Columbus, the county seat and largest city of Colorado County, is at the junction of Interstate Highway 10 and State Highway 71, sixty-five miles west of Houston, on a small rise south and west of a lazy horseshoe bend in the Colorado River. 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; in late December Robert H. Kuykendall, his brother Joseph, and Daniel Gilleland moved from a newly established settlement on the Brazos River, later known as Washington-on-the-Brazos, to a site on the Colorado River near that of present Columbus. By 1823 a small community had developed. It became known as Beeson's Ferry or Beeson's Ford, named for Benjamin Beeson, one of the original settlers, who operated a ferry across the Colorado River. In 1835 it was renamed Columbus, allegedly at the suggestion of a former resident of Columbus, Ohio. The town began as a river crossing and became the seat of local government in 1822, when Austin's colony was divided into two autonomous districts by Mexican governor José F. Trespalacios. Trespalacios had the Baron de Bastrop travel to the Colorado River District to supervise local elections. Gathering at Beason's Crossing, the residents elected John J. Tumlinson, Sr., alcalde, Robert Kuykendall captain, and Moses Morrison lieutenant. Austin had intended to locate his headquarters here and even laid out a town the following year, but finally opted for a more promising location on the Brazos River. No doubt the frequent Indian attacks in the Colorado River District and poor drainage influenced his decision to relocate his headquarters.

By the time of the Texas Revolution, this settlement, now known as Columbus, was home to over twenty-five families, including that of William D. Lacey, one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. The community had a ferry, a cotton gin, a gristmill, a sawmill, and a small inn or boardinghouse for travelers. Sam Houston camped on the east bank of the Colorado River at Columbus from March 19 to 26, 1836, during the Runaway Scrape, as he retreated from Gonzales to San Jacinto. Although Houston had Columbus burned when he departed, a traveler noted in 1837 that the refurbished town had two public houses, two stores, half a dozen shanties, and quite a bit of gambling. Another traveler passing through Columbus around 1847 found the little town excited over a horse race; bets ranged up to $500. At that time Columbus had twenty houses, three stores, two taverns, and a blacksmith but showed no evidence of growth. Evidently, horse racing, betting, and drinking, along with chewing tobacco and spitting, were favorite pastimes in Columbus, as well as in most of Texas throughout the nineteenth century. The Beacon Hill Blood Stock Farm, owned by Dr. Robert H. Harrison, had a racetrack and was reportedly the best in the state. Eventually, the Columbus Quarter Horse Racetrack was established a few miles east of town. It was quite popular into the twentieth century.

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Don Allon Hinton | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Montezuma is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Montezuma is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Columbus)

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated