Article/Interview with Jeff Hamilton, Slave Owned by Sam Houston
Jeff Hamilton, ex-slave, said:
"I was born in the state of Kentucky, in 1840. I came to Texas when I was three years of age. My mother, Kitty McKem , and three sisters came with me. We came with a man by the name of McKem . We located in Fort Bend County, only stayed there a short time and moved to Moscow, Texas. We moved from Moscow, Texas, to Greenville, Texas, where we made one crop. The next year we moved to Old Sumster, county seat of Trinity County. Mr. McKem, my master. was not good to me nor to his own familly. He would get drunk and run the entire family away from home, at times. Times were not good in Trinity County at that time, so he decided to sell me to get some needed cash.
I was sold to General Sam Houston , in Trinity County, in 1852, for $450.00. I hated to leave my mother and sisters. The separation from them caused me to weep. General Sam Houston went in a store and bought me a new straw hat with a feather on the side, which I was very proud of. General Sam Houston was a member of Congress at that time. He served two years in Congress after he bought me. He ran again and was elected. I served him during the time he was Governor. We moved from Austin when General Sam Houston served out his term as Governor, to Chambers County on the Galveston Bay. We made one crop there and sold it to the landlord before it was harvested. We then moved back to Huntsville, where he lived on the farm until he died. My work was to 'tend to General Sam Houston and herd sheep.
The General was very kind to me. He allowed me to live in the house with him and kept the fires burning all night. I wore good common clothes. General Sam Houston never allowed his slaves to work in bad weather. I have lived by his advice, he would say to me "My boy you can not be the most truthful man in the world nor can you be the most honest, but you can be as good as any man. Respect old age." I think General Sam Houston was one of the greatest men that ever lived. I had the pleasure and honor of attending the dedication ceremonies of a State Marker on the former home-site of General Sam Houston , located on Tri-Cities Beach, Chambers County, August 8th, 1937. I was with Colonel Andrew Jackson , the last living son of General Sam Houston , on this program. It was a great affair. "
------- Jeff Hamilton, 1937. He was 97 years old when this interview was conducted and would talk to anybody about his life. The interviewer wrote, "Jeff Hamilton lives with his son-in-law, Charles H. Graves , just south of Baylor College, in northwest Belton, and he can be seen there almost any time."
Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.