The Lake Creek Settlement, located in Stephen F. Austin’s second colony in the Mexican state of Coahuila and Texas during the Texas colonial period, was the earliest Anglo-American settlement in present-day Montgomery County, Texas. Under the 1825 empresario contract, Austin granted land on behalf of the Mexican government to a number of colonists in 1831. Some of these settlers in Austin’s second colony received leagues of land between the West Fork of the San Jacinto River and the stream called Lake Creek in present-day western Montgomery County. The colonists who qualified and received leagues of land included Mary Corner, James Pevehouse, Archibald Hodge, James Hodge, Owen Shannon, William C. Clark, William Landrum, Zachariah Landrum, William M. Rankin, Noah Griffith, Benjamin Rigby, William Atkins, Jacob Shannon, Raleigh Rogers, John Corner and Anna White. Within two years of the arrival of the colonists in 1831, the settlement, bounded on the east by the West Fork of the San Jacinto River and bounded by Lake Creek on its south and west sides, had become known as the Lake Creek Settlement. The area was also commonly referred to as the “neighborhood of Lake Creek,” the “District of Lake Creek,” the “Precinct of Lake Creek,” or simply as “Lake Creek.”
As more settlers moved in and purchased land from the colonists, the settlement grew. In 1835 William W. Shepperd, a colonist originally from North Carolina, purchased a 200-acre tract of land located in the northwesternmost corner of the John Corner League. W. W. Shepperd built homes and lived on this 200-acre tract with his wife, Mary Steptoe Shepperd, and their children and slaves. He soon built a trading post which became the first store in the Lake Creek Settlement. He also operated a mill and a cotton gin built for him by John Bricker.
The location of W. W. Shepperd’s store had three important advantages. First, a spring-fed branch of Atkins Creek (later known as Town Creek) ran through this 200-acre tract and provided fresh water for settlers and livestock. Second, the store was located close to the geographic center of Lake Creek Settlement. Third, Shepperd’s store was located near three important roads or traces that ran through the Lake Creek Settlement: the Contraband Trace, the Coushatta Trace, and the Grimes Road. His store quickly became the meeting place and community center of the Lake Creek Settlement. Colonists no longer had to travel many miles to the towns of San Felipe de Austin or Washington-on-the-Brazos in order to purchase goods and supplies. Settlers also came to Shepperd’s store to execute land deeds and other legal documents and have these documents witnessed by those who gathered there.
Several men from the Lake Creek Settlement fought in the Texas Revolution in 1835 and 1836. These Texas revolutionary soldiers included John Marshall Wade, John Bricker, Matthew Cartwright, William Cartwright, Thomas Chatham, Evin [Evan] Corner, James J. Foster, Raleigh Rogers, Jacob Shannon, Jacob H. Shepperd, and A. U. Springer. The man originally appointed to gather reinforcements in the Lake Creek Settlement was James J. Foster. Foster resigned shortly after his appointment, and most of the militia volunteering from Lake Creek Settlement either joined Capt. William Ware’s company or Capt. Joseph L. Bennett’s company. John Bricker, serving under Capt. Moseley Baker, was killed while defending the Brazos River crossing at San Felipe de Austin when he was struck in the head by a Mexican cannister shot. Bricker was the first casualty of the San Jacinto campaign. Jacob H. Shepperd fought in the battle of Concepción, the Grass Fight, and the siege of Bexar. Shortly after the Texas Revolution, he delivered the express from Gen. Sam Houston countermanding the taking of Santa Anna to the Texas army to be tried for the slaughter of Fannin’s men at Goliad. W. W. Shepperd’s daughter, Julia, married Charles B. Stewart, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
Just prior to and during the Texas Revolution, the Lake Creek Settlement was located in the Municipality of Washington. Following the Texas Revolution, the Lake Creek Settlement was located in Washington County, which at that time was divided politically into six large precincts: the Hazard Precinct, the Hidalgo Precinct, the Washington Precinct, the Viesca Precinct, the San Jacinto Precinct, and the Lake Creek Precinct. Two justices of the peace from the Lake Creek Precinct, George Galbraith and Jeremiah Worsham, were present at the first Washington County Commissioners’ Court meeting in April 1837. Some of the earliest activities of the commissioners’ court concerned the creation of roads in Washington County, including roads proposed from the Lake Creek Settlement to Houston, to the town of New Cincinnati, and to the Baptiste (Battise) Village.
On May 17, 1837, W. W. Shepperd became the first postmaster, and his store became the first post office in the Lake Creek Settlement. Shepperd’s store was also the first post office in what is today Montgomery County. In July 1837 Shepperd founded the town of Montgomery in the Lake Creek Settlement at the site of his home and store. On July 8, 1837, the Telegraph and Texas Register published an advertisement submitted by W. W. Shepperd and his business associate John Wyatt Moody (first auditor of the Republic of Texas) for the new town of Montgomery. Shepperd and his family and their slaves were the first residents of the town. Though the exact source of the name of the town of Montgomery is not yet known with certainty, the most likely explanation is that Shepperd and Moody named the town after Montgomery County, Alabama, which in turn was named after Maj. Lemuel P. Montgomery.
Montgomery County was created on December 14, 1837, and composed of the three large political precincts that had previously formed eastern Washington County: the Viesca Precinct, the San Jacinto Precinct, and the Lake Creek Precinct. The Lake Creek Precinct included most of the territory of present-day Montgomery County. The San Jacinto Precinct included most of the territory of present-day Walker County and the Viesca Precinct included most of the territory of present-day Grimes County. The town of Montgomery became the county seat.
Following the founding of the town of Montgomery and the creation of Montgomery County in 1837, the term Lake Creek Settlement passed out of common usage, and the settlement was forgotten over time. In the early twenty-first century, the Lake Creek Settlement was rediscovered and thoroughly researched by historians using long-ignored primary source documents. In 2016 the Texas Historical Commission approved a marker for the Lake Creek Settlement, and the Montgomery Independent School District board of trustees named the district’s second high school Lake Creek High School in remembrance of the Lake Creek Settlement.
The Bricker Papers, Montgomery County District Court, Montgomery County Library Genealogy Department, available online (http://www.countygenweb.com/txmontgomery/Bricker/bricker_papers.pdf), accessed March 25, 2021. Pat Gordon, Washington County Texas Court of Commissioners of Roads & Revenue 1836–1846 (Fort Worth: GTT Books, 2001). Historical Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin. Jay R. Jordan, “Montgomery ISD approves naming of new schools,” The Courier of Montgomery County, May 8, 2016 (https://www.yourconroenews.com/neighborhood/moco/news/article/Montgomery-ISD-approves-naming-of-new-schools-9488030.php), accessed April 2, 2021. Kameron K. Searle, The Early History of Montgomery, Texas (Montgomery, Texas: City of Montgomery, 2012). Kameron K. Searle, “Lake Creek Settlement in Texas: Scans of Primary Source Documents in Support of Narrative History” (https://www.lakecreeksettlement.info/), accessed March 31, 2021.
Republic of Texas
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Kameron K. Searle,
“Lake Creek Settlement,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed October 17, 2021,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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