Selkirk Island

William Selkirk, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, one of at least two sons of James and Elizabeth (Henry) Selkirk, of Selkirk, New York, was born on July 24, 1792. His father was a Scottish immigrant. Before coming to Texas around the fall of 1823 William Selkirk served in the War of 1812, worked as a silversmith, and married Matilda Hallenbake, with whom he had two children before her death on August 25, 1820. He left the children under the guardianship of his brother and went to Texas, where he became a surveyor for the Austin colony. For a time he employed Daniel Shipman as an assistant, paying him one dollar per day in "land office money," or credit toward buying land in the colony. Selkirk, listed as a goldsmith in the March 1823 census of the Colorado District, took part in the alcalde election at San Felipe de Austin in December 1823, went with Aylett C. Buckner, Thomas M. Duke, and others to make a treaty with the Waco and Tawakoni Indians in July 1824, and about the same time was made second sergeant in the second company of the colonial militia. On August 10, 1824, he received title to a sitio of land at the mouth of the Colorado River, now in Matagorda County. The land, called Selkirk's Island because it was originally isolated by the flow of the river, was still owned by Selkirk descendants in the 1970s, when it was subdivided into resort-home lots. In 1974 or 1975 Selkirk Island received a state historical marker from the Texas Historical Commission. Selkirk helped lay out Matagorda, the first county seat of Matagorda County. He attended a meeting in January 1827 called to support the Constitution of 1824 and condemn the Fredonian Rebellion. He died between June 1830 and November 1, 1830, when Elias R. Wightman and Thomas J. Tone were appointed administrators of the Selkirk estate. In 1835 or 1836 Selkirk's son James Henry Selkirk came to Texas as a lieutenant with a company of New York volunteers for the Texas army. He probably settled on his father's land near Matagorda, where he held numerous city and county offices.

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

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