FELIPE de AUSTIN, TEXASAustin
On the Brazos River at the crossing of the Old San Antonio
Present day Farm Road 1458 – on the Northside of Interstate
2 Miles E of Sealy
E of Columbus
W of Houston
36 Miles SE of Brenham
The dog-trot cabin and sign just off of I-10 is not the original site of the community.
Proceed north, passing by modern residences (including many manufactured homes)
until you see a simple two-story church on your right along with a period residence.
On the left, before crossing the river, you will see the seated statue
of Stephen Austin and the buildings which comprise the park. This is the site
of the original community (and is actually Park Road 38).
Austin State Park San
Felipe de Austin - History
Felipe Methodist Church|
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
TE photo, March
More Texas Churches
on a Pecan Shell|
The "unofficial" capital of Stephen
Austin’s colony in 1824, the site was chosen for an existing ferry crossing
of the Brazos River, fresh water (from wells) and the tall river bluff which offered
a defense, should one be needed.
The name was suggested by the Mexican
governor, after his patron saint. By 1828 the town was thriving with two hundred
people and a grid of streets, including four public plazas.
here for four years, tending to the business of his colony. In 1828 he turned
over most day-to-day responsibilities of running the town to others.
The town became a postal hub for outlying communities and was home to two newspapers
– one of which (the Telegraph and Texas Register) was published by Gail
Borden, surveyor, and (in later life) the inventor of condensed milk. (See
town was a virtual Who’s Who of early movers and shakers. A grist mill was in
operation by 1830, followed by a lumber mill which supplied the planks for housing,
furniture and wagons. Keel boats connected the colony to gulf ports and cotton
farming was established. Cattle
were driven to Nacogdoches.
Prior to the Revolution, San Felipe was second only to San
Antonio as a commercial center. Just before hostilities, it had a population
After the fall
of the Alamo, Houston’s army retreated through San Felipe. On March 30, 1836,
the town was set afire to prevent it from aiding the approaching enemy.
Weeks later, after the defeat of Santa Anna, residents returned to find cabins,
stores and warehouses burned to the ground. While some rebuilt, the missing infrastructure
prevented the town from assuming his previous role.
Instead of a capital
(unofficial or not) it settled on being the county seat of the freshly minted
Austin County. That changed in 1846 when an election was held and Bellville
was made county seat. Total transference was completed in 1848.
mid-1870s San Felipe unwisely declined to let the Gulf, Colorado and Santa
Fe Railroad pass through their town. A few years later the railroad bought
a right-of-way through Sealy, giving that
town a shot in the arm even while it drained population from San Felipe.
The Texas Western Narrow Gauge Railway built through the area in 1882.
Now well-aware of the importance of the railroad,
the remaining residents of San Felipe wasted no time moving south (one half mile)
to build alongside the rails. The line was discontinued and the population decreased
accordingly. The population was only 206 by 1910.
the population was still just 305 residents – and growth was slow. The 2000 census
still showed less than 1,000 residents.
Felipe de AustinFirst
Anglo-American capital of Texas. Came into being on July 26, 1828, as capital
of the Austin Colony, by decree of the Mexican government. Father of Texas Stephen
F. Austin had begun under the 1821 grant from Mexico the settlement of more than
1,000 families. The original colony ran from the coast on the south to the old
San Antonio Road on the north, and from the Lavaca River on the west to the San
Jacinto River on the east. In this first American town in Texas lived Austin,
William Barret Travis, Sam Houston, David G. Burnet and Jane Long. All settlers
crossed its threshold for land grants. After the organization of other colonies,
this continued to be the recognized center of Texas. It was capital of the Mexican
Department of Brazos, site of the Conventions of 1832 and 1833 and the Consultation
of 1835 where Texans aired grievances and tried to reach understanding with Mexico.
The provisional government created with Henry Smith as governor in 1835 functioned
here until it gave way to the convention declaring Texas independent of Mexico
on March 2, 1836.
F. Austin State Park
|Several replica buildings
have been erected around the old town site on the Brazos to form the Stephen
F. Austin Historical Park. Built in the late 1920s, the park was donated to
the state in 1940. |
An obelisk and a (seated) bronze statue of Stephen
F. Austin dominate the site while a rebuilt-well and the aforementioned buildings
finish off the “infrastructure” of what is actually a 4,200 park.
bridge on FM 1458 crosses the Brazos over the site of the original ferry.
statue of Stephen Fuller
Austin was commissioned in 1938.
The sculptor was Englishman John Angel
F. Austin, Father of Texas, November 3, 1793-December
27, 1836. He planted the first Anglo-American colony in Texas,
"The Old Three Hundred". In his several colonies he settled more than a thousand
families. He was from 1823 until 1828 the actual ruler of Texas
and thereafter its most influential leader. His own words are a fitting epitaph:
"The prosperity of Texas has been the object of my
labors -- the idol of my existence -- it has assumed the character of a religion
-- for the guidance of my thoughts and actions" -- and he died in its service.
No other state in the union owes its existence more completely to one man than
Texas does to Austin.
Erected by the State of
Texas 1936 with funds appropriated by the Federal government to commemorate one
hundred years of Texas independence.
rather wind-blown portrait of Stephen
Austin is mounted on the granite obelisk|
of Stephen F. Austin's Cabin
in 1954, this structure is a replica of the only Texas home of Stephen F. Austin,
"Father of Texas." The chimney contains bricks from original (1828) cabin. Other
materials were made as authentically as possible. Austin (1793-1836) opened the
Anglo-American colonization of Texas. His cabin, located in capital city of San
Felipe, welcomed pioneers and statesmen of era; witnessed many crucial events
leading to Texas Revolution.
Texas Historic Landmark (1970)
J. J. Josey General Store historical marker|
(if you bring in a snake).|
city may be moved - but not a well" - the I Ching
original community well, was rebuilt in 1928, before the park was donated to the
by the Sealy Chamber of Commerce - 1928"|
Roads to San Felipe" historical marker|
Roads to San Felipe
the mid-1820s, when Stephen F. Austin was founding this town, the only roads in
the area were wagon ruts of beaten trails marked by notched trees. Within a decade,
however, the village of San Felipe, one of the first Anglo settlements in Texas,
had become a hub from which 8 or more roads projected.
Many of these were
small, intra-colony routes, but the main trails extended to major towns or joined
"highways", such as the San Antonio Road (El
Camino Real). A main route which passed through San Felipe was the Atascosita
Road, connecting Goliad
with the United States. It took its name from Atascosa (Spanish for "boggy") Spring
near Liberty, which once
was its main terminus. The Gotier Trace, another travel artery, was laid out about
1830 by pioneer James Gotier. It joined the northern and southern parts of Austin's
colony and was used for decades. The San Felipe Road proper, which ran to Harrisburg,
transported goods inland from the Gulf
Even the main thoroughfares, however, were dusty trails in
the summer and impassable quagmires in the winter, often flooded by knee-deep
water. Not until well into the 20th century did Texas begin to develp her present,
outstanding highway system.
by a Mexican Cannon" - "Buried where he fell"
for Private John Bricker, native of Pennsylvania
view from under the bridge - the site of the original ferry. |
bank of the Brazos River - with freshly sprouted bloodweed.|
of the Brazos River from the bridge|
beautiful Easter Cross at the San Felipe Methodist Church
photos, March 2008