Sam Houston, that mean-looking dude with the funky bow tie, remains a revered soul where I live.
He served as president of the Republic of Texas and later, U.S. senator and governor.
Before holding those positions in Texas, Houston served as governor of Tennessee. The only American to be elected governor of two U.S. states.
Who cares? you ask.
Houston popped up, in all places, near Nashville, my most recent road trip.
As in big league, prized racehorses.
Belle Meade plantation sits eight miles west of Nashville. Besides raising thoroughbreds, the plantation housed Sam Houston’s horses when the Tennessee governor quit his job and headed west to Texas.
DH and I knew none of this history when we strolled down the lane toward the Big House. We admired the gentle hills and landscape of the perfectly named Belle Meade, meaning beautiful meadow.
Docents confirmed that Belle Meade served as a working stud farm. The only crops grown fattened the horses and fed the family.
The plantation became world famous for its thoroughbred stable. Its horses won races across Europe then sired horses who did the same.
Secretariat, Sea Biscuit, and Barbarro all emerged from what’s called “the foundational line” at Belle Meade. In addition, every Kentucky Derby horse since 2003 is directly related to Belle Meade studs.
I’m not a horse girl but all these factoids fascinate: a southern plantation raising horses, not cotton; boarding a stable-full of animals owned by my home state’s founding hero, and still producing champion racehorses more than a century later.
The experience reminds me: no telling what the road will deliver.
Final note, racehorses made the Belle Meade owners wealthy and famous. Three U.S. presidents stayed at the Big House.
But it’s not so little, is it?
It’s big enough for big girls, too.