Judge Edwin Waller (November 4, 1800-January 3, 1881) was an entrepreneur, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, and the first mayor Austin, Texas and the designer of its downtown grid plan.
He was born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia in 1800. His family later settled in Missouri.
In April 1831, he immigrated into Texas, which was then a part of Mexico. In July 20, he received a grant of land from the Mexican government in present-day Brazoria County. He began a shipping business, transporting cotton from Velasco to New Orleans using his ship, the Sabine, and was once briefly arrested in Velasco for refusing to pay Mexican customs duty.
He very quickly became active in the movement for Texas independence from Mexico. On June 26, 1832, he fought and was wounded at the Battle of Velasco, an early skirmish in the Texas revolution. In 1833, he became the alcade of Brazoria Municipality. In 1835, he represented the Columbia Municipality at the Consultation in San Felipe de Austin, where he was chosen by the members to serve in the General Council of the Provisial Government of Texas.
On February 1, 1836, he was elected as the Brazoria delegate to the Convention of 1836 in Washington-on-the-Brazos, where he signed the newly adopted Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2. At the convention, he served on the committee that helped draft the Constitution of the Republic of Texas.
In 1839, he was chosen by Texas President Mirabeau Lamar to survey the site, sell lots, and erect public buildings for the new state capital in Austin. The original landsite for the capital was narrowed to 640 acres that fronted the Colorado River between two creeks, Shoal Creek and Waller Creek, which was later named in honor. The fourteen-block grid plan was bisected by a broad north-south thoroughfare, Congress Avenue, running up from the river to Capital Square, where the new Texas State Capitol was to be constructed. A temporary one-story capitol was erected on the corner of Colorado and 8th streets. On August 1, the first auction of 306 lots was held. The grid plan that Waller designed and surveyed now forms the basis of the streets of downtown Austin.
On October 13, 1839, he offered his house for the meeting place to establish the first Masonic Lodge in Austin.
On January 13, 1840, he was elected the first mayor of Austin. He resigned before the end of his term, however, and moved to Austin County, which was later renamed Waller County in his honor.
He died on January 3, 1881 in Austin, where he moved shortly before his death to live with one of his daughters. He was buried in Waller County, but his remains were later moved to the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.