Oakwood Cemetery: Gleaning snippets of history from headstones

At the urging of President Mirabeau B. Lamar*, the Congress of the Republic of Texas selected a site on the Colorado River to serve as the country’s capital. In October of 1839, the government was loaded into oxcarts and moved to a site bounded by Shoal Creek and Waller Creek and newly named in honor of Stephen F. Austin.

William H. Sandusky’s 1840 map of the new capital, Austin, indicates a square plot of land dedicated for use as a cemetery. Texas General Land Office collection.

By January 1840, the population swelled to 839, and the need for a cemetery was obvious. The original core of what would later become known as Oakwood Cemetery is marked on the right of the map above.

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Who was the ‘Barton’ of the springs?

barton springs 1882

Above, “Barton Springs,” A.M. Ramsey, 1882 oil painting, Austin History Center, Portal to Texas History

…”waters are as transparent as glass. Small objects can be seen at the bottom, 15 or 20 feet below the surface. The flow never changes. Prolonged rains, over a wide extent of the country, do not increase their volume, nor do the severest drouths diminish it.”

Frank Brown writing in Annals of Travis County and the City of Austin, (From the Earliest Times to the Close of 1875), Collection of Travis County Historical Commission, Portal to Texas History

New zipcode for this blogger. Jumped from 78204 to 78704, which means a whole batch of historical tidbits to master in order to understand home in South Austin. With an address on Barton Springs Road, finding out about Barton seems a good place to start.

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An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Forty-Four

east commerce street

Above, the intersection of Navarro and East Commerce Streets. John Stevens’ office building is mid-block on the left side of the street.

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Forty-Three

Andrew Stevens, March 1913

“Thought the prophecies of the Book of Revelation were coming true last night!” John hangs his hat and umbrella on the stand just inside the door of Mr. K’s office.

“My best hens,” responds Mr. K, “never laid an egg as large as those hailstones plummeting down from the heavens. Half the slate tiles from my roof lie splintered on the ground. Both greenhouses shattered. All their contents destroyed.”

“Your financial loss must be enormous,” remarks Andy. “I am so sorry, sir.”

“Approximately 5,000 dollars. But my mourning is not monetary. Insurance will replace the roof and the glass. But those rare specimens of orchids I collected and cultivated? Irreplaceable.”

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Forty-Four”