Giddings, Texas

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Giddings is the county seat of Lee County, Texas, United States situated on the intersection of U.S. Highways 77 and 290, 55 miles (88 km) east of Austin. Its population was 5,105 at the 2000 census. The city's motto is "Giddings Texas: Experience Hometown Hospitality".

Contents

History

The land where the city of Giddings now stands was part of the land granted to Stephen F. Austin in 1821 for a colony in Spanish Texas, and later became part of the Robertson Colony.[3]

The city itself was founded in 1871 when the Houston and Texas Central Railway came to the area. It probably took its name from local magnate Jabez Deming Giddings, who was instrumental in bringing the railway to the area. He had come to the area from Pennsylvania in 1838 to claim the land bounty of his brother Giles A. Giddings, killed at the Battle of San Jacinto. Another theory is that the city was named after Jabez's brother Dewitt Clinton Giddings.

Early settlers in the new town were mostly pioneers from the surrounding communities, such as Old Evergreen and Shady Grove. The majority of these people were ethnic Anglo-Saxons, but a sizeable majority were Wendish families from the Serbin area. They would later establish the German-language newspaper Deutsches Volksblatt.

A syndicate headed by William Marsh Rice owned the whole townsite and sold property to settlers. Later Rice Institute (now Rice University) in Houston had control and sold the lots.

Wide streets were a distinguishing characteristic of the town; the two main thoroughfares (Main and Austin Streets) were 100 feet (30 m) wide, and other streets were eighty feet (24 m) wide. The town's first church, established in 1871, was Methodist. J. D. Giddings Masonic Lodge, chartered in Evergreen in 1865, moved to Giddings, and early churches and a public school met in its building. Soon after the Civil War, freed slaves from farms and plantations settled in Giddings. Classes for more than fifty black students were held in a church in 1883, and the first black public school was built in 1887.

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