Before social media or campaign websites, Sam Houston used speeches to get the word out to Texans.
He made various speeches in Rusk, including a debate with politician Frank Bowden in 1855, according to a historical marker located at Fourth and Barron streets.
“Houston, a U.S. senator, was on a tour through central and East Texas trying to regain public favor after voting against the Kansas-Nebraska Act,” the marker states. “Political debates were popular entertainment of the time, and were well attended.”
Houston also made a speech in 1857 in Rusk while campaigning for the governor position, according to the historical marker.
Terry Guinn, emeritus member of the Cherokee County Historical Commission, said Houston spoke for hours at this political rally, trying to convince people to vote for him, and bored some people enough that they left.
“A newspaper account states his speech lasted three hours but brought little enthusiasm from the crowd. When he finished speaking, applause was weak, and many of the benches were empty,” a historical marker reads.
Guinn said his great-grandfather, Robert Guinn, who practiced law in Rusk and was in politics, would visit with Houston when they were both in the Rusk area.
However, he said, the two “had a falling out” over state rights and secession.
Deborah Burkett, with the Cherokee County Historical Commission, said via email she’s proud Houston was in Cherokee County because her ancestor, Benjamin Alexander Long, who served in the War of 1812, fought alongside Houston in 1814 at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.
Ms. Burkett said via email she, with assistance from Jacksonville Public Library director Barbara Crossman, also “discovered” a woven coverlet Houston reportedly used in Cherokee County. She wrote that the note found in the woven coverlet states, “Coverlet made before 1836 by Mrs. Hall, great-grandmother of Mrs. E.P. Dolan Jr. Used by San Houston while a guest in the Hall home.”
Houston’s visits are “something we are proud of in Cherokee County …” Ms. Burkett said.