A Texas Tale of the Three Duval Brothers

Texas Capitol circa 1870

In both Texas and Florida, the Duval name is scattered through  place names and history.

Duval County in South Texas is named after Burr Duval.  Duval County in East Florida is named after his father, William Pope Duval.  There is a bit of controversy about the origin of the naming of Duval Road in Austin.

Burr Duval, in 1835, heard about the Revolution in Texas.  He gathered a group together and headed down to Texas.  It didn’t end well. He died in the Goliad massacre.  

His brother John Crittendon Duval accompanied him, but was spared at Goliad.  Later in life, he wrote “Early Times in Texas” which included the story of Goliad, which was an eyewitness account.  J. Frank Dobie, in 1939, when he was dredging through Texas lore and making a career of retelling those stories, crowned John C. Duval the first Texan writer. 

Barton Springs 1860

Thomas Howard Duval, the third Duval,  followed his brothers to Texas only after Texas achieved independence.  He was appointed a Federal Judge in the 1850’s and took his pledge to defend the country seriously and opposed secession.  He stayed in Austin and was part of a group of Union, i.e., United States, supporters.  The vote in Austin to secede was close and the Unionists were strong but definitely a minority.  The group of patriots included Governor Pease(of Pease Park, since we are doing place names in this post).  Occasionally, the secessionists would get riled up and the Unionists would have to head to the woods south of Barton Springs and hide out and hang out—kind of like the hippies on the 70’s.

It is a ongoing project of PHIT to collect the names of the Union supporters in Austin and create an educational webpage to honor the Austin opponents of secession.

Duval Road was originally a road that went from Austin to Duval, Texas.  Duval, Texas was a small settlement north of what was then Austin.  It would have been in what is now the Austin city limits, probably just south of McNeil.  Supposedly, there was some quarrying going on.  George Duval ran a general store in the 1880’s.  The entire town burned down around 1900.  Supposedly, residents still find molten glass occasionally.  A Statesman article says that Duval road was named after the storekeeper Duval.

J. Frank Dobie, however, says that Duval Road  is named after Burr Duval, the brother who died at Goliad.  I hate to contradict the icon who presides over Barton Springs, but I prefer to think of Duval Street as being named after Burr’s brother, Thomas Howard Duval, who supported the Union in the Civil War.

The Dad of these three Duval brothers was the devil incarnate. He was part of the genocide of non-white peoples in Florida, and largely instigated the Second Seminole War (Andrew Jackson precipitated the first).  Duval was appointed governor of the Florida territories in 1822.  At the time,  the two settled towns were St. Augustine and Pensacola.  He thought too much time was spent traversing between the two, so he chose a spot, equidistant between the two, to found a Capitol City.   That spot just happened to be Tallahassee.  Unfortunately, it was occupied by a Creek named Enemathla.  And Enemathla had developed gorgeous vegetable gardens, fruit orchards, cotton fields, and stands of sugar cane.  It is just entirely possible that the presence of a well-developed agriculture was why Tallahassee was chosen to be the Capitol.  In the Treaty of Moultrie Creek,  this beautiful land was traded for, according to Duval, even more beautiful land in Oklahoma.  Enemathla and his people didn’t agree, and the Second Seminole War ensued.  Duval ended up owning a fair amount of Tallahassee, but his sons moved on to Texas about the same time that the Third Seminole War was raging.  I am not sure why they didn’t fight in Florida, but perhaps they didn’t like alligators.  

There is a Duval Road in Tallahassee.  And Jacksonville is located in Duval County.  

Please remind our Florida friends that it is a different Duval.

So that is the story of the Three Duval Brothers and their Dad.  The next time you run into one of the 150 people a day arrive in Austin, and they want to know about place names, remind them of People’s History in Texas.


The Austin History Center has a new photographic exhibit on streetcars in Austin. It is a lovely exhibit that presents gorgeous photos of both mule drawn cars and electric cars. Followers of People’s History in Texas should definitely get by to see it before it closes.

One of the interesting aspects of the streetcar period is that it ended in 1940. The rationale for changing from electric streetcars to gasoline buses was unclear. The streetcar company was given a new franchise but only if it converted to gasoline buses. The price from buses was a dime and the price of a streetcar token was a nickel. It was odd.

People’s History in Texas is performing archival research to find out why. There was a famous incident in Los Angeles in which General Motors was accused of buying the electric streetcar company in order to switch from electric streetcars to gasoline buses. Those who have seen the movie Who Killed Roger Rabbit will be familiar with the topic.

Additions to this story will be posted as the archival search continues.

LBJ and Grassroots Federalism: Congressman Bob Poage, Race, and Change in Texas

by Robert H. Duke

Grassroots Federalism is a neatly threaded tale of three interrelated stories. The author slyly notes the comparison of Lyndon Baines Johnson and Bob Pogue—both from Central Texas, both poor, both from political families, and both politically ambitious. One became President of the United States and the other the Chair of the powerful House Agricultural committee. It is also the story of the two towns that these two men represented in Congress. Austin and Waco are separated by a 100 miles, a mere hour and a half on I-35. But the different racial interactions of the two towns were stark and that sense of place affected the development of the two towns, and the political trjectory of their two two representatives. But despite the differences, 40 years of federal programs led to vast change in both cities.

The author weaves this narrative by bouncing between the differences and similarities of the cities, comparing and contrasting the friendship and eventual conflict between the two political titans, and detailing the interworkings of the federal agencies of the National Youth Agency, Model Cities, and federal support of dams.

The differences in the reaction to the racism and federalism of both representative and district, he says, is due to place. LBJ represented the Hill Country and Austin, beacons of liberalism and tolerance, and the home of the Texas German community Pogue represented Waco, famous mostly for its intolerance and bigotry and racial violence.

LBJ was able to adapt when the time came for change. Pogue was not.

But Pogue’s friendship with LBJ led to a funnel of federal money into Waco and that money saved Waco after the devastating tornado of 1953 and the floods of 1955.

The prime thrust of the story, though, is to provide a case study of how the federal government impacted local government. The federal government provided money and permitted local control of that money, but only if advisory committees were set up, advisory committees that ended up changing the racial dynamics of Waco.

A worthy read and a contribution to scholarship.

Richard Croxdale