Filed Under Huntsville

Sam Houston Memorial Museum Grounds

On any given day, one may have to stop for the rare chicken who has wandered its way onto the road from the Sam Houston Memorial Museum. The grounds that the chickens call home rest on fifteen acres of the original 200 acre farm owned by General Sam Houston and his family between 1847 and 1858. Here, one can feed the ducks in Lake Oolooteka, an artificial pond honoring the adoptive Cherokee Indian father of Sam Houston, or meander over the footbridge to the Woodland Home, where one can walk up the same steps that Sam Houston took more than a century ago. Nearby, one can walk to the single room log cabin that served as Houston’s study and law office. And, a short distance away, one will find the Steamboat House, the location of Houston’s death and funeral.

Additionally on the grounds, one can find two period piece double-pen log cabins named Bear Bend and Guerrant Cabin. Only one, Bear Bend, has a direct relation to Sam Houston. The cabin served as the family’s hunting lodge during the 1850s. In 1974, preservationists B. Carroll and Mae Tharp bought the cabin and relocated it from its original site, an area now located under Lake Conroe. The task was not easy, as Carroll and Tharp dismantled and numbered each piece individually in order to rebuild it exactly as it was – a task the pair completed in 1987. The Tharps maintained this and five other historic properties on their land until they donated the entire lot to Sam Houston State University. Unfortunately, due to the remote location of the cabins, upkeep proved costly and the decision was made to once again relocate the buildings. In October 2010, Bear Bend Cabin was uprooted and relocated to the memorial grounds were it was restored and rededicated the following March. The other four buildings owned by the Tharps were relocated to Montgomery’s Fernland Historical Grounds. Across from Bear Bend, the Guerrant Cabin dates from the 1840s and was built by Daniel Boone Guerrant, an early settler of Walker County. Like Bear Bend, Guerrant Cabin was moved to the museum in the twenty-first century to be used for demonstrations.

Sitting just north of the Steamboat House, the Wigwam Neosho Museum Store, offers visitors a chance to shop, watch an introductory video, and pay admission into the museum. It is strongly recommended that one visits the exhibits inside the Memorial Museum. Each year the museum develops new programs, activities, and exhibits on the history of Sam Houston, the Texas Republic, and the fight for Texas Independence. Admission to walk and tour the grounds is free year round. However, if you are interested in looking into the buildings, receiving a tour, or going into the store or museum, then you will have to do it during business hours between 9A.M – 4:30 P.M Monday-Saturday, excluding holidays, and 12 P.M – 4:30 P.M on Sundays also excluding holidays. Demonstration times and dates can be found on the museum website.


Lake Oolooteka at Sam Houston Memorial Museum Source: Sam Houston State University History Department
Lake Oolooteka at Sam Houston's Woodland Home ca. 1927 The idea to name the pond at Sam Houston Memorial Park, Oolooteka, in honor of Sam Houston's Cherokee adoptive father, and to design it in the shape of Texas, was the idea of Martinus Stougaard, the landscape architect who worked at the park from 1928 until the early 1960s. Stougaard is responsible for the original landscape design of the park, much of which can still be seen today. Source: Walker County Treasures
Lake Oolooteka at Sam Houston's Woodland Home ca. 1927 Source: Walker County Treasures
Virtual map of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum grounds Source: Sam Houston Memorial Museum



Briana Weaver, “Sam Houston Memorial Museum Grounds,” East Texas History, accessed November 30, 2023,