San Felipe in Austin County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
Austin's Colony: First Colony in Mexican Texas
Austin's land office and its agents set about carving civilization out of the untamed Texas wilderness. Mapping and surveying land at a whirlwind pace, Austin's office issued nearly 1500 land grants to settlers in Mexican Texas between 1823 and 1835.
Austin stressed good character and morals, sobriety and industrious habits among the desired traits for colonists. Land grants were issued as leagues (4428 acres) to stock raisers and labors (177 acres) to farmers. Most settlers claimed they would both raise cattle and farm, entitling them to more than 4600 acres. By surveying land, Austin oversaw the transition of wilderness into property. Land Commissioners representing the Mexican government formally issued the grants to colonists based on those surveys. Following Austin's lead, roughly a dozen empresarios brought settlers to Texas during the colonial era, but Austin's colony was responsible for over 40% of the more than 13 million acres granted.
Stephen F. Austin issues a land title to a Texas Colonist
"I have not made a fortune for myself (except in lands which now have no value)
Godwin Brown Cotten operated the first print shop at San Felipe, 1829-1831. Along with issues of his newspaper The Texas Gazette and the first book published in Texas, Cotten's press made documents like this "permission to settle" form to support the colony's operation.
This field desk is believed to have belonged to Austin and was salvaged from the land office just before the town was burned in March, 1836, Texana collector Thomas Streeter (Morristown, NJ) returned it to San Felipe for the Josey Store Museum in the 1960s.
Colonial Secretary Samuel May Williams wrote out deeds in Spanish in beautiful long hand, and the transcription of these surveys and deeds into a bound book known as the Registro (Spanish for "register"). Austin taught himself Spanish in preparation for his colonization effort, and used the name "Estevan" on many legal documents. This title page reflects one of the few times Austin referred to himself as empresario.
During the early days of the colony, Austin worked to establish representative government for his settlers. By 1828 an ayuntamiento (town council) and alcalde (chief or mayor) had been selected for San Felipe de Austin. By 1831, seals had been established for the juzgado (court) and the council.
Erected by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 3.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, Texas Independence.
Location. 29° 48.423′ N, 96° 5.891′ W. Marker is in San Felipe, Texas, in Austin County. Marker can be reached from Farm to Market Road 1458 0.1 miles north of Park Road 38. The historical marker is located in the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site. . Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: San Felipe TX 77473, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. J.J. Josey General Store (a few steps from this marker); Stephen F. Austin, Father of Texas (a few steps from this marker); San Felipe de Austin Colonial Well (within shouting distance of this marker); Remembering San Felipe de Austin (within shouting distance of this marker); San Felipe de Austin Town Site (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to San Felipe de Austin (within shouting distance of this marker); The Burning of San Felipe (within shouting distance of this marker); Toward Revolution (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Felipe.
Also see . . .
1. Land Grants. The Handbook of Texas (Submitted on December 19, 2020, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.)
2. Godwin Brown Michael Cotten (ca. 1791–unknown) . The Handbook of Texas (Submitted on December 20, 2020, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 21, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 19, 2020, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 29 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 19, 2020, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.