Presbyterian minister Amos Roark took a census of the new Capitol City, prior to Austin being incorporated on December 27, 1839. It was more of a marketing plan for the Presbytery than an official census. Regardless of his motive it gives a good description of Austin and its earliest settlers, during the Republic of Texas.
Rev. Roark counted 75 families: 5 with no religious affiliation, 10 Baptist, 10 Catholic, 11 Episcopalians, 10 Lutherans, 17 Methodists and 12 Presbyterians. Only the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches were finished; other congregations worshipped in members homes, some held services at the wood planked capitol building on a hill at the northwest corner of Hickory (now Colorado) and East Eighth.
He tallied 856 full time residents; 550 adult men, 61 women of which 6 were young maidens, the rest children. The minister targeted 20 gamblers and 4 lawyers in need of salvation. He noted there were 6 inns, 6 gaming houses, 9 saloons and a billiard parlor.
There was little night life as few could afford candles at nine dollars a pound. Venison, turkey and buffalo meat were abundant at the Eberly Inn. Paying $75.00 a month room and board at the Eberly was Senator Anson Jones of Brazoria County and Lorenzo Van Cleve. Both bachelors served in the Texas Army during the revolution. Each bought city lots nearby to build their home and business; Jones an MD, Van Cleve a master craftsman, would make furniture for Dr. Jones’ new home on Pecan Street.
The doctor was engaged to Mary McCory; Van Cleve was courting 19 year old Margaret Smith. They would be the second and third couple to marry of the six recorded during 1840. Mary McCory-Jones gave birth to Sam Houston Jones on February 26, 1841. The boy was named Sam Houston Jones at birth, but after a fall out with President Sam Houston, the parents changed the boy’s name to Samuel Edward Jones. Margaret Smith-Van Cleve had Elnora Van Cleve on April 14, 1841. They were the first recorded births in Austin.
Captain Thomas Ward was a hero of the Texas Revolution before it began. The Irish-born member of the New Orlean’s Greys lost a leg at the “Siege of Bexar” in December of 1835, months before Texas had declared its independence from Mexico. Thomas Ward lost a leg to cannon fire in San Antonio. Colonel Ben Milam lost his life two days later from a well-placed rifle shot. It is legend that Ward’s leg was buried with Colonel Milam’s body.
Ward was fitted for a peg leg in New Orleans and returned toTexas to receive a Colonel’s commission from President David Burnet. He served under General Thomas Rusk during the remainder of the war; receiving 2,240 acres for his service to Texas. After the Texas Revolution, Ward settled in Houston where he was awarded a contract to build the Capitol. “Peg Leg,” as he was now called, served as a clerk in the second session of The Republic of Texas congress.
He followed the government’s move to Austin in 1839, becoming Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives during the fourth congress. Ward became Austin’s second mayor, then commissioner of the General Land Office.
During a San Jacinto Day celebration in Austin, Peg Leg lost his right arm in a cannon salute. He would face fire from the cannon again December 29, 1842 when Angelina Eberly fired it toward the General Land Office; stopping Ward’s removal of the state archives away from Austin. His friends now called him “Lucky.”
Philadelphia’s Old Pine Street Church is known as the “Church of the Patriots.” The Presbyterian Church founded by Rev. George Duffield in 1768, still stands at Fourth and Pine Streets. George Duffield led the Continental Congress in prayer. He joined George Washington at Valley Forge in the winter of 1776-1777 as Chaplain of the Pennsylvania Militia. President John Adams and First Lady Abigail worshipped there prior to moving to the new capitol in Washington.
The cemetery that surrounds Pine Street Church contains the remains of a signer of the U.S. Constitution, members of the Continental Congress and numerous Revolutionary War soldiers. This early American church helped set the moral compass for our founding fathers, which is why I wrote of it in Adam’s Daughters and Children of the Revolution. Should you visit Philadelphia, be sure to take a tour of the Old Pine Street Church.
The children of the revolution were schooled at home or taught in church schools. Public education would not become available for another one hundred years. The male children of Guilford County, North Carolina were fortunate to have the Log Cabin College of David Caldwell (1725-1824) whose home and school were located near the bicentennial park in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Dr. David Stewart Caldwell, a doctor of medicine and divinity, founded the Buffalo Creek Presbyterian Church in 1756. His students included such notables as the first territorial judge appointed by President George Washington, Judge John McNary and Rev. Barton W. Stone, founder of the Disciples of Christ.
The story of David Caldwell’s role in the American Revolution is told in my books Spring House and Adam’s Daughters. His efforts to preserve the battlefield of Guilford Courthouse, unfolds in the first three chapters of the Children of the Revolution.
During the Revolution, General Cornwallis offered £200 for the capture of Rev. Caldwell for his activity against the crown. The beloved minister was hidden by church members and his family protected. After the battle at Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781, he and his wife Rachel set-up a field hospital in the McNary home to tend the wounded.
Adam Mitchell’s six children witnessed the bloody battle from the family spring house; they were truly children of the revolution, their resiliency and patriotism born on the battlefield of Guilford Courthouse.
Forty-five descendants of Adam Mitchell gathered in Greensboro for the 215th observance of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. The family attended a special service at the Buffalo Creek Presbyterian Church in March 2006. Three generations enjoyed the reunion.
Adam Mitchell Descendents
At last Saturday’s Texas Heritage Day, Austin’s four town squares ownership was brought up for discussion. After 173 years, ownership of the squares may be resolved.
Mike Ward wrote an article in the Austin American-Statesman, dated March 31. Thanks to Carol Castlebury for sharing.
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