Replica of the First Capitol of The Republic of Texas in West Columbia today|
Photo courtesy Ken
Rudine, July 2007
Marker Text: |
September 1836 Columbia, now known as West Columbia, became capital
of the Republic of Texas.
This took place with the removal of the ad interim government here from Velasco.
After the election called by ad interim President David G. Burnet, the first permanent
government of the Republic went into operation here in Columbia in October. Inaugurated
were President Sam Houston
and Vice-President Mirabeau B. Lamar. Under their leadership the first duly elected
Congress convened and the first Constitution of the Republic was ratified. Citizens
of this vicinity served the Republic. Henry
Smith of nearby Brazoria prior of this time
has been the first Anglo-American governor of Texas, in the 1835-36 Revolutionary
provisional government. In President Houston's cabinet he was secretary of the
treasury. Stephen F. Austin, colonizer and Father of Texas, was secretary of state;
under the heavy demands of that office, his health broke and he died here on December
27, 1836. In April 1837 at the wish of President Houston, the seat of government
was moved to more adequate quarters in the city of Houston.
17th and Bernard, West Columbia)
First Capitol of The Republic of Texas Historical Marker|
Photo courtesy Ken
Rudine, July 2007
Near Site of
About 1833 Leman Kelsey built a story-and-a-half calpboard structure near this
location. When Columbia became capital of the Republic of Texas in 1836.
The building was one of two which housed the newly formed government. The First
Republic of Texas Congress convened in Columbia. Here Sam Houston took office
as Secretary of State. In 1837 the government moved to Houston.
storm destroyed the original capitol. The Replica at this site was built in
First Capitol of The Republic of Texas
Capitol of Texas, West Columbia, Texas|
Postcard c1927, courtesy rootsweb.com/
Mike Cox ("Texas Tales" column)|
to a developer’s donation of a 337- by 35-foot strip of land along State Highway
35, the historic spot has been transformed into Capitol of Texas Park.
Dedicated on April 17, 2009, the park features a path connecting a series of granite
monuments telling the history of the area.
That history goes back to 1824,
when Josiah Bell settled on the nearby Brazos River at a point soon known as Bell’s
Landing. A community at first called Marion and then East
Columbia eventually merged with the nearby settlement of Columbia,
later renamed West Columbia.
Since by the summer of 1836 Columbia had
more buildings than any other Texas town, not to mention two newspapers, the interim
government of the Republic of Texas decided it would be the capital city.
nation’s business was done in several frame structures put up a few years earlier.
The House of Representatives met in a one-and-a-half story structure built in
1833 previously occupied by a merchant named Leman Kelsey. Across the road from
the House, the Senate conducted its august proceedings in a two-story store formerly
used by the firm of White and Knight.
The First Congress convened in those
two buildings Oct. 3, 1836 and worked through December, when the government removed
itself to the new town of Houston.
rented government buildings reverted to private use, the structure that had accommodated
the republic’s upper house being torn down in 1888. The former lower chamber survived
beyond that, but it had deteriorated considerably.
It took more than 60
years before some Texans began to appreciate that the old House building had historic
value. A newspaper reporter from Galveston
came to town and wrote a story about Columbia’s short-lived reign as a national
capital city and boldly contributed $25 toward purchase of the property so it
could be preserved as “a historic relic.”
In 1897, a Houston photographer
named F.E. Beach took a picture of the old structure – a gaping hole in its roof
– and labeled it “First Capitol of Texas.” He sold cardboard-mounted copies for
The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, saviors of the Alamo,
had their collective sights on the old building when the September 1900
Galveston hurricane destroyed it. Fortunately, Beach’s image and several other
In 1932, the DRT placed a granite historical marker
at the site. Seven years after that, the area was cleared and a series of businesses
went up along the street.
Those structures were razed in 2007 to make
way for a new chain drug store. When the existing pavement was ripped up, workers
discovered an old cistern and assorted artifacts. Boyd’s firm got hired to do
an archeological survey.
With help from the Brazosport Archeological Society,
Prewitt and Associates spent a week that December looking for traces of the government
structures... Boyd said more archeological work remains to be done in the area,
but that will have to wait on funding... more
Mike Cox "Texas Tales"
view of the Replica of the First Capitol of The Republic of Texas|
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