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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town


One of the United States, so called, according to tradition, from the Comanches, who, on discovering the country exclaimed "Tehas! Tehas!" which, in their language signified, "The happy hunting ground."  According to other authority, it was named Texas, by the Spanish commander De Leon, to commemorate kindness he received from the Asimais Indians of this region, on visiting them in 1689, the appellation, signifying, in their dialect, "friends." It lies between 26° and 36°30' north latitude, and 93°20' and 107° west longitude from Greenwich.  It is bounded north by New Mexico, and the Indian Territory, the latter of which is separated in part by the Red river, east by Arkansas and Louisiana, the later being separated in part by the Sabine, southeast by the gulf of Mexico, and southwest by Mexico, from which it is separated by the Rio Grande.  Its superficial area is 225,000 square miles.

Physical Aspect--  The general aspect of this state is that of a vast inclined plain, gradually sloping eastward from the mountains on the westerly side to the coast.  From the borders of the Mexican gulf, and ranging inland from 30 to 75 miles, the surface is even; but unlike any of the other southern states, it is remarkably free from marshes, or swamps.  The country between the Sabine and Galveston bay consists mostly of barren prairies, except along the streams, where it is woody and flat. The remaining portion of the coast, southwestward, is low and sandy, and for some distance inland, the eye is relieved by beautiful prairies, insulated groves, and meandering streams.  The soil of this region is mostly, if not wholly, made up of alluvion, which is often remarkably fertile, and of great depth.  Next in order comes the "rolling country" which extends inland from 150 to 200 miles further, presenting a delightful country, diversified by fertile prairies, pleasing woodlands, and numerous rivulets, fed from the purest springs.  Limestone and sandstone form the common substrata of this region, the surface soil being a rich, friable loam, mixed more or less with sand.  The upper, or mountainous region, situated chiefly in the western section of the state, forms a part of the great Sierra Madre, or Mexican Alps, the remotest extremity of which consists of an elevated table land, "where the prairies not infrequently resemble the vast steppes of Asia, except in their superior fertility."

Mountains-- The chief mountains are, the Guadalupe and Oregon ranges, which lie in the western part of the state.

Rivers, Lakes and Bays-- The principle rivers are, the Rio del Norte or Rio Grande, Neches, Trinity, Brazos Dios, Colorado, Guadalupe, La Vaca, San Antonio, Nueces, Salado, Sabine, Red and San Jacinto.  Sabine and Caddo lakes lie partly in this state.  The chief bays are, the Galveston, Matagorda, Gopano, Espirtu, Santo and Corpus Christi.

Islands-- The principle of these are Galveston, Matagorda, St Joseph, Mustang and Padre.

Climate-- The climate is decidedly more healthy than that of Louisiana, or any of the other gulf states; still, on the low, alluvial coast, intermittents are prevalent in summer and autumn, but the yellow fever is rarely known.  From March till October but little rain falls, though gusts of wind with thunder, frequently occur.  During the rest of the year wet weather generally prevails.  The winters are warm and mild on the coast, and for some distance inland snow is seldom seen, except on the higher mountains, or table lands.  From April to September the thermometer near the coast ranges from 63° to 100° F.  The greatest heats, however, are tempered by strong and constant breezes, which begin to blow soon after the rising of the sun, and continue until afternoon.  The nights throughtout the middle region are refreshing and cool during the year.

Productive Resources-- The chief products of this state are, horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, wool, cotton, tobacco, oranges, figs, wine, olives, dates, sugarcane, wheat, rye, barley, oats, rice, potatoes, and Indian corn.  Cotton and sugarcane are the agricultural staples.  The mineral and fossil resources are, silver, iron, coal, bitumen, nitre, granite, limestone, slate and gypsum.  Salt may be manufactured from numerous lakes and springs.  Buffalo and wild horses are found in vast numbers on the prairies.

Manufactures-- Texas at present is wholly an agricultural state; but it possesses all the prerequisites for becoming eminently a manufacturing one.  Its waterpower is abundant; its labor cheap; and in its cotton, wool, iron &c, may be found material to supply the demand of a manufacturing industry to almost an unlimited extent.

Railroads and Canals-- Texas is as yet without these important aids to internal commerce.  Several railroads have been projected; among them may be mentioned, one extending from the Red river to the Gulf of Mexico.

Commerce-- The direct foreign commerce of Texas is small amounting in 1850, to but about $50,000.  Its coasting trade, however, is of more importance.  The shipping owned within the state amounts to about 50,000 tons.

Education-- The principle collegiate intuitions in Texas are, the Baylor university at Independence found in 1844; the University of San Augustine; Wesleyan college at San Augustine; Rutersville college and University of Nacogdoches.  Its public school fund is derived principally from the school lands, and common schools are being established throughout the state

Population-- In 1820 about 3,000; in 1850 was 213,492.  Number of slaves in 1850 was 50,161.

Government-- The legislative power is vested in a senate and house of representatives.  The senators are elected by the people, by districts, for the term of four years, one half being chosen biennially; their number is not to be less than 19, nor more than 31.  The representatives are elected for two years, by the people by countries; the number is not to be less than 45, nor more than 90.  The executive power is vested in a governor, elected by the people, at the time and place of elections for members of the legislature; he holds his office for the term of two years, but is not eligible for more than four years in any term of six years.  At the same time, a lieutenant governor is chosen for the same term, who is president of the senate, and succeeds the governor in case of death, resignation, &c of the latter.  The judicial power is vested in a supreme court of three judges, in district courts, and in such inferior courts, as the legislature may, from time to time, establish. The judges of the supreme and district courts are appointed by the governor, and hold their offices for six years.  The right of suffrage is granted to every free white male person over the age of 21 years, a citizen of the United States, who shall have resided in the state one year next preceding an election, and in the last six months within the district in which he offers to vote.  The creation, extension or renewal of any banking or discounting company is prohibited.  There is no imprisonment for debt.

History--  The present state of Texas embraces a part of the extensive country of Louisiana, as claimed by France, prior to the year 1763.  It also comprised a province of Mexico, in the Provincias Internas, and remained as such, under Spanish, and subsequently under Mexican rule, until it declared its independence, in 1836.  The first post in this country was established at Bexar, by the Spaniards, in 1681.  In the year 1685, La Salle, in attempting to establish a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi was deceived by his reckoning and landed at the head of Matagorda bay, within the present limits of Texas, where the settlement of St Louis was formed. Although this little colony was soon after broken up by the Indians, yet, as the standard of France had first been planted there, this region was thenceforth claimed as an appendage of Louisiana. With the Exception of one or two unimportant missions, no other settlements were made in Texas until 1692, when a Spanish colony was planted at San Antonio de Bexar.  Owing to various circumstances, it remained almost entirely unknown to the rest of the world, until the breaking out of the first Mexican revolution, in 1810.  The only settlements of importance at that time were those of San Antonio de Bexar, Nacogdoches and La Bahia or Goliad.  From the unsettled state of the country immigration was prevented, and it was not until after the second Mexican revolution, when she achieved her independence, in 1821, that any substantial advances were made toward further colonization.  From this period emigrants in large numbers, mostly from the United States, continued to flow into Texas, under the encouragement of Mexico.  When the federal constitution was overthrown, in 1834, the people of Texas refused to acknowledge the new government.  They sued for admission into the Mexican confederacy, as an independent state in 1832, but were refused, as Mexico was jealous of the growing power of the province.  In 1835, a Mexican army was sent to reduce them to submission.  In March 1836, Texas declared itself an independent republic, and elected David G Burnett president.  A constitution was formed, having for its basis that of the United States.  The battle of San Jacinto was fought on the 21 Apr, between the Texan troops, under General Houston, and the Mexican army, under President Santa Ana, in which the letter was  signally defeated.  General Houston was elected president of the republic in September following.  It sought for admission into the Union, which was granted by an act of Congress passed in February 1845.  On the 04 Jul following the people of Texas, in convention, adopted a state constitution, and it became an independent state of the Union

1850 Counties of  Texas

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Anderson eastern part, between Neches & Trinity rivers blank blank 2,884
Angelina easterly part, between Neches & Angelina rivers blank blank 1,165
Austin southern part, crossed by Brazos river blank blank 3,841
Bastrop in the southern part, crossed by Colorado river blank Bastrop 3,699
Bell no description blank Nolansville not given
Bowie northeast corner, between Red river & Sulphur Fork of same blank Boston 2,972
Brazoria southeast boundary, on the Gulf of Mexico, water by Brazos & San Bernard rivers blank Brazoria 4,841
Brazos southwest part, between Brazos & Navasoto rivers blank Booneville 614
Burleson southwest part, between Brazos and Yegua rivers blank Caldwell 2,613
Caldwell no description blank Lockhart 1,329
Cameron no location blank Brownsville not given
Cass east boundary, northeast side of Cypress river blank Linden 3,089
Cherokee eastern part, between Angelina & Neches rivers blank Rusk 5,057
Collin northern part not listed McKinney 1,973
Colorado southern part, crossed by Colorado river blank Columbus 2,257
Comal not listed blank chief town-New Braumfels 1,723
Dallas north part, water by Trinity river blank Dallas 2,743
Denton northern part blank Alton blank
De Witt southern part, crossed by Guadalupe river blank Cuerro 1,716
Ellis no description blank Waxahachie 989
Fannin northern boundary, Red river on the north blank Bonham blank
Fayette southern part, crossed by Colorado river not listed La Grange blank
Fort Bend southern part, crossed by Brazos river blank Richmond 2.377
Freestone central part, Trinity river on northeast blank Troy not listed
Galveston southern boundary, Galveston bay on east and Gulf of Mexico on south, includes Galveston Island blank Galveston 4,529
Gaudalupe no description blank Sequin 1,511
Gillespie no description blank Fredericksburgh 1,235
Goliad no description blank Goliad 648
Gonzales southern part, crossed by Guadelupe river blank Gonzales 1,492
Grayson northern boundary, Red river on the north blank Sherman 2,008
Grimes southern part, Navasoto & Brazos rivers on west blank Anderson 4,008
Harris southern part, Galveston bay on southeast, crossed by San Jacinto river blank Houston 4,668
Harrison eastern boundary blank Marshall 11,882
Henderson northern part, Trinity river on west blank Centreville 1,027
Hopkins northern part blank Tarrant 2,623
Houston eastern part, Trinity river on southwest & Neches on northeast not listed Crockett 2,721
Hunt northern part, Sabine river on south blank Greenville 1,520
Jackson southern part blank Texana 997
Jasper south eastern part, Neches river on west blank Jasper 3,546
Jefferson southeast corner on Gulf of Mexico, Sabine lake & river on east, crossed by Neches river blank Beaumont 1,836
Kaufman northern part blank Kaufman 1,047
Lamar northern boundary, Red river on north blank Paris 3,978
La Vaca southern part blank Peterburgh 2,608
Leon central part blank Leona 1,946
Liberty south part, Galveston bay on south, crossed by Trinity river blank Liberty 2,522
Limestone central part blank Springfield 2,520
Matagorda south part, Matagorda bay and Gulf of Mexico on the south, crossed by Colorado river blank Matagorda 2,124
Medina no description blank Castroville 909
Milan central part, Brazos river on northeast blank Cameron 2,907
Montgomery southern part blank Montgomery 2,384
Nacogdoches eastern part blank Nacogdoches 5,192
Navarro central part, between Trinity river on east & Brazos on the west blank Corsicana 3,843
Newton east boundary, Sabine river on east blank Burkville 1,681
Nueces southern part blank Corpus Christi 698
Polk south eastern part, crossed by Trinity river blank Livingston 2,106
Red River northern boundary, Red river on northeast blank Clarkesville 3,906
Refugio no description blank Refugio 248
Rusk in east part, Sabine river on north blank Henderson 8,148
Sabine on east boundary, Sabine river on east blank Milan 2,498
San Augustine east part blank San Augustin 3,647
San Patricio no description blank San Patricio 200
Shelby on east boundary, Sabine river on east blank Shelbyville 4,239
Smith no descripton blank blank 4,292
Starr in western part, on Rio Grande del Norte blank blank about 2,000
Titus no description blank blank 3,636
Travis central part, crossed by Colorado river blank AUstin 3,138
Tyler in southeast part, Neches river on east blank Woodville 1,894
Upshur northeast part, Sabine river on southwest blank Gilmer 3,394
Van Zant no description blank Jordan's Saline 1,138
Victoria no description blank Victoria 1,448
Walker toward east part, Trinity river on northeast blank Huntsville 3,964
Webb on southwest boundary, on Rio Grande blank Laredo not listed
Wharton in south part, crossed by Colorado river blank Wharton 1,752

Austin, TX

The capital of Texas and the seat of justice of Travis co, is situated on the northeasterly side of the Colorado river, 200 miles northwest of Galveston.  The site is salubrious, being removed from the unhealthy atmosphere of the seaboard.  The city is laid out on an extensive scale, with regular streets and avenues, which when lined with contemplated rows of buildings, will present an imposing spectacle.  At present the buildings are not remarkable for elegance or number.  In 1845 a convention met at this place and organized a state government and constitution which were ratified by the popular vote in the same year.  In 1846 the first state legislature met at Austin where it has since held biennial sessions.

Population in 1840 was about 400.  In 1850 was 4,346.

Galveston, TX

Galveston, city, seat of justice of Galveston Co, at the northeasterly part of Galveston Island, TX.  Between the town and Pelican island, on the northwest, the entrance to the bay is deep and spacious, affording a good harbor and anchorage.  Steamboats and other vessels arrive at Galveston from different points on the Gulf of Mexico; and it is the chief commercial place in the state.  There are a number of stores, dwellings, and other buildings, the white walls of which appear finely from the water, but occasion disappointment when more closely viewed.

The population in 1840 was 5,000 to 7,000; in 1850 was 6,000

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