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2017-08-31

Texas’ humble beginnings worth the trip

Contributed by Carol Wier

In a small little town along the Texas coast is an exact replica of the birthplace of the Republic of Texas. On Oct. 3, 1836, sitting at its original site, is a wooden house where Sam Houston was inaugurated as president and the republic's first congress sworn in. If you weren't looking for it you'd miss it, as it is quite plain and easy to pass.
In Texas history, after the Battle of San Jacinto, Velasco was made the temporary capital of the Republic and this is where Santa Anna signed the Treaties of Velasco, in May of 1836. The town of Columbia, though, had more buildings than any other Texas town in 1836, plus two newspapers. So the interim government decided to make Columbia the capital city instead Velasco.
Interim President David G. Burnet called for elections and Sam Houston won. Mirabeau B. Lamar was voted in as vice-president. Under the leadership of these two men the first Constitution was also born and ratified.
Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas,” was elected Secretary of State. While in this position his health failed and he died here on Dec. 27, 1836. Four months later the new government was moved to Houston, a new town being laid out on Buffalo Bayou. In Columbia (now West Columbia), the original story and a half structure was destroyed by the 1900 hurricane, but the cistern remained as seen in this photo and was found during excavation.
Around the corner, in the next block, is the old Columbia Cemetery, which was part of one of Stephen F. Austin’s original “Old 300.” Many Texas revolutionary heroes are buried there. Example: “Henry Brown, born 1783 died 1834 Fought in the Battle of Velasco.” The first male child born in Austin's colonies is also buried there.
If you're interested in Texas history, this small town is a must-see for embracing Texas historical truths. In November, the cemetery even “comes alive” with individuals “rising from the grave” to tell their part of Texas events.