The area around Brazoria and Fort Bend counties first had Anglo-American settlers in the early 1820s, associated with the colonists of Moses and Stephen F. Austin. According to a newspaper article from 1946 in the Freeport Facts, Freeport, Texas, they included the family of Capt. Randall Jones who landed at the mouth of the Brazos on December 23, 1821 in a schooner named “Lively” and brought their possessions upstream near a promising bend in the river near the current town of Richmond. The settlement was called Fort Settlement or Fort Bend. Jones was joined by about fifty other families in that immediate area. If there was an actual structure that gave its name to the Fort Bend area, it was most likely a simple shanty or cabin, rather than a more traditional military style-fort. The historic location of such a building does not appear to be precisely known.
Austin’s original contract was with Spain and when Stephen F. Austin went to San Antonio to report on his settlement to Governor Martinez in 1823 he was told that he would have to go to Mexico to renew the contract because Mexico had gained its independence from Spain. Austin complied and was away for several months, returning in 1824.
Early settlers clashed with various indigenous tribes over the years, including the Karankawa, over land in the area of the Brazos and Colorado and losses of life resulted on both sides. In addition to the clashes, settlers complained of stolen cattle and horses. To establish some order when he returned from Mexico, Austin organized the Militia of the Brazos and Militia of the Colorado and personally led scouting missions to find the hiding places of the tribes. Capt. Randall Jones served as a leader of a company of militia and reported a number of clashes, again primarily with the Karankawa. The community of Jones Creek took its name from the location of a nearby battle. The clashes continued until there was a treaty around the first of November in which the tribes agreed not to range east of the San Antonio or Guadalupe rivers.
Capt. Randall Jones was in his upper 30s when he came to Texas with Stephen F. Austin as a colonist. He had already spent a number of years in the U. S. Army including the War of 1812. After the conclusion of those hostilities, he is believed to have set up a trading post in the Nacogdoches area. He came to Austin Colony in the early 1820s and served in Austin’s militia, as noted above. Jones married the former Polly Andrews in 1824 and the couple is believed to have resided in the general area that became Richmond. The couple had at least nine children. Jones lived until well into his 80s and died in Houston in 1873.
The Fort Bend area was also affected by the Runaway Scrape, when settlers fled from the troops of Santa Anna, returning to find that their property had been plundered by the troops. However following the Texas Revolution, the settlers returned to prosperity. The county of Fort Bend was established in 1837 (created from parts of Austin, Harris and Brazoria counties). At the same time, a number of the currently existing communities were incorporated.
It was prime land for agriculture including the production of cotton and sugar cane. Until the conclusion of the Civil War, the large agricultural enterprises were supported by slavery and estimates are available that African American residents were far greater in number than Anglo American residents. After the war, the area was slow to recover but agriculture and ranching, assisted by the creation and expansion of rail service into the area, contributed to economic and population growth. Communities like Sugar Land, Stafford, Missouri City and Rosenberg developed to serve the expanding economy. Oil was discovered in the 1920s and still contributes to the economy between Fort Bend County and the Gulf of Mexico.
Gradually the area became more residential as expansion continued west from Houston and Harris County, but still some agricultural remnants can be found along and west of the Brazos.
© 2021, all rights reserved.