Founders of the Town of Smithville, Texas

Murray Burleson
Murray came from one of the earliest families who settled in the area around Smithville. His father, Joseph Burleson Jr., came from Tennessee to Bastrop County in 1833 (Crockett, 1990, p. 5) with his father Joseph Burleson Sr. Joseph Sr. was the brother of the father of General Edward Burleson who was one of the outstanding men of the Texas Revolution. He had been given a league of land on the north side of the Colorado River in Stephen F. Austin's second colony.

Murray ... was born in Bastrop County in 1849. He received his education in the county schools and also attended one session of college at Bastrop. When seventeen he left and went to New Mexico as a hired hand; in 1870 he drove a heard of stock to Kansas. In 1872 he sold his interest in stock and came back to Smithville. He found a small thriving mercantile business on the banks of the Colorado River run by his brother-in-law, Dr J. B. Taylor. He whet in business with Dr. Taylor. Three years later Dr. Taylor sold his interest to Franklin Smith and for the following three years the firm of Burleson and Smith had exhaustive trade.

(Crockett, 1990, p. 17)

In 1876 Murray Burleson bought some 300 acres of land out of the Gazley and Loomis Leagues. In September 1887, he formed the Smithville Town Company along with J. A. Hooper and Joseph D. Sayers of Bastrop. The company owned 300 acres and was to be divided into lots.

"In 1886 Mr. Burleson married Susan Fawcett. They had six children. Throughout the development of Smithville from 1876 to the early 1900's when Mr. Burleson moved to California, he was very instrumental in the development of the town." (Crockett, 1990, p. 17)

In, 1844, General Edward Murray Burleson described early Smithville when he wrote the following to Mirabeau Lamar, President of the Republic of Texas, "In 1831, a new settlement commenced, below Bastrop, founded by General Burleson. . . " This settlement located between the high southern bank of the Colorado River and the Smithville Hospital (9th and Short Streets, northeastern corner of the [Historical] district), is known today as "Old Smithville." (Smithville Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places, Sec. 8, p. 32).

William Smith
After Dr. Gazley had settled in the area

Several years passed and William Smith came to make his home in this valley of the Colorado. With him were his wife and five sons, Preston, Dudley, Anderson, Frank and Henry. He built his home, which was a crudely constructed affair on the South bank of the river about the present site of the Elbert Thorn home.
Smith owned all the land between the present West limits (in 1933) of the city and Gazley's property, the Shipp's Lake, and the Colorado River. Smith's son, Dudley, inherited his father's property on which he built the second store. This marked the founding of Old Smithville on the banks of the Colorado River.

(Smithville Times, 1995, p. 23)

Franklin Smith
Franklin was the son of William Smith who came to the area in 1850. after buying land to farm from the Loomis tract. In 1874, Franklin bought out his brother's land interest and Dr. Taylor's interest in a small store and went into business with Murray Burleson in the old town of Smithville before it was moved to its present location because of the railroad.
Crockett, Silky R. (1990).Early History of Smithville, Texas. Smithville, TX: Friends of the Smithville Library.
History of Smithville 1827-1895. (1995, October 19) The Smithville Times Special Centennial Edition.
Return to Home Page