Margaret Lea Moffette Houston

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Margaret Moffette Houston (Lea)

Also Known As: "Margaret Lea Moffette Houston"
Birthplace: Marion, Perry, AL, United States
Death: Died in Indepence, Texas, United States
Cause of death: Yellow fever
Place of Burial: Indepence, Texas, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Temple Lea and Nancy Lea
Wife of Private User and Sam Houston, President of Texas
Mother of Samuel William Houston, Jr.; Nancy Elizabeth Houston; Margaret Lea Williams; Mary William Morrow; Antoinette Power Bringhurst and 4 others
Sister of Adaline Lea; Wallace Lea; Varilla Lea; Henry Clinton Lea; Emily Antoinette Bledsoe and 3 others

Managed by: Theresa Marie Houston
Last Updated:

About Margaret Lea Moffette Houston

Margaret Moffette Lea (April 11, 1819 – December 3, 1867) was the daughter of Alabama planters Temple Lea and Nancy Moffette. In 1840 she became the third wife of the politician Sam Houston, then representative to the Texas legislature and between terms as the President of the Republic of Texas. They were married until his death in 1863.

They had eight children together: one son became a physician and author; two sons became politicians (one a U.S. senator); and one an Indian agent with the Indian Service of the Department of Interior. Margaret's influence was credited with Houston's personal reforms in middle age, especially his stopping heavy drinking, which helped him survive and take on increased political responsibilities.

Early life

Margaret was born in Marion, Alabama, one of six children. Her father Temple Lea was an attorney and planter; he and his wife Nancy Moffette were influential, owning a large plantation and numerous slaves. Temple died when Margaret was 15 but had provided for his daughters' education; Margaret studied at the Judson Female Institute. She lived with her widowed mother until she married. She was described as a beauty, "accomplished, well-connected and deeply religious."


Marriage and family

On May 9, 1840 at age 21 Margaret married the 47-year-old Houston. She met him at a party near Mobile given by her brother, Martin Lea, a business acquaintance of Houston's. The marriage was her first and Houston's third (counting his marriage under Cherokee law to the part-Cherokee widow, Diana Rodgers Gentry). It was at first opposed by her family, who disapproved of his age, divorce, drinking, and reputation as a rake.

Because of Margaret's youth and religious nature, many of Sam Houston's friends thought that the marriage would not last for six months, but it was quite successful. Margaret was said to act as a tempering influence on Houston, who reformed his behavior in middle age. She encouraged him to stop his heavy drinking, a problem in earlier years, and to attend the Baptist Church. He was baptized near Independence in 1854 at age 61. Their marriage lasted for the rest of their lives

Two of their sons were politicians; Sam, Jr. was a soldier, physician and author; and William a special agent with the Indian Service of the Department of Interior. Their children were the following:

Sam Houston, Jr., 1843–1894
Nancy Elizabeth, 1846–1920 (named after the grandmothers)
Margaret Lea, 1848–1906
Mary William, 1850–1931
Antoinette Power, 1852–1932 (named after her sister)
Andrew Jackson Houston, 1854-1941 (U.S. Senator from Texas)
William Rogers, 1858–1891
Temple Lea, 1860–1905 (named after her father) (state senator of the Texas Legislature, 1885–1888)

Margaret's mother Nancy Lea moved to Texas in 1842, eventually buying a house in Independence, and the rest of her children and their families settled in the area. They lived near the sugar cane plantation of Antoinette and her husband William Bledsoe, north of Liberty.

The Houstons lived in several houses during their years together, but also kept one on Trinity Bay for their entire marriage.

When Sam Houston died in July 1863, his last word's were "Texas, Texas, Margaret!"

Having survived her husband by four years, Margaret Houston died on December 3, 1867 of yellow fever at her house in Independence, Texas. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Washington County, Texas as the Mrs. Sam Houston House.. As was the practice for yellow fever victims, she was buried that day, in the Houston-Lea Cemetery.

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Margaret Lea Moffette Houston's Timeline

April 11, 1819
Marion, Perry, AL, United States
Age 23
Huntsville, Walker, Texas
September 6, 1846
Age 27
Ravenhill, Walker, Texas
Age 28
Huntsville, Walker, Texas
Age 30
Age 30
Huntsville, Walker, Texas
Age 32
Huntsville Walker County Texas
June 21, 1854
Age 35
Independence, TX, USA
Age 38