Austin’s Colony

The settlement of Austin's colony from 1821 to 1836 has been called the most successful colonization movement in American history. Many of the historical events of Southeast Texas owe their origin to this colony.

The promise of cheap land was the major reason for emigrating from the United States to Texas. Land cost 12 1/2 cents per acre, which was one-tenth the cost of public land in the United States. Colonists moved to the colony, particularly from the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Married heads of families could receive at least one labor (177 acres) if they farmed, and one league (4,428 acres) if they raised stock. Men of many professions—for example, doctors and blacksmiths—listed their occupation as farmer and rancher to receive the maximum amount of land.

Most of Austin's colonists planted crops on their land. "The soil and climate are best adapted to the growth of Cotton, Sugar [sugar cane], Corn, potatoes &c, which grow very luxuriantly. Fruit peculiar to this climate or latitude can be raised without any difficulty--the peach, pear, plumb, fig, grape, pomegranate, quince, apricot, orange, lemon, banana &c. &c. are at present growing in the colony and I am informed do remarkably well—for melons, pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers, and all vines it surpasses any country I ever saw—you have but to plant them and you have almost a certainty of a plentiful harvest."

The most important crop was cotton. It grew particularly well near the Gulf coast. One acre of ground well cultivated would yield from 2000 to 2500 pounds, at an average price of eleven cents per pound.

Religion was a problematic topic in Austin's Colony. The original rules of the grant from Mexico required that all settlers be Catholic. Most colonists accepted this condition, even though they did not change their faith. One settler wrote, "I know I can be as good a Christian there as I can here. It is only a name anyhow." The Mexican Catholic priests had to give their official blessings of marriages and baptisms before the government would recognize the event.

Austin initially encouraged his settlers to comply with the laws about religion. Several illegal camp meetings and Protestant services were held in Colonial Texas, but Texans never placed high priority on organized religion.

Source: Austin’s Colony
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