For Sam Rayburn’s 136th birthday, the Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site in Bonham celebrated with a few of his favorite items. Wolfe Brand Chili and coconut cake were the main elements of the site’s birthday party for Rayburn Saturday.
The house also gave free tours to site patrons on Saturday.
“Not as many people show up for Mr. Sam’s birthday as show up for our bigger events like Farming Heritage Day and the holiday open house we have,” Site Curator Anne Ruppert said. “But, we are so glad to have as many people here as we have had today. We are having better weather than we had last year.”
Sam Rayburn was born in Roane County, Tennessee but built his Bonham home in 1916. Ruppert said she loves telling people about the house and doing tours because different groups notice different items.
“I was doing a tour not too long ago and I had four different groups point out the dining room chest downstairs,” she said. “They thought it was a radio, but we know that Mr. Sam enjoyed his Bourbon and branch water.”
Ruppert said it is important the site continue to have special days where Mr. Sam’s life is celebrated because it shows how recent it was that Rayburn lived in the home.
“I came here for the first time a long time ago with my children,” Cheryl Reynolds said. “I thought I would come through today because it is his birthday. Learning about Sam Rayburn makes me proud of this area. I love that this house is so well maintained. A lot of children today do not have an appreciation for history yet, but I remember when Sam Rayburn was the speaker of the house so this really reminds me of my childhood.”
Ruppert pointed out that a lot of people do not realize that the Sam Rayburn House is completely furnished with the original pieces from the home and not just antiques.
“Children are often amazed at this record player,” she said. “But, they do not know what records are so I have to go back and explain that. We also talk about Mr. Sam’s books and how he had his bedroom lengthened so that he could fit his book shelves in here. I recently realized that children today do not understand what encyclopedias are either.”
Another visitor, who asked that her full name not be printed, said that even though she has lived in Bonham since 1999, she had never been to the site before. While she enjoyed the tour, she most liked hearing facts about life in the house 100 years ago.
“They had two pounds of sugar for the whole family to use per month,” she said. “We use a lot more than that nowadays. A lot of items in the house are items that we still used today so we are really not that far removed.”