August 20, 1836. Houston, Republic of Texas.
On this day in 1836, Augustus and John Kirby Allen, brothers and hopeful land developers, placed an advertisement in the local newspaper The Telegraph and Texas Register boasting of their new venture “The Town of Houston.”
In the months following the founding of the Republic of Texas, the duo, with financial help from Augustus’ wide Charlotte Allen, bought the site that would become Houston, shrewdly naming it for the hero of San Jacinto, and hoping to secure it as the new nation’s capital. Their ad, which was full of exaggerations, if not downright lies, read:
SITUATED at the head of navigation, on the west bank of Buffalo Bayou, is now for the first time brought to public notice because, until now, the proprietors were not ready to offer it to the public, with the advantages of capital and improvements. The town of Houston is located at a point on the river which must ever command the trade of the largest and richest portions of Texas. By reference to the map, it will be seen that the trade of San Jacinto, Spring Creek, New Kentucky and the Brazos, above and below Fort Bend, must necessarily come to this place, and will at this time warrant the employment of at least ONE MILLION DOLLARS of capital, and when the rich lands of this country shall be settled, a trade will flow to it, making it, beyond all doubt, the great interior commercial emporium of Texas.
The town of Houston is distant 15 miles from the Brazos River, 30 miles, a little North of East, from San Felippe, 60 miles from Washington, 40 miles Lake Creek, 30 miles South West from New Kentucky, and 15 miles by water and 8 or 10 miles by land above Harrisburg.Tide water runs to this place and the lowest depth of water is about six feet. Vessels from New Orleans or New York can sail without obstacle to this place, and steamboats of the largest class can run down to Galveston in 8t or 10 hours, in all seasons of the year.It is but a few hours sail down the bay, where one may take excursions of pleasure and enjoy the luxuries of fish, foul, oysters and sea bathing.Galveston harbor being the only one in which vessels drawing a large draft of water can navigate, must necessarily render the Island the great naval and commercial depot of the country.
The town of Houston must be the place where arms, ammunitions and provisions for the government will be stored, because, situated in the very heart of the country, it combines security and means of easy distribution, and a national armory will no doubt very soon be established at this point.
There is no place in Texas more healthy, having an abundance of excellent spring water, and enjoying the sea breeze in all its freshness.No place in Texas possesses so many advantages for building, having Pine, Ash, Cedar and Oak in inexhaustible quantities; also the tall and beautiful Magnolia grows in abundance.In the vicinity are fine quarries of stone.
Nature appears to have designated this place for the future seat of Government.It is handsome and beautifully elevated, salubrious and well watered, and now in the very heart or centre of population, and will be so for a length of time to come.It combines two important advantages: a communication with the coast and foreign countries, and with different portions of the Republic.As the country shall improve, rail roads will become in use, and will be extended from this point to the Brazos, and up the same, also from this up to the head waters of San Jacinto, embracing that rich country, and in a few years the whole trade of the upper Brazos will make its way into Galveston Bay through this channel.
Preparations are now making to erect a water Saw Mill, and a large Public House for accommodation, will soon be opened.Steamboats now run in this river, and will in short time commence running regularly to the Island.
The proprietors offer lots for sale on moderate terms to those who desire to improve them, and invite the public to examine for themselves.
A. C. Allen, for A.C. & J. K. Allen.