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.

Once the colonists received a title to land, they had to settle the property and build a home. Noah Smithwick remembered Thomas Bell living " in a little pole- cabin in the midst of a small clearing upon which was a crop of corn. His wife, every inch a lady, welcomed me with as much cordiality as if she were mistress of a mansion. There were two young children and they, too, showed in their every manner the effects of gentle training. The whole family were dressed in buckskin, and when supper was announced, we sat on stools around a clapboard table, upon which were arranged wooden platters. Beside each platter lay a fork made of a joint of cane. The knives were of various patterns, ranging from butcher knives to pocket knives. And for cups, we had little wild cymlings, scraped and scoured until they looked as white and clean as earthenware, and the milk with which the cups were filled was as pure and sweet as mortal ever tasted."

Most of Austin's Colonists planted crops on their land. The best crops were cotton, sugar cane, corn, potatoes, and fruit.

Large herds of wild horses and cattle ranged the plains of Texas. Many of Austin's colonists began mixing the Hispanic ranching tradition with their own Southern livestock practices, giving rise to the famous Texas ranching industry and longhorn cattle.

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. Wrote one Missourian, "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 on 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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