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Fayette connections in early Texas history

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By Linda Hanabarger

Texas was an independent nation from March 2, 1836, to Feb. 16, 1846, when it became the 28th state in the Union.
Sam Houston was chosen as president of the Republic of Texas, with his inauguration on Oct. 22, 1836. They applied for annexation to the United States and, as they say, the rest is history.
Let’s go back a few years – before 1836.  There is a Fayette County connection here.
Henry Smith, who is kin to Fayette County’s Elkanah Smith family, was elected governor of the provisional military government in 1835 at San Felipe. A story in the family gives this man credit for the emblem associated with Texas – the five-pointed star.
According to the story, Henry was presented with a document that required an official seal. Gov. Smith had a dilemma – the new government did not own a seal.
Cutting a button from his overcoat, Gov. Smith stamped it in sealing wax on the documents, leaving an impression of the button’s design – a five-pointed star.  The star has remained the symbol of Texas since that time. A nice story, and it may be true.
There is a second Fayette County connection to Texas history, and this is through the Houston family.
When Sam Houston headed out to Texas to take part in the rebellion there, he asked his cousin, also named Sam, to go with him. Cousin Sam declined. He was an old soldier, having fought against the British in the War of 1812 and against the Indians in the Black Hawk War of 1832 in northern Illinois. He’d had enough of war, and wanted a few quiet years.
Samuel S. Houston had settled in Bond County as early as 1817, and Mulberry Grove was once called Houston. It was also called Shake Rag, but that’s another story.
Samuel S. Houston served as sheriff of Bond County from 1820-1822, and married in 1822 to Jane Evans, the oldest daughter of Jeremiah, who lived south of Vandalia on the Carlyle Road, near the Evans Cemetery.  Moving to Effingham County, Houston was a surveyor and a teacher.
In 1845, Samuel S. moved to Fayette County and was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1846, serving one term. He died in Fayette County on Nov. 27, 1851.
His son, Martin Finley Houston, married Lydia Snyder. Martin was a teacher, as were four of his brothers and sisters.
Martin operated the Waverly Stock Farm  for his father-in-law, Augustus Snyder, for a time before moving to Vandalia.
In 1892, he opened a general hardware and agricultural implement store in conjunction with his cousin, James Evans. He thereby turned management of the farm over to his son, George.
Martin built the lovely Queen Anne home on the corner of Gallatin and Seventh streets currently being restored by Bret and Bunny Brosman.
Our Fayette County families have many connections throughout the United States.  This connection with Texas is just one.