No other place is quite as significant in the history of our family as Brazoria County, for it is where the Munson, Underwood, Horn and Fairfield families converged between 1824 and say 1916, and where many of their descendants still live.
Between 1821 and 1836. the future Brazoria County was part of Austin's Colony, first in the Mexican state of Tejas, then Coahuila y Tejas when the two states were united in 1824. At least 90 of Austin's original 300 families settled there, among them our Carson family who would later marry into the Underwood family. It is an area rich in history.
The first of Austin's colonists arrived at the mouth of the Brazos in 1821 aboard the Lively, though they would move up river to what is now Fort Bend County. Marion, commonly called "Bell's Landing," later Columbia, now East Columbia, was the most important shipping point in Austin's Colony. The future county was in 1832 the scene of the Battle of Velasco, considered by many to be the Lexington and Concord of the Texas Revolution. Santa Anna was held prisoner at Orozimbo Plantation on the west bank of the Brazos River, nine miles northwest of the present day town of Angleton, after his capture at San Jacinto, and the treaties of Velasco recognizing Texas Independence from Mexico were signed at Velasco several weeks later. Austin considered Peach Point, the plantation home of his sister and brother-in-law, Emily and James F. Perry, his only real home in Texas. Austin died at Columbia, now West Columbia, and was buried at Peach Point. (His remains were later moved to the State Cemetery in Austin).
Brazoria County is said to be "Where Texas Began" because the little town of Columbia, now West Columbia, was the First Capital of the Republic of Texas. On 20 December 1836, the Congress of the Republic of Texas passed an act providing for the creation of Brazoria County as one of twenty-three original counties of Texas. Long before it became a county, however, the area was home to many fine plantations. Cotton was the predominate crop, but sugar production gained importance. The labor-intensive plantations, particularly those involving sugar production, were dependent upon a slave work force and Brazoria County numbered second among Texas' slave-owning counties. Farmers in Brazoria and adjacent counties of Matagorda, Ft. Bend and Wharton developed the largest cotton and sugar plantations in antebellum Texas and became known collectively as the "Texas Sugar Bowl." These agricultural endeavors formed the basis of a strong economy and in all of Texas, only those counties approached the planter-dominated economy and lifestyle typically associated with the "Old South."
Before the War Between the States, Texas had been one of the richest states; afterward, one of the poorest. The ten richest Brazoria County citizens lost 60% of their wealth. Not only had they lost their slaves, the planters had invested heavily in the Southern cause. They were left holding worthless Confederate money and cotton bonds, and they made little or nothing from their 1864 cotton crop because disreputable Union Treasury agents refused to distinguish between cotton that had been pledged to the Confederate government from that which belonged to the planter. It was a terrible time made much worse by the vindictive Reconstruction Act that put Texas under military rule. Reconstruction finally ended in 1870, and Brazoria County made a slow but steady recovery.
Brazoria County - Handbook of Texas Online
Battle of Velasco - Handbook of Texas Online
Treaties of Velasco - Texas State Library and Archives Commission Web site
Brazoria County Historical Museum
Brazoria County TXGenWeb
Brazoria County formation, major events and family arrival timeline
Fairfield from Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana (1908).