Founding of Austin

President Mirabeau Lamar arrived in the new capitol of the Republic of Texas, 173 years ago this month.

With him came his cabinet and the records of the three-year-old Republic. Edwin Waller, the architect of the town named for Stephen F. Austin, met them outside of town with a delegation of citizens of Austin on October 17, 1839. The new President and his entourage were escorted to the new capitol building on a knoll at Hickory and Colorado (today Eighth and Colorado). They were warmly welcomed by the citizens of Austin.

Austin was carved out of the woods on the banks of the Colorado River, upstream forty miles from the town of Bastrop. The site was chosen for its natural beauty and abundant water. Town lots were surveyed by Waller and Sandusky on a section of land between Shoal and Waller Creeks. Some twenty wooden structures for Government offices were erected for the operation of the Republic of Texas.

Edwin Waller was elected the first Mayor of the town he created. The Texas Legislature would appoint James W. Smith, Supreme Court Justice of the new county, carved from Stephen F. Austin’s Colony. That was the lofty title given to the Chief Executive of Texas Counties, now known as the County Judge. He and the trustees of the county all appointed by the Legislature selected James W. Smith’s father, Thomas W. Smith, as the First County Treasurer. By the first of May, all three centers of Government were operating in Austin.

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