Zhe City of Austi oN the
ee of the ivil War
LARRY JAY GAGE
A uTIN in 186o was a small Texas town extending over a few
dozen acres on the north side of the Colorado River. The
town had been founded as the capital of the Republic of
Texas in 1839. In 1860, the population, including slaves, was
3,494. There were fewer than a hundred Negroes in Austin, and
the entire slave population of Travis County was 3,140. Few res-
idents of Austin were Texans by birth. In 1860 only 1,699 of the
8,10o persons living in Travis County were Texas-born. The great-
est portion were of German descent, 322, and the leading state
of origin was Alabama, 229.1
Three other towns in Texas surpassed Austin in population
or importance-Galveston, Houston, and San Antonio. The total
population of Texas was only 604,215, which ranked the state
twenty-third nationally in population.
Austin was incorporated as a city on December 27, 1839, and
by 1840 the population reached 856. The state capital was located
in Washington-on-the-Brazos during the trouble with Mexico,
1842-1845, and the population of Austin dwindled as a result.
The census of 1850 showed the population to be only 629, but
by 1870 the figure had reached 4,428. Had the Civil War not
interrupted railroad building, the number of residents would
probably have been much greater by 1870. The first railroad, the
Houston and Texas Central, did not reach Austin until 1871.
1Texas State Gazette (Austin), September 2s, 186o, p. 3. Sources for preparation of
this article were primarily files of the Texas State Gazette, Austin's extreme Demo-
cratic party newspaper of the period. Virtually all issues from 1849 through 1861 are
available in the Newspaper Collection of the Library of the University of Texas.
Advertisements in the Gazette furnished much of the information. Exact locations of
many buildings could not be determined since street numbers were not then used in
Austin. Only three issues of the Southern Intelligencer, the Gazette's rival news-
paper, are available for 186o and 1861. Additional material in the Barker Texas
History Center furnished information, but the Gazette remained the principal
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 March 14, 2014.