Mail service was initiated in San Felipe de Austin in 1826, and one of the first newspaper publications for Texas began there in 1829: it was called the Texas Gazette; during the revolutionary years, Gail Borden's Telegraph and Texas Register were also published there. The town became one of the biggest commerce sites in the colony, only being rivaled by San Antonio.
The town played significant roles in the history of Texas. For example, the town hosted the conventions of 1832 and 1833 as well as the Consultation of November 3, 1835. Until 1836, San Felipe de Austin was the capital of the provisional government of Texas. In March of that year, as Texans battled Mexican forces, residents were forced to flee the town and burned it in order to avoid having the Mexicans raid it. This episode became known as the Runaway Scrape. However, in May after the Texans won the Battle of San Jacinto, San Felipe De Austin residents began to return and rebuild. Unfortunately, without the necessary edifices, the government could no longer operate at that site.
In 1837, the town was incorporated and was christened the county seat for Austin County. Unfortunately, throughout the 1840s, the town experienced much economic and social decline, and subsequently, the county seat was moved to Bellville in 1846. A century later, the city government donated most of the original townsite to the state of Texas in order to preserve the historic building and operate a historic site.