By: Christopher Long

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: June 19, 2020

The Lively, a thirty-ton schooner operating from New Orleans to Galveston, was fitted out with supplies for a colony of 300 families by Stephen F. Austin and his partner, Joseph H. Hawkins of New Orleans. In late 1821 the ship sailed from New Orleans with approximately twenty colonists, including William W. Little, who was in charge of the group, and W. S. Lewis, who later left an account of the voyage. Bad weather blew the ship off course, and it took some four weeks to reach its destination. The immigrants had arranged to meet Austin, who had traveled overland from New Orleans, at the mouth of the Colorado but, mistaking the Brazos River for the Colorado, landed there instead. The men eventually made their way up the Brazos to higher ground and built a large log house near a small waterfall. With their food virtually exhausted, they planted a corn crop, but, failing to meet up with the other Austin colonists, they grew discouraged, and all but two or three eventually made their way back to the United States.

Austin in the meantime waited for the ship at the mouth of the Colorado, and when it failed to appear, assumed it had been lost. The lack of contact between the Lively and the other Austin colonists gave rise to a variety of rumors, ranging from the idea that all had been lost when the ship went down to tales that the passengers and crew had been starved by Indians. Some of the passengers eventually made their way back to Texas and told what had really happened, but the story of the shipwreck and the loss of its passengers, which had quickly spread to other colonies, persisted for many years and eventually found its way into some of the first published histories of the state.

After dropping off its passengers and supplies, the Lively sailed back to New Orleans. There it took on new supplies and immigrants and sailed for the Texas coast in May or June 1822. This time it was wrecked, on the western end of Galveston Island. Because of the widespread rumors concerning the first voyage, it was again assumed that the passengers were lost, but according to Thomas Marshall Duke, who was on board during the second voyage, they were rescued by the schooner John Motely, which landed them near the Colorado River.

Lester G. Bugbee, "What Became of the Lively?" Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 3 (October 1899). W. S. Lewis, "Adventures of the `Lively' Immigrants," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 3 (July 1899). Guy Bryan Morrison Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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

Christopher Long, “Lively,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 19, 2020