Austin Gold Dollar

By: Gene A. Burd

Type: General Entry

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: June 16, 2020

The Austin Gold Dollar was one of the first black newspapers west of the Mississippi and one of forty-eight commercial black newspapers published in Texas between 1870 and 1900. It was founded in August 1876 in the Wheatsville area of Austin by Jacob Fontaine. Copies are extremely scarce, and records on circulation are scanty, but the Gold Dollar certainly existed in 1878 and maybe as late as 1880. The newspaper emphasized needs of freed slaves-family ties, education, frugality, moral and religious instruction, the discipline of youth, and racial justice. It struggled with black illiteracy and poverty, and supported the political and social causes of its founder, a leader in the Republican and Greenback parties in Travis County. Fontaine named his paper for a gold dollar given him by his sister Nelly Miller in 1872, when they were reunited in Mississippi after a separation caused by slavery twenty years before. Fontaine earned sixty dollars to start the newspaper in his home, a structure set afire by arsonists in August 1879 but designated an Austin landmark in August 1977. The Gold Dollar was revived shortly in 1979–80 with federal funds, in order to help renew and preserve a nearby black neighborhood, Clarksville, where Fontaine founded the Sweet Home Missionary Church in 1877.

Jacob Fontaine III and Gene Burd, Jacob Fontaine (Austin: Eakin Press, 1983). Charles William Grose, Black Newspapers in Texas, 1868–1970 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1972).

  • Journalism
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Publications, Journals, and Magazines
  • Newspapers

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Gene A. Burd, “Austin Gold Dollar,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994
June 16, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: