Place:Brownsville, Cameron, Texas, United States

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NameBrownsville
Alt namesFort Brownsource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS48049916
Fort Taylorsource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS48049916
TypeCity
Coordinates25.93°N 97.484°W
Located inCameron, Texas, United States
Contained Places
Cemetery
Buena Vista Park
Old City Cemetery
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Brownsville is a city in Cameron County in the U.S. state of Texas. It located on the western Gulf Coast in South Texas, adjacent to the border with Matamoros, Mexico. The city covers and has a population of 183,299 as of 2017. It is the 131st-largest city in the United States and 16th-largest in Texas. It is part of the Brownsville–Matamoros conurbation, with a population of 1,136,995 people. The city is known for its year-round subtropical climate, deep-water seaport and Hispanic culture.

The city was founded in 1848 by American entrepreneur Charles Stillman after he developed a successful river boat company nearby. It was named after Major Jacob Brown, who fought and died while serving as a U.S. Army soldier during the Mexican–American War (1846–48). As the city is the seat of government for the county of Cameron, the city and county government are major employers. Other primary employers fall within the service, trade and manufacturing industries, including a growing aerospace and space transportation sector. It operates international trading through the Port of Brownsville. The city experienced a population increase in the early 1900s when steel production flourished. Brownsville is frequently cited as having one of the highest poverty rates in the United States.

Due to significant historical events, the city has multiple houses and battle sites listed under the National Register of Historic Places. It was the scene of several key events of the American Civil War, such as the Battle of Brownsville and the Battle of Palmito Ranch. The city was also involved in the Texas Revolution as well as the Mexican–American War. Brownsville's idiosyncratic geographic location has made it a wildlife refuge center. Several state parks and historical sites are protected by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Contents

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Founding

In 1781, Spanish government officials granted José Salvador de la Garza 59 leagues of land (408.243 square miles). He used the land to construct a ranch several miles northwest of the area. During the early 1800s, Brownsville was known to residents as los tejidos (English: "pasturelands"). The area was inhabited by a few settlers around 1836 when Texas declared its independence from Mexico. On February 4, 1846, President James K. Polk instructed American General Zachary Taylor and his troops to begin moving south towards Brownsville. Once Taylor arrived, he built Fort Texas. It was later renamed Fort Brown in honor of American General Jacob Brown, one of two deceased soldiers during the Siege of Fort Texas.[1]

Charles Stillman arrived in Matamoros in 1828 from Connecticut to help his father in the mercantile business.[1] Brownsville became part of Texas after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. During that year, Stillman formed a partnership with Samuel Belden and Simon Mussina to form the Brownsville Town Company. They reportedly sold lots valued at $1,500. The city of Brownsville was originally established in late 1848 by Stillman, and was made the county seat of Cameron County on January 13, 1849. The state originally incorporated the city on January 24, 1850. This was repealed on April 1, 1852, however, because of a land-ownership dispute between Stillman and its former owners (including Juan Cortina, a Mexican rancher). The state reincorporated the city on February 7, 1853; this remains in effect. The issue of ownership was not decided until 1879 when the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Stillman.[2]

Mexican–American War

On April 25, 1846, Captain Seth B. Thornton received reports of Mexican troops crossing the Rio Grande river. Thornton and 63 U.S. Dragoons moved to Rancho de Carricitos and discovered several houses in the area. Mexican General Anastasio Torrejón crossed the Rio Grande the previous day. He commanded 1,600 cavalry and infantry troops to surround Thornton's troops in fractions. Due to heavy force from Torrejón's troops, Thornton's troops surrendered. 11 American casualties were reported; 45 troops as well as Thornton were held as prisoners. Reports of the incident were sent to President James K. Polk who announced that "American blood has been spilled upon the American territory". On May 13, the United States Congress declared war against Mexico.

American General Zachary Taylor retreated from Fort Brown on May 1, 1846; Mexican General Mariano Arista began preparing artillery and troops from across the Rio Grande. On May 3, Arista and the Mexican Army began the Siege of Fort Texas, during the first active campaign in the Mexican–American War. This was counteracted by the United States 7th Infantry Regiment.[3] Despite heavy strikes, Mexican General Pedro de Ampudia outlined a traditional siege to move forward. General Zachary Taylor was notified of the incident and began moving towards Fort Brown. Mexican troops intercepted them near Palo Alto, approximately north of present-day Brownsville, however, resulting in the first battle of the war.

The following day, Mexican troops had retreated. Taylor's troops charged up to them resulting in the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, which took place within the present city limits. When Taylor arrived at the besieged Fort Texas, he found that two soldiers including the fort's commander Major Jacob Brown, had died. Brown, who suffered an injury when a cannonball hit his leg, died three days after his injury on May 9. In his honor, General Taylor renamed the facility as Fort Brown. An old cannon at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College marks the spot where Major Brown received his fatal wound.

On July 13, 1859, Juan Cortina saw Brownsville city Marshal Robert Sheers arrest and beat an elderly man who had been a ranch hand at his mother's ranch. Cortina approached the marshal, questioning his motives, before shooting him twice after he refused to release the man. The first shot reportedly missed Sheers, but the second struck his shoulder causing him to fall to the ground. Cortina and the elderly man rode off on a horse. The following year, Cortina returned with troops, executing four Anglo men and simultaneously releasing several Mexican prisoners. He then issued a proclamation explaining his reasons for the attack.

American Civil War

During the American Civil War, Brownsville served as a smuggling point for Confederate goods into Mexico. Most significantly cotton was smuggled to European ships through the Mexican port of Bagdad to avoid Union blockades. The city was located at the end of "The Cotton Road",[4] southwest of the Cotton Belt. In November 1863, Union troops landed at Port Isabel and marched towards Brownsville to take control of Fort Brown. In the ensuing Battle of Brownsville, Confederate forces abandoned the fort, blowing it up with of explosives. In 1864, Confederate forces commanded by Colonel John Salmon Ford reoccupied the town and he became mayor of Brownsville.

Robert E. Lee and his Confederate army surrendered to Union commander Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, signing a hand-written document at the Appomattox Court House, officially ending the American Civil War. However, Theodore Barrett was ordered to move 500 62nd Regiment troops of colors towards Brazos Island. On May 11, Barrett's troops moved inland towards Brownsville and spotted Confederate soldiers. John Salmon Ford received news of this and prepared to attack. On May 15, 1865, 34 days after the signing of the surrender, the Battle of Palmito Ranch took place. Confederates killed or wounded approximately 30 opponents and captured more than 100 other troops.[5] This is accepted by some historians as the last battle of the American Civil War. President Grant sent Union General Frederick Steele to Brownsville to patrol the United States–Mexico border after the Civil War to aid the Juaristas with military supplies.

20th century

Texas, like other Southern states, passed a new constitution and Jim Crow laws that established racial segregation and disenfranchised African Americans at the turn of the 20th century, generally by raising barriers to voter registration. While Hispanic residents were considered white under the terms of the United States annexation of Texas, legislatures found ways to suppress their participation in politics.

On August 13 and 14, 1906, Brownsville was the site of the Brownsville affair. Racial tensions were increasing between white townsfolk and black infantrymen who were stationed at Fort Brown. On the night of August 13, one white bartender was killed, and a white police officer was wounded by rifle shots in the street. Townsfolk, including the mayor, accused the infantrymen of the murders. Without affording them a chance to defend themselves in a hearing, President Theodore Roosevelt dishonorably discharged the entire 167-member regiment due to their alleged "conspiracy of silence".[6] Investigations in the 1970s revealed that the soldiers were not responsible for the attacks, and the Nixon Administration reversed all dishonorable discharges.[6] Fort Brown was decommissioned after the end of World War II in 1945. In 1948 the city and college acquired the land.

21st century

Brownsville has received significant media attention surrounding immigration policies and border wall funding costs. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Secure Fence Act of 2006. The act administered the construction of a border fence extending from San Diego in California through the entry of the Port of Brownsville. In 2008, the United States Department of Homeland Security issued a proposal to add of border fence and reallocate portions of the University of Texas at Brownsville campus. The proposal would have transferred of university land, including several historical monuments and the university's golf course to Mexico. However, the proposal was altered after Andrew Hanen, a federal district judge, rejected the department's idea.[7]

In 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed building a border wall along the United States-Mexico border. Trump's proposed wall, if passed, would consist of "of hardened concrete, and ... rebar, and steel" across the southern border, including Brownsville. On January 25, 2017, days after assuming office, Trump issued Executive Order 13767, directing construction for a border wall. Brownsville was also the center of controversy surrounding the Trump administration's policy of separating children and parents who entered the country unlawfully. The issue surrounded Casa Padre, the largest juvenile immigration detention center in America which is located within Brownsville's city limits.

Downtown Brownsville has received several revitalization projects from the city government to increase tourism and safety. The Texas Historical Commission named Brownsville as part of its Main Street Program in 2016. Several historic buildings were restored including the Stegman Building, a historic building named after Baldwin G. Stegman, one of the city's first streetcar line developers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected Brownsville as one of six cities for their "Greening America's Communities" program. The agency worked on a revitalization project for Market Square, a building constructed in 1850. The city also received a $3.4 million grant from the Façade Improvement Program for this project.

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