History of central Texas

A region rich in history and culture, with evidence of human habitation dating back thousands of years, central Texas is generally defined as the area between San Antonio and Dallas and includes the cities of Austin, Waco, and Temple. Dating back to the Native Americans, tribes such as the Tonkawa, Lipan Apache, Comanche, and Karankawa were among the first inhabitants of the region. 

 

The 16th century marked the beginning of significant changes with the arrival of Spanish explorers. In 1716, Spanish friars established Mission San Francisco de los Tejas, the first permanent European settlement in Texas, near present-day Augusta. Intended to convert the local Native American tribes to Christianity and establish a foothold in the area, the mission was all but successful with disease, drought, and conflict plaguing the explorers and forcing them to relocate several times. 

 

During the Mexican War of Independence from 1810 to 1821, the region became a battleground between Mexican forces and American settlers who were seeking independence from Mexico. In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain and central Texas became a part of the newly established Mexican Republic. The 1830s saw a surge of American settlers moving into central Texas, drawn by cheap land and the promise of a better life. However, tensions between the Mexican government and American settlers grew, leading to the Texas Revolution in 1835. The revolution culminated in the Battle of San Jacinto in April 1836, where Texan forces under the command of General Sam Houston defeated the Mexican army and secured Texas’ independence from Mexico.

 

After gaining independence, central Texas played a significant role in the development of the new nation. In 1839, the capital of the Republic of Texas was moved to Austin, which had been selected for its central location and the availability of water from the Colorado River. In 1882, the construction of the Texas State Capitol began and was completed in 1888.

 

The 19th century. With the construction of railroads and the development of industries such as cotton farming and cattle ranching, the 19th century marked significant growth for central Texas. The city of Waco became a major hub for cotton production, while cattle ranching and the development of railroads spurred growth in other parts of the region.

 

The 20th century. In the 1900s, central Texas became home to several military installations, including Fort Hood and Camp Swift, which were established during World War II. The region also played a significant role in the civil rights movement, with notable figures hailing the area, such as Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Barbara Jordan, who served as a congresswoman and delivered the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention.

Central Texas Today. Now known for its booming tech industry, world-renowned music scene, and outdoor recreational opportunities, central Texas continues to attract new residents and businesses, drawn by its rich history, cultural heritage, and quality of life.