An entrepreneur who owned land around River Oaks sells all his
holdings and moves to a farm on the Brazos River, just upstream of the
kayaking and canoeing spot at Hidalgo Falls.
That story is extraordinary, but not too surprising. What is
surprising is that it occurred in 1835! Even before the City of Houston
was conceived by the Allen brothers.
The first known resident of the area
that we know as River Oaks was Allen
C. Reynolds. Reynolds, who was born in Connecticut in 1786, grew up in
York and served in the War of 1812 as a captain in the United States
Infantry. After the war, Reynolds apparently visited Louisiana for his
appears in Jean Laffite's diary. Then, in 1826, at age 40, Reynolds
for Texas, and for a while, he ran a mercantile establishment in
with his partner William T. Austin.
Initially, Reynolds acquired property in Brazoria County while, as
1826, he applied for a land grant of one league in what is now Harris
He moved his wife and four children to Texas in 1830, and in 1831,
was granted a league of land by Stephen F. Austin that encompassed
acres extending south of Buffalo Bayou to the present day Bellaire
The tract ranged from about Shepherd Drive on the east to the Southern
Railroad tracks near Weslayan Street on the west.
When paddling from Loop 610, you will pass under the Southern Pacific
in about one mile. The Reynolds tract begins at the railroad bridge and
along the south bank of the bayou as far as Shepherd Drive.
Reynolds built a residence north of the present Weslayan Street and
59 intersection, and from 1831 to 1835, he operated a sawmill and a
mill on Buffalo Bayou. He reportedly transported the lumber he cut down
bayou in his boat, taking it to Harrisburg since the town of Houston
yet to be founded. Lumber was a very commercial product in the 1830's,
as it is today. Not only was there a growing market as settlers flooded
Texas and the Austin colony, but markets as far away as Tampico, Mexico
eager for the tall, straight lumber of east Texas pine.
In 1835, Reynolds sold all his property to James Spillman and moved
He bought the William and Peter Kerr land grant in Washington County in
and he built his home on Hidalgo Bluff, a few miles upstream of Hidalgo
on the Brazos River.
Allen Reynolds died, at age 51, in Washington County on March 14, 1837
is buried in a small cemetery on Hidalgo Bluff. He had no idea that the
he owned would become a part of the City of Houston or that it would
River Oaks, Greenway Plaza and the City of West University Place. Yet,
an estate valued at $100,000 in 1837, Reynolds seems to have done all