Welcome to the Wendish Research Exchange's WendBlogs section. Here you will read the musings and advice from one of several Wendish Blogmeisters whom have generously volunteered their time to participate. Please recognize that responses to your comments may or may not be forthcoming, but you are certainly encouraged to comment.


Background Information.

Tag Cloud





Latest Comments

Rex Lewis Field (Cotton Was King i…): I just visited both New and Old Dime Box just to see the defunct cotton gin in New Dime Box. The gi…
Dee Wait (Dr. J. Dan Schuma…): I think this was the hospital my aunt worked at. Her name was Emma Wait (she died in 1981). I remem…
Weldon Mersiovsky… (Nostalgic about B…): Ray – I am also nostalgic about brown paper bags. I would save them today except we have no use for …
Weldon Mersiovsky… (Remembering the O…): Thank you to Sue Brushaber for the picture of the Old Black Bridge of Dime Box. From Sue: “I fina…
Dan (Automobiles and t…): I remember my parents actually going around without me when I became old enough to drive, searching …
Dan (The Bad Manners o…): Totally agree with your thoughts here! Why has decency and consideration for others become a lost ar…


XML: RSS Feed 
XML: Atom Feed 

« The Strong-Willed Sla… | Home | A Need for God and Re… »

Remembering San Felipe de Austin

Monday 31 July 2017 at 03:01 am.

This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for July 27, 2017, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.

            A headline on the front page of the Wallis News-Review last Thursday caught my attention: “Kolkhorst Secures Additional $2M for Historic Site.” Historic sites always catch my attention!

            The news story was a report on the Eighty-fifth Texas Legislature, and included details about Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, local Austin County officials, and the Texas Historical Commission securing 2 million dollars for an expansion of the San Felipe de Austin State Historical Site near the town of San Felipe. I’m not sure they know the exact location of the original site since the town of three general stores, two taverns, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, and forty or fifty log cabins, was burned to the ground before the retreat of Santa Anna.

            Reading the article in the Wallis paper triggered some memories of the past, the first one being a Giddings High School field trip to Stephen F. Austin State Park, led by our history teacher. Actually, the only thing I remember about the trip was the tall live oak trees, with huge beards of Spanish moss hanging from the branches. I mean we had historical sites in Lee County, but no large, bearded live oak trees, -- just scrawny pin oaks.

            The second memory involved speeding tickets. In the early days of my ministry at Wallis, I made numerous trips to our sister church in Pattison, Christ Lutheran. Forgetting to slow down as I drove through the speed trap in the town of San Felipe, I was stopped by the local police three times. Two of the three times, I was let off the hook because I was a pastor, but the third time, I couldn’t convince the cop who stopped me that I was “Reverend” Spitzenberger, or that it mattered.

            As a history nerd (which I am now, but wasn’t in high school), I stopped more than once to read the historical marker, see the facsimile log buildings, the obelisk and bronze statue in the Park, and the historic old Methodist church. Stopping to observe historical sites did not undo the speeding tickets.

            With my “creative memory,” as my brother called it, and my whimsical nature, I would never make a true historian, -- that’s why “history nerd” is a better description of me.

            San Felipe de Austin during the 1820’s became the unofficial capital of the Anglo colonies in Mexican Texas. Thus conventions were held there in 1832 and 1833, with Stephen F. Austin presiding, so that colonists could express their gripes and suggestions for improvement, and later, even arguments for separate statehood (Sam Houston leading this idea). Two newspapers were published in San Felipe, one run by Gail Borden, the inventor of condensed milk.

            So why would a town be named San Felipe de Austin? The name was first suggested by Felipe de la Garza, the governor of the Eastern Interior Provinces. The “Austin” part, of course, paid homage to Stephen F. The governor came up with the rest of the name, because San Felipe de Jesus (Saint Phillip of Jesus) was the Patron Saint of Mexico City and Garza’s namesake. It seems odd that this name stuck since of the 55 delegates to the convention, not one was Tejano (all were Anglo). However, at the convention in 1835, the delegates decided against a declaration of independence.

            In 1828, there was a population of 200 at San Felipe, and in 1829, the first school was established in town. It was an “English school,” with an enrollment of 40 students, mostly boys. By the end of the next year, there were four schools in the community with a total enrollment of 77. By 1835, the population had grown from 200 to 600, second only to probably San Antonio. By October of that year, the War of Independence from Mexico began. San Felipe served as the capital of the provisional government until the Convention of 1836 met at Washington-on-the-Brazos.

            That little town has seen a lot of Texas history. For example, after the fall of the Alamo, Houston’s army retreated to San Felipe. The burning of the town was ordered as a way of keeping Santa Anna’s army from enjoying any of its benefits. Although San Felipe did not become the capital of independent Texas, it did become the first county seat of the newly established Austin County (the county seat later moved to Bellville). The 4,200 acres which make up Stephen F. Austin State Historical Park was donated to the State of Texas by the town of San Felipe in 1940.

            I am glad to have read that the Legislature has just agreed to provide additional funding to strengthen a very important historical site in our great State.


Ray Spitzenberger has retired after serving as pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, for 28 years, teaching in high school for 9 years and at Wharton County Junior College for 22.

No comments

(optional field)
(optional field)
In order to reduce spamming of our site by automated tools in use by bad people, we must ask you this question.

Comment moderation is enabled on this site. This means that your comment will not be visible until it has been approved by an editor.

Remember personal info?
Small print: All html tags except <b> and <i> will be removed from your comment. You can make links by just typing the url or mail-address.