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Museum To Celebrate Margaret Houston's Birthday

April 5, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Grace Longino Cox as Margaret Lea Houston. —Submitted photo

Margaret Lea Houston may have been Gen. Sam Houston’s third wife, but many contend that she was his most important wife, according to Megan Buro, marketing coordinator for the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.

In recognition of Margaret’s life and influence, the Sam Houston Memorial board and friends will recreate the historic celebration of her birthday on Sunday (April 15), from 1:30-3:30 p.m. on the museum grounds.

Among the scheduled activities are a promenade from the Rotunda to the front porch of the Woodland Home, where museum director Mac Woodward will greet attendees; performances by Una Grace Nash and Gene Pipes as the Houstons at the Old Army Cabin behind the Woodland Home; a silent auction; historical interpreters giving tours of the historic homes; and a memorabilia table of photos and items from previous Margaret birthday parties. Houston family descendants have also been invited to attend.

A variety of cakes and punch will also be available for guests, who are welcome to wear 19th century dress.

The tradition of the Margaret Lea Houston birthday celebration was begun approximately 60 years ago when Grace Longino Cox, then director of the museum, brought students and the Huntsville community together. Ladies from the community basked their own special cakes that were shared with sorority and fraternity members, who bid on the baskets created by many organizations in town and on campus.

“From what we can find in our files, the first birthday party for Margaret was held in 1959, and we believe the last time it was held was the late 1980s. We have records that they had this celebration in 1986,” Buro said. “Mrs. Longino Cox created this event to celebrate Margaret. She felt that Margaret lived in the shadow of her husband and wanted to do something to get Margaret's name out there, and also to celebrate the culture during the times of the Houstons.

“(When talk began of recreating the event) I didn’t realize at first, since I didn’t grow up in the area, how big of an event this had been, but I am coming to realize it,” she said. “Many in Huntsville have childhood memories of this event.”

Though Houston had three wives, Margaret was both his longest and most influential spouse. She not only bore his eight children but took care of their large family when he would travel to Washington, D.C., to perform his duties as a U.S. senator.

“Margaret was passionate about her faith; she loved Sam, and wanted the best for her family. Sam was nicknamed ‘The Big Drunk,’ and Margaret did not approve of his drinking. She convinced Sam that his drinking was hurting her and their family, and Sam quit drinking,” Buro said. “Margaret also succeeded in getting her husband to join the Baptist Church.

“Not many know that Margaret wrote poetry, even having some of her work published in the Mother’s Journal of Philadelphia,” she said.

Her birthday is April 11, 1819.

Groups and individuals are invited to create a gift basket reflecting their organizations for donation to the silent auction. Baskets should be a minimum of $100. Those interested in donating a basket can contact Patsy Ann Reed at 936.295.9434 or patsyann16@gmail.com, or Caroline Crimm at 936.581.3334 or his_ccc@shsu.edu.

In case of inclement weather, the event will be at the W. S. Gibbs Conference Hall in the Katy and E. Don Walker, Sr,. Education Center.

For more information, contact Buro at 936.294.3839 or buro@shsu.edu.



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