City officials begin preparations for annual Texas Independence Day celebration

Item File PhotoJames Patton, the archivist for the Walker County Historical Commission, baptizes attendees in spring water from the Sam Houston homesite. The annual event will return to Huntsville on March 2. 

Each year, history buffs from across the Lone Star State flock to the home of Texas’ first president. 

Held at various locations across the city, the 39th annual Texas Independence Day and General Sam Houston Birthday celebration will be held Monday, March 2 in Huntsville.

The festivities will begin with a reception from 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. at the Walker County Museum’s Gibbs-Powell House, located at 1228 11th Street. Afterwards, experience the traditional march to Sam Houston’s gravesite at Oakwood Cemetery.

The march will commence at Old Main Pait (adjacent to Austin Hall on the campus of Sam Houston State University) and proceed to Sam Houston’s grave along University Avenue. The march is led by the university’s ROTC, with the support of the Bearkat History Club, the Department of Student Activities and members of the student body, faculty, staff and administration.

The gravesite ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. to honor General Sam Houston, with prize-winning historian and novelist James L. Haley serving as the featured speaker. Honored guests will include a number of General Sam Houston and Margaret Houston’s descendants.

Included in the ceremony will be the “Baptized Texan Ceremony, which baptizes participants in water from the spring on Sam Houston’s property.

“We have spring water from Sam Houston Spring, which we dot on their head,” said James Patton, archivist for the Walker County Historical Commission. “We give them a certificate, they get a gift bag and a t-shirt, and they’re a native Texan. People enjoy it. They come from near and far to participate. … It’s not a boring ceremony by any means. It’s always fun and people enjoy coming.”

RSVP for the Baptized Texan Ceremony is required by Feb. 20. Interested participants should visit www.huntsvilletexas.com.

In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the Sam Houston Natural Science & Art Research Center, located at 710 University Avenue

Immediately following the ceremony is a luncheon at 12:30 p.m. accompanied by “A Conversation with Sam Houston” at the W.S. Gibbs Conference Hall, Katy & E. Don Walker, Sr. Education Center, located at 1402 19th Street. The celebration will then conclude with a “Toast to Texas” accompanied by birthday cake.

For more information on reservations and payment, please visit www.huntsvilletexas.com or contact Kimm Thomas with the city of Huntsville Tourism Department via email at kthomas@huntsvilletx.gov or by calling 936-291-5932. For additional details on the March 2nd schedule of events visit: www.samhoustonmemorialmuseum.com or www.walkercountyhistory.org.