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Texas | Columns | All Things Historical

Speak for Yourself, Robert


by Archie P. McDonald
Archie McDonald Ph.D.

Likely in high school, or perhaps in college, everyone learns that Miles Standish, company man and soldier in Plymouth Colony, asked John Alden to present his suit for the favor of the fair Pricilla, who ended up with Alden, not Standish. Well, Texas had just such a case. Here is what happened:

Sam Houston was a man of many loves. First there was a Tennessee wife, who left Houston and returned to her father (and younger boyfriend) after a few months of marriage. That sent a drunken Houston to western Arkansas, really Oklahoma, and an Indian wife. Later in life he married Margaret Lea of Alabama, but in between, there was Anna Raguet of Nacogdoches.

Anna Raguet was half Houston's age when he courted her in the 1830s, including the months he was away leading the Texas Revolutionary army and serving as president of the Republic. Houston often sent love letters to Anna via another resident of Nacogdoches, Dr. Robert Anderson Irion, his secretary of state. And you guessed it: Anna eventually married Irion, and not Houston, in 1840.


Irion was born in Paris, Tennessee, in 1804, and educated at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. He began a medical practice in Vicksburg in 1826, but moved west in 1832 when his first wife, Ann A. Vick, passed away.

Like many another "Gone To Texas" immigrant wanting to start life anew, Irion lived first in San Augustine, then transferred to Nacogdoches. He practiced medicine again, but like nearly everyone else in Texas then, Irion received several land grants from the Mexican government and also worked as a land surveyor.

When the Texas Revolution began, Irion became a member of the Committee of Safety and Vigilance Committee in Nacogdoches and later served as commander of forces there. Irion was elected to the first Texas congress, and his friend and president of the Republic, Houston, appointed him secretary of state for the Republic of Texas. When Mirabeau B. Lamar succeeded Houston as president of the Republic, Irion returned to Nacogdoches and the practice of law. He died on March 2, 1861, and was interred in Oak Grove Cemetery in Nacogdoches.

Houston moved on to other loves, but Irion stayed married to Anna. Their union produced five children, and Texas' own version of the Familiar Triangle.

Archie P. McDonald
All Things Historical April 23, 2007 column
A syndicated column in over 70 East Texas newspapers
(Distributed by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie P. McDonald is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books on Texas)


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