On July 24, 1857, US Senator Sam Houston made a speech under this famous live oak tree in his bid to become Governor of Texas. While he was ultimately defeated by Hardin R. Runnels, the “show” Houston put on will be forever etched in Texas history.
Before the event began, a sizable crowd had gathered to welcome Houston to San Marcos. Refreshments were prepared and served to keep the crowd cool on what was an extremely hot day. Legend has it that someone in the welcoming party may have “spiked’ the refreshments, but that has never been substantiated. Regardless, there is no doubt about Houston’s speech and what happened shortly thereafter.
A group of young ladies has sewn a Texas flag and presented it to Houston just before he began addressing the crowd. At the end of what was described a boisterous speech, Houston waded into the crowd – shaking hands along the way, but making a obvious direct path to the group of young ladies who had presented him the Texas flag.
As a show of thanks, Houston planted an extended and passionate kiss on the lips of each of the young ladies who were happy to return the favor. Onlookers were surprised by this public display of affection, and appropriately named the live oak as THE KISSING TREE to commemorate the occasion.
Houston went on to win the gubernatorial election in 1859 and served as Governor of Texas for three years. One interesting fact is that Houston was the only Governor from the south to oppose secession prior to the Civil War, and he staunchly refused an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, and was therefore forced out as Governor in 1861.