The Raven in Ravenswood

Jun 24, 2024 at 12:31 pm by RMGadmin

Sam Houston
The Raven in Ravenswood
By Charles Booth
In a cool March morning in 1821, a young Sam Houston – future Governor of Tennessee and Texas, and first president of the Republic of Texas – was dressed in a stylish dark suit to serve as best man in a wedding. Standing next to his friend, James Wilson, Houston was likely the focal point of all in attendance.
The journalist Marquis James described Houston in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Biography, The Raven, as standing “six feet six inches in his socks, was in fine contour, a remarkably well-proportioned man, and of commanding and gallant bearing.”
At age twenty-eight, Houston’s hair may still have been jet black. As a boy, he’d run away from home and lived for years with a Cherokee tribe. Noting his dark hair, Chief John Jolly nicknamed  him ‘Raven.’ The name stuck, and Sam ‘Raven’ Houston left that wedding in 1821 to become one of the most intriguing figures in U.S. history. His friend James Wilson took his new bride, Emeline, to live on several hundred acres he’d purchased in Williamson County. In 1825, construction began on a grand house combining Federal and Greek architecture. When the mansion was finished, the Wilson family moved into Ravenswood – named after James’s friend and best man.
Almost 200 years later, this home still stands at 1825 Wilson Pike. In 2010, the City of Brentwood purchased the historic mansion from the Smith Family, representing the largest single land purchase in the city’s history. Today, Ravenswood is used as an event space, hosting weddings, corporate gatherings, holiday parties and other celebratory events.
But many don’t realize it was named after the only person elected governor of two different states; the general who defeated Santa Anna in an eighteen-minute battle leading to Texas independence; and the man who served as the first president of the short-lived Republic of Texas.