In 1860, 3,494 people called Austin, Texas home, 977 of them enslaved. As educators working with one of Austin’s few resources for pre-Civil War cultural heritage, we ask and explore questions about what life was like in Austin then, what was it like twenty years later, as Texas emerged from Reconstruction, and what it was like in the early twentieth century, when, for example, students flocked to the University of Texas at Austin in ever-increasing numbers.
Life in Austin and Texas from 1840 to 1930 forms the core of the educational program for K-12 students. The Neill-Cochran House witnessed the successes and failures of our community from 1855 onward. Drawing on the story of its builder, its original owner, and occupants from the State School for the Blind and the Federal War Hospital, renters, and on the Neills and Cochrans, we put the history of Austin and of Texas at young visitors’ fingertips through guided tours, hands-on explorations, and map reading activities.