Happy birthday, Liberty

Liberty County's roots are detailed in this historical marker located on US 90 east of Liberty. (Photo courtesy of Joseph Leal)

By Ron W. Blake

Ask anyone interested in Texas history about 1836 and they should know the significance of that year. If they don’t, well, I’m embarrassed for them. In American history, surely 9 out of 10 Americans who express interest know the significance of 1776. If they don’t, you know how I feel already.

In 1836, Texas gained its independence from Mexico after terrible massacres at the Alamo and Goliad. On April 21, 1836, a ragtag band of Texians, under the command of General Sam Houston, a former resident of the city of Liberty and Liberty County, caught Santa Anna literally with his pants down on the field at the Lynchburg Crossing. Santa Anna’s army was encamped and taking an extended afternoon siesta after trekking through the muddy clay soils of modern Harris County. Today, we call that sacred ground the San Jacinto Battleground.

However, anyone driving eastbound into Liberty through the river bottom on US 90 observes a beautiful monument celebrating that Liberty was established in 1831, but what does that mean exactly?

The exciting answer to that question can be found about two miles east of Main Street on US 90. An early, almost forgotten historical marker dating to the Texas Centennial in 1936 is visible in this photo.

Take a moment and carefully read the text on the marker:

Liberty County
A trail across this region traveled and described by Alonso De Leon in 1690 became the “La Bahia” or “Lower Road” in the 18th century. First settlement, Atascocita, established in 1757. The town established May 5, 1831, as the “Villa De La Santisima Trinidad De La Libertad” (City of the Blessed Trinity of Liberty) became the county seat and gave the county its name when created and organized in 1836.

Look at that date! That’s not Cinco de Mayo, folks! That’s May 5, 1831. That’s the birthdays of both Liberty County and the City of Liberty, which means today is the 190th birthday of our beloved city and county.

The birthday of the city as May 5, 1831, makes Liberty the third-oldest incorporated community in the old Nation of Mexico, along with San Antonio and Goliad, respectively. Liberty was incorporated again as a city in 1837 while under the Republic of Texas, at which time it also became the county seat.

There’s not much time for celebration today, but raising a tall one and sharing this article would be more than appropriate, don’t you think?

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of time for planning a countywide birthday celebration hosted around a less obscurely placed historical marker next year. The courthouse square seems a fitting location for such a celebration.

For homework, please look up Cinco de Mayo. That event, celebrating Mexican independence from French rule in 1862, occurred more than 30 years after the naming of our fair town and beautiful county. Be proud, fellow citizens of Liberty County. Celebrate our history and our heritage!

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