By: Margaret S. Henson

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: October 28, 2017

The steamboat Laura was built in Louisville, Kentucky, for use in the Brazos River by Thomas F. McKinney and Samuel M. Williams. The small river steamer, which arrived in June 1835, was eighty-five feet long and 16½ feet wide. She drew 5½ feet and could carry sixty-five tons of cargo. On September 2, 1835, just off the mouth of the Brazos River and during a dead calm, the Laura towed the armed schooner San Felipe to engage and capture the Mexican cruiser Correo, which had been seizing United States vessels calling at Texas ports. The Texas government chartered the Laura to deliver men and supplies and also to tow schooners in and out of ports during the Texas Revolution. On April 24, 1836, she took vice president Lorenzo de Zavala and secretary of the treasury Bailey Hardeman to the site of the battle of San Jacinto; they were the first officials to arrive there from Galveston Island. The vessel remained in government service through September, when McKinney and Williams (see MCKINNEY, WILLIAMS AND COMPANY) resumed using her to gather Brazos River cotton. In mid-January 1837 the little steamer, the first vessel to ascend Buffalo Bayou above Harrisburg, took Augustus C. and John K. Allen, founders of Houston (which at that time had recently been designated as the new capital), and a number of other prominent men to Houston. On February 23, 1837, the Laura left Columbia loaded with government officials and furniture heading for the new capital at Houston. In June 1840 she broke both shafts on a bar in the Brazos River and was towed into port by the steamer Constitution. This was the last known reference to the Laura.

William Fairfax Gray, From Virginia to Texas, 1835 (Houston: Fletcher Young, 1909, 1965). John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). Pamela A. Puryear and Nath Winfield, Jr., Sandbars and Sternwheelers: Steam Navigation on the Brazos (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1976). Marilyn M. Sibley, The Port of Houston (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968). Telegraph and Texas Register, January 27, 1837.

Time Periods:
  • Republic of Texas
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Margaret S. Henson, “Laura,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 21, 2022,

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October 28, 2017

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