Rosenberg’s History

  1. 1800s
  2. 1900s


Rosenberg, affectionately known at the time as ‘Mudtown’ due to the dirt streets and regular flooding of the Brazos River, was first settled around 1823 from the Mexican land granted to Stephen F. Austin’s Old 300. Richmond, Fort Bend County‘s headquarters, inadvertently gave birth to the city of Rosenberg by refusing right-of-way to the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railways.


Our town’s namesake, Henry von Rosenberg, was born June 22, 1824 and emigrated from Switzerland to the United States in 1843. Mr. Rosenberg was the first president of the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railroads and was a very wealthy railroad tycoon. Later in life, Mr. Rosenberg became a philanthropist and upon his death on May 12, 1893, he left his wealth to many charitable organizations. Due to his importance in the railroad industry and his many charitable donations, a bronze statue of him was erected in Galveston in 1916. 

Railroad Center

By 1865, Houston was the leading railroad center in Texas, and most of Galveston‘s (a city approximately 60 miles from Rosenberg) business went through that city. However, train traffic in and out of Galveston was sometimes blocked to the quarantine of goods suspected of spreading deadly yellow fever.

In 1873, a Galveston group led by Henry von Rosenberg, the Sealy brothers and others, made plans to build the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railroad in order to circumvent the Houston route. It was intended that the railroad extend all the way to Temple, Texas.

The law required all railroads to come “within a mile of the courthouse” of the county involved, the G.C. and S.F. planned to pay the new railroad a cash bonus or to grant a right-of-way, for they already had the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio lines. The G.C. and S.F. line, therefore, turned south around Richmond, crossing the existing G.H. and S.A. at Rosenberg Junction (named after Mr. Rosenberg) in 1880.

Notable Developments

  • In the 1880’s, the city was populated with only one store, a saloon, and Mrs. Ebell’s hotel, and all of its residents lived in tents.
  • In 1881, Count Joseph Telfener, an Italian, moved to Rosenberg to begin work on the New York, Texas, and Mexican Railway, leading to Victoria. It was soon known as the “Macaroni Line” because of the Italians who laid the tracks.
  • In 1882, the New York, Texas, and Mexican Railroad, began the “Macaroni Line” making Rosenberg the junction of the Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, and Southern Pacific’s Victoria Division Railroads. The town boomed, with nearby ranches and plantations sending cattle and cotton for shipments daily.
  • In 1884, the Wells Fargo Company opened an office, and railroad shipments were expanded to include everything from crates of chickens to huge amounts of gold bullion and silver, all guarded by Mr. Taylor Ray, the freight agent.

Mayor Mulcahy

Our first Mayor did not complete his term because he moved away from Rosenberg in the middle of his term. Fortunately, R.T. Mulcahy stepped up to fill the unexpired term. Mayor Mulcahy, called the “Father of Rosenberg”, was re-elected twice and afterwards served as alderman.

In 1883 Mulcahy built one of the first homes in Rosenberg. In 1889, Mr. Mulcahy and others subscribed $126 to build the first school on land that he donated. Eight of Mr. Mulcahy’s nine children were the first to be enrolled. Mulcahy was on the school board for 20 years and was elected the first school board president because of his interest in seeing that children of the pioneer families received a good education.

Mayor Mulcahy was later elected as Representative of Legislature for the 25th District.

Spread of Word & Subsequent Growth

By the turn of the century, local land developers were sending promotional literature to the northern and midwestern states, explaining that “the famous Brazos Valley [...] has the most fertile land in America,” and showing pictures of green spaces, fruit orchards, wagons of cotton waiting to be ginned and Victorian homes, all intended to entice more settlers to the area.

Soon there were people of German, Czech, Polish and Mexican ancestry flocking to the area. There was even a section called “Indiana Town”, after the carpenters and craftsmen who came from Indiana with new construction techniques intended to withstand hurricane-force winds.

Early plats show the business section located north of the railroad, with stores centered about a public square. But the Brazos River, always subject to flooding, was only five blocks north of the railroad and, as the floods reoccurred, the town moved southward.