re History of Iempstead and the
formatio of Waler Cout , rexas
FRANK MacD. SPINDLER
I. THE LOCATION OF HEMPSTEAD
HEMPSTEAD was founded in 1856, approximately seventeen
years before the organization of Waller County, Texas.
Situated in that portion of Austin County which lay east
of the Brazos River, this territory was a part of the original grant
of land made by the Republic of Mexico to Stephen F. Austin.
By the time that Texas entered the Union in 1845, Austin County
east of the Brazos River had become a highly profitable planta-
tion area. Over one thousand slaves were employed then on the
plantations, farms, and forests which belonged to about two hun-
dred individuals. Because much of this area of Austin County
east of the Brazos River had been granted to Jared Groce, a
pioneer colonist, this territory was often called "Groce's country."
Until 1856, Rock Island was the only village in this region.
Situated three miles northwest of Groce's plantation, "Liendo,"
the village consisted of a general store, the post office, a blacksmith
shop, a cotton gin, an inn, and a few cottages. By 1857, about the
end of June, the post office was closed. All mail was sent there-
after to Hempstead, a new town whose founding caused the death
of Rock Island.'
On April 18, 1855, Amelia Matilda Murray, the daughter of
a bishop of Saint David's (Wales) and a maid of honor to Queen
Victoria, made a trip from Houston to Washington-on-the-Brazos.
She described the present site of Hempstead in these words:
After leaving the prairies we came to a very pretty district, re-
sembling English park scenery; fine scattered trees and woods with
the brightest and most luxuriant verdure I have seen in America. At
'Vernon Loggins, Two Romantics and Their Ideal Life: Elisabet Ney, Sculptor,
Edmund Montgomery, Philosopher (New York, 1946), 204-205. Weekly Commercial
Telegraph and Business Register (Houston), July 2, 1857, p. 3, carries notice of the
closing of Rock Island post office.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/. Accessed August 3, 2015.