Photo by Christi Covington
Family settled before Texas independence
Hidden in a clump of trees a hundred feet west of Mary Moore Searight Drive is a small gated cemetery. Inside, a few remaining tombstones acknowledge the lives of some of Austin’s earliest settlers, the Slaughters.
Slaughter Lane was named for Slaughter Creek, which in turn was named for the family who first moved to the area about the time Texas became a republic, according to city documents.
Stephen F. Slaughter arrived from Kentucky with his wife, Ann, and at least one child, Augustine, as other families with recognizable names, such as the Wilbargers and Hornsbys, also settled to the east.
According to the genealogy book “Austin Colony Pioneers,” Stephen F. Slaughter represented Mina Municipality at the convention of 1833 in San Felipe, an event that was a step toward the Texas settlers’ bid for independence. The Texas Revolution began two years later.
The government of Coahuila and Texas, then a state under the nation of Mexico, had recently formed Mina Municipality from Stephen F. Austin’s colony, as well as from parts of Central Texas. For awhile, the existing City of Bastrop was also called Mina, and Bastrop County included much of modern Travis County.
Shortly after Antonio López de Santa Anna was elected Mexico’s president, and following a similar convention from the prior year, the convention of 1833 convened in San Felipe at the beginning of April. Slaughter was among the group who met with more than 50 other men, including Sam Houston.
These delegates opposed anti-immigration laws, asked for more defenses against Native Americans and better judicial systems, and passed resolutions opposing African slave trafficking into Texas, according to the Texas Handbook Online.
The handbook said the delegates wanted Texas to become its own state, and Houston’s committee prepared a constitution for submission, which called for trial by jury and freedom of the press.
Sometime after the convention and before 1837, Slaughter died of unrecorded causes. It was then in Mina Court that Leander C. Cunningham represented Slaughter’s estate.
A lawyer, Cunningham had come to Texas in 1833 himself and settled in Bastrop. It is recorded that he was one of the men who tried to relieve the Alamo in 1836, but could not get through Mexican lines, although he fought later in the Battle of San Jacinto. A future county judge of Bastrop, Cunningham married the widowed Ann Slaughter the year after he represented her late husband’s estate.
Stephen’s son, Augustine, later married a daughter of another local settler, Annie Page Eanes. Together they built their home on the family land. It was still a rugged area with the young city of Austin developing to the south. Annie documented her time there with her young children on Slaughter Creek. The seven-room home they eventually built had a large dining room and two porches.
An avid hunter and a member of Austin’s first Masonic lodge, Austin Lodge No. 12, Augustine left his home during the Civil War to fight as a captain for the Union Army. He died in 1866 and was buried in the small family cemetery that sits just south of Slaughter Lane.