Independence. Settled in 1824. Named in 1836 to commemorate Texas independence. Important early-day town. Baylor University began here, 1845. Residence of family of Gen. Sam Houston, Texas hero, 1853-1867. Mrs. Houston is buried here. Confederate Quartermaster Sub-depot, 1864. Many historic sites marked. – Historical Marker Text. Marker located at the Intersection of FM 50 and FM 390, Independence.
Independence 1915. Independence was first known as Coles Settlement, honoring John P. Coles, who first settled there in 1824. It was given its present name by Dr. Asa Hoxie, to commemorate the Texas Declaration of Independence. It has been memorable for the number of distinguished people that have lived within its precincts, and for the great educational zeal of its pioneer citizens. The first school was taught in 1838 by J. D. Giddings. On February 1, 1845, the charter for Baylor University, named for R. E. B, Baylor, was granted by the Congress of the Republic of Texas, and this famous educational institution was located at Independence. Among the first presidents were Henry L. Graves, Rufus C. Burleson, George W. Barnes, and William Carey Crane. Baylor Female College was founded in 1866. These two schools became very famous ; and it was a sad day, in 1886, for Washington County, when lack of railroad facilities caused their removal to Waco and Belton. Independence was incorporated August 1, 1859, and T. T. Clay was elected mayor. The city government was of short duration. – The History of Brenham and Washington County, 1915 by Mrs. R. E. Pennington
Independence. Local legend tells of Dr. Asa Hoxey who, celebrating the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836, moved to change the name of Coles settlement to Independence. Actual county records show an 1835 origin for the town of Independence, with C. Baker, J. G. W. Pierson, A. F. Burchard, and R. Stevenson, proprietors. The still-strong Independence Baptist Church was established in 1839 with Pastor T. W. Cox. Local resident Sam Houston was baptized in Little Rocky Creek in 1854. The wealthiest town in Texas by 1845, Independence won the bid for Baylor University, newly chartered by the Republic of Texas. J. B. Root became its first U. S. Postmaster in 1846. By the 1850s Independence had a hotel, jail, stagecoach depot, Masonic lodge, cemetery, and small commercial district. Both the city leaders and Baylor administrators refused to grant right-of-way to the Santa Fe Railroad. By the 1880s, trade was going to competing towns and Independence began to decline. Baylor University moved its schools to Waco and Belton in 1886. By the 1990s, Independence was a rural community with a population of 140. Remaining attractions include the Baptist church and numerous historical sites in the area. – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1997. Located at the Town Square, FM 390 E of intersection with FM 50.
Old Independence Cemetery. A very old graveyard of Anglo-Texas. Started about 1823 on league of Judge J. P. Cole, one of the “Old 300” in the Austin Colony. A daughter, Madora Cole McCrocklin, gave the site. Many statesmen, educators, physicians, lawyers, war veterans and other “Old Texians” are buried here. – Historical Marker Text. Location: From Old Baylor Park (3 blocks W of FM 50/FM 390), take CR 60 1.2 mi. NW to cemetery, Independence.
Independence Postal Service. Until 1840, mail was carried by private conveyance–neighbors paying expenses of young man to travel by horse to Houston and bring mail for all; 1840 brought two stage routes giving weekly service. Postal service authorized in 1843; Moses Johnson appointed first Independence postmaster. During Civil War 10 (cent) stamps made by stamping with wood postmark; die carved by John McKnight. During 115 years of operation 21 postmasters served; Kathryn Schwarze being the last when service discontinued, Jan. 31, 1958. Now museum mailing station. – Historical Marker Text. Marker located 1 block E of the intersection of FM 50 and FM 390, on FM 390, Independence.
Independence School. Although private schools were in operation in Independence as early as 1835, tax-supported public schools were not established until the 1870s. In September 1870 the county court ordered that each of the five precincts in the county be divided into two school districts–one for white students and one for black students. The first county school tax was levied in 1874, paving the way for schoolhouse construction. Classes for white students were conducted in a small frame building and in former facilities of Baylor Female Academy until the first public school building was erected on this site on the town square in 1889. By 1937 an average of forty-four students were attending the school, taught by three teachers. The 1889 schoolhouse was destroyed in a 1939 fire, and another building was erected on the same site. Passed by the State Legislature in 1949, the Gilmer-Aiken Law had far-reaching effects on the boundaries and funding of school districts in Texas. Because its enrollment did not meet the new minimum requirements, Independence School was closed in 1953. The last school building later became a private home. – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1989. Marker located 1 block E of FM 50/FM 390 intersection, on FM 390, Independence.