Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 2, May, 1993 Page: 74
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
because of the growing celebrity of Christopher Columbus, which had been spurred by
A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Washington Irving's highly
fictionalized 1828 biography of the explorer.
The street names, however, can be explained. The proprietors of Columbus,
Dewees and Wallace, named the northernmost and southernmost streets of the city after
themselves. The easternmost street, broken by the river, was not named. Just to its
west was another street broken by the river, called Charter presumably to signify its
status as the foundation of the town. The westernmost street was called Rampart, an
apt name for a street at the edge of settlement. Just west of Charter was Front Street,
and just east of Rampart, Back.
Seven streets; Austin, Bonham, Crockett, Fannin, Houston, Milam, and
Travis, were named after already celebrated figures from Texas' brief Anglo history.
Two, Washington and Jackson, were named after United States military heroes. Preston
Street was named for William Campbell Preston, a U. S. Senator from South Carolina
who was popular in Texas because of his early advocacy of recognition of the Republic
of Texas by the United States. Four streets, Spring, Prairie, Live Oak, and Walnut, were
named after natural features.
The original plat described 95 blocks and partial blocks. Ninety-one of these
were numbered. Two, called "courthouse square" and "seminary square," were set
aside for a courthouse and a school. The final two, partial blocks to the north and the
east of Block 23, were left unnumbered and unnamed. The lowest numbered blocks
surrounded the courthouse square and were probably the first to be developed.3
The division plan called for six lots, each 40 by 60 varas. The subdivision
plan divided four of those lots into three 20 by 40 vara lots and the other two into two
20 by 60 lots. The division plan of Block 70 was altered when Highway 71 was
constructed. The new division plan for that block was filed on October 12, 1942.4
Since the original plat was filed, the river has washed out all of Blocks 23,
25, and 26, most of Blocks 24 and 90, and part of Blocks 6 and 14. The part of Jackson
Street between Seminary Square and Block 36 was closed on January 25, 1950.
Citizens had voted, 83 to 2, to close the street eleven days earlier.s
Earliest Lot Sales
In 1837, an unknown visitor to Texas described Columbus as "a small town,
consisting of two public houses, two small stores, and a half dozen shanties."6 Writing
in New Orleans in June 1839, Friedrich W. von Wrede stated that Columbus had "about
thirty houses." He is not known to have visited the town before 1841, but if he did, he
must have done so in the summer of 1838, when he certainly went to Industry and Cat
3 Because the northernmost, southernmost, and westernmost street names can be so readily and
sensibly explained, the map on page 385 of Deed Book H, Office of the County Clerk, Colorado County, Texas,
is taken to be the original plat of Columbus despite the fact that it was not filed in Colorado County until January
26, 1853. This supposition is further supported by a statement made by the unknown cartographer who
produced a map of Columbus that is now in the Texas State Archives. His claim that "thare not being any
map of Columbus except Private maps" indicates that no official plat had been filed by that time. His own
map is undated, but evidence suggests that it dates from 1846.
4 See Minutes of the City Council of the City of Columbus Book 4, pp. 923-925, Archives of the
Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus.
5 See Minutes of the City Council of the City of Columbus Book 6, pp. 1313-1319, Archives of the
Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus.
6 See Andrew Forest Muir, ed., Texas in 1837 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958), p. 81.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 2, May, 1993, periodical, May 1993; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151388/m1/22/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.