Talk:West Columbia, Texas

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Historical Sites[edit]

Area Historic Sites

Old Columbia Cemetery

Site given by Josiah H. Bell family out of their grant- the first grants deeded to one of "old 300" in colony of Stephen F. Austin. Has a grave of many heroes of Texas Revolution of 1836. 

Columbia United Methodist Church

 This congregation traces its history to early Methodist missionary activity during Texas' years as a Republic. In 1839 the Rev. Isaac L.G. Strickland was assigned to the Brazoria circuit and organized a Methodist church in Columbia (now West Columbia), an early capital of the Republic.

Josiah H. Bell Home Site

 Josiah Hughes Bell, Brazoria County planter, founder of East and West Columbia, Texas. Also one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists was born on August 22, 1791, in South Carolina. Bell moved to what became known as Bell's Creek in January 1824. On this tract of 6,642 acres, was built the town of Columbia, first capital of the Republic of Texas.

George McKinstry Home Site

Stephen F. Austin died at 12:30 p.m., December 27, 1856, at age 45, of pneumonia. A memorial service was held at Judge George McKinstry’s home site, place of Austin’s death. George McKinstry served as a member of Austin’s Colony in 1829. Served as a soldier in the battle of Velasco. Served as a chief of justice of Brazoria County in 1836. As well as delegate to the General Convention of 1832. 

Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site

 The plantation is named for its first and last owners - Martin and Elizabeth Varner and Ima Hogg and features a refurbished two-story Greek revival plantation house built around 1835. Varner farmed sugar cane, corn and raised livestock. On April 4, 1834, Varner sold his holdings in Brazoria County to Columbus R. Patton, who developed the site into a successful sugar plantation. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 blew down the sugarhouse and many other buildings at the plantation, but the house survived, and in 1901 the property was sold to former Governor Hogg.

East Columbia- Main Street National Historic District

 East Columbia was founded by Josiah Hughes Bell in 1823. Originally named Bell's Landing, this site on the Brazos served as a supply depot for settlements on the river above. In 1824 Bell laid out the new town and named it Marion. In 1842, when Bell's settlement on the prairie became known as West Columbia, Marion was renamed East Columbia.

 A. Ayock-Crews Home- The Aycock-Crews House was built in 1890’s by a riverboat captain named Aycock. It is of Victorian architectural style and is occupied today.

 B. Aldridge-Smith Home- The Aldridge-Dance-Smith House is associated with several families who played important roles in the development of East Columbia as a regional trade center during the late 19th and 20th centuries.

 C. Travis-Smith House- Travis Logan Smith Sr. played a pivotal role in East Columbia's economic development during the late 19th century. Smith recognized the importance of the Brazos River to East Columbia's growth and prosperity. With his brother, John, and his brother-in-law, Branch T. Masterson, he organized the Columbia Transportation Company in 1885 to provide shipping services to the region. The firm owned a fleet of six steamboats used to transport cattle, cotton, and produce from East Columbia to markets in Galveston. Another ship, the Hiawatha, was a luxury steamer run by the company as a passenger liner.

D. Tyler-Bryan-Weems Home- While the construction date of this house is unknown, it is estimated to date to the 1870's as it so closely resembles the T.L. Smith House, built in 1878 on an adjacent lot. According to oral history, a two-story house and a smaller one-story house stood at this site prior to 1900.

 E. ML Weems Home- Built on Front Street overlooking the Brazos about 1847 by Dr. Mason Locke Weems. This house is unusual because a raised cottage was built above a six-room basement that was used as a dispensary for Confederate troops during the Civil War. In addition to being a physician, Weems was a successful planter who was quite knowledgeable on a variety of agricultural subjects. Historically associated with the Weems family.

F. Ammon Underwood Home- One of the oldest frame houses still standing in Texas. Built in 1835 the Ammon Underwood House is best known as the 50-year residences of Texas pioneer Ammon Underwood. Underwood came to East Columbia in 1834 from Massachusetts. While Underwood lived in East Columbia, he amassed a considerable fortune through the operation of two large cotton plantations in Brazoria County. Underwood family occupied the house for over 100 years. In the 1860's Underwood's plantation hands labored to move the house away from the eroding banks of the Brazos River. 

G. Sweeny- Waddy Cabin- Originally erected about 1850, this building historically served as a home of an enslaved African American family that worked on Sweeny's plantation. Mark and Larkin Waddy remained on the plantation after the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865. The cabin continued to be occupied by members of the Waddy family until 1953.

H. Dance Gun Shop- James H. Dance and his sons, George and David, moved to East Columbia in 1848 and established the only manufacturing operation in the community. The firm was most famous for manufacturing guns patterned after the Colt revolver that were praised by the Confederate Army for their accuracy. While George and David Dance operated the machine shop, James H. Dance was better known for his carpentry skills. The Dance machine shop was destroyed in the 1900 hurricane. 

Bell's Landing Business District

 A. Bell's Marker- By 1829 a community known as Bell's Landing or Marion, which became an important inland port, grew up around a landing Bell constructed near his home. Bell developed a sugar plantation along the creek's banks and subsequently laid out the two towns that came to be known as East Columbia and West Columbia. He built the area's first hotel in 1832, constructed a school, and as an innovative town planner provided garden plots for new residents.

 B. Carry A. Nation Hotel Site- Carry Nation, prohibitionist, daughter of George and Mary (Campbell) Moore, was born on November 25, 1846 and settled on a cotton plantation on the San Bernard River near Houston. Failing to make the plantation a success, Carry supported the family by managing a hotel in Columbia. The eventual Sale of the plantation enabled them to buy a hotel in Richmond, which Carry ran with sporadic assistance from her husband, who practiced law and corresponded for the Houston Post.

Bethel Presbyterian Church

 Established in 1840, Bethel is the third oldest Presbyterian Church in Texas. The present building was built in 1913 and is famous for it’s beautiful, locally made stained glass windows. 

Nash- Wright House

One of the oldest houses surviving in Stephen F. Austin colony town of Bell's Landing (East Columbia). Early part of this house was built about 1847 on cedar pole framing by George Lewis Nash. 

Sugar Mill at Byrnum-Mills Plantation

The Mills brothers were among the most successful cotton and sugar producers in Texas. Their four Brazoria County plantations (Lowwood, Bynum, Palo Alto and Warren) are now the site of the Bar X land development. Remnants of the old Byrnum sugar mill remain. 

Bailey's Prairie

Established in 1818 as an individual claim by James Briton Bailey, a later member of Austin's colony. Born in 1779, Bailey was tall, fearless, and of Irish stock. Pioneer Texas noted for his courage, integrity, and eccentric behavior. At his request he was buried standing up, facing west, his gun at his side so no one could look down on him, even in death. His restless ghost is said to walk this prairie. 
 Replica of the First Capital
About 1833 Leman Kelsey built a story and a half clapboard structure near this location. When Columbia became capital of the Republic of Texas in 1836, the building was one of two, which housed the newly formed government. The first Republic of Texas Congress convened in Columbia. Here Sam Houston took office as president and Stephen F. Austin as secretary of state. In 1837 the government moved to Houston. The 1900 storm destroyed the original capital. The replica at this site was built in 1976-77.

Columbia Historical Museum

It is only fitting that a historical museum be located at the site of the First Capitol of the Republic of Texas, established in Columbia 1836. The mission of the museum is to bring better understanding and appreciation of the rich history of West and East Columbia to Brazoria County. The museum's goals are to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of the area through the collection and display of artifacts of the area's earliest beginnings. Exhibits begin with the period when the city was the First Capitol and extend to the present day. Numerous groups and individuals have given or loaned artifacts for exhibition. 

Rosenwald School

One of 5,300 built in 15 southern states between 1917 and 1932 as part of an initiative by Sears, Roebuck & Co. President Julius Rosenwald and black educator Booker T. Washington to build schools in the rural south for black students. 

Rosenwald Schools were hubs of rural African American life in the 1930s and 40s throughout the South. So few have survived that in 2002 the National Trust for Historic Preservation put them on the list of the country's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and soon after launched the Rosenwald Initiative to establish a unified effort to uncover and restore the forgotten buildings.

The Rosenwald School will open in the fall of 2009 to the public as a permanent, walk-in exhibit at the Columbia Historical Museum.

West Columbia Chamber of Commerce

[] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:05, 8 July 2009 (UTC)