Old Velasco, (encompassed by present-day Surfside Beach) on the east side of the Brazos River sixteen miles south of Angleton and near the Gulf of Mexico in southeastern Brazoria County, was founded in 1831. Ten years earlier the schooner Lively landed at the site with thirty-eight men, the first of Stephen F. Austin's colonists. Nothing but a single house stood at the site until Mexico set up a customs port there and dispatched troops in 1831 to help the customs collector. Subsequently, more than 25,000 settlers entered through the port. The community developed upstream from the coast by 1835; a customhouse, salt works, and trading posts were located at Velasco during the immigration period. The town was named for a Mexican general, as was Quintana, on the opposite side of the river. According to one writer, Old Velasco became the "Boston harbor of the Texas Revolution," as the site of the battle of Velasco in 1832. A cholera epidemic reduced the population to 100 in 1834, and a mail route from San Felipe to Velasco was established in 1835. After the battle of San Jacinto, President David G. Burnet made the town the temporary capital of the Republic of Texas. Government records were housed at Fort Velasco until the first capital of Texas was established at Columbia. Antonio López de Santa Anna signed the treaties of Velasco on May 14, 1836.

Between the Texas Revolution and the Civil War, Velasco and Quintana served as summer resorts for wealthy plantation families of the region. Galveston businessmen Samuel May Williams and Thomas F. McKinney established warehouses and organized shipping of all kinds at the port. A seminary for young ladies, Velasco Female Academy, and a school for young men, taught by Oxford graduates, were established by 1838. Comfortable hotels were built to accommodate visitors and patrons of the racetrack located a short distance upriver. A local post office operated from 1846 until 1891, when mail was rerouted through Quintana. Antebellum Velasco had business houses, homes, a hotel, boardinghouses, wharves, and a customhouse; riverboats embarked from the wharves for Galveston and New Orleans. With completion of the first intracoastal canal to Galveston Bay in 1856, however, the town began to decline as shipping was diverted to Galveston.

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Merle Weir | © 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

Velasco is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Velasco is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • [1]
  • [Old-]
  • (Surfside Beach)


Latitude: 28.95418940
Longitude: -95.28411200

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated