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Young Sam Houston
by JC Pinkerton

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, once occupied by Washington & Lee University before they located to the nearest town, Lexington, Virginia. Sam didn't care much for school and had more fun running around on the farm with his five brothers and three sisters. 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, they 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 and becoming bored he started off for new adventures.

He crossed the Tennessee River and came upon the Cherokee Indian Village. He lived 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 he 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 18 "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:
  • $8 term
  • 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. Most of us can relate to that.

    By age 21 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 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 and 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.


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