Old Three Hundred
The Old Three Hundred were the 297 grantees, made up of families and some partnerships of unmarried men, who purchased 307 parcels of land from Stephen Fuller Austin and established a colony that encompassed an area that ran from the Gulf of Mexico to near present day Brenham in Washington County, Texas, Navasota in Grimes County, and La Grange in Fayette County. Moses Austin was the original empresario of the Old Three Hundred and was succeeded by his son, Stephen F. Austin, after his untimely death.
Stephen Austin agreed to implement his father's plan, and in the summer of 1821 he and a small group of settlers crossed into Texas. Before he arrived in San Antonio to meet with the governor, they learned that Mexico had earned its independence from Spain, making Texas a Mexican province rather than a Spanish province. Governor Martinez assured him, however, that the new Mexican government would honor the colonization contract.
Stephen returned to Louisiana to recruit settlers. He offered land at 12.5 cents per acre, only 10% of what comparable acreage sold for in the United States. Settlers would pay no customs duties for seven years and would not be subject to taxation for ten years. In return, they would be expected to become Mexican citizens.
In March 1822, Austin learned that the new Mexican government had not ratified his father's land grant with Spain. He was forced to travel to Mexico City, 1,200 miles (1,931 km) away, to get permission for his colony.
The 1823 Imperial Colonization Law of Mexico allowed an empresario to receive a land grant within the Mexican province of Texas. The empresario and a commissioner appointed by the governor would be authorized the distribute land to settlers and issue them titles in the name of the Mexican government. Only one contract was ultimately approved under this legislation, the first contract granted to Stephen F. Austin.
Between 1824 and 1828, Austin granted 297 titles under this contract. Each head of household received a minimum of 177 acres or 4,428 acres depending on whether they intended to farm or raise livestock. The grant could be increased for large families or those wishing to establish a new industry, but the lands would be forfeited if they were not cultivated within two years.
The settlers who received their titles under Stephen's first contract were known as the Old Three Hundred, and they made up the first organized, approved influx of Anglo-American immigrants to Texas. The new titles were located in an area where no Spanish or Mexican settlements had existed, covering the land between the Brazos River and the Colorado River from the Gulf Coast to the San Antonio Road. The capital of this new colony was San Felipe de Austin, now the town of San Felipe in Austin County.
When Austin began advertising his colony, he received a great deal of interest. He was able to be selective in his choice of colonists, which enabled his colony to be different from most others of the time. Austin chose settlers based on whether he believed they would be appropriately industrious. Overall, they belonged to a higher economic scale than most immigrants, and all brought some property with them. One-quarter of the families brought slaves with them. All but four of the men could read and write. This relatively high level of literacy had a great impact on the future of the colony. According to historian William C. Davis, because they were literate, the colonists "absorbed and spread the knowledge and news always essential to uniting people to a common purpose".
Despite a provision in Mexican law requiring immigrants to be Catholic, most of Austin's settlers were Protestant. Many chafed at being ruled by Catholics. Most held strong feelings about property ownership and their personal liberty, though not that of their slaves.
Lester G. Bugbee in his article The Old Three Hundred published in the October 1897 issue of The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, identifies the head of each family who purchased land in Austin's colony. They were:
|Head of household||Born||Died||Family as of March 1826||Notes|
|Elijah Allcorn||1769||1844||Wife, five children and two servants.|||
|Martin Allen||1780||1837||Wife, nine children|||
|John C. Alley||1822||Brother of Thomas, Rawson and William Alley.|||
|Rawson Alley||1793||1833||Single||Brother of John, Thomas and William Alley|||
|Thomas Alley||1826||Single||Brother of John, Rawson and William Alley|||
|William Alley||1800||August 15, 1869||Single||Brother of John, Rawson and Thomas Alley|||
|Charles Alsbury||Single||Brother of Harvey and Horace Alsbury. Died about 1828.|||
|Harvey Alsbury||Wife||Brother of Charles and Horace Alsbury|||
|Horace Alsbury||1805||June 1847||Single; later married Juana Navarro||Brother of Charles and Harvey Alsbury. Member of the Coahuila y Tejas legislature in 1835. Left the Alamo Mission as a courier during the Siege of the Alamo in February 1836. Fought at the Battle of San Jacinto.|||
|Thomas Alsbury||1773||Wife and two daughters||Father of Charles, Harvey and Horace Alsbury. Wife Leah Catlett Alsbury. Daughters Leah Ann and Marion B. Served in the War of 1812. Died August 1826.|||
|Simeon Asa Anderson||Wife, three children, one slave|||
|John Andrews||February 1838||Wife, two children, one servant|||
|William Andrews||1840||Wife, five children, two slaves||Daughter married Randal Jones in 1824.|||
|Samuel Angier||August 26, 1792||In 1829, married fellow colonist Pamelia Pickett|||
|James E.B. Austin||October 3, 1803||August 14, 1829||Helped put down the Fredonian Rebellion. Brother of Stephen F. Austin.|||
|John Austin||March 17, 1801||August 11, 1833||Member of the Long Expedition in 1819. Served as alcalde of Brazoria in 1832, and was a delegate to the Convention of 1832. Participated in 1832 Anahuac Disturbances, led Texian forces at the Battle of Velasco, and signed the Turtle Bayou Resolutions.|||
|Stephen F. Austin||November 3, 1793||December 27, 1836||Brother of James Austin. Convinced Mexico to reinstate the Spanish policy of land grants for empresarios, and organized the first colony in Texas. President of the Convention of 1832 and delegate to the Convention of 1833. In 1835, served as the first general of the Texian Army. In November 1835, became Texas commissioner to the United States. Defeated in election for first president of the Republic of Texas, and instead served as the first secretary of state.|||
|James B. Baily||nov 13,1797||september 30,1835||5 wives and 18 kids|
|Daniel E. Balis|
|Mills M. Battle|
|Josiah H. Bell|
|Thomas B. Bell||Wife Prudencio, three children||Donated the land on which Bellville was founded in 1846|
|Caleb R. Bostwick|
|John T. Bowman|
|Edward R. Bradley|
|William B. Bridges||1795||April 4, 1853|
|William S. Brown|
|Aylett C. Buckner|
|Morris A. Callihan|
|William C. Carson|
|Jesse H. Cartwright|
|John C. Clark|
|Antony R. Clarke|
|Merit M. Coats|
|John P. Coles|
|James (Jack) Cummins|
|James Curtis, Sr.|
|James Curtis, Jr.|
|William B. Dewees||Sep. 8th, 1799||Apr. 14th, 1878||William Bluford DeWees, pioneer settler and public official, was born in Virginia on September 8, 1799. He first visited Texas on a keelboat excursion up the Red River in 1819. In late 1821 he accompanied a group of four families from Arkansas to the Austin colony; the party arrived on the lower Brazos River on January 1, 1822. On August 3, 1824, DeWees and his partner, James Cook, who constituted one of the Austin colony's Old Three Hundred households, received title to a league of land on the Colorado River in the southern part of what is now Colorado County, about ten miles below Columbus. DeWees then obtained title to a second half league on the west bank of the river at the site of the Columbus township, on April 28, 1831. As property owner, developer, and early settler of the site he became known as a founder of Columbus. The census of 1825 listed him as a gunsmith, and he appears as a blacksmith in the census of 1826. In 1840 he held title to 1,207 acres, claimed another 887 acres under survey, and possessed a personal estate that included eleven slaves, thirty cattle, nine horses, and a carriage.
DeWees traveled in Mexico in 1826 and 1827, then took up residence in San Antonio, where he lived for almost two years before returning to his home on the Colorado. Beginning in 1837 he held a series of public offices in Colorado County, including justice of the peace, associate land commissioner, and associate justice of the county court. In 1865 he was again elected justice of the peace for Precinct 1 of Colorado County. Later that year he was appointed to a term as county treasurer by provisional governor A. J. Hamilton. But DeWees's political career and reputation were ruined in 1866 when he was charged by his successor with misappropriating $1,200 in county funds and was successfully sued for that amount in district court. His appeal of the decision was denied in 1870.
DeWees married a daughter of Austin colonist Benjamin Beeson, probably named Lydia, in 1823 and eventually became the father of two children. His wife apparently died before 1850, and DeWees probably married a German immigrant named Angelica. In the early 1850s he covertly collaborated with writer Emmaretta Cara Kimball Crawford in producing a journal of his pioneering experiences that purported to be a compilation of his letters to a Kentucky resident named Cara Cardelle; this volume of dictated reminiscences, actually written by Emmaretta Kimball, was published in 1852 under the title Letters from an Early Settler of Texas to a Friend. DeWees died in Colorado County on April 14, 1878.
|Thomas M. Duke|
|Joseph Duty||March 6, 1801 (Gallatin, TN)||September 11, 1855 (Webberville, TX)|
|Clement C. Dyer|
|John F. Fields|
|Freeman George||1780||1834||Wife, 8 sons||Freeman George received 1 sitios land between San Bernard and Bay Prairie (Matagorda County) and 1 labor of land located Brazos East side opposite San Felipe (Waller County). According to The Hand Book of Texas, he was given a league and a labor of land (see above) which is known as Matagorda and Waller counties on July 7, 1824. Also one of the original patentees in the vicinity of Old Ocean, Texas, in southwestern Brazoria Co.|||
|Chester S. Gorbet|
|Jared E. Groce||1782||1839|
|Samuel C. Hady|
|George B. Hall|
|John W. Hall|
|W. J. Hall|
|John R. Harris|
|William J. Harris|
|Thomas S. Haynes|
|John Iiams [sic]|
|Henry W. Johnson|
|James W. Jones|
|John C. Keller|
|Hosea H. League|
|Jane H. Long|
|Thomas F. McKenney|
|George W. McNeel|
|John G. McNeel|
|Pleasant D. McNeel|
|David H. Milburn|
|Samuel R. Miller|
|James D. Millican|
|John L. Monks|
|Colonel John Henry Moore|
|Joseph Newman||c. 1787||1831||Wife Rachel Rabb, 10 children||Brother in-law to John Rabb and Thomas J. Rabb, he ranched and farmed a sitio near Bonus.|
|Charles Isaac Nidever|
|George S. Pentecost|
|William A. Pettus|
|James A.E. Phelps|
|Joseph H. Polley|
|William Pryor||c. 1775||1833||Wife Betsy Trammell, 6 children||His death was recorded as 9 Sept 1833 in the diary of William B. Travis. Pryor's will states he was from Botetourt_County,_Virginia.|||
|Thomas J. Rabb|
|Frederic H. Rankin|
|Noel F. Roberts||C. 1820||C. 1825||Married Harriet Pryor daughter of William Pryor.|
|William Roberts||aft. 1856||Married Elizabeth Pryor daughter of William Pryor.|
|Joseph San Pierre|
|Daniel Shipman||NC 20 Feb 1801||Goliad County Texas 4 Mar 1881||Participated in the Disturbance at Anahuac June, 1832 and the Storming and Capture of Bexar, December 5 to 10, 1835 Daniel Shipman arrived in Texas March 19, 1822. Daniel and his friend Charles Isaac Nidever rode south to explore the Brazos River region; they reached the home of Martin Varner in Independence on April 8. After reporting to his father, Shipman joined Stephen F. Austin's colony in the fall of 1823. They received a labor of land at the juncture of the Brazos River and Mill Creek in May or June of 1824. Young Shipman served for a time on a surveying crew under William Selkirk before returning to his father's farm to raise a crop. He fought the Karankawa Indians during the summer of 1825 under Capt. Amos Rawls and later under Capt. Horatio Chriesman, but then quarreled with Austin over a quarter league that he had been promised. He visited the colony of Martín De León, where he intended to acquire a full league. Although he became friendly with De León and his family, Shipman was dissatisfied with the land and the colonists and so returned to the Brazos. In partnership with Nidever, he received a one-league headright now in Brazoria County on May 21, 1827. Shipman married Margaretta Kelly on September 23, 1828, and subsequently settled on Oyster Creek in Fort Bend County.
He served in Capt. Francis W. Johnson's company in the Anahuac Disturbances of 1832 and in Capt. John Byrd's company at the siege of Bexar. He was with Lt. Thomas H. Borden, the company's temporary commander, at the storming of the city in December 1835, and was at the side of his friend Benjamin R. Milam when he was shot. On August 2, 1836, Shipman and his father enlisted in Byrd's four-month volunteers; Shipman served until the company was disbanded on January 18, 1837. In February 1838 Shipman received half a league and a labor in Harris County as a head of household and an army veteran. By 1840 he owned 2,214 acres of land in Bexar County, an equal amount in Brazoria County, and 288 acres in Harris County. On February 24, 1844, he was elected justice of the peace of Fort Bend County. In 1867 he was a resident of Washington County. After the death of his first wife, Shipman married Eliza Hancock. In 1879 he published Frontier Life: 58 Years in Texas. The book is largely derived from the work of Dudley G. Wooten and other writers, but its early chapters are Shipman's own richly detailed and colorful memoirs. Shipman died near Goliad on March 4, 1881, at the home of his son Daniel Shipman. He and his second wife are buried in the State Cemetery in Austin on Republic Hill, Section 1 (C1) Row S Number 4. His younger brother John was killed on the Mier expedition. Daniel Shipman's third wife, Martha J. Haley, is buried in the Brenham Masonic Cemetery in Brenham, Washington County, Texas. According to court documents and census records, Daniel Shipman spent the last years of his life with Daniel and Eliza's son Edward M. Shipman. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daniel Shipman, Frontier Life: 58 Years in Texas (1879). Andrew Jackson Sowell, History of Fort Bend County (Houston: Coyle, 1904; rpt, Richmond, Texas: Fort Bend County Historical Museum, 1974) Certified as original titled land owner in Texas with 4,716 total acres.
|Gabriel S. Snider|
|Albert L. Sojourner|
|Owne H. Stout|
|John I. Taylor|
|Thomas J. Tone|
|James F. Tong|
|Francis F. Wells|
|Walter C. White|
|Elias D. Wightman|
|George I. Williams|
|John R. Williams||Built "The Old Place" along Clear Creek, which eventually became the oldest remaining structure in Harris County, Texas. It is now part of Houston's Sam Houston Park|
|Robert H. Williams|
|Samuel M. Williams|
|Zadock Woods aka Zaduck||1773||1842||Served in the battle of Gonzales, the battle of Concepción, the Grass Fight and the Runaway Scrape. In the Mexican invasions of 1842 Woods and his sons fought with Mathew Caldwell's troops against General Adrián Woll, where he was killed during the Dawson Massacre.|||
- Christopher Long, "OLD THREE HUNDRED," Handbook of Texas Online , accessed March 27, 2012.
- Edmondson (2000), p. 60.
- Edmondson (2000), p. 61.
- Edmondson (2000), p. 63.
- Greaser (1999), p. xviii.
- Cantrell (2000), p. 419.
- Hatch (1999), p. 136.
- Greaser (1999), p. ix.
- Davis (2006), p. 60.
- Bugbee, Lester G..org/publicatshq/online/v001/n2/article_7.html THE OLD THREE HUNDRED. A LIST OF SETTLERS IN AUSTIN'S FIRST COLONY ], Volume 001, Number 2, Southwestern Historical Quarterly Online, Page 108–117. Accessed 2008-04-14.
- "Allcorn, Elijah", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Allen, Martin", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Alley, John C.", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Alley, Rawson", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Alley, Thomas V.", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Alley, William A.", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Alsbury, Charles Grundison", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Alsbury, James Harvey", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Alsbury, Horace Arlington", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Alsbury, Thomas", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Anderson, Simeon Asa", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Andrews, John", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Andrews, William", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Angier, Samuel Tubbs", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Austin, James Elijah Brown", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
- "Austin, John", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association
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- Charles Christopher Jackson, "DEWEES, WILLIAM BLUFORD," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fde54), accessed October 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
- "GEORGE, FREEMAN," Handbook of Texas Online , accessed June 07, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
- "PHILIPS, ZENO," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fph05), accessed October 02, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
- "PRYOR, WILLIAM," Handbook of Texas Online , accessed January 8, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
- Paul N. Spellman, "WOODS, ZADOCK," Handbook of Texas Online , accessed June 16, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
- Cantrell, Gregg (2001), Stephen F. Austin, empresario of Texas, New Haven: Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-09093-2
- Davis, William C. (2006), Lone Star Rising, College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, ISBN 978-1-58544-532-5 originally published 2004 by New York: Free Press
- Edmondson, J.R. (2000), The Alamo Story-From History to Current Conflicts, Plano, TX: Republic of Texas Press, ISBN 1-55622-678-0
- Greaser, Galen (1999), "Foreword", Austin's Old Three Hundred: The First Anglo Colony in Texas, Austin, TX: Eakin Press, ISBN 1-57168-291-0
- Hatch, Thom (1999), Encyclopedia of the Alamo and the Texas revolution, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, ISBN 978-0-7864-0593-0