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News from Lake Creek Settlement

 

Election Returns from Lake Creek Settlement

 

By Kameron K. Searle

 

Among the new discoveries found in the Lake Creek Settlement documents were some of the earliest election returns in the history of Washington County and Montgomery County.  Not only do we find some of the earliest elected officials from the Republic of Texas, but we also find some previously unknown information about the original political subdivisions of Washington County and later Montgomery County.  As we look at the returns, remember that Montgomery County was not created from Washington County until December 14, 1837. 

The Washington County national election returns are dated September 12, 1836.  In the race for President Sam Houston received 457 votes, Stephen F. Austin received 23 votes and Henry Smith got 11.  For Vice President, Mirabeau B. Lamar received 370 votes and Thomas J. Rusk received 78 votes.  Jesse Grimes was elected Senator and William W. Hill and William W. Gant were elected Representatives.  One of the most surprising returns was with regard to annexation.  Just after the Texas Revolution, 458 voted for “Annexation to the United State of America.” Only 23 voted for a “Separate Republic.”  For a number of reasons, the United States did not want Texas in 1836. So, Texas was an independent country for almost ten years.

The February 13, 1837, Washington County election returns provide some rare information about the earliest political subdivisions.  This return names the six original precincts in Washington County following the Texas Revolution. These six original precincts were each gigantic in size.  The six precincts in Washington County were Hazard Precinct, Hidalgo Precinct, Washington Precinct, Lake Creek Precinct, San Jacinto Precinct and Viesca Precinct.  The two Justices of the Peace elected in the Lake Creek Precinct in 1837 were Jeremiah Worsham and George Galbraith. 

            On December 14, 1837, Montgomery County would be created out of the territory of Washington County.  Three of the original six Washington County precincts were separated from Washington County to create Montgomery County.  Again these precincts were huge in their geographic size.  These precincts were the Precinct of Viesca, the Precinct of Lake Creek and the Precinct of San Jacinto.  The territory of the Viesca Precinct appears to have coincided with much of the territory of present day Grimes County.  The territory of the Lake Creek Precinct basically took in the area of present Montgomery County eastward to the San Jacinto River.  The San Jacinto Precinct probably extended from the San Jacinto River to the watershed between that river and the Trinity.

On April 30 and May 30, 1838, Montgomery County Chief Justice Jesse Grimes submitted election returns for Montgomery County to Republic of Texas Secretary of State Robert A. Irion.  In the Precinct of Lake Creek, Martin P. Clark and George Galbraith were elected Justices of the Peace and William S. Taylor was elected Constable. 

Lake Creek Precinct Justices of the Peace, Martin P. Clark and George Galbraith, also served as Commissioners at the first meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on March 1, 1838.  At that meeting, the town of Montgomery was selected as the first county seat of Montgomery County.  As Chief Justice, Jesse Grimes was the president of the board of Commissioners.  The Commissioners present were Martin P. Clark, George Galbraith, William Robert, and Hilloy M. Crabb.  The minutes report, “The president placed before the board the written act of donation of W. W. Shepperd to the County of Montgomery of an equal half undivided interest in the Town of Montgomery and Sixty acres of pine land adjoining – donated for County purposes and being put to the question whether said donation should be accepted it was unanimously received – and the question being also whether the place of the Town presented by C. B. Stewart as agent for W. W. Shepperd should be received the same was unanimously received and adopted.”

These election returns are all located in Austin, Texas at the Texas State Library and Archives, Lorenzo de Zavala Building in the Republic of Texas Election Returns 1835-1845, Box 2-9/44, 1836 – Washington, Co., 1837 – Washington Co. and 1838 – Montgomery Co.  The Minutes of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court are located in the Montgomery County Clerk’s Office. 

Kameron K. Searle is an attorney in Houston, Texas who has thoroughly researched the history of the Lake Creek Settlement and the early history of Montgomery County for the last eight years.  For more information about the Lake Creek Settlement, go to the TexasHistoryPage.Com .

 

This article originally appeared in the January 7, 2009 edition of the Montgomery County News.

 

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