Bryan in Brazos County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
Brazos County Courthouse
— 1841 - 1846 —
Boonville was selected as the county seat of Navasota County in 1841. In January 1842, the name was changed to Brazos County. The area selected was named Boonville and was to encompass one hundred and fifty acres purchased for $150. A three-acre square was laid out in the center with twelve ten-acre lots surrounding the square. Within the square were four large corner blocks and between them were eight half-blocks, two between each of the four corners. In September 1841 and again in April 1842, auctions were held to sell lots, but not many were sold. Harvey Mitchell bought six for $30, and Joshua Seale and Byrum Wickson bought one each for $8. Only six other lots were sold. Most of the development occurred within the town square, with the courthouse located squarely in the middle along with the town water well.
The first court, with Judge R.E.B. Baylor be presiding, was held later in January 1841 in the home of Joseph Ferguson, 14 miles east of the site of present Bryan, at Ferguson Crossing on the Navasota River on what is now Highway 30 to Huntsville.
Later that year, 20 men assembled to build a 16'x16' one-room
In 1843, a jail was built. It was said that only two county residents ever spent time there. In 1846, Boonville acquired a Post Office and built a second courthouse. The courthouses served many purposes: General Sam Houston and other prominent statesmen made speeches, and circuit preachers, such as William Tyson and Robert Alexander, gave sermons. Some prominent lawyers accompanied Judge R.E.B. Baylor who, on his semiannual circuit, spoke from the rostrum. Frequently, on the night preceding the last day of court session, a kangaroo court entertained the visitors and some residents. These sessions were mock trials of a local farmer or a city lawyer on some absurd charge, with the predictable verdict of guilty and the usual fine the price of the best whiskey and cigars available. A stage line went from Houston through Boonville in 1850. Its drivers and passengers would stop overnight at the Boonville Hotel. In 1846, Harvey Mitchell contracted to build
The location of these courthouses was approximately 330 yards southeast of the current entrance to Boonville, across Boonville Road and down Tom Light Drive to the east. Look for the old oak tree to the left at the top of the ridge in a fence line. It was near that oak tree that the courthouses stood. You will pass the site of the Jail with an appropriate marker at the corner of Boonville Road and Tom Light Drive, in the building parking lot.
-- The Early History of Bryan, narrative prepared by Joseph Milton Nance, 1962
"It had no floor except for mother earth. There was but one doorway, and no windows, but the large space between the logs afforded ample light in daytime and wind at all times. It was covered with oak boards, fastened down with weight poles, as was the universal custom in roofing houses in those days. There was not a nail or other metallic substance in its structure.
It was seated by placing split logs flat side up, all around the inside walls, a proper distance from the ground, on which all hands, except the Judge and Clerk had to sit, or stand up. Two chairs and a small table were borrowed from some neighbors for the accommodation of the
Photo courtesy of Lucy Harrison
Judge R.E.B. Baylor
Erected by Boonville Heritage Park.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Buildings. A significant historical month for this entry is January 1842.
Location. 30° 40.328′ N, 96° 19.855′ W. Marker is in Bryan, Texas, in Brazos County. Marker can be reached from Boonville Road 0.1 miles east of Austins Colony Parkway. The marker is located in the Boonville Heritage Park near the east section of the park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2421 Boonville Road, Bryan TX 77802, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Men of Vision (here, next to this marker); Stagecoach Travel (a few steps from this marker); Site of the Town of Boonville (a few steps from this marker); The Twin Sisters (within shouting distance of this marker); The Town Plat (within shouting distance of this marker); Turner-Peters Log Cabin (within shouting distance of this marker); Harvey Mitchell (within shouting distance of this marker); Brazos Union Lodge No. 129 (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bryan.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 9, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 43 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 9, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.