For those who were raised in Texas, the name Sam Houston symbolizes the indelible bond that exists between this state and Tennessee. Houston allied with the brave “Texicans” determined to create an independent republic on the land between the United States and Mexico by avenging their defeat at the Alamo with his victory over Mexican General López de Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto.
Granted, that wasn’t all of Houston’s accomplishments. A fierce ally of the Cherokee Nation who lobbied the U.S. government on behalf of the tribe, a public servant who held numerous positions in the Tennessee state government, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate , the famous president of the Republic of Texas, and the only person to have served as governor of two states, Texas and Tennessee, Houston’s record as a statesman and soldier easily eclipses many of those who have been acclaimed throughout our history.
Still, some say his service record is often ignored. Jackie Bell, vice-principal at Sam Houston School in Blount County, is one of those who insists that while Houston’s legacy is intrinsically tied to the history of East Tennessee, he doesn’t get the respect he deserves, especially from East Tennessee. Therefore, she and the other members of the Sam Houston Memorial Association of Blount County have made it their mission to educate people about the many accomplishments Houston has made throughout her 70 years of life.
“He’s not getting the recognition he should have, especially here in East Tennessee,” she said. “Little by little, we are trying to change that.”
One way to do this is to encourage people to visit the Sam Houston Schoolhouse, where Houston taught when she was 18. When he took the job in the one-room log cabin in May 1812, he hoped to earn enough money to pay for his bar tab which had soared to around $100. However, the classroom quickly filled to capacity and students had to be turned away.
These days the crowds are a bit smaller and the cabin, now a Tennessee State Historic Site that is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been rebuilt and restored many times since it was built. originated by a Revolutionary War veteran named Andrew Kennedy. and its neighbours. As a result, it still appears to be the case during Houston’s tenure at the school. The professor’s desk is at one end of the room while the boards that served as desks for the students, aged six to 61, are lined up in rows down the center of the room and along the long, narrow windows.
A number of other buildings also occupy the land, located at 3650 Old Sam Houston School Road in Maryville. A main building houses a replica of a general store, meeting room, shop and museum containing artifacts that date back to Houston’s teaching tenure, including a desk believed to have belonged to her father and a pencil and a pair of brass knuckles that were found during one of the renovations and presumed to be the personal property of Houston himself. Native American artifacts, historical documents, books, drawings, and photographs are also on display, along with various tools and household items once used by early settlers in the area.
Additionally, the grounds are home to a clubhouse, common areas and landscaped gardens tended by Blount County’s master gardeners. Given the open spaces and rolling terrain, it’s easy to imagine what the property must have looked like in Houston’s days.
The school season begins March 1, and a number of annual events are planned, including a celebration of Sam Houston’s birthday on March 12 (with music by violinist Leah Cushing), a Fairy Fest for children on May 14, three living history gatherings to be held June 10-12, Military Appreciation Day on July 16, Community Appreciation Day on October 1, and a Christmas Bazaar on November 19. These are in addition to field trips, home school days and private gatherings that take place throughout the year.
Bell said she hopes visitors will take the opportunity to tour the school and even consider becoming members of the Sam Houston Memorial Association. The cost varies between $10 annual individual memberships and $15 family memberships, $25 contributing member status and $200 lifetime memberships. She also said that the organization is always looking for volunteers.
“Tennessee’s history tends to be forgotten,” Bell said. “There seems to be very little specific to our state. When we talk about Tennessee, only two names are mentioned: Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley. Considering all of Houston’s accomplishments, we should be very proud.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact Lee Zimmerman, longtime freelance writer, reviewer, reviewer, and blogger.