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Stephens F. Austin’s Second Colony
Most everyone has heard about Stephen F. Austin’s First Colony established in 1823 and known as San Felipe de Austin, now known as San Felipe, Texas, but it is less well-known that a second colony was thriving before the Texas Revolution in what is now Montgomery County.
On May 20, 1825, Austin obtained from the government of the Mexican State of Coahuila and Texas a contract for the introduction of 500 families. Austin signed this Empresario contract for his second colony on June 4, 1825. The colony was to be completed within six years. On March 7, 1827, the boundaries of this second colony were the West Fork of the San Jacinto River on the east and the stream called Lake Creek on the west in what today is the western part of Montgomery County. By 1831, 16 of the early settlers qualified to receive leagues of land, and within two years the settlement became known as the Lake Creek Settlement, which was the earliest Anglo-American settlement in what is today Montgomery County.
In 1835, William W. Shepperd, a colonist originally from North Carolina, purchased a 200-acre tract of land located in the John Corner League. He established a store in the growing settlement near the intersection of three important trails: the Coushatta Trace, the Contraband Trace and the Grimes Road. Being in the center of the settlement, Shepperd’s store quickly became the meeting place and community center of the Lake Creek Settlement. The colonists and settlers no longer had to travel many miles to the towns of San Felipe de Austin or Washington-on-the-Brazos to purchase good and supplies. Additionally, Shepperd’s store became the place where land deeds and other legal documents were witnessed and executed.
In 1835-36, men from the Lake Creek Settlement fought in many of the battles of the Texas Revolution, including the Battle of Concepcion, the Grass Fight, the Siege of Bexar and the Battle of San Jacinto. These Texas Revolutionary soldiers included Matthew Cartwright, Thomas Chatham, Evin (Evan) Corner, James J. Foster, Raleigh Rogers, Jacob Shannon, Jacob H. Shepperd, A.U. Springer and John Marshall Wade. Wade manned one of the famous Twin Sisters cannons during the Battle of San Jacinto that won Texas her independence from Mexico.
Just prior to the Texas Revolution, Lake Creek Settlement was located in what was known as the Municipality of Washington. Following the Revolution, Lake Creek Settlement found itself located in Washington County, which was divided politically into six very large precincts. One of these precincts became the Lake Creek Precinct and was the southernmost part of Washington County. On May 17, 1837, Shepperd became the first postmaster, and his store would become the first post office in the Lake Creek Settlement. In July of 1837, Shepperd founded the town of Montgomery in the Lake Creek Settlement at the site of his home and store. A petition was made to the Congress of the Republic of Texas to create a new county, and on December 14, 1837, President Sam Houston signed the act creating Montgomery County. In early 1838, the town of Montgomery became the county seat of Montgomery County and served as such for several decades.
For more information about Lake Creek Settlement and early Montgomery County, visit the website lakecreeksettlement.info. The Montgomery County Historical Commission wants to thank Kameron K. Searle, J.D. for providing his research on Lake Creek Settlement. More of this history can be found in Searle’s book, The Early History of Montgomery County, Texas, (Montgomery, Texas: The City of Montgomery, 2012).