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Frequently Asked Questions

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAQ’s—Frequently Asked Questions

The following are questions most commonly asked by our visitors. Perhaps you too have been wondering some of the same things about Texas history. We hope that you will find some of your answers here.

How did Washington get its name?

Washington, Texas was named after the town of Washington, Georgia, the hometown of several Texan settlers, including Dr. Asa Hoxey, Andrew Robinson, and Robert Williamson. Asa Hoxey, Thomas Gay, James B. Miller, Alexander Somervell, and Captain John W. Hall formed the Washington Townsite Company in March 1835. Hall was the group’s agent, advertising town lots, holding land sales, and issuing titles. He was also the son-in-law of Andrew Robinson, one of the first Anglo settlers in Texas and operator of a ferry at the Brazos River crossing.

Why was Washington chosen as the place to hold the convention considering independence?

Delegates representing Texas settlements discussed grievances against the Mexican government at San Felipe in 1835. The citizens of Washington had hoped this "consultation" would be held in their town. They argued Washington was centrally located for all delegates, as the town’s ferry serviced the heavily-traveled La Bahia road, and the Brazos River was navigable from the coast. The area was considered healthier than the lower-river region. Washington’s businessmen gained prominent supporters such as Sam Houston, who served with the provisional government established at San Felipe. Success was achieved when the provisional government, distressed by San Felipe’s poor accommodations, called for a convention to be held at Washington beginning March 1, 1836.

Who were the Presidents of the Republic of Texas?

David G. Burnet (Ad-interim President, not elected)
March 17, 1836-October 22, 1836

Sam Houston (First & third elected President)
October 22, 1836-December 10, 1838
December 13, 1841-December 9, 1844

Mirabeau B. Lamar (Second elected President)
December 10, 1838-December 13, 1841

Anson Jones (Fourth elected President)
December 9, 1844-February 19, 1846

When was Washington the capital of the Republic of Texas and how many capitals have there been?

Although the Consultation which met in San Felipe in 1835 approved moving the provisional government to Washington in November 1835, the move did not occur until February 1836. Following the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence and adoption of a Constitution in Washington, Harrisburg and Galveston were both occupied by the ad interim government as they moved about avoiding the Mexican Army. Officers settled at Velasco, which served as the seat of government through the end of September 1836. In October 1836 Columbia (now West Columbia) became the first official capital for three months. Houston was then selected as a temporary capital when President Houston ordered the government to move there in December 1836. Houston was capital from April 1837 until 1839. President Lamar moved the capital to Austin (once called Waterloo) in October 1839. Fearing an attack on Austin, located on the frontier, President Houston ordered the government to return to Houston in March 1842. Washington became the capital again by executive order in September of that year. The capital would remain in Washington until Texas was annexed to the United States in February 1846, when Austin became the final home of Texas’ government.

How many men signed the Texas Declaration of Independence? And where were they from?

Signers of the Texas Declaration of IndependenceFifty-nine delegates signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. They were a diverse collection of both extraordinary and very ordinary people, who for a variety of reasons played a pivotal role in the history of the country. They had come from a total of five foreign countries (Mexico, Canada, England, Scotland, and Ireland) and twelve different states. Only two, Jose Francisco Ruiz and Jose Antonio Navarro, were "native Texans;" the rest were relative newcomers. While ten of the delegates had been in Texas more than six years prior to 1836, fifteen had come in 1835. They were also relatively young men; forty of the fifty-nine were under forty years of age.

When did Texas become part of the United States?

On December 29, 1845, U. S. President James K. Polk signed the act that made Texas the 28th state in the American Union. The final step in achieving statehood took place on February 19, 1846, when officials who had been elected in December assembled to take their oaths of office. At that ceremony, Anson Jones, the last President of the Republic, turned over the reins of the government to J. Pinckney Henderson, the first governor of the new state.

When did Texas get its current flag?

Original Lone Star Texian FlagThe current Lone Star flag design was adopted by the Third Congress of the Republic on January 25, 1839 under the administration of President Mirabeau B. Lamar. Until that time, the flag of the Republic was the one adopted on December 10, 1836, known as "David G. Burnet’s flag." The flag consisted of a large golden star centrally located on an azure ground. Although Lorenzo de Zavala had proposed a flag of blue with a white star of five points central, with the letters "T E X A S" between the star points, nothing further was done with the recommendation, perhaps owing to the hasty adjournment of the Convention at Washington, and to the loss of part of the Convention notes.

Why is Texas called the "Lone Star State"?

An article from the June 24, 1934 issue of the Dallas News by T. B. Baldwin relates the story of how Texas got its Lone Star. His story recounts the actions of Henry Smith, who became the first governor of pre-revolutionary Texas in 1835. "In Smith’s day overcoats had large brass buttons. It happened that the buttons on the coat of Governor Smith had the impress of a five-pointed star. A few days after he was inaugurated Governor, a messenger arrived with important papers. After reading and signing them the Governor said: "Texas should have a seal," and forthwith he cut one of the big buttons from his overcoat and with sealing wax stamped the impress of the Lone Star upon the documents."

It might also be noted that there may have been a Masonic influence to the adoption of a five-pointed star for Texas. George K. Teulon in Freemasons’ Monthly Magazine in 1844 noted, "Texas is emphatically a Masonic Country; all of our Presidents and Vice-President, and four-fifths of our State Officers were and are Masons: by Freemasonry to illustrate the moral virtues--it is a Five Pointed Star...May it ever bind us in the holy Bond of Fraternal Union and govern our social, Masonic, and Political intercourse."

How much is a league and a labor of land?

A league of land equals 4,428 acres and a labor, 177 acres, combined they add up to 4,605 acres. This was the amount of a headright (first-class) granted to "all persons except Africans and their descendants, and Indians, living in Texas on the day of the Declaration of Independence… if they be heads of families… and if a single man, 17 years or older, one-third league" (1,476 acres).

Are there any Indian reservations in Texas?

After the reservations were moved to Indian Territory, the state of Texas recognized the right of one Native American group to remain in Texas. Made up of the Alabama and Coushatta tribes, they were primarily farmers who had settled along the Trinity River in East Texas in 1825. In addition, many had fought in the Texas Revolution. In 1854, with the help of Senator Sam Houston, Texas granted the Alabama-Coushatta people 1,280 acres of land in Polk County, near present-day Livingston. Later in 1928, more land was added to the reservation. In addition to the Alabama-Coushatta reservation, there are currently two other reservations in Texas: the Tigua reservation near El Paso, and the Kickapoo reservation near Eagle Pass.

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