Meet Charlotte Marie Baldwin Allen, the ‘Mother of Houston’

Portrait of Charlotte Baldwin Allen (KPRC)

HOUSTON – Imagine what Houston would be like today if we were known by a different name. Would our NFL team be known as the “Austin Texans?” How about our NBA team, would we be the “Allen Rockets?” Well, you can certainly thank one woman who helped with the establishment of this city and is known to many as “The Mother of Houston.”

Born on July 14, 1805, in Onondaga County, New York, Charlotte Marie Baldwin Allen is credited for establishing the namesake of the fourth most populous city in the country.

Allen married August Chapman Allen, one of the brothers who purchased 6,642 acres of land near the headwaters of Buffalo Bayou on May 3, 1831.

Three years later in 1834, Charlotte Allen arrived in Texas with her inheritance, which helped the brothers speculate in the land according to the Texas State Historical Association.

Charlotte Marie Baldwin Allen

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It is believed in 1836, Charlotte Allen arrived at the prosperous new city and suggested to name it “Houston” in honor of Sam Houston, who also happened to be their next-door neighbor. Of course, Sam Houston would become the first president of the Republic of Texas. Houston received its namesake and Allen became known as the ”Mother of Houston.”

Over the next 45 years, she became a prominent role in the development of Houston. She was a philanthropist and businesswoman. According to Kathy M. Slaughter, the Allens helped finance the Texas Navy and paid for the construction of the Capitol building in Houston.

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Charlotte also sold the site of the former Republic’s capital in 1857, which later became the location of the Capitol Hotel and eventually became the Rice Hotel.

Charlotte Allen died on August 3, 1895. In 1907, Charlotte Baldwin Allen elementary school became the first public school in the city named after a woman. A steamer was also named in her honor.