A Town Is Born

On this date 175 years ago, the Republic of Texas convened its fourth session of Congress in the new capitol city on the Colorado River. It was the first Congress held in the yet to be named town. 

Some say it was a village called Waterloo prior to Austin. When President Mirabeau Lamar found the site for his proposed Center of Government in the fall of 1838, there was no mention of Waterloo.  

Only Jacob Harrell and his family lived within the 640 acres selected for the Center of Government, now downtown Austin. The Harrell families nearest neighbor was Uncle “Billy” Barton, a recluse living 3 miles across the river on Barton Creek. The Hornsby family lived 8 miles southeast. Does one family make a village, hamlet, or town? I think not. 

There are letters referring to the site as Waterloo. They were written from the spring of 1839 until Austin’s incorporation December 29, 1839. As President Lamar’s middle name was “Bonaparte” his detractors, of which he had many, may have called it “Waterloo” in jest. 

Regardless, I think the one thing President Lamar did right was pick this site on the Colorado River. My hometown of Austin, Texas.

Austin City Limit sign

 

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