Richmond, the county seat of Fort Bend County, is on the Brazos River fifteen miles southwest of Houston. The city’s transportation links include U.S. highways 90A and 59, the Southern Pacific Railroad, and the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. In early 1822 a group of twelve to fifteen men led by William W. Little camped in the vicinity of the present city and were soon followed by other members of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred. A log fort built at the bend in the Brazos River became the nucleus of a settlement, which came to be known as Fort Bend, or the “Fort Settlement.” The community was evacuated in 1836 during the Runaway Scrape. In early 1837 the town of Richmond was established by Robert Eden Handy and his business partner, William Lusk, and as early as April the partners were advertising to sell lots in the town. Named after Richmond, England, the town was first incorporated by the Republic of Texas in May 1837; in December, when Fort Bend County was formed, Richmond became its seat of government. In January 1839 a Methodist Episcopal church was organized, and in April the town’s first newspaper, the weekly Richmond Telescope and Texas Literary Register, began publishing.
The town’s early residents included some of the best known Texans of the period, including Erastus (Deaf) Smith and Jane Longqv; Mirabeau B. Lamar lived on a plantation within the present limits of the city. By 1851 Richmond included a brick courthouse, two stores, a Masonic Hall, the Methodist church, and the Richmond Male and Female Academy. A yellow fever epidemic swept through Richmond in 1853, but its future seemed assured in 1855, when the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway extended its tracks into the town. By 1859 the town was a prosperous shipping and market center for the area’s cotton plantations and had grown to include a cotton warehouse and two hotels; a brick building for other stores was also being built.