Victoria was among the original twenty-three counties established by the Republic of Texas on March 17, 1836. The City of Victoria was chartered in 1839. Despite the typical problems of Texas settlements during this era, Victoria prospered. Its newspaper, the Victoria Advocate (formerly the Texian Advocate), founded in 1846, is the second oldest newspaper in the state.
In the aftermath of Texas independence from Mexico and subsequent statehood, Victoria became a primarily Anglo settlement. The town grew steadily during the mid 1800s, acquiring a large immigrant population moving inland from the port city of Indianola. The majority during this influx were Germans, many of whom brought valuable knowledge and skills in various trades. Through the years a diverse population came to call Victoria home, with many being English, Polish, Czech, French (Alsatian), Mexican, and Irish in origin – just to name a few.
Its advantageous location has allowed the city to benefit from being the regional hub for many industries. Ranching and agriculture, the earliest industries, are still viable today. Banking, merchant and retail services, medicine, legal services, and transportation spurred the city’s growth over the decades. The 1930s saw the oil and gas industry emerge as vital forces in Victoria’s economy. During the mid-1900s Victoria was home to two military installations – Foster Field and Aloe Field.
The Victoria County Courthouse was constructed in 1892 and occupies the block to the west of De Leon Plaza. It was designed by noted architect J. Riely Gordon, who is responsible for 18 Texas Courthouses. It was spectacularly restored over a period of seven years, culminating in its rededication on March 24, 2001. The 1892 Victoria County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Registered Texas Historic Landmark.
The Victoria of today is a modern city, but one which has not lost its small town atmosphere.