Colorado County Historical Markers

J. Light Townsend Homestead

Marker location: Columbus

Marker erected: 1999

Marker Text: Site of J. Light Townsend Homestead

Pioneers Asa and Rebecca Townsend came to the Republic of Texas in February 1838 and were granted 640 acres in Colorado County. Their son, James Light Townsend (1845-1894) and his second wife, Margaret Alice Cummins, made their first home on a farm about three miles from Columbus. There they had a son, who died young, and a daughter, Lumpien Elma, born in 1870. They moved to Columbus a few years later, living in a house built of a mottled concrete construction called tabby. This construction form, popular along the gulf coast, was widely used in Columbus in the 1850s by builder Stephen Harbert and his son, Andrew. Here three more Townsend children were born: Elizabeth Rebecca, Margaret Lee and Howard Asa.

In 1880 James Light Townsend was elected sheriff and the family moved to the city jail. Two more children, Carrie Estelle and Jay Light Townsend, were born there. In 1890, they moved into another tabby house at this site, built for the Hicks family by Stephen Harbert in 1858. Then known as the Carleton House for the M. M. Carlton family, it became known as the Townsend House.

James LIght Townsend was reelected as sheriff six days before his death, but he was seriously ill at the time and never knew it. He died in the Townsend House in November 1894. The property remained in the family after Margaret Cummins Townsend's death, and in 1933 the heirs sold the site to the Columbus School Board. The Board designated it Townsend Playground; when the house was razed to make way for an athletic field, an arch was fashioned from the columns on the front porch to commemorate it. The arch itself was destroyed in the mid-1940s, but the Townsend legacy remained prominent in Columbus.

Photo provided by Marion and Steve Daughtry

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