Official Birthplace of the Texas Rangers
San Felipe de Austin, laid out in 1823 as the headquarters of Stephen F. Austin’s Colony, is one of the oldest towns in Texas. Situated on a bluff near the west bank of the Brazos River, San Felipe is two miles north of Interstate 10 on FM 1458. The site served Native Americans and early travelers as a Brazos River crossing point.
Eventually eight roads converged in San Felipe and a 1969 Texas State Historical Marker commemorates this history. San Felipe was known as the “Colonial Capital of Texas” and served as the political center of colonial Texas until razed in 1836 during the Texas Revolution.
The State of Texas recognized San Felipe in 2005 as both the Official Colonial Capital of Texas and Official Birthplace of the Texas Rangers.
Little-Known Facts About San Felipe
- Election of the Ayuntamiento at San Felipe in 1828 was the first constitutional election in Anglo-American Texas.
- First capital city of the Texas Revolution, hosting the Provisional Government established by the Consultation that met from Nov. 15, 1835, to March 1, 1836.
- Scene of the Convention of 1832 and 1833 along with the Consultation of 1835 that led to the Texas Revolution.
- The only place Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas,” claimed as his home.
- William Barret Travis, Jane Long,
- David G Burnet, R.M. Williamson and other famous Texians lived in San Felipe prior to its burning.
- In 1835, the permanent Council at San Felipe approved the beginning of the Texas Rangers, know then as “Ranging Company of Riflemen.”
San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site is located off FM 1458 at the Brazos River – the newly opened museum, on the east side of FM 1458, has an entrance off of Second Street just across from the Methodist Church.
In 2018, the Texas Historical Commission opened the San Felipe de Austin Museum to better share the stories of this important early Texas site. This state-of-the-art museum commemorates the site where, in 1823, Stephen F. Austin established a headquarters for his colony in Mexican Texas. San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site and the new museum share the stories of early settlers in this region. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of these early pioneers at what was the social, economic, and political center of American emigration to Texas before independence.
The original historic site, on the west side of FM 1458, contains seven blocks of the original capital with an 1830s hand-dug well, remaining as the only original architectural feature of the historic town. The site has added objects including the J.J. Josey Store building dating back to 1847 – a museum from the 1960s until 2009 now used for special programming, a replica dogtrot cabin, Stephen F. Austin – Father of Texas Centennial statue and a 1928 obelisk and memorial markers to tell the history of the site.
Historic locations in San Felipe:
- Old San Felipe Church (1824)
- San Felipe de Austin Cemetery (1824)
- San Felipe Town Hall (1842)
Stephen F. Austin State Park, a beautiful recreational park that occupies 600-plus acres of moss-draped pecan bottoms along the Brazos River, occupies part of the land granted to Stephen F. Austin, “Father of Texas,” for the first Anglo-American colony in Texas. Near the park is an 18-hole golf course. The state park offers camping, hiking trails, birding, wildlife viewing, fishing and group facilities. This Texas State resource is just a few miles west of Houston and offers a diverse opportunity for families.