This clip, originally aired as part of the January 7, 1957 episode of "Texas in Review," features the Seward home, a 24-room plantation mansion and grounds located outside of Independence, Texas. The tour of the property highlights the craftsmanship and interesting points of the house and outbuildings. At the time of filming, the plantation had been continuously inhabited by descendants of the builder, one of whom makes an appearance and presents his favorite room.
"Texas in Review" was a television series sponsored by the Humble Oil & Refining Company. Originally produced in a news-like format by Fort Worth's Channel 5, the series was later given to the Jamieson Film Company, who developed its newsreel and TV-magazine style. For five years, Jamieson produced the program in its entirety (writing, filming, editing), until recession-induced budget cuts caused Humble Oil to cancel it in 1958. While on air in Dallas, it enjoyed the prime time spot between the popular "Burns & Allen" and "I Love Lucy."
Independence, Texas is a town located northeast of Brenham that was founded in 1835 by J.G.W. Pierson, Robert Stevenson, Colbert Baker, and Amasa F. Burchard on land granted by the Mexican government. The town prospered economically as the first site of Baylor University, which opened in 1846. Initially, the university accepted both men and women but split into separate colleges in 1851. Sam Houston lived there while serving as a Senator and was a member of the Independence Baptist Church, where he was baptized.
The town went into decline during the construction of the Santa Fe Railroad. Both city and Baylor administrators refused to grant the railroad right-of-way, and, as a result, trade focused in on neighboring towns. The lack of transportation in the town also made it difficult for Baylor students, so in 1885, Baylor Female College moved to Belton and became the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor, while Baylor University moved to Waco. The population decreased steadily over the next century. In 1966, only 200 people lived in Independence, and in 1990, the population was only 140.
Only this small population lives in Independence today, though the town remains a historical center due to Old Baylor Park, the Baptist church, and two historic cemeteries. The Old Independence Cemetery serves as the resting place of Sam Houston, Jr., Moses Austin Bryan, and T.T. Clay. Margaret M.L. Houston, and her mother are buried in the Houston-Lea Family Cemetery. A number of historic homes have also survived, including the Margaret Houston House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.