The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916 Page: 39
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Harris County, 1822-1845
The first session of the congress of Texas, having adjourned on
December, 1836, met at the newly laid out city of Houston, on
May 5, 1837. All roads now led to Houston. Frame buildings
sprang up almost by magic, and in an incredibly short time
numerous stores, hotels, boarding houses, and saloons gave evi-
dence that the town had come to stay. Among the first needs
were a court-house and jail, and a block of ground had been set
aside by the Allens to serve these purposes. The contract for
building a two story frame court-house and a log jail was awarded
to Dr. Maurice L. Birdsall and work upon both buildings was in-
dustriously carried on, but many obstacles were encountered, and
the court-house had not been completed when the first term of
court was held, in March, 1837. In fact it was scarcely more
than begun. so the branches of some pine trees which had been
cut down served as an assembly room for the first grand jury.
now, the proprietors were not ready to offer it to the public, with the
advantages of capital and improvements.
"The City of Houston is located at a point on the river which must
ever command the trade of the largest and richest portion of Texas. By
reference to the map, it will be seen that the trade of San Jacinto, Spring
Creek, New Kentucky and the Brazos, above and below Fort Bend, must
necessarily come to this place, and will at this time warrant the employ-
ment of at least One Million Dollars of capital, and when the rich lands
of this country shall be settled, a trade will flow to it, making it beyond
doubt, the great interior commercial emporium of Texas.
"The City of Houston is distant 15 miles from the Brazos river; 30
miles a little north of East from San Fillipe; 60 miles from Washington;
40 miles from Lake Creek; 30 miles Southwest from New Kentucky, and
15 miles by water and 8 or 10 by land from Harrisburg. Tide water runs
to this place and the lowest depth of water is about six feet. Vessels
from New Orleans or New York can sail without obstacle to this place,
and steamboats of the largest class can run down to Galveston Island in
8 or 10 hours, in all seasons of the year. It is but a few hours sail down
the bay, where one may take an excursion of pleasure and enjoy the
luxuries of fish, fowl, oysters and sea bathing. Galveston Harbor being
the only one in which vessels drawing a large draft of water can navi-
gate, must necessarily render the Island the great naval and commercial
depot of the country.
"The City of Houston must be the place where arms, ammunition and
provisions for the government will be stored, because, situated in the very
heart of the country, it combines security and the means of easy dis-
tribution, and a national armory will no doubt very soon be established
at this point.
"There is no place in Texas more healthy, having an abundance of
excellent spring water, and enjoying the sea breeze in all its freshness.
No place in Texas possesses so many advantages for building, having
Pine, Ash, Cedar and Oak in inexhaustible quantities; also the tall and
beautiful Magnolia grows in abundance. In the vicinity are fine quarries
"Nature appears to have designated this place for the future seat of
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916, periodical, 1916; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101067/m1/48/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.