Margaret Lea Houston
(1819-1867)

woman

Died aged 48

Margaret Lea Houston (April 11, 1819 – December 3, 1867) was First Lady of the Republic of Texas during her husband Sam Houston's second term as President of the Republic of Texas. They met following the first of his two non-consecutive terms as the Republic's president, and married when he was a representative in the Congress of the Republic of Texas. She was his third wife, remaining with him until his death. She came from a close-knit family in Alabama, many of whom also moved to Texas when she married the man who was an accomplished politician in both Tennessee and Texas, and who had won the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution. The couple had eight children, and she gave birth to most of them while he was away attending to politics. Her mother Nancy Lea was a constant in their lives, helping with the children, managing the household help, and always providing either financial assistance or temporary housing. With the help of her extended family in Texas, Margaret convinced her husband to give up both alcohol and profane language. He believed his wife to be an exemplary woman of faith and, under her influence, converted to the Baptist denomination, after he had many years earlier been baptized a Catholic in Nacogdoches, Texas. Following the Annexation of Texas to the United States, Sam Houston shuttled back and forth to Washington, D.C. as the state's U.S. senator for 13 years, while Margaret remained in Texas raising their children. When he was elected the state's governor, Margaret became First Lady of the state of Texas and was pregnant with their last child. Her brief tenure came on the cusp of the Civil War, at a time when the state was torn apart over the debate of whether or not to secede from the United States, while her husband worked in vain to defeat the Texas Ordinance of Secession. There was an attempt on his life, and angry mobs gathered in the streets near the governor's mansion. With no government protection provided, she lived in fear for her family's safety. Her husband was removed from office by the Texas Secession Convention for refusing to swear loyalty to the Confederacy. Margaret became a wartime mother, whose eldest son joined the Confederate Army and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Shiloh. Her husband died before the end of the war. In her few remaining years, she became the keeper of the Sam Houston legacy and opened his records to a trusted biographer. When she died of yellow fever four and a half years later, Margaret could not be buried with her husband in a public cemetery in Huntsville for fear of contamination, and was instead interred next to her mother on private property.

DbPedia
Wikidata Wikipedia

Family tree

Commemorated on 1 plaque

Texas Historical Marker #08482

Woodland, Home of Sam Houston. General of the army which won the war for Texas Independence, 1836, and first President of the Republic, 1836-1838, Sam Houston was one of the most controversial and colorful figures in Texas history. In his eventful career, Houston had resided in Nacogdoches, Liberty, Houston, and Austin. He and his wife Margaret (Lea) built this house, "Woodland", in 1847 to provide themselves with a town place. With enthusiasm, he wrote to a friend that the new home was a "bang up place!" and that the climate was "said to be healthy". Houston and his wife lived at Woodland while he was a U.S. Senator, 1846-1859, perhaps the happiest and most prosperous years of his life. Four of their eight children were born here. The house was built in a style common to the South at the time: squared logs covered with hand-hewn, whitewashed boards. The detached kitchen and law office were built of unfinished, squared logs. In 1859 Houston was elected governor but, although opposed to secession, he could not keep Texas from joining the Confederacy in 1861. Deposed from office, he returned to his second Huntsville home, called the "Steamboat House", where he died in 1863. #8482

?, Huntsville, TX, United States where they lived (1847-1861)