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"Where the Eagles Gather"

AUSTIN HISTORY, SHORTCUTS & REVIEWS

Austin History, Shortcuts & Reviews

Channel Austin 10  /  Channel 11  /  Channel 16
or watch at Channel Austin.org or from Austin cable providers Time Warner  /  Grande  /  AT&T U-Verse

2012 Summer Series

Program Two ~ Beginnings

First aired on Tuesday July 10th @ 8 PM on Channel 16; Replayed on Thursday July 12 @ 10 AM on Channel 10; Tuesday July 17th @ 10 AM on Channel 10.

The story of how a little town named Waterloo became the Capitol of Texas begins with a buffalo hunting trip. In 1835 Jacob Harrell and his family were one of the first settlers along the north bank of the Colorado River. They lived approximately where the Congress Avenue Bridge is located today in Austin. Mirabeau B. Lamar visited Jacob sometime between 1837 and 1838. One Texas Story claims that Mirabeau shot a magnificent buffalo at the corner of what is today’s Congress Avenue and 8th Street. Mr. Lamar must have been impressed with the tranquility of the peaceful town and great location for hunting because in 1839 when Mirabeau B. Lamar became the newly elected President of the Republic of Texas he suggested that Waterloo would make a better location for the capitol instead of Houston where the climate was hot and muggy.

In January 1839 Lamar appointed a special five-man commission to select a new site for the capital, stipulating that the location be somewhere between the Trinity and Colorado Rivers. The commission was instructed by President Lamar to visit Harrell's split-log stockade. They found four families living near the stockade and agreed that the town should be chosen as the capital site. Congress designated changed the name of Waterloo to Austin in honor of Stephen F. Austin, who is known as the father of Texas because of his great achievements in bringing anglos to Texas. The highest point and most desirable spot in the 7,735-acre site was chosen for the capitol building.

Once the location for the State Capitol had been selected Judge Edwin Waller was chosen by President Lamar to supervise the surveying and to sell various parcels of land in the center of the town. Judge Waller established the original boundaries between two creeks which were named Shoal Creek and Waller Creek. The total size of the city was 640 acres. Occupying the center of the original map drawn of the town was the site for the Capitol building and grounds that stood on the highest elevation overlooking the beautiful views of the hill country and shores of the Colorado River. The major street that ran up to the Capitol was named Congress Avenue. Just north of the Capitol grounds was a designated site named College Hill, which eventually became the home to the University of Texas. The first auction was held in August 1839 under the huge oak trees located at Republic State Park on 4th Street. Early settlers who relinquished their land for the capitol were Logan Vandeveer, James Rogers, J. D. Hancock, J. W. Harrell, and Aaron B. Burleson.

On January 13, 1840 Edwin Waller was elected Austin's first mayor. On August 12 of 1840 Waller participated in the battle of Plum Creek. Afterward he left Austin and moved to Austin County where he engaged in farming and merchandising. A small creek that feeds into the town lake is named "Waller Creek" in honor of Austin's first mayor.

LOU NEFF POINT

One of our favorite peaceful spots is called Lou Neff Point located where Barton Creek empties into Lady Bird Lake. Lou Neff was an young woman who was active in social and service organizations before dying at an early age. She was related to Texas Governor Pat M. Neff who was governor between 1921 - 1925. In 1916 Governor Neff's mother, Isabella Eleanor Neff donated 6 acres along the Leon River to the state of Texas. Governor Neff created the Texas parks system and named the first State park "MOTHER NEFF STATE PARK". The park is located about 100 miles north of Austin in Coryell County and today is roughly 400 acres.

Barton Creek

Barton Creek was named for William Barton who had settled along the creek banks in 1837.

Zilker Park

Stevie Ray Vaughn Statue

Fannie Davis Gazebo

The Fannie Davis Gazebo was Recent renovated Repairs included

Lady Bird Lake

Rowing Down the River

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mary Starr Barkley, History of Travis County and Austin, 1839–1899 (Waco: Texian Press, 1963). Sam A. Suhler, “Stephen F. Austin and the City of Austin: An Anomaly,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 69 (January 1966).

 The new statue at the Texas State Capitol honoring the Tejano history

  Evidence of prehistoric habitation at the "Balconies Escarpment"

  The historic oak tree at Republic Park, Mirabeau B. Lamar, Stephen F. Austin, Edwin Waller and more Austin history.

Resources:
Portrait of Mirabeau B. Lamar, Courtesy Texas State Library and Archives

Tshaonline.org

Austin Then and Now

Reuben Hornsby

Waterloo, Texas

Essortment.com History

Austin Cool Information

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