Great State: Houston Day in Oklahoma? Proclamation Gives Temple His Due

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- His descendants crowded into the Blue Room at the state capitol wondering, perhaps, at what might have been.

Richard Houston, his wife Mary, their kids and grand kids were there to celebrate the life of Temple Lea Houston, Richard's grandfather, with the reading of a proclamation on what would have been his 155th birthday.

"Any history of the United States that doesn't include Temple Houston is missing one of its greatest stories," says Laurie Steenbergen - Young, who is part of a committee in Woodward, Oklahoma charged with commemorating Houston.

For a man born in the shadow of a famous father, Sam Houston, Temple did as much as he could to create his own.

Temple graduated Baylor University at the age of 19, took the bar exam, and took off for the Territories.

He lawyered in the Texas panhandle and came to the Cherokee Outlet in the Run of 1893 with a reputation for speaking, shooting, and dressing.

Charlie Goin takes Woodward visitors on tours through the life of Temple Houston.

"He did just about everything he did, well," says Goin.

His office is preserved in pictures and behind glass at the Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum.

His old books are here, and one of his Colt revolvers too.

For a decade he was a larger than life character in frontier Woodward.

His barroom shootout with the Jennings brothers and his stirring defense of a local 'call girl' named Minnie Stacy remain legendary tales around northwest Oklahoma.

Goin states, "The defense of Minnie Stacy is a classic, and it was used by many of the law schools around the country as one of the best extemporaneous speeches ever heard."

The Houston family still has the bar room piano from that shootout complete with bullet holes.

"Does the piano still sound all right," asks a visitor to the Blue Room ceremony?

"Oh Yes," say Richard and Mary in unison.

Powerful people in Texas wanted Temple to run for political office, but he declined.

Supporters in Oklahoma were talking him up to be Oklahoma's first governor before a series of strokes ended his life at the age of 45.

A few feet away from the current Oklahoma governor's office, Temple Houston did get his day though.

A legendary lawyer, orator, and straight shooter got in his usual last word, this one by proclamation.

Temple Houston is the subject of a Glen Shirley biography titled, "Lawyer With a Gun".

He is the inspiration behind several other Wild West characters from TV and western fiction.

Woodward leaders plan to erect a statue in honor of Temple Houston in the Spring of 2016.

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