History & Heritage
In 1835, Texas declared its independence from Mexico, resulting in a war which was won by the Texans at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836. The state claimed the Rio Grande River as its western boundary. As a result of this claim, Mexico lost nearly half of what had been the State of Tamaulipas, which caused many disputes that lasted throughout the nine years that Texas was an independent Republic.
In 1845, when Texas was admitted into the United States, and soon after the first battle of this war, which was fought at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, Fort Taylor was renamed Fort Brown in honor of Major Jacob Brown, who was killed directing his defenses against Mexican forces. At the end of the Mexican-American War, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed and the area where Brownsville is now located was confirmed as being American territory. When the city of Brownsville was founded in 1848 it was named after Fort Brown.
Brownsville was originally incorporated by an act of the Third Legislature of the State of Texas in 1850, but this charter was dissolved soon after, due to an argument between the United States and Mexico over the ownership of land being sold. By 1853, however, Brownsville was issued a new charter and has continued as an incorporated city ever since.
During the Civil War, Brownsville figured prominently as a major port through which large quantities of cotton and other products were exported by the Confederate States of America. The last battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Palmito Ranch, was fought on a field located a short distance from Brownsville, on May 12th &13th, 1865, nearly five weeks after Confederate General Robert E.Lee had surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia, ending the Civil War.
From 1865 to 1916, much time was spent in reconstruction and maintenance of law and order. It was necessary for U.S. Government troops, state militia and Texas Rangers to be kept in the area to protect the citizens of Brownsville from raids by bandits, Mexican revolutionaries and American outlaws who found it easy to plunder along the Rio Grande and then escape across the river. Nevertheless, by the early 1900′s, Brownsville was enjoying prosperity and a rapid increase in population, in 1904, the St.Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad was completed and a telephone system came into being. Electricity, water and sewer systems were dedicated in 1908, and the Brownsville & Matamoros Bridge across the Rio Grande River was opened in 1909.
Historic Brownsville Walking Tours
Explore Brownsville’s past at a leisurely pace and get an overview of the people and places that shaped the town’s heritage. Walking tours consist of six routes that take you past historic buildings and homes with interpretive plaques. Information kiosks are placed within buildings along the tour routes.
Tour maps available at the Brownsville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Brownsville Heritage Complex and Old City Cemetery Center.
Visit www.brownsvillehistory.org for more tour information. (956) 541-5560