Lake Creek Settlement
The Lake Creek Settlement (ca. 1830s through the 1840s) was a settlement in Stephen F. Austin's Second Colony located in Mexican Texas and later the Republic of Texas. The Lake Creek Settlement was located between the West Fork of the San Jacinto River (Texas) and the stream known as Lake Creek in what is today western Montgomery County, Texas. In July 1837, the town of Montgomery, Texas was founded in the middle of the Lake Creek Settlement.
In 1821, the Mexican War for Independence severed the control that Spain had exercised on its North American territories, and the new country of Mexico was formed from much of the lands that had comprised New Spain, including Spanish Texas. Because it was sparsely populated, Texas was combined with Coahuila to create a new state, Coahuila y Tejas.
The new Mexican government was bankrupt and had little money to devote to the military. Settlers were empowered to create their own militias to help control hostile Indian tribes. Mexican Texas faced raids from both the Apache and Comanche tribes, and with little military support the few settlers in the region needed help. In the hopes that an influx of settlers could control the Indian raids, the government liberalized its immigration policies for the region, and settlers from the United States were permitted in the colonies for the first time.
Stephen F. Austin quickly became the first Empresario to successfully establish a colony in Texas. 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 to 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 Austin's first contract were known as the Old Three Hundred.
The 1824 General Colonization Law enabled all heads of household who were citizens of or immigrants to Mexico to be eligible to claim land. The law did not differentiate among races or social stature, and people who had been granted occupancy rights would be able to claim the land patent for the dwellings. Immigrants were required to be Roman Catholic and foreigners were expected to learn Spanish. Settlers were supposed to own property or have a craft or useful profession, and all people wishing to live in Texas were expected to report to the nearest Mexican authority for permission to settle.
Approval for settlement contracts for Texas was the responsibility of the state government in Saltillo. They were soon besieged by foreign speculators wanting to bring colonists into the state. Coahuila y Tejas implemented the federal law in 1825. At this time, about 3500 people lived in Texas, mostly congregated at San Antonio and La Bahia. Under the new law, people who did not already possess property in Texas could claim one square league of irrigable land, with an additional league available to those who owned cattle. Soldiers were given first choice of land, followed by citizens and immigrants. Empresarios and individuals with large families were exempt from the limit. Those who had owned land under Spanish control were allowed to retain their property as long as they had not fought on the side of the Spanish during the Mexican War of Independence. Immigrants were subject to the same policies as Mexican citizens, and Indians who migrated to Texas after Mexican independence and were not native to the area would be treated as immigrants.
On May 20, 1825, Stephen F. Austin obtained from the government of the Mexican State of Coahuila y Texas a new contract for the introduction of five hundred families. Austin signed this Empresario contract with the state of Coahuila and Texas on June 4, 1825. This contract was to be completed within six years. Order No. 24, dated March 7, 1827 defined the boundaries of Austin's Second Colony for the purposes of this contract as follows:
Beginning on the west bank of the river San Jacinto, at the ten border leagues of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico; thence following its course with the right bank of said river to its source on a straight line north to the road leading from Bexar to Nacogdoches; thence with the said road westward to a point north from the headwaters of Labaca creek; thence on a line due south towards the sources of the aforesaid creek; thence down said creek, on the eastern bank of the same, to the boundary line of the ten littoral leagues, parallel with the coast, to the place of beginning.— Order No. 24
Under the 1825 contract, Empresario Stephen F. Austin granted land on behalf of the Mexican government to a number of colonists in 1831. Some of these settlers in Austin's Second Colony received leagues of land along the eastern boundary of the colony in what is today western Montgomery County. Each of these leagues of land contained 4,428.4 acres. Elias R. Wightman surveyed all of these leagues. The chain carriers assisting Wightman in surveying these leagues included, at various times, William Rankin, Mathew Hubert, John Corner, William Atkins and James Rankin. The early settlers who qualified and received a league of land included the following colonists:
|Colonist - Date of Grant||Colonist - Date of Grant|
|Mary Corner - April 7, 1831||William M. Rankin - April 10, 1831|
|James Pevehouse - April 7, 1831||Noah Griffith - April 11, 1831|
|Archibald Hodge - April 8, 1831||Benjamin Rigby - April 14, 1831|
|James Hodge - April 8, 1831||William Atkins - April 18, 1831|
|Owen Shannon - April 8, 1831||Jacob Shannon - April 30, 1831|
|William C. Clark - April 10, 1831||Raleigh Rogers - May 6, 1831|
|William Landrum - April 10, 1831||John Corner - May 10, 1831|
|Zachariah Landrum - April 10, 1831||Anne White - May 12, 1831|
Within two years of the arrival of the original colonists in 1831, this settlement between the West Fork of the San Jacinto River and the stream called Lake Creek had already become known throughout Mexican Texas as the "Lake Creek Settlement." This area was also commonly referred to as the "neighborhood of Lake Creek," the "District of Lake Creek," the "Precinct of Lake Creek," or simply as "Lake Creek."
Jacob Shannon - To - Rutha Miller
Texas Austins Colony
Lake Creek Settlement
August 8th 1833
Articles of Agreement made and entered into between Jacob Shannon of the one part and Rutha Miller of the other part both of the Colony and Settlement aforesaid, Showeth that the said Jacob for and in consideration of an agreement entered into heretofore the said Jacob is to let the said Rutha have the one half of his League of land lying in the said neighborhood,the said Rutha having paid the one half of the expense, said League which League being known by the name Beadye on which the parties now settled so as to be divided as to the equal to both of the parties in soyal, water and timber, all of which League is held by the said Jacob by grant from the Government...
Jacob Shannon— Montgomery County Deeds, Vol. N, page 254.
After the original settlers received their land grants in 1831, more settlers began to arrive in the settlement. These early families included: Cartwright, Chatham, Galbraith, Garret, Mock, Shepperd, Springer, and Worsham. Stephen F. Austin's Register of Families describes a land grant to Thomas Chatham within the Lake Creek Settlement in 1834:
Thomas Chatham from the State of Alabama. 33 years old. Ditha his wife 23 years old. 1 Male child 3 female do. Occupation farming. Applies for 4 quarters of league in Lake Creek settlement, marked J. M. Springer who relinquishes in favor of Chatham. Relinquishes first selection and applies for vacant land between Austin and Greenwood.— Stephen F. Austin's Register of Families, Book 2
By 1835, the population of the Lake Creek Settlement had become large enough to support a trading post. William W. Shepperd, originally from North Carolina and a brother of United States Congressman, Augustine Henry Shepperd, purchased 200 acres of land on the John Corner League near the middle of the Lake Creek Settlement. There he established the trading post which became known as "the store of W. W. Shepperd on Lake Creek." Shepperd's store quickly became the meeting place and community center of Lake Creek Settlement. In 1835, John Bricker built a mill and a cotton gin for W. W. Shepperd at this location.
During the Texas Revolution, the Lake Creek Settlement was located in the Washington Municipality. A number of residents of the Lake Creek Settlement fought in the Texas Revolution against Mexico. Soldiers from the Lake Creek Settlement who fought in the Texas Revolution included Jacob H. Shepperd, Mathew Cartwright, William Cartwright, Thomas Chatham, Raleigh Rogers, Jacob Shannon, Evin Corner, John Marshall Wade, A. U. Springer, James J. Foster and John Bricker. These soldiers fought in one or more of the battles of the Texas Revolution including the Powder House Fight, the Battle of Concepción, the Grass Fight, the Siege of Bexar, the battle on the Brazos River at San Felipe de Austin, and the Battle of San Jacinto.
And Jacob Shannon says that he is a resident citizen of Montgomery County...that he knew the said Mathew Cartwright now present before him, in the year 1835 at and in Lake Creek Settlement now said County of Montgomery that he also knew him in the Army of Texas in the Campaign at San Antonio de Bexar in the year 1835 that he went from said Settlement in company with himself as members of Capt Fosters company under Capt Jos L Bennet (Foster having resigned) that he saw said Mathew Cartwright at the Siege of Bexar for and during six weeks...— Jacob Shannon, Pension Claim Application File of Mathew Cartwright, Texas State Library and Archives Commission
And Thomas Chatham says on his oath that he personally knew the said John M Wade now here present before him in the year 1835 in the month of October at the place called Lake Creek Settlement now the town of Montgomery...that the said Wade and himself joined Capt W Wares company and under his command joined the army of the Republic of Texas under the command of Genl Sam Houston on the Colorado River...said Wade and himself came with said Army to Groce's Plantation on the Brazos River and that said Wade was detailed to serve with the Artillery on the 16th or 17th of April 1836...That the said John M. Wade participated in the Battle of San Jacinto, to the best of his belief and knowledge on the 21st day of April 1836, that he returned from said Battle to the Lake Creek Settlement now the county and town of Montgomery where he resided for many years in fact up to the present date...— Thomas Chatham, Pension Claim Application File of John M. Wade, Texas State Library and Archives Commission
One of the soldiers from the Lake Creek Settlement who fought in the Texas Revolution was Jacob H. Shepperd. Shepperd had attended West Point but withdrew prior to his family's immigration to Texas. Jacob Shepperd fought in the Powder House Fight, the Battle of Concepción and the Siege of Bexar. Jacob Shepperd delivered the dispatch that saved the life of Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna shortly after the Texas Revolution. Texas historian, Henderson Yoakum, provided the following account:
It is proper to state here a movement in the army, consequent upon the attempt by Pages to rescue Santa Anna. It was the wish of many, and was generally reported, that by a vote of that body, it was resolved to conduct the captive to headquarters, and place him before a court-martial. General Houston, then at Aies Bayou, being informed of these alleged proceedings, dispatched his protest against them. He [Houston] protested against it, because of all the advantages accruing to Texas by his [Santa Anna's] capture would thus be destroyed. The protest reaching the army, was sent to Columbia. A captain with his command had, just before its arrival, gone, as was said, after the prisoner, to bring him to the army; and the protest only reached Captain Patton, who had the captive in charge, in time to prevent his removal. Captain J. H. Sheppard, the bearer of the document, says the pleasant change of affairs filled Santa Anna with joy, and he embraced him as one who had saved his life.— Henderson Yoakum, History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846, Volume 2
Founding of Montgomery, Texas
Following the Texas Revolution, the Lake Creek Settlement was located in Washington County, Texas. Washington County was composed of six large precincts. One of these precincts took its name from the Lake Creek Settlement. Washington County Chief Justice, John P. Coles, provided the following description of the boundaries of Washington County to the Secretary of State of the Republic of Texas in early 1837 in which he specifically mentions the Lake Creek Settlement as part of Washington County:
Washington.-Beginning at the mouth of Caney creek on the west bank of the Brazos river; thence following said creek to its source; thence west on the dividing ridge between the waters of New Year's creek and the principal or western fork of Mill creek until it strikes the eastern line of the county of Mina to the San Antonio road; from thence following said road eastward crossing the Brazos river to the west bank of Trinity river; thence following down said west bank to the county of Liberty (which is undefined); from thence following said line of Liberty to the northeast corner of the county of Harrisburg; from thence following the north line of the county of Harrisburg to the northeast corner of the county of Austin, so as to include Lake Creek settlement; from said northeast corner of the county of Austin, following the north line of Austin, to the mouth of Ponn [Pond] creek on the east bank of the Brazos river; and thence up said east bank to the point opposite the mouth of Caney creek, and thence across the Brazos river to the place of beginning...— John P. Coles chief justice
In 1837, W. W. Shepperd, in association with John Wyatt Moody, founded the town of Montgomery, Texas at the site of W. W. Shepperd's store in the middle of the Lake Creek Settlement. J. W. Moody was the First Auditor of the Republic of Texas and had been the Auditor of the Provisional Government of Texas during the Texas Revolution. Prior to his arrival in Texas, J. W. Moody had been the County Clerk of Montgomery County, Alabama. Notice of the founding of the town of Montgomery first appeared in an advertisement placed in the July 8, 1837 edition of the Telegraph and Texas Register newspaper published in Houston, Texas.
Creation of Montgomery County
On December 14, 1837, the Congress of the Republic of Texas passed an Act creating Montgomery County, Texas. In the following weeks, the town of Montgomery, located in the center of the Lake Creek Settlement became the county seat of Montgomery County. Montgomery County was initially composed of three large political precincts that had previously formed eastern Washington County: the Viesca Precinct, the San Jacinto Precinct and the Lake Creek Precinct. The Viesca Precinct included most of the territory of present-day Grimes County, Texas (created 1846). The San Jacinto Precinct included most of the territory of present-day Walker County, Texas (created 1846). The Lake Creek Precinct included most of the territory of present-day Montgomery County, Texas.
An official Texas historical marker was approved by the Texas Historical Commission for the Lake Creek Settlement on January 29, 2016. On May 17, 2016, the Montgomery Independent School District Board of Trustees named the new MISD high school Lake Creek High School after the Lake Creek Settlement. The official Texas Historical Commission marker for the Lake Creek Settlement was dedicated at a ceremony in front of the Nat Hart Davis Museum and Pioneer Complex in Montgomery, Texas on February 25, 2017. Lake Creek High School, the second comprehensive high school in the Montgomery Independent School District, opened on August 21, 2018.
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