Bastrop, county seat of Bastrop County, is located in the center of the county, about thirty miles southeast of downtown Austin. The town is at the junction of State highways 71, 21, and 95, and on the Colorado River and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. The site was first occupied in 1804, when a fort was established at the strategic Colorado River crossing of the Old San Antonio Road and named Puesta del Colorado. The Baron de Bastrop obtained permission from the Spanish to found a German colony and selected the site in 1823, but subsequently failed to establish a settlement. The town was probably named Bastrop by Stephen F. Austin in honor of the baron, a longtime friend and coworker. Austin, interested in developing the upper reaches of his original colony, used this name after the German colonization attempt failed and he obtained permission in 1827 to locate a "Little Colony" of 100 families on the site. He had seen the future townsite on his first journey to Texas, and had noted it favorably in his journal. By 1830 such pioneers as Josiah Wilbarger, Reuben Hornsby, James Burleson, Edward Burleson, and Jess Barker had located in the Bastrop area. But the Indian depredations that had doomed the German colonization attempt continued to slow settlement. In 1830 a traveler wrote that the population of Bastrop consisted of a bachelor and two families, with John F. Webber and the Wilbarger family living a short distance to the north.
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