We begin our WABAC trip with selections, old and new, from our neighborhood history exhibit and booklet, with links included for more info.
(What’s a WABAC Machine? Find out here.)
ABOUT 500 B. C. • The Greek poet Theognis is among the earliest writers to describe Athens, Greece, as the City of the Violet Crown. By the 1890s, Texas writers had begun to use the term to describe Austin. In 1920, Theresa Moore Hunter published a book of poetry called Austin: The City of the Violet Crown. It’s out of print, but you can view a copy at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History—a great local resource—at the University of Texas at Austin. (More about the phrase “violet crown” here.)
1823 • Mexico awarded a large land grant within the Mexican province of Texas to Stephen F. Austin. Over the next five years the “Old Three Hundred,” the first influx of Anglo Americans to Texas, received land grants from Austin and established a colony from southeast of today’s Austin down to the Gulf of Mexico.
1836 • March 2: Texas gained its independence from Mexico, creating the Republic of Texas. • May 19: The capture of Cynthia Ann Parker (right) by Comanches at her home east of Waco, Texas, marked the beginning of a fierce 40-year war between Anglo Americans and Comanches. (More in the book Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne.)
1838 • George West Spear (spelled “Speir” in some records) acquired a headright grant for one league (more than 4400 acres) of land. In time, part of it would become the Brentwood and Crestview neighborhoods.
1839 • Waterloo, on the north bank of the Colorado River, was officially selected as the Republic of Texas’s new capital. Soon it was renamed Austin, for Stephen F. Austin.
1840 • Travis County was created from Bastrop County, one of the original Texas counties established in 1836.
EARLY 1840s • Books such as Border Wars of Texas, by James T. DeShields, and Depredations in Texas, by J. W. Wilbarger, document Indian raids in our area during this time, including several near today’s Austin State Hospital, south of 45th Street between Guadalupe and Lamar, and Seider’s Springs, south of 35th Street near Shoal Creek.
1845 • Texas became one of the United States, after being an independent republic for nine years.
1852 • John Hancock (left) purchased land from Rebecca Spear, widow of George W. Spear. Eventually Hancock would own several thousand acres in our area, including what later became Brentwood and Crestview. He died in 1893.
MID-1870s • The end of the conflict between Anglo Americans and Comanches helped facilitate the settlement of Austin and the rest of Texas. (More in Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne.)