John Caldwell, attorney and legislator, son of Adam and Phoebe (Gallion) Caldwell, was born on December 10, 1802, in Frankfort, Kentucky. Adam Caldwell had emigrated from Ireland in 1787. After the War of 1812, the Caldwells moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where John studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1823. He opened his law office in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and there married Lucinda Whey Haynie on December 4, 1827. The couple traveled to Texas in 1831 through New Orleans and settled in 1834 in Bastrop County on the Navarro league, which was deeded to Caldwell on April 2, 1833.
Caldwell became commissioner of Bastrop County in 1840. He represented the county as in the House of the Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth congresses (see CONGRESS OF THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS) and in the Senate of the Ninth Congress, where he signed the resolution calling for an annexation convention. He was a member of the Convention of 1845 and a state senator in the Sixth and Seventh legislatures. In 1850 he was one of the organizers of the Colorado Navigation Company, formed to get cotton to market. He opposed secession but supported the South to the extent of lending the state of Texas, when its treasury was empty in 1861, a quarter of a million dollars in gold, for which he received Confederate bonds that became worthless at the end of the war.
Caldwell built the first two-story house in the area. It came to be called the White House, and his daughter Lucinda put it on canvas. The framed painting in 1988 was in the home of a great-granddaughter. John and Lucinda Caldwell, who had nine children, were Methodists. Caldwell died on October 22, 1870, and was buried in the Caldwell lot in the southeast corner of old Oakwood Cemetery, Austin.