Festivities to honor Gen. Sam Houston, Texas Independence

Several local groups are coming together to celebrate two of Texas’ most historic milestones through multiple events on Monday.

The Walker County Historical Commission, the Sam Houston State Memorial Museum, and the Sam Houston Statue and Visitors Center have joined together to honor Gen. Sam Houston’s birthday along with Texas Independence Day, both of which fall on March 2. The 34th Annual Texas Independence Day and General Sam Houston’s birthday celebration will take place throughout the day starting at 9 a.m.

Coffee and a reception at the Gibbs-Powell House Walker County Museum will kick off the day’s events, followed by the main ceremony at Houston’s gravesite in Oakwood Cemetery. A tradition dating back to the 1880s, the “March to the Grave” is now lead by students, according to Megan Buro, marketing coordinator of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.

“A student led event for the day is the traditional march to the grave,” Buro said. “Today, it is led by the SHSU ROTC and history department. They meet at Austin Hall around 10:15 a.m. and proceed down University [Avenue] to Sam’s grave for the 11 a.m. gravesite ceremony.”

Considered an expert in Texas Baptist history, lecturer of church history at Baylor University Alan Lefever, Ph.D., will speak on Houston’s legacy as a Baptist.

The “Baptized Texan Ceremony” and luncheon follows Lefever’s speech, but both required reservations to have been made by Feb. 25. In the “Baptized Texan Ceremony” non-native Texans are given the opportunity to be baptized a Texan and receive a certificate and t-shirt.

“Toast to Texas” and birthday cake in honor of Houston will be considered even more special this year because of the dedication of the Gene Pipes Amphitheater. Pipes was instrumental in the building of the Sam Houston Statue.

The museum encourages students to take advantage of any opportunity they have to participate in events being held throughout the day.

“I know with students’ schedules, trying to attend one of the March 2 events might be difficult, but hopefully some can join for the March to the Grave and gravesite ceremony,” Buro said. “If not, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday giving students the opportunity to learn about the namesake of the college they attend. We are more than just the duck pond.”

Buro noted that SHSU students receive free admission to the museum and said there are several activities museum visitors can partake in to learn more about Houston.

“They can watch a fifteen minute video to provide background on Sam’s life,” Buro said. “Then they can visit our grounds which includes the Woodland Home, the Law Office, the Steamboat House and the main museum that houses our collection of artifacts. Sam and Margaret built the Woodland Home and stands on its original site. The Steamboat House is where Sam died in and his funeral was held in July 1863.”

Houston will also be well represented in one of the most personal ways at his birthday bash and celebration for Texas Independence, according to Buro.

“I think one of my personal highlights of March 2 events are having some of Sam and Margaret Houston’s descendants in attendance,” Buro said.

Erica Houston Dallas, a great-great-great-granddaughter of Houston, said she is looking forward to honoring her relative again this year.

“This will be our 4th year to attend the event,” Dallas said. “I am proud and honored to be related to such a great man.”

Monday marks the 222nd birthday of Houston and the 179th anniversary of Texas Independence Day.

For more information or a full list of events, visit walkercountyhistory.com.

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