Death of Stephen F. Austin

Known as the Father of Texas, Stephen F. Austin, who succeeded his father Moses Austin as empresario of the Austin Colony, died on December 27, 1836. He had previously campaigned for the presidency of the new Republic of Texas but had overwhelmingly lost to Sam Houston. Houston and Austin had been competitors at times, but they also appear to have remained personally cordial, if not even friendly. Upon winning the election, Houston appointed Austin to be secretary of state. One of Austin’s primary duties was to seek recognition for the Republic of Texas from the United States.

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Eliza Allen Houston Douglass

Elizabeth Ann Allen was the first wife of Sam Houston. Quite a bit younger than Houston, she was born in 1809 to John and Laetitia Saunders Allen in Tennessee. The Allens were a wealthy family of the Gallatin area. Houston was born in 1793, so he was some 16 years older than Eliza when they married in 1829. Some accounts will give her age to be sixteen but according to genealogical sources, she was about twenty. Although they were only married about eleven weeks, the reason for their separation and eventual divorce has been the subject of speculation ever since.

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Joshua Houston


(Image credit: Texas State Historical Association)

Joshua Houston (1822-1902) was born near Marion, Alabama and was a slave in the household of the wife of Sam Houston, Margaret Lea.  In the custom of the day, Joshua and his family were left to Margaret after the death in 1834 of her father, Temple Lea.  Margaret moved to Texas in 1840 after marrying Sam Houston in May.

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Sam Houston and Santa Anna

Santa Anna (Antonio López de Santa Anna) was born in Vera Cruz in 1794 and began serving in the Army in Spanish Mexico when he was a teenager.  He was said to have first fought in support for the Spanish against Mexican independence before joining the movement in 1821 in support of an independent Mexico.  He continued to be near the forefront of leadership in the young country of Mexico and helped defeat the Spanish effort to reclaim Mexico in the late 1820s.  Santa Anna was himself elected President in 1833.  The previous two decades had seen chaotic changes in the country of Mexico with the form of government varying from a constitutional republic to a centralist form with Santa Anna at the head, supported by the military.  The country was vast with the Central American part being largely populated and the North American portion being sparsely populated by Native American tribes and an increasing number of American settlers.  Under Santa Anna, its policy changed from encouraging settlements to being more restrictive toward them.

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