Fort Bend County 411


By Virginia Laird Ott

The settlement of Fort Bend County began in the early 1820s as part of the Anglo-American colonization of Texas under the auspices of the Spanish government. Authorization to settle 300 families in the valleys of the Brazos and Colorado rivers was initially granted to Moses Austin but plans were delayed by his death in June 1821 and Mexican independence from Spain. Stephen F. Austin assumed the responsibility of leadership from his father and gained confirmation of the original Spanish grants from the newly established Mexican government in 1823. Following arrangements with Austin, a group of colonists sailed from New Orleans in November 1821 on the schooner Lively and anchored near the mouth of the Brazos River on the Texas coast. In 1822, a small party of men from this group left the ship and traveled inland some ninety miles, and on a bluff near a deep bend in the river, built a two-room cabin. As the settlement grew, the cabin became known as both Fort Settlement and Fort Bend; the latter name, in time, prevailed. In 1824 the Mexican government issued documents officially granting to the colonists their leagues of land. Of the 297 grants, fifty-three were issued to Fort Bend settlers (now known as the Old Three Hundred). The presence of the Karankawa Indians near the new colonial settlements proved to be a comparatively minor problem. The first settlers had a few skirmishes, but as the colonies increased, the Karankawas began moving out of the area and by the 1850s had migrated as far south as Mexico.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. A. McMillan, comp., The Book of Fort Bend County (Richmond, Texas, 1926). Pamela A. Puryear and Nath Winfield, Jr., Sandbars and Sternwheelers: Steam Navigation on the Brazos (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1976). Clarence Wharton, Wharton's History of Fort Bend County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1939). Pauline Yelderman, The Jay Bird Democratic Association of Fort Bend County(Waco: Texian Press, 1979).