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San Felipe in Austin County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Bottomland Farms

Land Along the Brazos River

 
 
Bottomland Farms Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 20, 2022
1. Bottomland Farms Marker
Inscription.  
Downtown San Felipe was the center of the colony, but its farms and ranches fed settlers and generated profits that helped the colony thrive. Farm plots, or labors, measuring 177 acres each spread outward from town - many along waterways, which provided a way to transport goods.

Virtually all farmers raised produce and animals for their own use, but some amassed plantations that exported crops and livestock to larger markets. Big or small, farms were where most settlers lived, and where they built their homes "amid their fields."

"Land for 15 or 20 miles above and below this town will be laid off in labor tracts, my wish is that the whole settlement should move to these labor tracts."
Stephen F. Austin, 1823


Exports like cotton, pecans, hides and cattle were sold in New Orleans markets.

Livestock included horses and mules for riding and pulling. Cattle were raised for beef, milk and work. Martin Varner, who lived on lot 564, was among those who raised semi-wild hogs in the river bottoms.

Crops that thrived in Texas' rich soil included
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peaches, pumpkins, potatoes, sugar and melons. Corn-ground and baked into cornbread - was the mainstay of a settler's diet.

The Laborers
The majority of settlers farmed their land themselves, but some brought with them enslaved laborers from the United States. By 1826, slaves made up nearly a quarter of the colony's population.

While enslaved servants in town worked at hotels, taverns and in homes, most slaves in the colony were agricultural laborers on farms and plantations away from town. Using slave labor and cotton profits, Austin's settlers established a plantation economy much like the one taking root in the southern United States.

Captions
Center: "Connected Map of Austin's Colony" (detail), showing the town and surrounding labor tracts
Lower Right (1): Above: 1831 Manifest of Slaves listing individuals brought to Texas by Eliza Andrus, wife of San Felipe alcalde Luke Lesassier
Lower Right (2): Left: Harvesting Cotton - The colony's largest slave owner, Jared Groce, arrived from Alabama with nearly 100 slaves. Most enslaved individuals, however, lived in households with no more than two or three fellow servants.

Image Courtesy: Rugeley-Moore Collection; National Archives and Records Administration; Florida Center for Instructional Technologys; Map
Bottomland Farms Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 20, 2022
2. Bottomland Farms Marker
#1944 (detail), Archives and Records Pregnan,Texas General Land Office

 
Erected by San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansAgricultureAnimalsWar, Texas Independence. A significant historical year for this entry is 1823.
 
Location. 29° 48.369′ N, 96° 5.723′ W. Marker is in San Felipe, Texas, in Austin County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of 2nd Street and Farm to Market Road 1458. The marker is located in the northeastern section of the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site along the pathway. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 220 2nd Street, 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. Spanish Town (a few steps from this marker); A Home on Commerce Square (within shouting distance of this marker); Building the Town (within shouting distance of this marker); Founding the Town (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Governing the Town (about 400 feet away); Rio Brazos (about 500 feet away); Clopper Store (about 600 feet away); Burning of the Town (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Felipe.
 
More about this marker. The marker is located on the
The view of the Bottomland Farms Marker (Left Side) along the walkway image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 20, 2022
3. The view of the Bottomland Farms Marker (Left Side) along the walkway
grounds of the San Felipe de Austin Historic Site. There is a small fee to access the historic site and markers.
 
Also see . . .
1. San Felipe de Austin History. Texas Historical Commission
San Felipe de Austin was founded in 1824 by Stephen F. Austin as the unofficial capital of his colony. It became the first urban center in the Austin colony, which stretched northward from the Gulf of Mexico as far as the Old San Antonio Road and extended from the Lavaca River in the west to the San Jacinto River in the east. By October 1823, after briefly considering a location on the lower Colorado River, Austin decided to establish his capital on the Brazos River. The site chosen was on a high, easily defensible bluff overlooking broad, fertile bottomlands. The location offered a number of advantages, including a central location and sources of fresh water independent of the Brazos.
(Submitted on September 18, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.) 

2. Agriculture. Texas State Historical Association
After its independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico encouraged settlement in its vast provinces north of the Rio Grande. Moses Austin secured the first empresario or colonial grants from Spain. His son, Stephen F. Austin, initially led 300 families from the United States into an area extending from the Gulf Coast into Central Texas. Settlers received
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a sitio or square league of land (about 4,338 acres) for grazing, and a labor (177 acres) of farming land. The American settlers quickly introduced the slave-based cotton-plantation system, expanded commercial livestock production, and developed concentrations of small, nonslaveholding family farms. The large influx of Anglo-American settlers led to the Texas revolt, the independence of Texas, and the subsequent war between the United States and Mexico, followed by the admission of Texas into the Union.
(Submitted on September 18, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 6, 2024. It was originally submitted on September 18, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 110 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 18, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.

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Jul. 21, 2024