Washington, Washington County, Texas [and Independence, TX]
July 9, 2008

[and July 12, 2008]

Webpage by
Paul Ridenour

Photographs after the text

If you want to be able to read the historical markers, email me and I will send you a larger copy

Friend Teresa Little Daniel took her two daughters down to Texas A&M because her oldest daughter Paige Michelle was registering for class at student orientation.

Before I left for A&M, Charles Steger told me about Washington-On-The-Brazos and Independence, Texas.  I had heard of them before but did not know they were so close to College Station.

I went down there to surprise them.  I found them in the college bookstore.  They had already had lunch but they went with me so I could eat. 

After lunch, I drove 18 miles south to Navasota where there are a couple of monuments for La Salle.  He was murdered in Navasota.  I drove another 8 miles west to Washington-On-The-Brazos (WOTB). 

WOTB is near the town of Washington in Washington County where the Brazos River splits with the Navasota River at the La Bahia Rd.  This is where Sam Houston, Collin McKinney (Plano, Collin County, TX and McKinney, TX), Thomas Jefferson Rusk, Lorenzo De Zavalla, Jose A. Navarro and others came to sign the Declaration of Independence of Texas from Mexico.  They met in Independence Hall on a very cold and dreary day to sign the document.

WOTB has a nice gift and bookstore.  Across the street is a very good museum shaped like a star - Star of the Republic Museum.  The museum is 10,000 square feet with 46 exhibits and costs $4 per person.

At the same place on February 1, 1845, the Congress of the Republic of Texas chartered Baylor University to be in Independence, TX, a town a few miles away from WOTB.  Baylor University stayed in Independence until 1886.  They decided to merge with Waco University in Waco, TX, due to the economy in Independence and the low school attendance.  If they had not moved to Waco, a one-horse town Waco would be today.

Sam Houston lived In Independence and was a member of the oldest Baptist church in Texas - Independence Baptist Church.  He was baptized in a river in Independence and his last wife and mother-in-law are buried at the church.  Houston did like to drink and he wasn't all that keen on religion but he did get converted and baptized at the request of his wife.  Sam Houston lived with Cherokees for a time and married a Cherokee woman.  The Cherokee Nation Council voted him down as a member because he drank too much.  There is a saying - "Not good enough for the Cherokee council is good enough for the President of the Republic of Texas."

Baylor University was in Independence for 41 years from 1845 to 1886.  It was named after Judge Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor, who used to be buried there but his grave was moved to Mary Hardin-Baylor University in Belton, TX.  The Southern Baptist General Convention of Texas has been trying to vote for years that Freemason teachings are "not compatible with Christianity," which they aren't.  You can be a Freemason and a Christian but you cannot be an intelligent Christian and an Intelligent Freemason at the same time.  The Baptist can never vote on it, as too many Baptist Freemasons show up at the convention.  The ironic part is that Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor was a Freemason.

Charles Steger told me that Independence is so Baptist, that the leaves are Baptist.

On the corner of 390 and 50 in Independence, there are 12 historical markers and at least three more up 50 at Houston's old home and the women's side of Baylor University.

I kept seeing these gorgeous purple flowers near Independence that looked like bells.  As it turned out, they were Blue Bells.  In Independence, one is only a few miles from Brenham, TX, the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream.

On July 12, I took my wife Dottie to WOTB and Independence.  We also went to Brenham.  We ate at an excellent restaurant in Washington called "R Place."  We had brisket sandwiches and German potato salad.  Dottie really enjoyed the museum at WOTB.

Kleberg Animal and Food Sciences Center, Texas A&M - near Kyle Field

Dottie's 3rd great grandmother Sarah Ridge Paschal Pix's "lizard" cattle brand.  She owned 540 acres in Chambers County, Texas.
Burned on the wall at the stairs inside Kleberg Animal and Food Sciences Center.

Birthplace of Texas - Washington, TX

Washington-On-The-Brazos historical marker at Independence Hall

Independence Hall

Independence Hall historical marker
"On this spot was made the Declaration of Texas Independence March 2, 1836"

Inside Independence Hall

The animals (deer, etc.) were so friendly in those old days at WOTB that they became a nuisance

Brazos River at WOTB - to the left, the Navasota River splits off to the left

Star of the Republic Museum - WOTB

Blue Bells (more purple than blue) near Independence, Texas

Blue Bells

Blue Bells up close

Four historical markers of the town (Post Office, etc.) at 390 and 50 in Independence, Texas

New Baylor Park - men's side of Baylor University (Independence, TX)

History of Baylor University at New Baylor Park

Baylor University 1883 - sketch by McArdle

Baylor University Bell Tower at Houston Hall

Another Baylor University historical marker

Historical marker for Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor

Old grave of Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor

Historical marker for Baylor University Windmill Hall - men's side

Historical marker on the baptism of Sam Houston in the Rocky Creek on November 19, 1854, by Rufus C. Burleson, Baptist Minister and President of Baylor University, 1/2 mile south of this road (Sam Houston Rd)

The Baptismal waters.  When a friend remarked, "Well, General, I hear your sins were washed away." Houston replied, "I hope so...but if they were all washed away, the Lord help the fish down below."  Agreeing to pay half the preacher's salary, Houston said "My pocketbook was Baptized, too."
Photo and text from the book Sam Houston's Texas by Sue Flanagan 

Academy Hill, Women's side of Baylor - Old Baylor park

Baylor University historical marker on the women's side

Historical marker of the old Independence Baptist Church where Sam Houston was converted and a member

Historical marker of the old Independence Baptist Church

Houston-Lea Family Cemetery at the new Independence Baptist Church (built 1872) across the street from the old church

Historical Marker for Mrs. Lea Houston, wife of Sam Houston, Houston-Lea Cemetery

Mrs. Margaret Moffette Lea Houston [4/11/1819 - 12/3/1867]
She died of Yellow Fever in 1867 and it was too contagious to take her to husband Sam Houston's grave in Huntsville, TX

Mrs. Houston's mother Nancy Moffette Lea [5/1/1790 - 2/7/1864], Houston-Lea Cemetery, a daughter of a Revolutionary soldier

Independence Baptist Church Bell tower

Historical marker for the location of Sam Houston's house [original home burned]

Historical marker for the location of Sam Houston's house

The Old Gay Hill School - the New Gay Hill School was never built as the students were deceased [OK, I'm kidding here!]

Rene Robert Gavelier Sieur De La Salle historical marker - murdered near here by his own men
Navasota, Texas

Rene Robert Gavelier Sieur De La Salle historical marker
Navasota, Texas

Rene Robert Gavelier Sieur De La Salle - that is some nose!

La Bahia Trail, Navasota, TX