in a Pecan Shell
Josiah Hughes Bell
is credited with founding the town in 1823. His plantation, known
as Bell's Landing supplied other settlements along the river. In 1824
Bell platted a town and called it Marion. Lots were sold in
1829, but were unsuccessful. In 1831 the town had a mere handful of
cabins, a store and Bell's home. Wharves and warehouses were built
and ships shuttled between East Columbia and New Orleans.
Bell sold the growing town to Walter C. White in 1827, but the town
was still called "Bell's Landing" through 1840. Two years later it
was known as West Columbia, and finally was renamed East Columbia.
When Houston became the
capital of Texas, East Columbia prospered. It received another boost
with the arrival of the Houston Tap and Brazoria Railroad in 1859.
The onset of the Civil War stopped East Columbia's prosperity. The
town had a population of 800 in the mid 1880s and a few years later
it hit 1,500. Another period of decline set in and by 1914 it was
down to 150.
The local post office once known as Columbia, was renamed East
Columbia in 1927. The population declined to a low of 89 in the
"The Belle's Landing site, on the east shore of the Brazos, is
actually totally different from where the Bell's Landing site was,
down stream on the western shore of the Brazos." - Barclay
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, May 2012
Founded 1823 as
Brazos River landing for Josiah H. Bell's plantation. Townsite of
Marion laid out in 1824. Later named East Columbia. Army enlistment
point and ferrying dock during Texas Revolution. Key river port and
trade center during Republic of Texas days.
County map showing "Columbia"
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
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