Thursday, October 22, 2009

Angelina Eberly

There is a statue of a woman firing a cannon on downtown Austin’s main street, Congress Avenue, which probably confuses the thousands of visitors coming to Austin for conventions, to party, and in the local parlance, to help keep “Austin Weird.”

Austin is the capital of the state of Texas, and was once the capital of the Republic of Texas. But, it almost lost that distinction in 1842, had it not been for the courage of a lady who ran a boarding house in Austin.

As the story goes, there was a lot of contention about where the capital should be located. Sam Houston, the first president, felt it should be located in, you guessed it, Houston. Others thought it should be in a more central location in Texas. This was the view of the second president, Mirabeau B. Lamar, who had the capital established in Austin.

When Sam Houston was again elected president, he attempted to relocate the capital to Houston by ordering over 20 men to covertly remove the archives from Austin. They nearly pulled it off, but they had not figured on one woman added into the mix, Angelina Eberly.

Hearing the noises of men loading the archives into wagons, she ran out and fired the town cannon. The cannon ball slammed into the land office building across the street. The town awoke, and those attempting to flee with the documents were quickly apprehended.

Today, Austin is a city of over a quarter of a million people. In addition to being the state capital, it is also the “Live Music Capital of the World,” and home to the University of Texas.

When Mrs. Eberly fired the town cannon, Austin’s population was less than 700 people. I often wonder, had that vigilant woman on that December night in 1842 not fired that weapon, how Austin would have fared. My guess is that Austin would not have a population of 750,000 people today and not have all that music downtown on Sixth Street.

Anyone care to disagree?

I thought not, otherwise, you’ll have to take it up with Mrs. Eberly. Good luck with that.

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