Lee Jamison

The Frontier Law Office - Lee  Jamison

The Frontier Law Office, 2016

Painting oil on canvas  
16 x 20 in

Location: Museum grounds of Sam Houston Memorial Museum, Huntsville

Sam Houston’s connection to East Texas is obvious. But the story of this humble seeming law office rippled well beyond the local community. Joshua Houston, a slave who came into Houston’s household through his marriage to Margaret Lea in 1841, was a remarkably intelligent and practical man. During Houston’s long absences from Huntsville due to service in public office Joshua would be charged with the upkeep of the law office. Houston’s extensive library of the classics, of law books, histories, and the like was kept in this office. Joshua made good use of them.

Prospering from his skills both as a stage coach driver and as a blacksmith, in the period after the Civil War Joshua Houston would be found on the board of trustees of no fewer than four of the churches formed by newly freed blacks in Huntsville. He was also a major force in local black education. He was elected to the Texas legislature many times, and was so fully respected by leading whites that he was last elected to the legislature in 1888, more than a decade after the close of Reconstruction. Houston’s son, Samuel Walker Houston, would go on to establish an industrial training school for blacks in East Texas and then close out his career as the superintendent of Huntsville’s pre-integration black schools. A strong suspicion exists in historical circles that Joshua is also a source of much of the history written by historians, such as Anna Pennybacker, with connections to Huntsville and Sam Houston State.

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