This Week in Texas History

by Bartee Haile
On Feb. 4, 1896, three days after her drunk of a husband threatened her with a butcher knife, Matilda Brown Sweeney moved back home to Ashton Villa where she would spend the rest of her life. The story of Texas' famous first mansion begins with a New York runaway named James Moreau Brown. On his third or fourth escape attempt in the late 1830's, the adventuresome adolescent kept going, working his way across the Deep South until he landed  at Galveston during the last days of the Texas Republic. Brown, in his mid-twenties by then, arrived with money in his pockets and property to his name. With a partner he soon decided was dead weight, he opened a hardware store on Market Street in 1847.


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