Genealogist’s Timeline of Texas History

  • Humans begin inhabiting lands in present-day Texas beginning about 11,000 B.C.
  • Three main indigenous populations inhabit Texas in the pre-Columbian period and peak before European exploration: the Pueblo in west Texas, the Mound Builder in east Texas, and Mesoamerican civilizations in south Texas.
  • 1519: Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda maps the Texas coastline.
  • 1528: Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and crew are shipwrecked near Galveston and begin exploration.
  • 1598: Juan de Oñate claims all land drained by the Rio Grande in the name of the King Philip II of Spain.
  • 1680: Three missions are founded near present-day El Paso by Spanish and Indians fleeing the Santa Fe Uprising.
  • 1685: French explorer René Robert Cavelier de La Salle mistakenly lands in Texas when looking for the Mississippi River, and establishes a colony Fort St. Louis at Matagorda Bay, which only lasts four years.
  • 1689:  Spanish expedition finds remains of Fort St. Louis and begins establishing missions in East Texas.
  • 1690: The first mission in East Texas, San Francisco de los Tejas, is constructed near present-day Weches in Houston County.
  • 1716: Spanish authorities establish additional missions and a presidio in East Texas in response to the competitive threat of French settlement of Louisiana.
  • 1718:  The mission San Antonio de Valero, including the chapel now known as the Alamo, is founded in San Antonio.
  • 1720:  A second mission, San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, is founded in San Antonio.
  • 1731: Three East Texas missions are relocated to San Antonio, bringing the total to five missions.
  • 1731: A group of 55 Canary Island settlers establish a civilian community, San Fernando de Béxar, and the first election is conducted in Texas to elect officials for the settlement’s municipal government.
  • 1749: Spain signs a peace treaty with the Lipan Apache.
  • 1779: A group of settlers led by Antonio Gil Ybarbo establish the new community of Nacogdoches near an abandoned mission site.
  • 1785: Spain signs a treaty with the Comanche, who later assist in defeating the Lipan Apache and Karankawa tribes.
  • 1803: The Louisiana Purchase from France contains territory that some American authorities believe includes Texas.
  • 1810: Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain begins.
  • 1813: Texas’ first newspaper, Gaceta de Texas, is founded in Nacogdoches.
  • 1813: On August 18, the Battle of Medina is fought south of San Antonio, where Mexican forces are defeated by Spanish forces.
  • 1813: On December 26, Moses Austin is granted permission from the Spanish government to establish an Anglo colony in Texas, but he dies six months later.
  • 1815: A small Methodist church is organized in Jonesborough and becomes the first Protestant church in Texas.
  • 1818: Charles Lallemand establishes French colony Champ d’Asile (“Field of Asylum”) near present-day Liberty for defeated Napoleonic veterans; colony is abandoned in July at advance of Mexican expedition.
  • 1819: The border between America and New Spain is set at the Sabine River, between present-day Texas and Louisiana.
  • 1819: Capital punishment begins in Texas and continues to the present day (except for brief period when deemed illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court) by methods of hanging, electrocution, and lethal injection, accounting for 40% of executions in the United States.
  • 1820-1875: The “Texas-Indian Wars” include conflicts between Texas settlers and Southern Plains Indians, primarily Comanche.
  • 1821:  On August 24, Mexico gains its independence from Spain.
  • 1823: The Imperial Colonization Law of Mexico authorizes empresarios to receive a land grant in the Mexican province of Texas to distribute land to settlers.
  • 1823: Mexican officials grant Moses Austin’s son, empresario Stephen F. Austin, permission to bring 300 settlers into the colony, which become known as the “Old Three Hundred;” settlers must swear allegiance to Mexico and Catholicism, although most remained Protestant.
  • 1823: Stephen F. Austin unofficially creates the Texas Rangers.
  • 1824: The Constitution of Mexico of 1824 creates the state of Coahuila y Tejas from Coahuila and Spanish Texas.
  • 1825: The population of Texas is 3,500 of mostly Mexican descent.
  • 1826: On December 21, the Fredonian Rebellion begins in Nacogdoches with empresario Haden Edwards’ failed attempts to separate his colony from Mexico by signing the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Fredonia.
  • 1827: On January 31, Fredonian rebels flee when Mexican troops approach.
  • 1829: Mexico abolishes slavery, but Texas is given an exemption after protests.
  • 1829: The first of several large groups of Irish immigrants settle in South Texas.
  • 1830: On April 6, the Mexican government passes a law prohibiting most immigration into Texas and stopping the import of slaves.
  • 1831: The first German settler in Austin’s Colony, Johann Freidrich Ernst, writes a glowing letter home, which prompts a stream of German immigrants who settle southeastern Texas.
  • 1832: From June to August, several skirmishes between Mexican troops and Texian insurgents occur at Anahuac, Velasco, and Nacogdoches.
  • 1832: In October, Stephen F. Austin holds a convention at San Felipe de Austin seeking statehood separate from the Mexican state of Coahuila, as well as exemption from some Mexican laws and tariffs, although the resolutions are not presented to the Mexican government.
  • 1833: In April, a second convention reiterates the demands from the Convention of 1832, and a draft of the Texas constitution is proposed.
  • 1833: In July, Stephen F. Austin travels to Mexico City to discuss reforms in Texas, but he is jailed without charges until August 1835.
  • 1834: During January to March, Mexican authorities are dispatched to Texas to promise reforms, including granting Texas more representation in state government, introducing trial by jury, and authorizing English as a second language.
  • 1834: In April, President Antonio López de Santa Anna assumes dictatorial powers after suspending the Mexican Constitution of 1824.
  • 1834: Providence Church in Bastrop County is the first Baptist church organized in Texas.
  • 1835: Texians form Committees of Correspondence and Safety due to the tensions with Mexico.
  • 1835: In June, another skirmish at Anahuac results in an arrest of two Texians, who are then pursued by William B. Travis and freed from the Mexican garrison.
  • 1835: On October 2, Mexican troops attempt to seize a cannon from the residents of Gonzales, who say “come and take it,” in what is considered the opening battle of the Texas Revolution.
  • 1835: On October 10, Gail Borden of San Felipe de Austin begins publishing the newspaper Telegraph and Texas Register.
  • 1835: In November, delegates to a Consultation in San Felipe agree to establish a provincial government, including formally organizing the Texas Rangers.
  • 1836: During January and February, the provisional government collapsed due to infighting, so Texas did not have clear governance.
  • 1836:  On March 2, the Texas Declaration of Independence is adopted at Washington-on-the-Brazos.
  • 1836:  On March 6, a 13-day siege of the Alamo ends when all Texian defenders are killed by Santa Anna’s troops.
  • 1836:  On March 10, Sam Houston retreats east from Gonzales with the Texian army to avoid the Mexican army; this retreat results in a panic of settlers fleeing in an exodus called the Runaway Scrape.
  • 1836:  On March 27, Santa Anna orders the execution of about 350 Texian prisoners under James Fannin’s command at Goliad, with only about 30 escaping.
  • 1836: On April 21, Sam Houston’s Texian troops defeat Santa Anna’s army at San Jacinto near present-day Houston in a battle that only lasts 18 minutes.
  • 1836:  On May 14, the Treaties of Velasco were signed, ending the Texas Revolution, although ambiguity over the Texas-Mexico border persisted until 1848.
  • 1836: On September 5, Sam Houston and Lorenzo de Zavala are elected president and vice-president of the Republic; voters request annexation by the United States, although U.S. President Martin Van Buren refuses to consider it for political reasons including war with Mexico.
  • 1836: In October, the first Congress of the Republic of Texas meets at Columbia, reiterating that Texas would be a slaveholding state and not prohibit the importation of slaves.
  • 1836: On December 27, the “Father of Texas,” Stephen F. Austin dies.
  • 1837: The United States officially recognizes the Republic of Texas.
  • 1837: On October 1 the Texas General Land Office opens.
  • 1839: Mirabeau B. Lamar becomes President of Texas and calls for the establishment of a planned city to serve as the seat of government.
  • 1839: Beginning in August, town lots are sold in the Republic’s new capital Austin, and the Republic’s archives are transferred from Houston to Austin.
  • 1840: On January 17, Federalists from northern Mexico states meet in Laredo to declare independence from Mexico and form the Republic of the Rio Grande, claiming the Nueces and Medina rivers as its northern boundary; this effort is unsuccessful and the Texas border continues to be disputed.
  • 1840: On March 19, a dozen Comanche chiefs meet with the Texas government to negotiate a peace treaty; negotiations deteriorate and a Council House fight results in deaths on both sides.
  • 1840: On August 5, in retaliation, Comanches begin looting and killing Texian settlers near Hallettsville; the Texas Rangers and volunteer army defeat the Comanches on August 11 near Lockhart.
  • 1841: Republic President Mirabeau B. Lamar authorizes the Santa Fe Expedition, without Congressional approval, to solidify Texas’ claims to territory in New Mexico; expedition members are captured and imprisoned in Mexico until 1842.
  • 1841: Sam Houston is re-elected President and begins a failed campaign to move the Republic’s archives back to Houston.
  • 1842: In February, empresario Henri Castro receives a land grant of 1.25 million acres to bring in over 600 families within three years and establish four towns; Alsatians form the community of Castroville in 1844.
  • 1842: On April 20, the Adelsverein (Mainzer Adelsverein at Biebrich am Rhein – Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas) was founded to establish a “new Germany” and purchases land in the Hill Country and Central Texas; large-scale German immigration begins.
  • 1842: On June 7, the Fisher-Miller Land Grant containing 3.9 million acres between the Llano and Colorado rivers is issued to settle 1,000 families of German, Dutch, Swiss, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian ancestry; the unsuccessful grant is eventually sold to the Adelsverein in 1844.
  • 1842: In July, two land grants are issued to Bourgeois and Ducos for colonization of 1,700 families along the Uvalde, Frio and Medina rivers; also unsuccessful, the grants are sold to the Adelsverein but expire in 1844.
  • 1842: In September, Mexican General Adrian Woll captures San Antonio, but withdraws after the Battle of Salado Creek.
  • 1842: Sam Houston convenes the Seventh Texas Congress at Washington-on-the-Brazos because Austin is thought to be unsafe.
  • 1842: In December, the Texian volunteers who chased Woll’s troops are captured at Mier, with 17 of them being executed.
  • 1842: In December Sam Houston devises a plan to secretly move the Republic’s archives and General Land Office records from Austin to Houston, but the plan fails in an incident known as the Texas Archives War.
  • 1845: On March 1, the U.S. Congress passes a joint resolution to annex Texas to the United States.
  • 1845:  On July 4, the Texas Constitutional Congress accepts the annexation proposal and prepares to submit the proposal and a new state constitution to Texas voters.
  • 1845:  On October 13, Texas voters approve annexation and the new state constitution.
  • 1845: On December 29, Texas becomes the 28th state when President James K. Polk signs the resolution to admit Texas into the Union.
  • 1846: Mexico breaks diplomatic relations with the United States claiming the border is the Nueces River while the U.S. asserts it is the Rio Grande River.
  • 1846: On January 13, President Polk orders General Zachary Taylor’s cavalry south to the Rio Grande, but several months later his troops are defeated by Mexican forces in the disputed territory.
  • 1846: On February 19 the formal transfer of government takes place between the Republic of Texas and United States.
  • 1846: On May 8, the Battle of Palo Alto is the first major battle of the two-year Mexican War.
  • 1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed to end the war with Mexico and establish the international boundary at the Rio Grande River, and the Mexico Cession of 1848 transfers lands in present-day states California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming to the United States for $18.25 million.
  • 1850: The first Texas railroad is chartered, and the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado begins operation in 1853.
  • 1850: On November 25, Texas’ governor signs the Compromise of 1850 in which Texas is allowed to keep its public lands; the United States assumes $10 million in debt in exchange for Texas’ land claims in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma.
  • 1854: Two reservations are established for Indians in Northwest Texas: in Throckmorton County for Comanches and in Young County for tribes including Tawakonis, Tonkawas and Wacos.
  • 1858: The southern route of the Butterfield Overland Mail crosses Texas until 1861 when the Civil War begins.
  • 1859: Clashes between Anglo lawmen and Juan “Cheno” Cortina begin in the Brownsville area and continue until Texas Ranges and federal troops end the “Cortina War” in 1875.
  • 1859: Indians in Northwest Texas reservations are relocated to Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma.
  • 1860: The enslaved population in Texas triples from 1850 to 182,500, comprising 30% of the population.
  • 1861: In February, a State Convention adopted an Ordinance of Secession that was approved by Texas voters.
  • 1861: On March 1, Texas is accepted by the provisional government of the Confederate States of America, before its secession from the Union is official.
  • 1861: On March 2, Texas officially secedes from the Union with “her Sister slaveholding states,” just two days before Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated president.
  • 1861: On March 16, Sam Houston resigns as governor in protest of secession.
  • 1861: On March 23, Texas ratifies the Confederate States Constitution.
  • 1861: On April 12, the U.S. Civil War officially begins with the firing on Fort Sumter.
  • 1862: On March 28, Confederate General Henry H. Sibley retreats to Texas after his attempt to take New Mexico at the Battle of Glorieta Pass.
  • 1862: During August through October, A small group of Union loyalists from Comfort, mostly comprised of German immigrants, flee toward Mexico, but many are killed or drown when attempting to swim the Rio Grande River; other Union sympathizers in Gainesville are hanged.
  • 1862-1863: Federal forces occupy Galveston and Brownsville, but Confederate forces retake the cities.
  • 1865: On May 13 at the Battle of Palmito Ranch near Brownsville, the last Civil War land battle is fought with a Confederate victory, only a few days before the troops learn that the Confederate states have disbanded their armies.
  • 1865: On June 19, General Gordon Granger arrives in Galveston and announces that slavery has been abolished, creating the event commemorated as Juneteenth—this announcement is over two years after the original Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863.
  • 1865: In September, the Freedman’s Bureau begins operations in Texas to assist former slaves transition.
  • 1866: On March 15 the Constitutional Convention nullifies the actions of the Secession Convention.
  • 1866: On August 22, a proclamation of peace between the United States and Texas is issued by President Andrew Johnson.
  • 1866-1886: Cattle drives herd 20 million cattle from Texas to Kansas for shipment east.
  • 1867: On March 2, Congressional Reconstruction divides the South into five military districts under the command of the army, with Texas and Louisiana falling in the 5th Military District.
  • 1867-1875: The U.S. government sponsors the “Comanche Campaign” where a series of military battles are fought to subdue the violence in the newly-settled west.
  • 1868: The first irrigation canals begin in Texas in Del Rio and are completed in 1871.
  • 1869: On November 30, a new constitution is approved by Texas voters.
  • 1870: The legislature elected under the new constitution convenes and includes 14 African Americans in the Senate and House.
  • 1870: On March 30, Texas is readmitted to the Union when President Grant signs the act, despite not meeting all the requirements of Reconstruction.
  • 1870s: “Wars” between cattle grazers and sheep herders begin over free grazing on public lands and continue into the 1920s, some escalating into armed conflicts.
  • 1871: In May, Comanches and Kiowas massacre seven men in a wagon trail west of Jacksboro.
  • 1873: The Texas & Pacific Railway opens for service between Longview and Dallas, and the Houston and Texas Central Railway connects with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway at Red River to create a route from Texas to St. Louis and eastward.
  • 1873: During the spring, the first African-American “Buffalo Soldiers” are posted at Texas frontier forts.
  • 1874: Reconstruction in Texas ends when Democrat governor Richard Coke is inaugurated.
  • 1874: In September, the 4th U.S. Cavalry confines the southern Plains Indians to reservations in Indian Territory after the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, opening the western part of the state for settlement.
  • 1875: The port city Indianola is destroyed by a hurricane and rebuilt.
  • 1876: On February 16, the current state constitution of Texas is adopted.
  • 1876: On October 4 the Agricultural and Mechanical College, now known as Texas A&M University, becomes the first institution of higher learning in Texas.
  • 1877: In September, Anglo and Mexican-Americans clash in the El Paso Salt War over salt-mining rights at Guadalupe Peak.
  • 1881: The Texas & Pacific Railway reaches West Texas, about 90 miles east of El Paso.
  • 1883:  Classes begin at the University of Texas in Austin.
  • 1884: A law is passed making fence cutting a felony.
  • 1886: In August, the port of Indianola is destroyed again by a hurricane and never rebuilt.
  • 1888: On May 16, the present state capitol in Austin is dedicated.
  • 1891: The Railroad Commission is created to establish rules for railroad operations and freight rates.
  • 1894: On June 9, oil is discovered in Corsicana by water well drillers, and commercial oil fields are established by 1896.
  • 1898: Teddy Roosevelt visits San Antonio to recruit “Rough Riders” to fight in the Spanish-American War in Cuba.
  • 1900: On September 8, the “Great Hurricane” is the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, destroying Galveston and killing over 6,000 residents.
  • 1901: The drilling of the “gusher” oil well at Spindletop near Beaumont propels Texas into the petroleum age.
  • 1902: In December, a poll tax becomes a requirement for voting, disenfranchising many blacks, Latinos and poor whites, and effectively allowing the Democratic Party to dominate Texas politics until civil rights reforms of the 1960s.
  • 1906: On July 28, Texas voters are able to express their preferences by voting in a Democratic primary, although the Legislature retains the right to appoint candidates until 1916.
  • 1910: On March 2 at Fort Sam Houston, the first military flight in a Wright Brothers airplane signifies the beginnings of what begins the U.S. Air Force.
  • 1911-1920: The Mexican Civil War impacts the border region as refugees and combatants, including Pancho Villa, cross the border and raid Texas settlements for supplies.
  • 1917-1918: The United States participates in World War I.
  • 1918: Texas women are granted the right to vote in primary elections, and Annie Webb Blanton is the first woman elected to a statewide office as State Superintendent of Public Education.
  • 1919: Texas amends the constitution to adopt prohibition.
  • 1920: Agricultural irrigation begins on the High Plains.
  • 1923: Laws are passed to ban blacks from voting in primary elections, which are eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1927, but subsequent discriminatory acts in 1932 are upheld by the Supreme Court, until finally being overturned in 1944.
  • 1925: Miriam “Ma” Ferguson becomes the first female governor of Texas, serving as a figurehead for her husband, former governor James E. Ferguson who had been impeached in 1917.
  • 1925: On September 30, classes begin at Texas Technical College in Lubbock, now Texas Tech University.
  • 1928: In June, the Democratic National Convention is held in Houston, the first southern state to host the convention since prior to the Civil War.
  • 1929: The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is founded in Corpus Christi.
  • 1929: The Great Depression begins, impacting the Texas economy and causing unemployment of up to 25% during the decade of the 1930s.
  • 1930s: Many blacks leave Texas during the Great Migration, decreasing the African-American population in Texas from over 40% to under 15% by 1940.
  • 1930: On September 5, the East Texas oil field is discovered when the Daisy Bradford #3 well hits “black gold.”
  • 1933: The Dust Bowl begins and continues through the 1930s, devastating the Texas panhandle farming areas and displacing many Texas families.
  • 1935: Prohibition is repealed by voters in Texas, two years after the federal repeal.
  • 1936: The Texas Centennial Exposition opens at Fair Park in Dallas.
  • 1941-1945: The United States participates in World War II, and Texas’ economy benefits as new military bases, Army hospitals and wartime industries employ many Texans.
  • 1943: In June, race riots in Beaumont result in martial law.
  • 1949-1950: The first black student is admitted to the University of Texas’ Medical Branch in Galveston, and the U.S. Supreme Court orders racial integration of the university’s law school.
  • 1953: Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes the first Texas-born President of the United States.
  • 1953: On May 22, President Eisenhower signs the Tidelands Bill, giving Texas the rights to its offshore oil.
  • 1954: The state constitution is amended to allow women to serve on juries and to remove the voting ban for members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • 1956: Henry B. Gonzalez of San Antonio becomes the first Hispanic elected to the Texas Senate since 1848.
  • 1958: The integrated circuit is developed by Texas Instruments in Dallas.
  • 1961: John Tower becomes the first Republican U.S. Senator from Texas since Reconstruction.
  • 1962: NASA opens the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, later renamed Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973.
  • 1963: On November 22, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, with Texan Lyndon B. Johnson succeeding the office to become the 36th president.
  • 1964: The U.S. Constitution is amended to abolish the poll tax for federal elections, but Texas retains the poll tax for state and local elections.
  • 1965: Legislative districts are reapportioned on the principle of “one man, one vote.”
  • 1966: On August 1, gunman Charles Whitman shoots 46 people from the observation deck of the tower at University of Texas at Austin.
  • 1966: On November 8 the Texas Constitution is amended to repeal the poll tax, and the first black woman, Barbara Jordan of Houston, is elected to state Senate.
  • 1970: A federal judge orders the Texas Education Agency to desegregate public schools.
  • 1972: Texas oil production peaks at 3 million barrels per day.
  • 1978: William Clements is elected the first Republican governor of Texas since Reconstruction.
  • 1985: Deposit insurance is suspended for Texas savings-and-loan companies due to insider abuse that results in bail-outs of many Texas thrifts and prosecution of officials.
  • 1988: Houstonian George H. W. Bush is elected 41st president of the United States.
  • 1990: Democrat Ann Richards is elected as the first female governor of Texas in her own right.
  • 1993: Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison becomes the first female U.S. Senator from Texas.
  • 1994: On January 1, The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is passed, allowing Mexico to purchase one third of Texas’ exports and encouraging the formation of maquiladora factories at the Texas-Mexico border.
  • 2000: Texas governor George W. Bush is elected 43rd president of the United States.
  • 2000s: Texas has the highest illegal immigration rate in the nation, accounting for an estimated 6% of the population.