THE MARY CHRISTIAN
BURLESON HOMESTEAD

HELP US SAVE MARY'S HOMESTEAD, THE ORIGINAL ELGIN INSTITUTION

A group of everyday folks just like you are working together to preserve the oldest home in Elgin and an invaluable piece of Texas history.
We are working to turn the homestead into an interactive museum telling the story of Elgin and Texas through the prism of Mary Christian Burleson's extraordinary life and an event space and grounds that encourages stay and play visitors in Elgin and funds the organization.

The 1847 homestead is a symbol of Mary Christian Burleson's enduring legacy and a part of the story of this land,
a
story we'll bring to life, with your help.

Photo circa 1940-50s

The Past


For over 170 years, long before there was a City of Elgin, Mary Christian Burleson's homestead has stood on the edge of the frontier but fully entrenched in history. As one of the earliest settlers in this area, Mary managed the homestead and raised a family that would go on to be pivotal in Texas' and our nation's history.

Throughout the years, the MCB Homestead has sheltered families and kept watch over Elgin but now it's our turn to repay the favor. With your help, we can restore the house and grounds so Mary's legacy can continue to stand the test of time. Donate today.

Photo present day

The Present


In 2015, the Homestead and the 1-acre upon which it sits were donated to the MCB Foundation. The land surrounding the 1-acre is being developed into
Circle Brewing's new brewery and farm.

The restoration cost is being supported by the Texas Historical Commission, local Elgin leaders, businesses and foundations, and individual donations from folks like you.

We hope you'll scroll down this page to see our upcoming events and make a donation. See you soon!

Architectural rendering of completed project

The Future


With architectural drawings in hand, funding secured, and an amazing community behind us, we are excited to embark on the construction phase of the Homestead Restoration Project.

To meet our goals, we'll need the help of great people like you for all tasks, large and small. To volunteer with us, click here to fill out a short form.

We can't wait until we are able to open our doors as a museum, cultural center, and event space celebrating the legacy of Mary Christian Burleson, adding to the history of Texas, and keeping Elgin a wonderful place to live and visit. Donate today.


“Preserving this wonderful piece of Elgin history gives us the opportunity to honor the independent spirit and strength of Mary Christian Burleson. I’m pleased the Texas Historical Commission has chosen to help restore this landmark and invest in the history of Bastrop County.”

- Senator Kirk Watson

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SERVE ON THE BOARD

calendar of events

Meet our new neighbor: Circle Brewing's Elgin brewery & farm

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Circle Brewing's Ben Sabel with members of the MCB Foundation Board

With Circle Brewery's 22 acres, they have a lot planned for their new brewery and taproom in Elgin! From growing their own brewing ingredients to raising livestock, Circle is creating a truly unique Texas experience that pairs nicely with the Mary Christian Burleson Homestead next door.

While the board of the Mary Christian Burleson Foundation can't wait to share a pint with you on Circle's patio, until then visit us at one of our upcoming events and visit Circle Brewing's Austin taproom at 2340 W Braker Ln, Suite B. You may even see us there! Follow Circle Brewing @circlebew.

A little history about Mary

For all its historical significance, the legacy of women on the Texas frontier is largely missing from the available documentation. Despite limited records, we know that Mary Christian Burleson and her family played key roles in the history of our state.

As one of the earliest settlers in Bastrop and Elgin, and through her relationships with some of Texas' most championed characters, Mary helped create communities which last to this day. She moved to Texas with her first husband in 1832 when she was thirty-seven, and they settled in Bastrop with their four children as one of the fifteen original families in the Little Colony founded by Stephen F. Austin.

Educated in the comfort of Virginia, Mary was well suited to bring education and culture to the new frontier; and despite the difficulty of settling an unknown territory, she was instrumental in its development. She did much of it alone, because she was widowed a year after she moved to Texas, remarried two years later, and lost her second husband after he fought in the first major campaign of the Texas Revolution. She became the stepmother of his adult sons, most notably Edward Burleson who would go on to become Commander in Chief of the Texas Army and Vice President of the Republic of Texas between 1841-1844. As a single mother, Mary courageously moved her family to the edge of a settlement in what is now modern-day Elgin. She was three miles from her nearest neighbors.

The homestead we are preserving was built in 1847. It is the oldest Elgin home still standing and remains a symbol of Mary Christian Burleson's enduring legacy - and the hard work and sacrifice of all early Texas settlers.

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF MAJOR EVENTS IN STEPHEN F. AUSTIN’S “LITTLE COLONY” AND MARY CHRISTIAN BURLESON

  • 1795 - Mary Randolph Buchanan is born in Wytheville, Virginia.

  • 1822 - Mary marries Thomas Christian in Kentucky.

  • 1827 - Stephen F. Austin establishes the “Little Colony” as a buffer between the Indians to the north and the Anglo settlements to the south.

  • 1832 - Thomas Christian receives a league land grant in the Little Colony. In April, Thomas and Mary move their family to Texas and settle in Bastrop.

  • 1833 - The Christian family leave Bastrop for Webber’s Fort (now Webberville) where they make preparations to move to their land grant, but in August Thomas is killed by Indians in what is now Austin. Mary and her children move from Webber’s to Hornsby’s Fort (now Hornsby's Bend).

  • 1834 - Mary marries James Burleson, Sr., the neighboring land owner, at Hornsby’s Bend and moves to Burleson land grant near Bastrop. James and Mary’s daughter Elizabeth is born.

  • 1835 - Conflict with Mexico breaks out in October. In late November, James Burleson, Sr. falls ill after participating in the “Grass Fight” at the siege of San Antonio.

  • 1836 - James Burleson, Sr. dies at his daughter’s home on January 3. In February, Santa Anna enters Texas, Mary and her family flee with other settlers in the Runaway Scrape. After the Texan victory at San Jacinto, Mary returns from Fort Parker just three weeks before the Fort Parker massacre.

  • 1837 - Attack of the nearby James Goacher family by Indians.

  • 1838 - Cordova Rebellion, conflict with the Cherokees.

  • 1839 - Aaron and Jacob Burleson, two of Mary's stepsons, fight in the Battle of Brushy Creek. Jacob Burleson and James Gilliland, who may have been Mary’s pastor, were killed in the battle.

  • 1840 - Mary and her children move to small cabin on Thomas Christian land grant but unsettled conditions on the frontier force the family to abandon the home. The Great Comanche Raid” and the Battle of Plum Creek that summer give evidence of the Indian threat. Edward Burleson, Mary's other stepson, commands Bastrop militia unit at Plum Creek.

  • 1842 - Mexican armies cross the Rio Grande, seize Bexar, and claim Texas as Mexican territory. Edward Burleson raises militia company to oppose the intrusion.

  • 1845 - Texas statehood

  • 1847 - Mary and her family return to the Christian league of land and build her house. Donate today to help us save this amazing piece of history.

  • 1860s - Mary and her stepson, Jonathan Burleson, granted a right-of-way to the Houston and Texas Central Railway route through their headright leagues (land grants) and give land for the townsite of Elgin.

  • 1870 - Mary Randolph Buchanan Christian Burleson dies and is buried in the family plot on the Thomas Christian land grant.

  • 1872 - Elgin established

Prepared for the MCBPDF Board of Directors, December 12, 2015 by Dr. Harry Krenek. Edited 2022.