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Margaret L. Houston,. Born in Alabama on April 11, 1819, Margaret married General Sam Houston in 1840. Margaret was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, poet, musician, strong in her faith, and devoted to her husband and children.

Margaret Houston’s 200th Birthday Celebration

“Health & Well-Being Through History,” featuring health and well-being demonstrations from College of Health Sciences Students & Faculty.


by SHSU staff 

The Sam Houston Memorial Museum, in association with SHSU College of Health Sciences, is celebrating the 200th birthday of Margaret Lea Houston, beloved wife of General Sam Houston. The event is slated for Thursday, April 11 from noon – 6:00 p.m. on the museum grounds.

“Beginning in the 1960’s, the biggest annual event at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum was the celebration of Margaret’s birthday each spring,” said Museum Curator of Education Derrick Birdsall. “Hundreds, if not thousands of people, including descendants of Sam and Margaret, would visit the museum grounds in commemoration of the day. It is our hope to rekindle this annual tradition and give Margaret the recognition that she truly deserves.”

Margaret Lea Houston was born on April 11, 1819 in Marion, Alabama. She was the First Lady during Sam Houston’s second term as President of the Republic of Texas. They met following the first of his two non-consecutive terms as the Republic’s president, and married when he was a representative in the Congress of the Republic of Texas.

“We are very excited to host the Huntsville area community, SHSU students, faculty, staff and alumni to this very special celebration honoring Margaret Lea Houston,” said Mac Woodward, museum director of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum. “With the focus on health and well-being, we can showcase the lifestyle of Margaret and the grace and courage she showed.”

Margaret’s devotion to Sam, their eight children, and her heroic efforts to survive disease, wounds, and breast cancer are some of the reasons the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and College of Health Sciences Dean’s office decided to collaborate on the celebration.

“Advancements in vaccines, anesthetic practices, clean water, improved sanitation, emphasis on physical activity, antibiotics, child birthing techniques and improvements in surgery give us a historical perspective of what Margaret had to deal with in her time compared to today’s health practices,” said Ryan Zapalac, associate dean of the College of Health Sciences. “We hope to portray how kinesiology, population health, nursing, and family and consumer sciences have dramatically improved compared to 200 years ago.”

Student and faculty representatives from the College of Health Sciences will be demonstrating various examples of health and well-being through exercises that compare past approaches to modern-day best practices. Activities such as wound care, food preservation, the advancement of physical exercise, breast cancer medicine, disease control, and clothing construction will be performed before museum visitors.

“When we have the chance to highlight our degree programs in this unique way, student and community visitors can connect possible careers in health and community well-being with the opportunities available at Sam Houston State University,” said Rodney Runyan, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “The 200th birthday celebration is also a way for our students and faculty to reflect on the tremendous advances made across all Health Sciences disciplines over the past 200 years. SHSU continues to focus on the latest technology and innovations in developing talented professionals for the 21st Century Texas workforce.”

Food and refreshments will be served and there is no admission charge for the day. The birthday celebration will also include the museum education department highlighting activities that portray life as it was for Margaret. The Woodland Home, based upon letters between Sam and Margaret from mid-spring to early fall of 1849, will be displayed reflecting this time.

“The only image that we are aware of today that features Sam and Margaret together is a silhouette of the two of them,” Birdsall said. “We will be bringing in a special guest who will be able to hand cut, freestyle, your silhouette in honor of the occasion that you can take home with you – just as was done in the 19th century.”

SHSU Alumni will also be hosted at the Margaret Lea Houston building on campus at 6:00 p.m. and will be able to view historical artifacts of Margaret Lea Houston and examples of the progression of Family and Consumer Sciences.

For more information, please contact Megan Buro, Sam Houston Memorial Museum Marketing Coordinator at 936-294-3839 regarding parking, coordination for large groups, and event updates.

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