The Last President of Texas
The Washington area was the site of the final home of the last president of the Republic of Texas. Anson Jones had arrived in Texas in 1833. Settling in Brazoria, he practiced medicine and his business thrived. Like other prosperous men he was drawn into the political conflicts of his era. Actively serving the Republic of Texas, he was congressman, minister to the United States, senator, and Secretary of State. In 1844, at the height of his political career, Jones was elected president of the Republic.
It was a bittersweet legacy of Jones' short tenure as president, for during that time the Republic of Texas ceased to exist. Instead, Texas became the 28th state of the United States. It was left to Jones to declare, "The final act in this great drama is now performed. The Republic of Texas is no more." -- Anson Jones, President, Republic of Texas February 19, 1846
With these words, Jones ended his public life and political career, retiring with his family to Barrington, the home he had built near the town of Washington. Anson Jones' star rose briefly with the Republic's "Lone Star" and faded quickly with annexation.
Anson Jones farmed near Washington during and after his presidency. Jones named his farm "Barrington" after his Massachusetts home, Great Barrington. He lived with wife Mary, their four children, his sister, sister-in-law, and five slaves. The family home, two slave cabins, a kitchen building, smokehouse, cotton house, and barn made up Barrington Plantation.
The economy of the plantation relied upon the work of the five slaves. Entries that Jones himself made in his daybook show the variety of the tasks, the efforts of the slaves, and ongoing nature of farm work. His words reflect a sense of good fortune and delight in the bounty of his farm:
Peach and plum trees commenced blossoming this week. Continued planting corn on the east side of the field, Jerry and Mary breaking up cotton land with Oxen.
Cucumbers from the garden & roasting ears from the corn field in abundance.
Cotton opening freely, weather favorable all hands picking & at the rate of between two and three bales pr week.
Set out Bermuda grass in S.E Quarter of the House Yard. Finished gathering corn crop of 2000 bushels. Finished picking Cotton. Dug Sweet Potatoes in house field.
Finished the year at Barrington, superintending my farm & the education of the younger children.