Capt. O. W. Tompkins came in Tuesday with the boat Mathilda, which he recently purchased and will runfrom Moss Bluff to Galveston. This is an old time boat which once plied the waters of Trinity bay with red sails.

Note to readers: Having no real nautical ability nor any kind of handle on nautical terminology,. I am awfully curious over this last phrase, which refers to the boat once plying the waters of Trinity Bay "with red sails." If anyone can enlighten me to the proper meaning, I would be most grateful and can be reached at wallis01@yahoo.com.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ruth Shannon Miller (1821)

The history of Nineteenth Century Texas, much like history almost anywhere, is a series of tales usually rendered from the perspective of the male participants. To those of us who labor in the field of Southeast Texas history, there are to be found copious lists of pioneer settlers, almost always confined to the male head of each household. Buried within family records, only rarely appearing on any public documents, are the wives and other women of the household. In most cases, therefore, our male-dominated histories give us only part of the story and often bypass some fascinating accounts of strong, persevering pioneer women.

This article will take a look at one such story, focusing not so much on pioneer settler James Miller, but rather on his wife and widow, Ruth (Shannon) Miller. The Millers came into modern day Chambers County in 1821, three years before the Mexican government instituted a pro-Anglo immigration policy.

The Millers had followed a circuitous journey on their way to this place. James was born about 1792 in Tennessee. Ruthy, born about 1799 in Georgia, was a daughter of American Revolutionary veteran Owen Shannon and his wife Margaret Montgomery, who settled in Montgomery County in 1821. The Millers were married some time before 1815, the year their first child, Penina, was born then while they were residing in Missouri. Ruth was around sixteen years of age when her daughter was born. Three other children followed in 1816, 1817 and 1821 while they were living in Arkansas. The last two children were born about 1823 and 1825, while the family resided at Lake Miller.

The Miller homeplace was located just north of an old trail, known as the Lower Road, or the Orcoquisac Trail, or the Smuggling Trail, which fairly well follows the present-day meanderings of Interstate 10. The intervening decades have not rendered this place any more romantic. It does not sound particularly homey. The 1826 census of the Atascosito District shows Miller to have been a blacksmith by trade, a profession that may have been useful to both local pioneers and to travelers passing along the old roadway.

The Millers were in the process of obtaining their land grant when James died suddenly in about 1830. This left Ruth and her eight children in destitute condition, a state of affairs that extended for several months. If you ever want to imagine yourself as a woman on the western frontier in 1830, it would be interesting to place yourself in Ruth Shannon Miller’s shoes. After the death of James Miller, Ruth’s father, Owen Shannon, along with her two brothers, John and Jacob Shannon, and their slaves went to Lake Miller and moved Ruthy, her family, cattle and possessions to Owen and Margaret Shannon’s home in the Lake Creek Settlement back in Montgomery County, which was then some sort of land district according to the Mexican government's system for local government. It was not a good time for Ruth and her children and was likewise an inauspicious beginning for women in what is today Chambers County.
As we carelessly or naively paint the settlement of the west in rose-colored images, let us recall the story of this young woman.

The First Female County Official? (1903)

EMMA KILGORE WOOTEN

Let's roll the clock back many years. It's the summer of 1903 in the town of Wallisville, which was then the county seat of Chambers County. John R. Wooten had served as District and County Clerk of Chambers County for 25 years. He was only 49 years old when he suffered a fatal heart attack and died on July 16, 1903. After everyone paid their respects to the deceased and laid him to rest, the Commissioners’ Court met and appointed his widow and his second wife, Emma Kilgore Wooten, to serve out the remainder of his term through the end of 1904. The clerk's position was combined at that time, with one person handling the official functions of both County Clerk and District Clerk. This dual office required two appointments. Commissioners appointed her as county clerk on July 21, 1903, with District Judge L. B. Hightower appointing her as district clerk on August 1, 1903. Mrs. Wooten went on to finish out that term, and she also ran for election in her own right in the 1904 election and served until the end of 1906. She eventually turned over the reins to John Wooten, her stepson.

Why is this such an interesting event? Considering the fact that women could not even vote until the 18th Amendment was passed in 1920, Mrs. Wooten found herself in the peculiar position of not being able to cast a vote for herself. I have never conducted any statewide research project on this point, but a woman serving as a county official was very rare in 1903. Very rare. In fact, Mrs. Wooten could possibly be the first woman in the State of Texas to be appointed to a countywide office. But the odds would suggest that maybe, just maybe, some other male office holder somewhere else in the state may have also died, and his widow [where ever she happened to be] could have been appointed to serve out the remainder of the term. But let's go back and look at the first paragraph. Mrs. Wooten ran for the office on her own in 1904 and was duly elected in her own right. This could give her a real chance of setting an historical precedent. Even if she was not the first woman to be appointed to a countywide office in the State of Texas, her election in 1904 could have been historically significant. This would be a great milestone to be claimed by Wallisville and Chambers County on behalf of Emma Kilgore Wooten. We will pursue this further.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Rev. Jerry Raymond

There are few things left to remind us of the Rev. Jerry Raymond, a black minister who once labored in the fields of the Lord and now rests in the little burial ground outside the St. John Baptist Church in Wallisville. The tombstone that marks his grave, and the Jerry Raymond Road are two of the more permanent reminders that he was once here. I was privileged several years ago to copy the following account of his life and share it with you now:

LIFE, LABOR AND EXPERIENCE OF
REV. JERRY RAYMOND,
Wallisville, Texas
I was born here in Wallisville, Chambers County, Texas, Sept. 6, 1852. My father was named Willis Raymond, Mother, Lida Simmons Raymond. I grew up with my parents to be a young man, here in Wallisville. I was converted - December 23, 1875, Baptized by the hand of Rev. Joseph Smith, the same year. I joined the St. John Baptist Church here in Wallisville. This Church was founded by Rev. George Allen in 1872. I served as a deacon for many years. I began preaching the gospel in 1879. My first pastoral work was the St. James Baptist Church on the Bay Shore near Wallisville in 1880 with 15 members. My offering was from 10 cents to $1.50. I served here 9 years. I read my Bible by an old lighted torch and a tin lamp. I resigned here when I was called to another St. James Baptist Church out on the prairie also near Wallisville, with 8 members. My offering here was from 45 cents to $2.00. I resigned here when I was called to the St. John Baptist Church where my membership is about 400 yards from where I live. During these years I was called to the Little Flock Baptist Church in Hillister, Texas. I served this church 25 years. I resigned at the age of 80 years old; then I was called to the Jones Chapel Baptist Church in Hankamer about 14 miles from Wallisville, with a membership of 10. My offering was from $1.50 to $2.50. Many times I walked and rode horse-back. Most times I was from 2 to 3 o'clock in the morning getting home. I pastored the St. John Baptist Church 15 years. I resigned the St. John Baptist Church at the age of 88. Lastly I resigned the Jones Chapel Baptist Church in 1946, when I was 93 years old. My house doors always stood open for the one that is on the Mission field for the Cause. I am the father of 8 children. I have preached to over 10,000. I have received by experience over 500 and Baptized over 700. I have walked from Liberty home more than once, coming from my pastorage work in Hillister, a distance of 20 miles. I have fought a good fight, I have almost finished my course, and thus far, I have kept the faith. I am praying God's benediction upon the Ministering rank they take more courage and go forward. Now may the grace of our Lord be with us all forever and ever Amen.
This information was provided to the Wallisville Heritage Park by Bridgette Godfrey and was copied by Kevin Ladd for the Wallisville Heritage Park files.

Some Early Settlers of Chambers County

1821 – James and Ruthie Miller (Wallisville area and Lake Miller)
1822 – Shadrack Burney (Turtle Bay and Turtle Bayou)
1824 – Joseph Lawrence (Lawrence’s Island and Cove)
1824 – James Hanney (Lawrence’s Island and Cove)
1824 – William Bloodgood (Cedar Bayou) Austin’s Old Three Hundred
1824 – Christian Smith (Cedar Bayou) Austin’s Old Three Hundred
1824 – John Iiams (Cedar Bayou) Austin’s Old Three Hundred
1824 – E.H.R. and Sarah (Barrow) Wallis (Wallisville area)
1824 – Solomon and Elizabeth (Winfree) Barrow (Trinity Bay and the Beach City area)
1824 – Reuben Barrow, Jr. (Double Bayou and later High Island)
1827 – Absalom Jesse (A.B.J.) Winfree (Cove area, known as “Winfree’s Cove”)
1827 – William Henry Hodges (Old River)
1827 – Theodore & Charles Dorsett and Charles C. P. Welch (Old River)
1827 – James Allen settles at Lake Charlotte
1828 – Benjamin Barrow (Turtle Bayou)
1828 – James Taylor White (Turtle Bayou) – White’s Ranch later moved to Stowell
1829 – Silas Smith (Turtle Bayou)
1831 – Fort Anahuac and the town of Anahuac established
1831 – Charles Willcox (Anahuac) and many others settled there, including
William Barret Travis, Andrew Briscoe, Patrick C. Jack and others
1831 – John M. Smith moves from Liberty to Turtle Bayou, later to Smith’s Point
1831 – Robert Wiseman (Old River)
1831 – Henry and Amelia (Barrow) Griffith (Old River and Mont Belvieu)
1834 – Thomas Jefferson Chambers (Round Point and later Anahuac)
1835 – Benjamin Winfree (Cove area)
1835 – Jacob Armstrong (Cedar Bayou area)
1838 – Garner Mayes (Double Bayou)
1849 – Amos Barber (Mont Belvieu and Barber’s Hill) -- it might be noted here that the parents of Amos Barber were Samuel and Elizabeth (Barrow) Barber, who were early pioneers, but their homesite was actually in modern-day Liberty County

We will endeavor to supplement and add to this list in the coming weeks. There are other pioneers who belong on this list.

Sam Houston and Cedar Point

General Sam Houston and his family had connections to many counties in Texas, but they were even closely identified with a site on Trinity Bay inpresent-day Chambers County known as Cedar Point. It was here that Houston established a summer home in1837. He bought the home from Mrs. Tabitha Iiams, the widow of pioneer settler John Iiams, who had been partof Stephen F. Austin’s celebrated “Old Three Hundred.”

Although Sam Houston enjoyed various homes in diverse places over the years, his fondness for this place is evident in a letter he wrote to Colonel John L. Hall of Crockett. The letter bears the date November 10,1841: “On yesterday we arrived at home and again look upon the beautiful Bay. I am sorry that I will have so short a time to enjoy at home. It is my intention to be on the way to Austin by the 1st of December. Mrs. Houston's health is much improved since we left Crockett, but is not sufficiently well to risk the climate of Austin this winter. I dislike leaving home,because Mrs. H. cannot accompany me. The winter wouldbe dreary enough in Austin with all the comforts that could be commanded with a family. Without one, the only resource of happiness will be--business. I will be reasonably miserable and should contemplate the time as lost if it were not that I hope to do my country some service. God knows it needs something tobe done for it.”

By all accounts, the home at Cedar Point was nothinggrand, just a simple structure. One historian described it this way: “The Houstons had numeroushouses in Texas. Only one of these they kept continuously, Cedar Point, on Trinity Bay. It was a modest building, like most of the rest, built of logs,weatherboarded, with four or five rooms and the household services in separate buildings in the yard.Mrs. Houston, who loved gardening, maintained vegetable and flower gardens at all of her houses."

Houston’s political career ended in 1861 amid the volatile storm clouds of Secession. Committed to theUnion, he did not go along with Secessionists and was thereafter removed from the Governor’s office in1861. The Hero of San Jacinto left the Governor’s Mansion and repaired to the bayshore at Cedar Point,where he made his home for several long months. The couple’s eldest son, Sam Houston, Jr., answered the call to service in the Confederate States Army,enlisting in Captain Ashbel Smith’s company known as“The Bayland Guards.” Contemporary accounts record that Houston often traveled across the bay to watch the company drilling and marching before they went tothe front. Mrs. Margaret Houston wrote the following letter to her mother, Mrs. Nancy Lea, from Cedar Point on March 17, 1862: “Since Gen'l Houston's return, I have had no spirit to write to any of you, on account of my deep affliction from my dear boy being sent to Missouri. My heart seems almost broken. . .I left nothing undone that was in my power, to prevent his going, but my weakness gave him an opportunity of displaying traits of character that made his father's heart swell with pride. . .When I first heard the news, I thought I would lie down and die, but it is strange how life will cling to such a poor emaciated frame as mine. I want one of the girls to write a letter for you and just give me your words. Reprove me as sharply as you please. It will do me good. I deserve it all. I find now that I had really enshrined an idol in my heart. I did not love him more than the rest of my children, but he absorbed all my anxiety, all my hopes and fear. . .I believe it is a settled thing now, that Galveston is not to be attacked. I am teaching the little ones at home. They are all learning very well.Beg my Christian friends all to pray for Sam. Tell Bro. Ross, when the sun is setting, it is my custom topray for those who are near and dear to me, and I want him and his wife to meet me at that time at a throne of grace, and plead for my poor boy. Gen'l Houston and the children unite with me in love to all the kindred and friends.”

General Houston died at the Steamboat House in Huntsville in July 26, 1863, and he was buried there. Facing financial hardships, Margaret afterward moved near her mother at Independence, Texas. She died there during an 1867 yellow fever epidemic and was buried across the road from the historic Baptist church at Independence.

Cedar Point is located east of Beach City in extremewest central Chambers County. It was used by Houstonand his family from 1837 until 1862. A centennialmarker was placed near the site in 1936 and a countyhistorical marker in 1986.