County Seat: Angleton * County Population: 257,256
The Brazoria County Courthouse is comprised of the county’s 1940 capitol and an annex completed in 1976 fused into one building of brick and stone. The 1940 structure was designed in a Moderne style by Wyatt Hedrick.
Organized in 1836, Brazoria County initially claimed the city of Brazoria as its seat. When Angleton began to grow, Brazorians built a $90,000 courthouse in hopes of retaining the county government.
“But the paint was still wet on the walls of that temple of justice when, in October 1896, the voters made Angleton the seat of Brazoria County,” wrote June Rayfield Welch in “The Texas Courthouse Revisited.” The Brazoria courthouse became a community center of sorts until it was torn down in the 1930s. According to Bill Moran, author of “Old Friends: Great Texas Courthouses,” commissioners ground the building’s massive stone exterior into gravel for county roads.
The first Angleton courthouse was built in 1897 for about $28,000, later remodeled, and today serves as a library.
While the county was named for the Brazos River, the seat honored Mrs. George Angle, wife of the railroad’s general manager.
Brazoria County’s unique past is perhaps best chronicled by Moran who writes:
Name all the Texas counties populated by a former governor who became an oilfield wildcatter, a man who was buried standing up and walked out of his casket to haunt his old home, a lady who chronicled him and other neighborhood ghosts, a baseball player who struck out most of the major league batters who shook a stick at him, three alligators that took over a bank, and the winner of an award inspired by the Nobel Prize.
Moran refers to:
Governor Jim Hogg: After buying a Brazoria County plantation in 1901, Hogg later discovered oil in the West Columbia field.
Brit Bailey: A friend of Stephen F. Austin, Bailey built the first brick home in Austin colony. Upon his death, he left instructions to be buried upright “with my face to the setting sun” so that passers-by would say, “There stands Brit Bailey.” He is one of several apparitions chronicled in the writings of Catherine Munson Foster, who kept tabs on Brazoria County ghosts.
Nolan Ryan: A national icon in big-league baseball, Ryan claims Alvin, of Brazoria County, as his hometown.
(Texas Almanac 2004-05)