Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 2, May, 1993 Page: 76
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
Spring and wandered around "looking for free land."7 In 1840, Columbus was coupled
with La Grange as one of two towns situated far up the Colorado River and "just
beginning to attract notice."8 An advertisement in The Morning Star of January 9, 1840
advertising the sale of "100 of the most valuable Lots" in Columbus described the town
as containing "sixty respectable buildings, a large hotel, and about 500 inhabitants." The
stated size of the town, however, might well be put down to hyperbole, for an 1845
emigrant guide reports that Columbus had only 150 inhabitants9 and in April 1846, Alwin
S6rgel, in the course of praising the town for its beauty, stated that it contained only "30-
40 Hauser," that is, 30 to 40 houses.10
The first known sale of a lot in Columbus occurred on January 23, 1837. All
of the lots sold during the remainder of the year were within two blocks of either the
courthouse square or the seminary square. Many of the lots were bought by speculators
hoping to capitalize on the anticipated growth of the town, but at least one of the
speculators, William W. Thompson, quickly erected a residence. Thompson bought Lot
5 of Block 15 on April 7, 1837, then sold it, complete with the house in which he lived,
on January 25, 1838.
In 1838 there was brisk traffic in the southeastern part of town. Some of
the lots sold were never developed, and indeed would eventually be replatted as part of
the Taylor Addition in 1944. In 1839, the sales spread further north and west, but by
the end of the year no lots west of Fannin Street had yet been sold.11
Expansion North to the River
On February 8, 1854, the state legislature passed An Act to Incorporate the
Town of Columbus. The act specified that the city was to be governed by a mayor and
six aldermen, to be elected annually on the first Monday in April, and that the city was
bounded to the north by Dewees Street, to the west by Rampart Street, to the south by
Wallace Street, and to the east by the Colorado River.12 The new city limits, however,
excluded the first expansion of the city, which had been undertaken some eight years
earlier by William B. Dewees.
On July 22, 1846, Dewees, through his attorney, Paul Mallick, sold Block
98, one of nine new blocks north of Dewees Street, to Moritz Reisig. The deed describes
the blocks as "recently laid off" by Dewees in his labor, meaning, presumably, the labor
7 Friedrich W. von Wrede, Sketches of Life in the United States of North America and Texas, trans.
Chester W. Geue (Waco: Texian Press, 1970), pp. 78-80, 94.
8 A. B. Lawrence, Texas in 1840 Or the Emigrant's Guide To the New Republic (New York, 1840.
Reprint: Austin: W. M. Morrison Books, 1987), p. 216
9 Richard S. Hunt and Jesse F. Randel, A New Guide to Texas (New York: Sherman & Smith, 1845),
p. 53. It should be noted that the guide incorrectly places Columbus on the Brazos River, though it correctly
lists it as the county seat of Colorado County, and provides a distance and direction from Austin that are more
or less correct.
10 Alwin H. Sorgel, A Sojourn in Texas, 1846-1847, trans. W. M. Von Maszewski (San Marcos:
German-Texan Heritage Society, 1992), pp. 43, 222. Von Maszewski, who generously provided both the
original German text and a translation, rendered the word "Hauser" as "homes." It could more literally and
equally appropriately be rendered as "houses," which could include residences, stores, and public buildings.
11 These comments and the accompanying map are based on dozens of deeds in the Office of the
County Clerk, Colorado County, Texas. A synopsis of each of the deeds and its location can be found in
12 Hans Peter Nielsen Gammel, compiler, The Laws of Texas 1822-1897 (Austin: The Gammel
Book Company, 1898), volume 4, pp. 97-101.
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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/m1/24/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.