Stephen F. Austin State Park, in Austin County, was deeded by the San Felipe de Austin Corporation in 1940, and the park was opened to the public the same year.
The park is located on the Brazos River, near the old ferry site and a part of the Commercio Plaza de San Felipe, just a few miles from the site of the township of San Felipe, the seat of government of the Anglo-American colonies in Texas. It was here Stephen F. Austin, the "Father of Texas," brought the first 297 families to colonize Texas under a contract with the Mexican government. From 1824 to 1836, San Felipe de Austin was the social, economic and political center, as well as the capital of the American colonies in Texas. Due to the many historic events that occurred here, the community became known as the "Cradle of Texas Liberty." Also, the conventions of 1832 and 1833 and the Consultation of 1835 were held here. These meetings eventually led to the Texas Declaration of Independence. San Felipe was the home of Austin and other famous early Texans, as well as the home of Texas' first Anglo newspaper (the Texas Gazette, founded in 1829), the postal system of Texas origination, and the beginning of the Texas Rangers.
Stephen F. Austin’s Legacy
Judged by historical standards, Stephen F. Austin’s achievement is monumental. He began an effort, unprecedented in Texas history, to colonize Anglo-Americans in Texas under the most difficult of conditions. Yet through his efforts, some 1,540 land grant titles were issued to some 5,000 people, making him arguably the most successful colonizer in American history. Austin’s original colony was the first, most famous and by far the most successful of the empresario grants from Mexico.
Through his foresight, perseverance, tactful management and unremitting labor, Austin transformed a wilderness into a nation. His methods varied with circumstances, but he never wavered from the abiding aim to promote and safeguard the welfare of Texas.
Intelligent, courageous and honorable, Austin continually worked to achieve a successful colony and when the prospects of becoming an autonomous Mexican state faded, he tirelessly worked to make Texas independence viable.
Before his death, Stephen F. Austin wrote in July 1836:
“The prosperity of Texas has been the object of my labors, the idol of my existence, it has assumed the character of a religion, for the guidance of my thoughts and actions, for fifteen years.”