Temple Lea Houston
|Temple Lea Houston|
|Texas State Senator from District 19 (based in Mobeetie in Wheeler County)|
|Preceded by||Avery Matlock|
|Succeeded by||John Hall Stephens|
August 12, 1860|
Austin, Travis County
|Died||August 15, 1905
|Resting place||Elmwood Cemetery in Woodward, Oklahoma|
|Spouse(s)||Laura Cross Houston|
|Alma mater||Baylor University|
Temple Lea Houston (August 12, 1860 – August 15, 1905) was an attorney and politician, a state senator (1885–1889) in Texas. He was the last-born child of Margaret Lea Houston and Sam Houston, the first president of the Republic of Texas, and later U.S. senator and governor of Texas. In 1881 Temple Lea Houston was the youngest practicing attorney in Texas when he opened his law practice.
In 1894 Houston moved his family to the cattle town of Woodward in the Oklahoma Territory. He was legal counsel of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway; its Woodward depot became one of the most important points in the Territory for cattle shipping to the East. Houston became widely known and popular for his courtroom dramatics. He was charged with murder in the shooting of a brother of the outlaw Al Jennings, after an argument in the Cabinet Saloon, and was acquitted.
Temple Lea Houston was the only one of the Houstons' eight children to be born in the Texas governor's residence. By the time he was seven, both his parents had died, and he lived with an older sister and her family in Georgetown, Texas. At age 13, he joined a cattle drive and later worked on a riverboat on the Mississippi River.
Aided by a friend of his father's, he gained an appointment as a page in the US Senate and worked in Washington, DC for three years. With a new interest in law, he returned to Texas in 1877 to attend the Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Texas A&M). He transferred to Baylor University, where he graduated in 1880 with honors in law and philosophy. He "read the law" with an established firm and was admitted to the bar.
When he opened his practice in Brazoria in 1881 at the age of 21, he became the youngest practicing attorney in Texas. That year he was appointed as the Brazoria County attorney. In 1882, Houston was appointed as the district attorney of the 35th Judicial District of Texas, which then covered a large part of the Texas Panhandle, based in Mobeetie in Wheeler County.
Marriage and family 
Established in his career, on February 14, 1883, Houston married Laura Cross, the daughter of a planter. They lived near Fort Elliott, which protected the border against American Indians, as well as the important cattle drives. The couple had seven children, only four of whom lived past infancy.
Houston was elected by the legislature to serve in the Texas State Senate from District 19 from 1885 to 1889. He concentrated his law practice on the Santa Fe railroad (the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway). He spoke French and Spanish, as well as seven Indian languages. In 1888, he gave the dedication address for the opening of the current Texas Capitol.
In 1894, Houston moved his family to Woodward, a developing cattle town, where he was legal counsel for the Santa Fe Railroad in the western Oklahoma Territory. The area had been opened up for settlement in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1893. It was one of the most important shipping points in the territory for cattle. Houston worked on issues related to the railroad's development of its rights-of-way, Territorial political organization in relation to the Indian Territory, and later statehood. It was a rough frontier town, and Houston wore a gun like most men.
After a personal disagreement in the Cabinet Saloon with the brother and father of the outlaw Al Jennings, Houston shot and killed the brother. Houston's close friend Jack E. Love joined him in the gun-fight. The events did not slow their careers. Houston was tried for murder in Woodward but was acquitted on grounds of self-defense. Love was later elected to the office of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and served as its first chairman.
Houston won a reputation as a brilliant trial lawyer known for his courtroom dramatics. In 1899 he delivered his "Soiled Dove Plea" in a makeshift courtroom in Woodward's opera house. The argument on behalf of Minnie Stacey, a prostitute who worked at the Dew Drop Inn, became famous for winning her acquittal after ten minutes' consideration by the jury.
Temple Lea Houston died on August 15, 1905. His wife Laura Cross Houston died April 17, 1938. They are buried together at Elmwood Cemetery in Woodward, Oklahoma.
Representation in other media 
- Edna Ferber modeled her main character of Yancey Cravat on Houston in her novel Cimarron (1929). (The novel was adapted as film versions under the same name, produced in 1931 and 1960.)
- In the 1960 film Oklahoma Territory, Houston was played by Bill Williams. Gloria Talbott was cast as Ruth Red Hawk, Ted de Corsia as Chief Buffalo Horn, X Brands as Running Cloud, and Walter Sande as Marshal Pete Rosslyn. The film was written by Orville H. Hampton and directed by Edward L. Cahn.
- A 1963-1964 NBC television series entitled Temple Houston was co-produced by the actor Jeffrey Hunter, who also played the part of Houston.
- Anderson, H. Allen. "Temple Lea Houston". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
- Texas Capitol Building Dedication, Texas Bob website
- "Temple Houston: The Story Behind a Forgotten Television Western", Wildest Westerns website
Further reading 
- Grace Hunter Adams, Jack Love: Eighty Niner, Traditional, 1988.
- James D. Hamlin, The Flamboyant Judge: As Told to J. Evetts Haley and William Curry Holden' (Canyon, Texas: Palo Duro, 1972).
- Sallie B. Harris, Cowmen and Ladies: A History of Hemphill County (Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1977).
- Louise B. James, Below Devil's Gap: The Story of Woodward County, Perkins, Okla.: Evans Publications, 1984
- Glenn Shirley, Temple Houston: Lawyer with a Gun (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980).
- Bernice Tune, Golden Heritage and Silver Tongue of Temple Lea Houston (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1981).
- Houston Family Papers, 1836-1969 and undated, in the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University
- Beth Ann Doughty, "Houston, Temple", Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture
- Find-a-Grave, Temple Lea Houston and Laura Cross Houston
|Texas State Senator from District 19 (then 26 unorganized counties in the Panhandle based in Mobeetie)
Temple Lea Houston
John Hall Stephens