Chapter 2: Eros and Dominion: Indians, Tejanos, and Anglos
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Name /T1405/T1405_CH02 12/06/00 06:07AM Plate # 0-Composite pg 22 # 1 Had Sam Houston known that one day he would lead the Texas War of Independence, he might well have thought more carefully before reexploring his Indian roots as intimately as he did. After learning within days of his marriage to Eliza Allen that she loved another, the humiliated governor of Tennessee resigned his office and headed for the southwestern frontier. Following a packet trip down the Red River in the late spring of 1829, the thirtysix -year-old Houston traveled overland and reunited with the Cherokee at Tahlontuskee in Indian Territory. He wasted little time in ministering to his wounded pride. At the annual Green Corn Dance in July, Houston rekindled a relationship with Tiana Rogers, a sweetheart from his early life among the Indians in East Tennessee and North Carolina. Thirty years old and a widow, Tiana was the tall and beautiful mixed-race daughter of Captain John ‘‘Hell-Fire Jack’’ Rogers, one Name /T1405/T1405_CH02 12/06/00 06:07AM Plate # 0-Composite pg 23 # 2 of the most prominent white men in the Cherokee Nation. Viewing his marriage to Eliza as no hindrance, Houston began livingwith Tianaand thus married her according to Cherokee custom. The two established their wigwam on the Neosho River, just a few miles north of Cantonment Gibson. The setting, however, hardly would have been conducive to domestic tranquility with a respectable white wife. As the westernmost military outpost on the United States frontier, Fort Gibson was a wild place, known as the hellhole of the Southwest, where gamblers,adventurers ,soldiers,Indians,andtradesmenintermingledfreely.1 During his time with Tiana, Houston lived a dissipated and reckless existence, while pursuing various opportunities to advance himself . Now a full-fledged member of the Cherokee tribe, Col-lon-neh (the Raven) established himself at Fort Gibson in the merchant trade, speculated in land, and served as a liaison between the Indians and the Jackson administration. Houston was constantly in motion, making numerous trips back east and to Texas. He traveled to Tennessee four times and, at least on two occasions, visited Eliza, who had experienced a change of heart and wanted to reunite with her runaway husband. During his lengthy absences from Tiana, Houston maintained relations with at least two other Indian wives in and around the territory. All the while, Tiana devotedly maintained their home, the Wigwam Neosho, ministered to the personal needs of her husband, and kept his store. When not traveling, Houston played cards and drank with the soldiers and gamblers at the fort. So frequently was Col-lon-neh intoxicated in the streets of Gibson, the Indians renamed him Oo-tsetee Ar-dee-tah-skee (Big Drunk).2 After several years, the Raven became restless and desired to rejoin white society. With growing interest in the Anglo-American independence movement brewing south of the Red River, he decided to leave the wigwam and his Cherokee wife. In November or December of 1832, he said good-bye to Tiana and headed for Nacogdoches. As he set up his Texas law practice, the forty-year-old Houston began courting seventeen-year-old Anna Raguet, a slender, blue-eyed blonde and a member of one of the most prominent Nacogdoches families. He pursued Anna devotedly through the Battle of San Jacinto, but after the new president of the republic scandalized the young woman with a controversial divorce from Eliza that smacked of secrecy, fraud, and political influence, her feelings toward him cooled. Sometime in 1838 Houston once again turned to female Indian companionship, marryeros and dominion   23 Name /T1405/T1405_CH02 12/06/00 06:07AM Plate # 0-Composite pg 24 # 3 ing the daughter of Duwali, or Chief Bowles, leader of the East Texas Cherokee. The marriage didn’t last long, and Houston certainly did not bother to obtain a legal divorce. During an 1839 trip to Alabama in search of financial capital for his Texas enterprises, he met Margaret Moffat Lea of Mobile, the charming widow of a Baptist minister. Sam proposed within a month and legally married the poised, violet-eyed brunette on 9 May 1840. In the view of close friends and acquaintances, the Raven’s regeneration was complete.3 While he ultimately returned to his own people and married a white woman, the Texas public and Houston’s own family hardly approved of his relationships with Native American women. His open and notorious relationship with Tiana had...


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Subject Headings

  • Domestic relations -- Texas -- History -- 19th century.
  • Texas -- Race relations.
  • Frontier and pioneer life -- Texas -- History -- 19th century.
  • Sex role -- Texas -- History -- 19th century.
  • Texas -- Social life and customs.
  • Families -- Texas -- History -- 19th century.
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