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William Barton


Nearly a million people visit Austin’s Barton Springs swimming pool each year. Most aren’t aware that the cool springs of Zilker Park were once part of the William Barton homestead. Barton, a widower with six children, arrived in 1828 with Stephen F. Austin’s second colony. His headright from the Mexican

government was a league of land 4,428 acres on the west bank of the Colorado

River in Bastrop County. Considered a recluse, when a neighbor moved within 10

miles, he moved upriver 45 miles to a creek that would be named for him. In

1837, Barton and his second wife, Stacy Pryor, patented the property at the

Springs. His nearest neighbor was Jacob Harrell on the opposite side of the

Colorado River. Austin was founded on the north side of the Colorado on

December 29, 1839. Barton seldom ventured across the river in his dug-out

canoe. His son, Wayne, was appointed the first Travis County Sheriff in 1840.

William Barton had three daughters and once said “keeping the Indians away

from his remote location was much easier than keeping Austin’s young men away

from his daughters.” He died shortly after Austin’s founding. He was known as the

Daniel Boone of Texas, Indian fighter, citizen of Colonial Mexico and first footer of

the Republic of Texas.

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