This biographical sketch of Col. Robert H. Porter
is from Navarro County History, published in 1975.*
COLONEL ROBERT H. PORTER
For his service in the Texas Revolution, 1836, Colonel Porter received one-third league of land. Colonel Porter chose his land on the Trinity River on the old Indian crossing, taking land on both sides of the river. He received this land on January 6, 1838. Porter put in a ferry and several buildings. He built a wharf and several boats were secured to navigate the river.
The following year, 1839, the question in Congress was where to put the Capitol of Texas. The Capitol Committee was named and they submitted the names of Nashville, Ebens League, Richmond, Washington, Grace's Retreat1 and San Antonio. Ebens League received 27 votes, which was the greatest cast for any one place, when the places were voted upon. President Houston vetoed the selection and a new committee was set up to select a location.
Two more towns were added, Waterloo and Porter's Bluff. While Porter's Bluff came within a few votes of being selected the state's capitol, Waterloo was selected and name was changed to Austin in honor of Stephen F. Austin. Although Porter's Bluff did not become the capitol, it still could become a great and thriving city. The town continued to grow. A saw mill moved in, then a blacksmith shop. Several small boats called packets, began running on the river regularly.
In 1848, Colonel Porter engaged John H. Reagan, a surveyor, to survey and lay out a large town at Porter's Bluff. The new town was to be called Taos and would have forty-nine blocks. (Book A, page 367, Courthouse Records.) A twenty room hotel was built, new stores were put up, a large wharf was built. A better ferry was built and run by David Flint. To cross the ferry, the charge for a wagon and six horses was $1.00. Sheep would cost 2½ cents each to cross, and a man on horseback cost fifty cents, a buggy and two horses was $2.50 and a buggy and horse cost $2.00.
Taos never recovered from the great flood that destroyed over half the town in 1866. The town was never rebuilt and Corsicana, which soon was to have a railroad,2 received many of the Taos people who moved here to live. Colonel Robert H. Porter died in 1852.3 Judge C. M. Winkler was appointed administrator of the estate of Colonel Porter.
*Wyvonne Putman, comp., Navarro County History (Quanah, Tex.: Nortex Press, 1975), p. 80. Bracketed material was added.
NOTES BY ROGER BARTLETT:
1. Probably Groce's Retreat.
3. According to his estate file, he died in 1849, not 1852. Mrs. Balfour H. Clark, comp., Abstracts of Estates and Administrations, Navarro County, Texas, 1848-1890 (Corsicana, Tex.: James Blair Chapter, D.A.R., 1952), p. 66 (citing box B, package 31, Navarro County records).