Mary Austin Holley

author, early settler
Born: 10/30/1784
Birthplace: New Haven, Conn.

Mary Austin studied languages and music in New Haven before marrying Rev. Horace Holley in 1805. They had a son and a daughter. In 1818 Reverend Holley became president of Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. After her husband died in 1827, Holley became a governess in Louisiana. She was always close to her cousin, Stephen F. Austin, who led early colonization of Texas. He arranged for Holley to receive a land grant on Galveston Bay, and in 1831 she visited the colony. During the trip she made sketches and notes that were published in 1833, Texas: Observations. Historical, Geographical and Descriptive in a Series of Letters Written during a Visit to Austin's Colony, with a View to a Permanent Settlement in That Country in the Autumn of 1831. The book encouraged immigration to Texas. Although she visited Texas again in 1835, 1838, and 1840, Holley could never afford to move there herself. In 1836 her history of the state, Texas, was published. It is the first known English-language history of the state. Holley's last visit to Texas was in 1843, when she interviewed early settlers for a biography of Stephen Austin. In 1845 Holley returned to her former job as a governess in Louisiana.

Died: 8/2/1846