The Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site in Bonham is preparing for Mr. Sam’s birthday. Sam Rayburn was born on Jan. 6, 1882 and the house will be celebrating his birthday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 890 State Highway 56 in Bonham.
The celebration will include a look back 100 years to when Rayburn and the Rayburn family built the home just before the United States entered World War II.
An interesting fact, Sam Rayburn House Curator Anne Ruppert said is that Rayburn was never a part of the war though while in Congress he did vote for the United States to enter the war.
“Sam Rayburn along with four of his brothers signed up for the draft during World War I — as was the law at the time,” Ruppert said. “None of them were actually drafted into military service.”
However, a relative of Rayburn’s, George Jackson Atkins, entered the war in 1917.
“Sam Rayburn’s step-nephew, George Jackson Atkins enlisted in the United States Army in November of 1917,” Ruppert said. “He was assigned to the Army Air Force and was a member of the 197th Aero Squadron, later renamed Squadron ‘D’ at Love Field in Dallas, Texas. During World War I, pilots received basic training at Love Field before being shipped to other locales for specialized training.”
Another interesting fact about Rayburn, Ruppert said, is that Sam Rayburn’s sister, Lucinda “Miss Lou” Rayburn, helped with the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars’s poppy sales.
“The poppy became a symbol of remembrance following World War I based on the poem ’In Flanders Field’ in which the first line reads, ‘In Flanders Field the poppies blow…’” Ruppert said.
Saturday’s celebration will focus on facts about Rayburn from around the time the Sam Rayburn House was built until Rayburn died in 1961 of pancreatic cancer.
Admission is free and the house is open to the public. The house celebration includes guided house tours, World War I sweet treats and Rayburn’s favorite brand of chili.
While guided tours during special events at the Rayburn house revolve around a central theme, Sam Rayburn Day tours during this year’s event will focus on the Rayburn family around the time of World War I.
At the site’s visitor center, there will be a display of military ephemera from the first Great War on loan from the Fannin County Museum of History. Also on display will be Rayburn’s Cadillac, Dodge truck and Chevy sedan, as well as Rayburn’s sister’s turquoise blue 1955 Plymouth.
The Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site tells the real story of Sam Rayburn in his authentic 1916 home. Preserved as a period time capsule, the two-story home contains all original Rayburn furnishings. The Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site is one of 22 historic attractions operated by the Texas Historical Commission. For more information visit www.visitsamrayburnhouse.com.