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HISTORICAL – Original Montgomery County: Focal Point of Texas History


CoushattiTrace

Territory that has been included in Montgomery County; map from the author’s original book, The History of Montgomery County.

On Dec. 14, 1837, Montgomery County became the third county established under the authority of the Republic of Texas, 1836-45. Later, between 1846 and 1873, the county yielded territory to the formation of all or part of five new counties. Earlier, during the era of Mexican occupation between 1821 and 1836, parts of four colonies composed mostly of American pioneers occupied the area of the later original county. By 1835, overlapping the same vast area were segments of three Mexican Municipalities, entities roughly equivalent to huge Texas Counties. Let’s examine this fascinating convergence of historical circumstances.

The Republic of Texas created Montgomery County out of Washington County. By 1840, Montgomery County reached its maximum size to stretch from the Brazos River in the west to the Trinity in the east. Its northern border was the Old San Antonio Road, while in the south it reached to Spring Creek. In 1846, however, the fragmentation process began with the creation of Walker and Grimes Counties. In 1853, 1870 and in 1873 further portions of Montgomery County became parts of the new counties of Madison, San Jacinto and Waller, respectively.

During the Mexican period, of the four colonies of American pioneers converging on the area of later original Montgomery County, the most celebrated was the initial colony of Stephen F. Austin. From the West, Austin’s Colony overlapped later Montgomery County eastward to the San Jacinto River. The San Jacinto also formed the western border of the Atascosito Colony. East of the San Jacinto were once parts of the colonies of Hayden Edwards and a German merchant named Joseph Vehlein. The Edwards Colony assumed the name of the “Republic of Fredonia” and briefly enjoyed independence from Mexico. With its claims reaching to the Rio Grande River, Fredonia technically encompassed the whole of later original Montgomery County.

In addition to Colonial Claims, by 1835 the area of later original Montgomery County marked the intersection of Liberty, Washington and Harrisburg Municipalities. Under the Republic of Texas, Liberty and Washington Municipalities became, respectively, Liberty and Washington Counties.

As heir to Liberty Municipality, Liberty County extended from east of the Trinity west to the San Jacinto, thus setting the scene for a short drama between Liberty and Washington Counties, on Montgomery County soil. The problem surfaced when Montgomery County fell heir to all of Washington County “east of the Brazos and southeast of the Navasota Rivers.” This is significant because the best evidence indicates that Washington County stretched beyond the Brazos eastward to the watershed between the San Jacinto and the Trinity. Given Liberty County’s western border as the San Jacinto, did that mean Washington County overlapped part of Liberty County? Clarification came on Dec. 18, 1837, just four days after the creation of Montgomery County, when the Texas Republic placed Liberty County’s western border only nine miles west of the Trinity.

Finally, of particular interest to citizens of The Woodlands area, Harrisburg Municipality once included original Montgomery County Territory from Spring Creek northward to Lake Creek. Under the Republic of Texas, the remainder of Harrisburg Municipality became Harris County.

Rich is the political heritage of the original Montgomery County.

 

Author Robin Navarro Montgomery, Ph.D., is a member of the Montgomery and Walker County Historical Commissions, chair of the latter and author of numerous books and articles.
Contact him at zippoboo@aol.com.

 

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The Montgomery County Historical Commission provides the content for this page.

For information on the commission and its efforts, visit montgomerycountyhistoricalcommission.com.

 


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