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Sam Houston's great-granddaughter to present
cheerished Houston artifacts to Memorial Museum

A collection of unique Sam Houston artifacts and family heirlooms, including a jeweled brooch presented to Houston by Santa Anna for sparing his life in the Battle of San Jacinto, will soon have a new home at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.

These priceless Texas treasures, owned by Margaret Rost, Houston's great-granddaughter, will be presented to the museum on March 2, as part of a series of local Texas heritage celebrations commemorating Houston's birthday, Texas Independence Day, Texas Flag Day and Walker County Pioneer Day.

Rost and several family members will be honored guests at these historical celebrations which begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Gibbs-Powell House and include an 11 a.m. Houston gravesite ceremony, a 12:30 p.m. luncheon at the Walker Education Center, and a 2:30 p.m. "Toast to Texas" event at the Sam Houston Statue and Visitor's Center.

Though the Rost collection will be presented to the museum on March 2, Patrick Nolan, museum director, said the artifacts will not be on display at the museum until they have been catalogued and thoroughly examined by museum curators. Other that the jeweled brooch, items in the collection include:

  • An American Indian purse, a watch and a green felt hat that belonged to the Texas hero;
  • Numerous heirlooms including glass goblets and a coffee pot that matches the silver service already in the museum's collection; and
  • A collection of Houston correspondences, many of which have never been published.

These historically significant items were inherited by Rost from her grandmother, Antoinette Power Houston, Sam Houston's youngest daughter. The gifts, Nolan said, "come to the museum through a strange and exciting set of circumstances."

Rost's grandmother, Antoinette, was born in Huntsville, in Houston's Woodland Home, during Houston's tenure as a U.S. Senator. "Nettie," as she was know in the family, was 11 years old when her father died in the now famous Steamboat House, also in Huntsville. Four years later, Antoinette's mother, Margaret Houston, died of yellow fever in Independence, Texas, and the orphaned daughter, along with the younger Houston siblings, moved in with her older sister, Nancy. At age 25, Antoinette married Dr. W.S.L. Bringhurst, who later became a classics professor at Texas A&M and was briefly the university's acting president.

Tragically, all but one of Antoinette's children died very young. Only one daughter, also named Antoinette, survived to adulthood. The younger Antoinette married and had one child, Margaret. By the 1930s, due to death and divorce, all three generations - Antoinette, her daughter Antoinette, and Margaret - were living together in San Antonio.

On a fateful day in March of 1932, the three women were traveling by automobile to Houston, Texas, to visit the elder Antoinette's ailing brother, Andrew Jackson Houston, the only other surviving child of Sam Houston. On the way they were involved in a serious accident that claimed the life of the older Antoinette and critically injured the younger Antoinette, who died two years later.

At age 13, the orphaned Margaret left Texas to live with family friends in Cincinnati, Ohio. She took with her the wonderful collection of family memorabilia and artifacts inherited from her grandmother. That collection, which has remained in her possession and includes many items never before seen by the public, will be turned over to the museum on March 2.

Nolan, and museum curator, Mac Woodward, recently traveled to Ohio to meet with Rost and take an initial inventory of the artifacts. Among the collection of Houston letters they found a correspondence that sheds light on one of the more interesting love stories of Texas history. According to Nolan, "when Sam Houston first came to Texas, he lived in Nacogdoches where he met a lovely young woman, Anna Raguet. He courted her, but she spurned him for another, a man named Robert Irion." Rost's collection includes three letters from Houston to Irion and one to Anna Raguet, none of which have ever been published.

Expenses for Nolan's and Woodward's trip to Ohio were offset by a $200 donation from First National Bank of Huntsville and a $100 private donation from Bill Hodges, a Huntsville businessman.


Media Contact: Phillip Rollfing
Feb. 25, 1998

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