The Environment & Places

The Environment

1775-1783, 1812 - American Colonies War of Independence. 1 2

1835-1836 - Texas War of Independence.

1861-1865 - The Civil War. Texas responded to the election of Abraham Lincoln by joining the Confederacy in early 1861, a few weeks before the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter. Although only about one in four Texas families owned slaves, support for secession was strong, with about three quarters of voters supporting secession. Many Texas men immediately joined the war effort, traveling east to fight with other Confederate soldiers. Many others joined but stayed in Texas, with some defending the coastline, some guarding against possible Union attack, and others pushing into New Mexico Territory. A small number joined the Union army. 3

Reconstruction. For nine years following the Civil War, Texas was in turmoil, as its people attempted to solve political, social, and economic problems produced by the war. Emancipation changed the labor system, and the end of slavery forced a redefinition of the relationship between Blacks and Whites...

One of the major forces that threatened change in the state was the United States Army. Federal troops began entering the state in late May 1865.... 45

Waller county. "Settlers on the east bank of the Brazos had attempted to obtain legislative approval to separate from Austin County as early as the 1850s. As a result of political maneuvering during Reconstruction, the state legislature established Waller County in 1873 from parts of Austin and Grimes counties; Hempstead was designated the county's seat of government. ...  In 1880 the first United States census to record the new county reported 9,024 people, including 5,830 African Americans, living in the area." 6

The Galveston Daily News of October 25th reported 1,800 voters in Waller county and Henpstead's population as 2,500. 7

The Places

  • Austin County
    • Bellville (county seat).
    • Buckhorn.
    • .
    • New Ulm.
    • San Felipe.
    • Sealy.
  • Waller County (est. April 28, 1873)
    • Brookshire (formerly Kellner) (est. 1893).
    • Cedar Creek (est. 1832) - merged into Chappell Hill in Waller county.
    • Fields Store (est. early 1870).
    • Hempstead (county seat) (est. 1856).
    • Katy (est. 1896).
    • Monaville (est. 1886).
    • Pattison (est. 1877).
    • Pine Island (est. late 1870).
    • Prairie View (est. 1879).
    • Reid's Prairie (est. ) early settlement, absorbed into Hempstead.
    • Second Corinth (est. ).
    • Shiloh (est. 1860-1870).
    • Sunny Side (est. 1866).
    • Waller (est. 1884).
  • Washington County
    • Brenham (county seat).
    • Caney Creek: (Caney Creek is a Stream in Washington County near the Buckhorn community. It forms a large part of the Washington-Austin county line.) 8
    • Chappell Hill.
    • Washington-on-the-Brazos (site of 1836 Convention and signing of Texas Declaration of Independence).

When Texas gained its independence from Mexico (1836), the areas occupied by Bellville and Hempstead were in Austin's Colony, one on each side of the Brazos River.

Moses Austin was the first to take advantage of the Spanish-Mexican offer of land for settlers in 1820. After his death the next year, his son, Stephen F. Austin, took over the enterprise, expanding it to include a large part of what is Texas today. It was called Austin's Colony. It was traversed by the Colorado and Brazos Rivers and consisted of

Austin advertised the available land in the United States, the 12-1/2 cents per acre being much less than in the U.S. and the land was rich and fertile, excellent farm land and herds of wild horses and cattle roamed the land. It supported crops of cotton, corn, potatoes, pumpkins, melons, etc. and fruit trees and vines. Cotton quickly became the primary crop.

Some came overland by horse, wagon, or foot, while many others sailed from New Orleans and Mobile to the Texas port cities of Brazoria and Matagorda.

The colonial capital was San Felipe de Austin, established in 1823 by Stephen Austin near the site of McFarland's Ferry on the west side of the Brazos River where the Old San Antonio Road crossed. It became the social, economic, and political center of the Austin colony. In 1835 it became the provisional capital of the new Republic of Texas, but it was burned in 1836 to prevent its capture by Mexican troops. 9

Bellville was initially settled in 1838 and in 1846 it was made the county seat of Austin County. The town was surveyed and laid out in 1848. The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad reached it in the winter of 1879–80 and its population increased from 300 to 522. 10

Austin County began to be settled in the early 1820s. The early settlers were attracted to the well-timbered, rich, alluvial bottomlands of the Brazos and other major streams; the especially prized tracts combined woodland with prairie. Most of the immigrants came from Southern states, and many brought slaves. By the late 1820s these more prosperous settlers had begun to establish cotton plantations, emulating the example of Jared Groce, who settled with some ninety slaves on the east bank of the Brazos above the site of San Felipe and in 1822 raised what was probably the first cotton crop in Texas. In 1834 more than one-third of the 1,000 inhabitants of the future county were African Americans. 11

Hempstead was founded December 29, 1856 by R. Peebles and Jas. W. McDade. 12

Bellville is 16 miles SW of Hempstead, with Buckhorn about 1/2 way between. Bellville is about 14 miles away from the Brazos River.

Files in this folder


  1. Timeline of the Revolution National Park Service
  2. American Revolutionary War wikipedia
  3. Reconstruction; 1861-1870. Katie Whitehurst. TexasPBS
  4. Civil War and Reconstruction. Carl H. Moneyhon, Handbook of Texas Online
  5. "Evolution of the Texas Rangers | Reconstruction in Texas, 1865-1874 | TSLAC" : The period of Reconstruction brought together old and new problems. TSLAC | Texas State Library And Archives Commission
  6. Waller County, TX Christian, Carole E. & Leffler, John, Handbook of Texas Online
  7. Waller County - Feuds & Criminalities. The Galveston Daily News, Saturday, October 25, 1879, p 2, col. 3-4. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  8. Caney Creek (Washington County) Anonymous, Handbook of Texas Online
  9. San Felipe de Austin, Texas Charles Christopher Jackson, Handbook of Texas Online.
  10. Bellville, Texas Christopher Long, Handbook of Texas Online.
  11. Austin County, Texas Charles Christopher Jackson, Handbook of Texas Online.
  12. Hempstead, Texas Carole E. Christian, Handbook of Texas Online.

Newspaper articles may be read at Timeline of News Reports.