Texas Heritage, Spring 1984

1821-1836

A replica of the First Capitol building of the Republic of Texas in Columbia.

The Cradle
of Texas

About fourteen empresario grants were made for the
settlement of Texas. Of these grants, that of Stephen F.
Austin was by far the most successful. Perhaps it was the
rich soil and plentiful water in the Brazos and Colorado
river valleys or the caliber of people recruited that made
for success. From 1821 until 1836, over 8,000 people
came to the Austin colony. They settled primarily in
present Brazoria County and along the Brazos.
The first residents came from what is generally called
the "Old South". Changes in the land credit policy and the
great depression of 1819 forced the planters to seek free
land on the frontier. The first people to seek the land were
people willing to clear and plant new soil. It was not long
before they were joined by doctors, lawyers, and
merchants seeking their fortune. The first towns were
Velasco, Quintana, Brazoria, Columbia, and Bell's Landing.
As the towns were laid out and platted, lots were sold
and community life began. From 1821 to 1830, these trade
centers prospered as boat traffic along the Brazos River
grew. The prosperity was largely due to the hands-off
policy of the Mexican government concerning all regulation.
The towns had their own judges and operated on their
own.
The freedom enjoyed by the settlers was short lived,
for in 1830, the Mexican government sent General Teran
to make a survey of Texas. He reported that in his opinion
the people were enjoying too much freedom and might be
considering separation from Mexico. He found much discontent
in the area of present Brazoria County. As a result
of the Teran report, two forts were to be built. One was to
regulate all traffic on the Brazos at Velasco and the other
was to do the same for the Trinity at Anahuac. In addition
to the strict regulation of shipping, tariffs were to be imposed.
Citizens began to have public meetings in Brazoria
and other towns of the colony to protest the violation of
rights guaranteed under the Constitution of 1824. This
unrest, coupled with the dictatorial edicts of Juan Davis
Bradburn, commander of the two forts, soon had the more
outspoken citizens openly defying the government. Two

such edicts were that the shipper had to go to Anahuac to
get a permit to ship goods and that tariffs were payable in
cash, which was scarce.
Trouble first erupted at Anahuac when two Brazoria
countians, Monroe Edwards and Patrick Jack, joined a
young lawyer, William Barrett Travis, in open defiance of
Bradburn. The three men were arrested and placed in jail.
Word soon spread throughout the Austin colony and members
of the Brazoria militia mustered for the march to
Anahuac. When an attempt was made to negotiate, John
Austin and the militiamen were tricked by Bradburn. The
militia retreated to near by Turtle Bayou where several
men of Brazoria county wrote the Turtle Bayou resolutions
which set forth for the first time the displeasures of
the colonists against the government. The militia leader,
John Austin, rode for the town of Brazoria to secure two
small cannons to assault the brick fort at Anahuac.
Upon reaching Brazoria, Austin found many militiamen
already assembled for a trip to Anahuac. A small
sloop was commandeered from the river port and the
cannons were placed on board. The militiamen on foot
began a march to Velasco to go to Anahuac. The sloop was
hailed by the fort and ordered to turn about. It was then that
Austin and his men decided that the capture of one Mexican
fort was as good as another. For parts of two days of
June 25 and 26, 1832, the fort at Velasco was surrounded
and finally captured. Since there were several doctors with
the militia, the wounded of the garrison were treated along
with the militia. When five Mexican gunboats appeared at
the mouth of the Brazos, the militia decided it was time to
return the fort to the government.
Upon the return of the fort, both sides of the battle
went up the river to Brazoria where a fiesta was held.
Toasts were drunk and pledges of loyalty were made by
both parties. (Peace and prosperity had returned to the
colony, but underneath was a growing tension for changes
in the colonial government such as more equal representation
for the colonists and more local option for self
governing.)

Insert to TEXAS HERITAGE

Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Spring 1984. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45446/. Accessed September 17, 2014.