Name: Margaret Moffette Lea 1 2 3
Reference Number: 15500
Burial: Houston-Lee Cemetery
Birth: 11 APR 1819 in Marion, Perry County, Alabama 2 3
Death: 03 DEC 1867 in Independence, Texas 3
Margaret Moffette Lea (1819-1867)
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Margaret Lea was born in Alabama and married Sam Houston in Texas, 1840. She was his third and last wife, and together they had eight children. They were married in the house shown above (near Marion, Alabama).
Source: Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Wife of Sam Houston, she was born near Marion, Alabama, on the family plantation April 11, 1819, the daughter of Temple and Nancy (Moffette) Lea. After Temple Lea died in 1834, her family moved to Marion were she attended Pleasant Valley Academy and then Judson Female Institute, which had just opened in 1838. While she was still a student at Judson she was introduced to Gen. Sam Houston at a party held by her sister in Mobile, Alabama. After a year-long courtship and strenuous objections from her family, they were married on May 9, 1840 at her brother's home in Marion. The Houston's moved to Texas and soon after the wedding, members of her family moved to Texas in order to be closer to Margaret and keep an eye on the marriage.
The Houstons had numerous homes in Texas over the years, but only kept their homestead at Cedar Point, on Trinity Bay continuously. In the Huntsville, Walker county area they at lived three places, the Raven Hill Plantation, located outside of Oakhurst, fourteen miles northeast of Huntsville, which Sam Houston purchased in 1844, the Woodland Homestead, on the grounds of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum,where they lived on and off between 1846-1858 and the Steamboat House, where Sam Houston died in 1863, which was originally located in what became the Addickes Addition of the Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville.
Margaret and Sam Houston had eight children; Sam Houston, Jr, born at Washington-on-the Brazos in 1843, Nancy Elizabeth, born in 1846 at Raven Hill, Margaret Lea, born in 1848 in Huntsville, Mary William, born in 1850 in Huntsville, Antoinette Power, born in1852 in Huntsville, Andrew Jackson, born in 1854 in Independence, William Rogers, born in 1858 in Huntsville and Temple Lea, born in 1860 in Austin.
Margaret Lea Houston was a well educated and intelligent woman as is apparent in the volumes of letters and poems she wrote to Sam when he was away frequently on political business. Staying at home, she created a domestic circle on which he looked increasingly as a haven. Her letters to him reinforced the shrine of home. The letters of husband and wife tell not only of a love of family but a deep love for one another.
Her private life was made up of writing poems and love letters to her husband when he was away, playing the harp and piano, raising her eight children and managing her large household. Mrs. Houston, who loved gardening, maintained vegetable and flower gardens at all of her houses. A devout Baptist, it is through her efforts that Houston joined the Baptist church, and quit drinking at the height of his political career.
After Sam Houston's death in July 1863, Margaret was in serious financial straits. She moved to Independence to be once again near her mother, who had emerged from the war with some money. Mrs. Houston rented a house and labored to hold her family together. Her condition eventually eased when the state legislature voted to pay her the unpaid balance of Houston's salary as governor. In the fall of 1867, while preparing to move with her youngest children to Georgetown to live with her married daughter Nannie, she contracted yellow fever. She died at Independence on December 3, 1867, where because of health laws she was buried at once, next to the tomb that Nancy Lea had built to contain them both.
Source: The Handbook of Texas Online.
Third wife of Sam Houston. Died of yellow fever. Source: The Sam Houston Memorial Museum.
Roberts, Madge Thornall. Star of Destiny: The Private Life of Sam and Margaret Houston. Denton, Texas: University of North Texas Press, 1993.
Margaret [Moffette Lea] carried the name of one of the most distinguished families of the South. Her father was Temple Lea, a zealous Baptist clerk and lay minister of the church. He mother, Nancy Moffette, was descended from a family of Huguenots who fled from persecution in France and settled in South Carolina. Ancestors on both sides had fought in the American Revolution. Temple and Nancy married in South Carolina in 1797 and moved to Alabama. They settled in Perry County about twelve miles from the town of Marion. Here, near the Cahaba River, they managed a successful plantation and bore six children: Martin, Varilla, Henry, Vernal, Margaret, and Emily Antoinette.
The fifth child, Margaret Moffette Lea, was born on April 11, 1819, and was named for her mother's younger sister who had married Green lea, the brother of Margaret's father. There was a twelve-year difference in age between Henry and Vernal, and the three older Leas had children who were almost as old as Margaret. Despite the age span there was much warmth between brothers and sisters. The parents saw to it that all the children received strict religious training. At an early age Margaret joined the Siloam Baptist Church in Marion and was baptized by the Reverend Peter Crawford.
From her mother Margaret received full instructions in the social graces necessary for a young lady of her time. From her father she received her first training in education and the religious structure that would influence her life as well as the life of her future husband. This close relationship with her father ended before Margaret's fifteenth birthday, when Temple died on January 28, 1834.
Source: Star of Destiny: The Private Life of Sam and Margaret Houston, Madge Thornall Roberts (1993) at 8.
Father: Temple Lea b: 09 NOV 1773 in Hancock County, Georgia
Mother: Nancy Moffette b: 1777
Samuel Houston b: 02 MAR 1793 in Rockbridge County, Virginia
09 MAY 1840
in Marion, Alabama 2 3
- Note: Samuel Houston and Margaret Moffette Lea were married at the home of her brother Henry Clinton Lea in Marion, Alabama (9 May 1840). Source: Star of Destiny: The Private Life of Sam and Margaret Houston, Madge Thornall Roberts (1993) at 34. The house was still standing in 1839. Whether he exists today is not known.
- Sam Houston Jr. b: 25 MAY 1843 in Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas
- Nancy Elizabeth Houston b: 06 SEP 1846 in Raven Hill Plantation, Texas
- Margaret Lea Houston b: 13 APR 1848 in Huntsville, Texas
- Mary William Houston b: 09 APR 1850 in Huntsville, Texas
- Antoinette Power Houston b: 20 JAN 1852 in Huntsville, Texas
- Andrew Jackson Houston b: 21 JUN 1854 in Independence, Texas
- William Rogers Houston b: 25 MAY 1858 in Huntsville, Texas
- Temple Lea Houston b: 12 AUG 1860 in Austin, Texas
- Details: Report of Research on the Lea Family in Virginia & North Carolina Before 1800, Ben L. Rose (1984) at 139
- Details: Caswell County Historical Association Newsletter, Sallie P. Anderson, Editor (June 2005) at 5.
- Details: The Sam Houston Memorial Museum.