The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982 Page: 140
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
settle the site. Their arrival seems to have coincided, however, with
Mexico's passage of laws to curtail immigration into Texas from the
United States; and Robertson was unable to secure the land claims of
his colonists, despite appeals to Mexican authorities. In 1831 the Mex-
ican government transferred lands of the Nashville Company's tract
to Stephen F. Austin and Samuel May Williams.3 When Texas gained
her independence, the government of the Republic authorized the
creation of Robertson County, which was organized in 1838 with Old
Franklin as its county seat. In 1846, following annexation to the
United States, the county lines were redrawn at their present loca-
tions, and first Wheelock and then Owensville served as the county
seat. The town of Calvert became the county seat in 1870, after the
railroad arrived to serve it, and retained that honor until 1879. The
Brazos and Little Brazos rivers define Robertson County's western
boundary, and the delta formed by the rivers consists of a deep allu-
vium. This fertile soil, the key attraction of the area, brought the
southern planters who followed the earlier pioneers.4
Although the original pioneers had been recruited by Robertson
from Tennessee, later permanent settlers came largely from Alabama
and Mississippi, and they brought slaves with them to work their
fields. The planter's family, together with twenty or more slaves, pro-
vided the work force for plantations that averaged 1,500 acres in the
Brazos valley, or Brazos Bottoms. A plantation of that size could pro-
duce from 500 to 750 bales of cotton-each bale weighing 500 pounds.
Such cotton brought good prices during the middle decades of the
nineteenth century, once, the producer delivered it to the markets.
Cotton sold for 12 cents a pound in 1859, increasing to 29 cents a
pound in 1869, following the Union's Civil War blockade. Prices
tapered off toward the close of the century as production increased
and the cost of transportation decreased, but cotton still brought 71/
cents a pound in 1899. Despite the depression of the mid-189os (a low
3J. W. Baker, A History of Robertson County, Texas (Waco, 1970), 467; Malcolm D.
McLean (ed.), Papers Concerning Robe tson's Colony in Texas (Fort Worth, 1975-), III,
49, VI, 47-48; Eugene C. Barker, The Life of Stephen F. Austin, Founder of Texas,
1793-1836: A Chapter in the Westward Movement of the Anglo-American People (Nash-
ville, 1925), 329, 346. McLean's multivolume compilation (still in process) provides the
definitive record of Robertson as an important empresario and of events around him
during colonization. Austin's acquisition of the Nashville Company tract set off a long
and bitter dispute between the two men--a dispute still unresolved when Texas gained
its independence. Barker, Life of Austin, 329-373.
4Walter Prescott Webb, H. Bailey Carroll, and Eldon Stephen Branda (eds.), The
Handbook of Texas (3 vols.; Austin, 1952, 1976), II, 489.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982, periodical, 1981/1982; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101208/m1/174/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.