A Nation was born here

March 11, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

 

WashingtonBrazosNationBornWashingtonBrazosNationBornMarker at the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico.

 

We didn't really plan it this way, but our arrival to Washington On the Brazos State Historic Site coincided with the annual Texas Independence Celebration. 

 

Washington, TX - Independence Hall ReplicaWashington, TX - Independence Hall ReplicaReplica of Independence Hall on the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

 

Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas, is an unincorporated community along the Brazos River established in 1833. Officially called Washington, it is best known for being the site of the Convention of 1836 and the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836.
 

 

Washington, TX - Independence Hall InteriorWashington, TX - Independence Hall Interior

 

The General Convention, which would decide the fate of Texas, met at Washington on March 1, 1836. The 59 delegates elected from each municipality in Texas convened in an unfinished storefront. 

 

WashingtonBrazosActors3Washington Brazos ActorsRe-enactors during the Texas Independence Celebration at Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site, 2023.

 

The delegates met to formally announce Texas’ intention to separate from Mexico and draft a constitution for the new Republic of Texas. They organized an interim government to serve until a permanent one could be formed. They also named Sam Houston as the Commander of the Texas Military. 

 

Washington Brazos ActorsWashington Brazos ActorsRe-enactors during the Texas Independence Celebration at Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site, 2023.

 

At the same time of the Convention, participants were receiving word about the siege at the Alamo.  Some wanted to rush to the aid of their fellow Texans without any formal structure of military but calmer heads prevailed. 

 

Washington Brazos ActorsWashington Brazos ActorsRe-enactors during the Texas Independence Celebration at Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site, 2023.

 

The delegates adopted their constitution on March 16 and worked through the next day when they had to flee with the residents of Washington to escape Santa Anna’s advancing troops. The convention members signing the Declaration were as good as signing their death warrants if the Revolution failed. They were also putting their families at risk and jeopardizing everything they owned.

 

Washington, TX - Old GarageWashington, TX - Old Garage

 

The townspeople returned after the Mexican Army was defeated in April, but economic problems following the Texas Revolution hit Washington hard. A visitor in 1842 said it was “a fine place, but all the fine stores and dwelling houses were most all deserted.” That same year, then President Sam Houston moved the republics government from Austin to Washington after Mexico again invaded San Antonio.  While the capital of the Republic, Washington began to grow. It continued to thrive as a commercial center for the Brazos River cotton trade, even after the seat of the government was moved back to Austin in 1845, the same year Texas was accepted into the Union as a State.

 

Washington, TX - GroceriesWashington, TX - Groceries

 

Construction of railroads bypassed the town and established its businesses in nearby Navasota. When the Civil War began, it took another toll on the town, which relied heavily on Slavery for it's primary export of cotton. By the turn of the 20th century, Washington was virtually abandoned.

 

Washington, TX - Washington Brazos State Historic SiteWashington, TX - Washington Brazos State Historic Site

 

Today the unincorporated town of Washington, Texas has only a handful of residents but is the home of Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site. The site features a visitors center, the Star of the Republic Museum about the Texas Republic, a replica of Independence Hall where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed, and the Barrington Living History Farm, the home of the last Texas Republic President Anson Jones. The expansive 293-acre park provides a beautiful setting for picnicking, sightseeing, and bird-watching. The Texas Independence Celebration is held the weekend before March 2 each year, unless March 2 lands on a Saturday. 

For more information, see their website Where Texas Became Texas

See our article Washington On the Brazos - Declaring Independence

 

Also See: 

The Texas Revolution

 

Navasota, Texas

 

Navasota, Texas circa 1870sNavasota, Texas circa 1870s

Just a few miles down the road from Washington, Navasota started in 1822 when Francis Holland bought land there. The community was first named Hollandale. In 1831, a Georgia planter, Daniel Arnold, applied for and received a land grant along the Navasota River. Soon after, Daniel Tyler received a land grant in the same vicinity.

 

Navasota, TX - 1871 Lewis Wilson BuildingNavasota, TX - 1871 Lewis Wilson Building

 

In 1848 James Nolan set up some tents nearby, and by 1852 he had built a log cabin that became a stage stop. Located where the La Bahía Road crossed the Navasota River and about halfway between Anderson and Washington-on-the-Brazos, the site was a natural crossroads. At that time, the settlement was called Nolansville.

 

Navasota, TX - Navasota RiverNavasota, TX - Navasota River

 

The settlement name was changed to Navasota for the river in 1858 when a post office was established. The Navasota River is thought to have been named for the Native American word nabatoto, meaning “muddy water.” We can confirm the muddy part. 

 

Navasota Railroad TowersNavasota Railroad Towers

 

After September 1859, when the Houston and Texas Central Railway was built into the town, Navasota became even more important as a shipping and marketing center for the surrounding area.

 

Navasota Cotton CompressNavasota Cotton Compress
Slavery was integral to the local economy as planters depended on enslaved African Americans to labor for their large plantations. The slaves were brought to the city and sold in the domestic slave trade. They worked primarily in the cotton fields, a major commodity crop. After the Civil War and emancipation of the slaves, in 1879, African Americans from the area, who were tired of the harsh realities of sharecropping and limited political and economic influence under the black codes, left for Kansas, which was considered the promised land for the newly freed blacks. They became known as Exodusters, and as many as 12,000 left this region of Texas.

 

Frank Hamer Texas RangerFrank Hamer Texas Ranger

 

In 1908, Navasota was still a Wild West boomtown, and “shootouts on the main street were so frequent that in two years at least 100 men had died.” Famed lawman Frank Hamer, then 24 years old, was hired away from the Texas Rangers to become the City Marshal. Hamer moved in and imposed law and order, prosecuting Navasota criminals until the town became safe again. He served as marshal until 1911. Hamer became more widely known in 1934 as a posse leader who hunted down and fatally shot Bonnie and Clyde.

 

Mance Lipscomb circa 1960sMance Lipscomb circa 1960sMance Lipscomb circa 1960s
In 2005, the Texas Legislature designated Navasota as the “Blues Capital of Texas” in honor of the late Mance Lipscomb, a Navasota native and blues musician. The town celebrates his legacy with a Blues Festival each year. 

 

Navasota, TX - StreetNavasota, TX - Street

 

In 2009, Navasota was selected as a “Visionaries in Preservation” city by the Texas Historical Commission to protect the numerous historic structures in the city.
 

 

Navasota, TX - Railroad StreetNavasota, TX - Railroad Street
Today, Navasota has many shops and artisans in its historic downtown district, including antique, gift, and boutique stores and art galleries housed in old classic stone and brick structures. For more information see the city's website here

See our article Navasota - Train Town USA

 

Also See: 

Frank Hammer - Stopping Bonnie and Clyde

Jim Crow Laws

Exodusters of Kansas

 

Navasota Concrete RVNavasota Concrete RVWestern Steakhouse RV Park, Navasota, Texas.

 

During our stay in Navasota, we parked our travel trailer at the Western RV Park, behind the Western Steakhouse and Dancehall.  This was a different feel as the entire RV Park is concrete at different levels with slopes in-between spaces. A bit hard for bigger rigs to back into their spots. Full hookups make it a great stop for short stays but wouldn't want to plan a long-term stay here. If you do decide to park here, say hello to the duck that apparently makes the RV Park home and walks around visiting everyone. 
 

 


 

 


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