Tag Archives: Austin History

Today in Texas History – December 27

From the Annals of the Capital City –  In 1839, the City of Austin was incorporated.  At the time the city had 856 citizens.   The site of Waterloo had been previously chosen for the Capital of the Republic of Texas moving from Houston to a more central but dangerous location.  The Texas Congress designated the name of the new Capital as Austin after Stephen F. Austin who was already revered as the father of Texas.  President Mirabeau B. Lamar assigned Judge Edwin Waller to lay out the plan for a capital city. Waller chose a 640-acre site on a bluff above the Colorado River, bordered by Shoal Creek and Waller Creek on the west and east respectively. Waller surveyed a square-mile plot with 14 blocks running in both directions.  The main throughway was designated as Congress Avenue by Lamar and ran from Capitol Square to the Colorado River. The streets running north-south were named for Texas rivers in geographical order. The east-west streets were named after native trees.  Downtown Austin retains much of this original design today.

Today in Texas History – May 9

Women in Jazz Tribute to Damita Jo DeBlanc

From the Annals of the Chanteuses –  In 1967, Austin celebrated “Damito Jo Day.”  Damita Jo DeBlanc was born in Austin in 1930 but was raised mostly in Santa Barbara.  In 1949, LA Deejay Joe Adams began to promote her career getting her gigs at Club Oasis and other LA clubs. Adams later signed her to Discovery Records but she found little success as a solo artist and spent much of the 1950’s with R&B group Steve Gibson & the Red Caps.  She married Gibson but later divorced him as their marriage collapsed and the band’s fortunes waned.  Her solo breakthrough came with the R&B smash hit “I’ll Save the Last Dance for You” in 1960 (an answer to “Save the Last Dance for Me” and 1961’s “I’ll Be There” (an answer to “Stand by Me”).  DJ worked with a number of performers including Ray Charles, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton.  In 1984, she retired from R&B and devoted the remainder of her career to modern Gospel music.


Today in Texas History – December 14

From the Annals of the Capital City –  In 1840, Moses Johnson was elected mayor of Austin.  Johnson, a medical doctor, had moved to Texas in the late 1830s.  He practiced medicine and surgery in Harrisburg and Liberty counties until moving to Austin in 1840, where he was quickly elected alderman and later mayor and also appointed justice of the peace. He was a Mason and served as the grand marshal of the Grand Lodge of Texas in 1844. On December 14, 1844, he was appointed treasurer of the republic by Pres. Anson Jones.  In April 1846 he was a member of a Democratic committee that marked the beginnings of  Texas Democratic party.  In 1848,  Johnson was appointed inspector and collector of revenue for the port of Lavaca.

Today in Texas History – December 8

From the Annals of WWII –  In 1941, Captain John A.E. Bergstrom was killed in the Japanese raid on Clark Field in the Philippines. He was the first casualty from Austin.   He was honored by his home town in renaming Del Valle Army Air Base after him.  DVAAB was constructed in the summer of 1942 on 3,000 acres leased from the city of Austin and activated in September. The base was renamed Bergstrom Field on November 11, 1943, and later Bergstrom Air Force Base.  The base was converted to civilian use in the 1990’s and now serves as Austin’s airport.  It retains the name of  Austin Bergstrom International Airport in honor of his sacrifice.