A Texas Tale of the Three Duval Brothers

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. 

Black and white photo of Barton springs with a man sitting on a rock in the front around the spring
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 Douglas 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.

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