Columbus is the oldest surveyed and platted Anglo-American town in Texas. It is on the site of the legendary Indian village of Montezuma. Members of Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred” began arriving in the area in 1821. By 1823 a small community had developed and became known as Beason’s Ferry, named for Benjamin Beason, one of the original settlers who operated a ferry across the Colorado River. In 1835 it was renamed Columbus.
By the time of the Texas Revolution, Columbus was home to more than twenty-five families, including William D. Lacey, one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
After the fall of the Alamo, General Sam Houston camped on the east bank of the Colorado River at Columbus from March 19-26, 1836. When he and his troops left for San Jacinto, General Houston ordered Columbus burned so the Mexican Army would not be able to use any of the town’s buildings or resources. Columbus’ townspeople fled as well during this time period, known as the Runaway Scrape.
Columbus was designated the county seat of Colorado County when the county was established in 1836. The following April, Judge Robert McAlpin (Three-Legged Willie) Williamson reportedly convened the first district court in Colorado County in the shade of a large oak tree near the site of the present-day courthouse.
Preservation of our local history is very important. Visitors can tour a number of historic homes, buildings, and markers in the area. We are home to Texas’ largest Quercus Virginia Live Oak, more commonly known as “Grandma’s Oak”. We also have several museums such as the Mary Elizabeth Hopkins Santa Claus Museum, the Dilue Rose Harris House Museum, the Alley Log Cabin and Antique Tool Museum, and the War Memorial Museum in the old stone water town on the Courthouse Square.
If Texas history is your thing, Columbus is the place for you!