Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Sam Houston Statue

Marker ID:  
Location: at the intersection of West Broadway Ave (TN Route 411) and West Lamar Alexander Parkway (TN Route 321), Maryville, TN
County: Blount
Coordinates: N 35° 45.081    W 083° 58.538
  35.75135    -83.97563333
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: None


Sam Houston Statue

Legacy of Leadership

‘A determined and patriotic soldier, Houston’s career continued to advance after leaving Maryville. In 1814 after sustaining grave wounds fighting at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Houston was brought back to Blount County to his mother’s care. His courage in combat caught the attention of Andrew Jackson who successfully nominated him in 1823 for the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1827, Houston was elected Governor of Tennessee. In 1829, personal turmoil led to Houston’s resignation as Governor of Tennessee. Later that year, he rejoined his Cherokee family in Tahlonteeskee Territory. After returning to Maryville to be at his mother’s side when she died, Houston moved to Texas in 1832 and by 1835 was named a Major General in the Texas Army. On March 2, 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. Tow days later, Houston was appointed Major General of the Army of the Republic of Texas. On April 21, Houston won the decisive Battle of San Jacinto, winning independence for Texas. On September 5, Houston was elected President of the Republic of Texas and served two terms. In 1846, Houston was sworn in for the first of three terms as U.S. Senator. Leaving office in 1859, he was then elected Governor of Texas. In 1861, Houston refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of American and was removed from office.

Unlikely Scholar, Fearless Soldier

Houston was an avid reader, excelled at spelling, and enjoyed memorizing passages of classics such as homer’s The Iliad, using them in speeches throughout his life. He did not enjoy formal schooling. He studied briefly with Dr. Isaac Anderson who later founded Maryville College. Dr. Anderson referred to Houston as his “most provoking student” saying, “I often determined to lick him, but he would come up with such a pretty dish of excuses that I could not do it.” Ironically, Houston returned from his time with the Cherokee to open a private school – now the site of the Sam Houston Schoolhouse – in May of 1812. Tuition collected from pupils allowed Houston to pay off his accumulated debts. During the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson recruited soldiers, imploring Tennesseans to fight the tyranny of Great Britain. Soldiers during this time were the first of Jackson’s “Tennessee Volunteers.” With his mother’s permission, Houston joined the U.S Army in March of 1813. She gave Houston a rifle and a ring with the word “Honor” engraved inside. He wore this ring until his death fifty years later. Houston’s mother warned him to never disgrace the family saying, “while the door of my cabin is open to brave men, it is eternally shut against cowards.” Houston volunteered to join as an enlisted man – instead of attempting an officer’s rank – for which he was ridiculed by friends Houston said, “You do not know me now, but You Shall Hear of Me!” One year later, Sam had risen three ranks to Second Lieutenant.

The Frontier’s Edge

Sam Houston was born in the Shenandoah Valley on March 2, 1793, to Revolutionary War Veteran Major Sam Houston and Elizabeth Paxton Houston. In 1807, then a widow, his mother moved Houston ad his eight siblings by wagon to a farm at the headwaters of Baker Creek in Blount County. As a restless fourteen-year-old, Houston did not want to go to school, nor did he want to work on the farm or in the family’s store where he would be under supervision of his brothers. He ran away to live with the Cherokees along the Hiwassee River. “The tribe “adopted” Houston and gave him the name Co-lon-neh, meaning “the Raven.” At their mother’s request, his brothers attempted to bring him home. Houston replied that he preferred “measuring deer tracks to tape” and “the wild liberty of the Red man better than the tyranny of his own brothers.” He remained with the tribe intermittently from 1809 to 1812, learning their language and living off the land. His appreciation and respect for their culture would be reflected throughout his career. As was mandatory for men of his age, Houston trained with the local militia. In 1810, Houston, the militia drummer, attended an assembly and was charged for “riotously” disturbing the proceedings of the County Court. Houston was fined $5, but the charge was later dropped.

Source of Greatest Pride

In The Raven: A Biography of San Houston, Marquis James records that Houston recalls the time he spent in Blount County. An old Army friend asked Houston of all the various offices he had held, which one had been the source of his greatest pride. As he reminded Houston of those offices – governor, United States senator, commander in chief of an Army and president of a Republic – Houston reflected upon another. “Well, Burke,” replied Houston, “when a young man in Tennessee I kept a country school, being about eighteen years of age, and a tall strapping fellow. At noon after the luncheon, which I and my pupils ate together out of our baskets, I would go into the woods and cut me a ‘sour wood’ stick, trim it carefully in circular spirals and thrust one half of it into the fire, which would turn it blue, leaving the other half white. With this emblem of ornament and authority in my hand, dressed in a hunting shirt of flowered calico, a long queue down my back, and the sense of authority over my pupils, I experienced a higher feeling dignity and self-satisfaction than from any other office or honor which I have since held.” Houston returned to Blount County on at least two occasions after leaving in 1813. He returned to see his mother on her death bed in 1831 and visited the county fairgrounds here in 1845.