Today@Sam Article

Events To Celebrate Gen. Sam Houston

Feb. 2, 2016
SHSU Media Contact: Tammy Parrett

Wreaths are placed on Gen. Sam Houston's graveThe Walker County Historical Commission, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and the Sam Houston Statue and Visitors Center will once again celebrate the university’s namesake with the 35th Annual Texas Independence Day and Gen. Sam Houston’s Birthday commemoration on March 2.

Festivities will get under way with a coffee and reception from 9:15-10:15 a.m. at the Gibbs-Powell House Walker County Museum, at 1228 11th St.

Around 10:15 a.m. the traditional march to Gen. Sam Houston’s gravesite will assemble at Austin Hall and proceed to Oakwood Cemetery along University Avenue, led by the Sam Houston State University ROTC and students.

At the gravesite, a special ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. and will feature Denton Florian, executive director of the Sam Houston Project, who will discuss “Why Sam Houston Matters.”

During the ceremony, there will be the “Baptized Texan” ceremony, during which non-Native Texans can burnish their Lone Star credentials by being “baptized” as a Texan. The tradition was featured in the March 2013 edition of Texas Highways.

Florian is a native Texan and graduate of both The University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University.

He organized and led the team that produced the celebrated documentary “Sam Houston,” which won five Emmy awards. The film, website and assets represent the largest collection of digital information on Gen. Sam Houston’s life that has ever been assembled.

Immediately following the ceremony, a buffet luncheon will be held at 12:30 p.m. at the Gibbs Conference Hall of the Katy and E. Don Walker Sr. Education Center, and the day’s activities will culminate at 2 p.m. at the Sam Houston Statue and Visitors Center with a “Toast to Texas,” birthday cake and a special commemorative award.

The tradition of celebrating March 2 in Huntsville stems back to 1889, when students from the Sam Houston Normal Institute marched to Gen. Sam Houston’s grave.

“This annual event continued until 1971; it was almost always done by the student body at Sam Houston, and several times the governor came,” said James Patton, with the Walker County Historical Commission. “There was a big celebration in 1936, again in 1986 for the 150th anniversary of Texas, and another big event in 1993 for the 200th birthday of Gen. Sam Houston.”

In 1981, the Walker County Historical Commission began sponsoring March 2 events through a program called “Texas Heritage Days.”

In the last several years students from Sam Houston State University, with the help of the ROTC and history departments have continued the tradition of marching to Houston’s grave.

The Houston gravesite at Oakwood Cemetery is located at Sam Houston Memorial Drive and 9th Street. In the event of inclement weather, the gravesite ceremony will be held at Mance Park Middle School, located near Oakwood Cemetery.

The Walker Education Center is located at 1402 19th St.

Reservation and payments for the “Baptized Texas” ceremony are due by Feb. 15 and Feb. 25 for the luncheon.

For more information on reservations and payments, contact Jamie Matthews, with the Walker County Historical Commission, at jmatthews@huntxvilletx.gov or 936.291.5931.

For more information on the March 2 schedule of events, visit walkercountyhistory.org, samhoustonmemorialmuseum.com or huntsvilletexas.com.

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