vintage photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com|
in a Watersoaked Pecan Shell|
Started in 1846 as Indian
Point, the town almost immediately entered into a rivalry with Port
Lavaca. Lavaca had taken the role of leading port south of Galveston
after Linnville was
burned by Comanches in 1840.
Indianola is Texas' Queen of ghost
towns. While Thurber
(west of Ft. Worth) was nearly
as colorful, Thurber's
history had to do with labor relations, immigrant miners, infrastructure, manufacturing
and railroading - while Indianola was a port of debarkation for the thousands
of European immigrants (plus a few boatloads of camels).
Today, they have
only one thing in common - hardly any trace of either town exists.
thousands of Germans were stranded at Indianola because their agents had
gone broke. Disease claimed many lives on the shore, and when others attempted
to walk to their destinations of New
Braunfels and Fredericksburg,
they infected the established populace, causing hundreds of more deaths. Many
who couldn't finish their journey settled in the towns of Victoria,
and Gonzales. (See The
Story of our Texas' German Pilgrims: or Death March to Comal County by W.
T. Block Jr.)
A storm hit the Texas coast
in 1851. It was referred to as "The Great Storm" until the bigger ones
During the Civil War, Indianola was occupied by the Union
Army and there were enough skirmishes to keep both sides occupied. After the war
"occupation" was peaceful and relations cordial. Discord would stand in the way
of business and in Indianola business was everyone's interest.
As a port
to rival New Orleans, Indianolia was well on its way. Ships had started sailing
directly from New York and New England. The New England ships brought cargoes
of ice - cut in the winter months. A newspaper called the Indianola Bulletin
had correspondents as far inland as Wilson County (30 miles east of San
Besides storms, a fire did damage in 1867 and the
same year brought a yellow fever epidemic.
The first major hurricane
to hit a fairly populated Indianola was in 1875. Nearly all of the debris
was used in rebuilding a stronger and more secure city. The second storm of 1886
totally demoralized Indianolans and forced them to move inland. In some cases
the few houses that were left standing were moved inland to places as distant
and even Gonzales. The huge
ice warehouse, second in size only to the courthouse, was floated across the bay
and converted into a residence. As one of the few remaining buildings - it had
proven its strength. (See Indianola
Remnants by Mike Cox)
Beaumont-Steele house at 501 N. De Leon in Victoria|
Indianolia could've rebuilt again, but the amount of silt and sand
blown in by the storm made the bay too shallow for the ships that mattered.|
Three railroads had Indianola in their
name and had varying degrees of success. "Warehouse Row" - was Indianolia's
cash cow. Although the warehouses had different owners, they were a select group
of businessmen, which made for a near-monopoly.
It's what's for dinner - next year
Even prior to the Civil War, as early
as 1848, companies in Indianola were canning beef. Or shall we say they
were experimenting with the process. The initial test market was the shipping
industry since they needed food that wouldn't spoil on long voyages.
After the war, the glut of cattle made beef valueless. Cattle were slaughtered
for their hides and tallow and the meat was left to rot. Experiments were conducted,
equipment built and Indianola was the first port to ship refrigerated beef to
Eastern markets in 1869.
The reading of Indianola's history is
rewarding both for its influence on early Texas and for the drama and tragedy
of its brief life.
© John Troesser
Stories - Eyewitness Accounts & AftermathIndianola
by Mike Cox
Indianola, once the “Queen City of the West,” recovered from a
killer hurricane in 1875 but it did not survive a second devastating storm in
Modern day visitors find few remnants of the once prosperous Calhoun
County seaport, but they’re looking in the wrong place. If you want to see some
of Indianola’s stately Victorian houses, just go to Victoria or Cuero... more
Story of Indianola by Maggie Van Ostrand
On my bookshelf sat a slim
volume of poems by one Jeff McLemore.... The name of the book, published in 1904,
is "Indianola and Other Poems,"...
A poem by Jeff McLemore published in 1904. Indianola
A poem by David KnapeSept.
17, 1875 - Indianola History Cartoon by Roger T. Moore
Gibson, December 2006
Historical Marker Text|
currents of the mainstream of Texas history flow in this onetime port. Pineda
explored the coast in 1519 and La Salle planted a settlement near here in 1685.
Once an Indian trading point, it was a major seaport from 1844 to 1875. Texas
colonists, including Germans led by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, entered through
Indianola. "Forty-niners", supplies for frontier forts, and experimental Army
camels were landed here landed here.
During the Civil War Indianola and
Fort Esperanza, which controlled the gateway to Indianola through Pass Cavallo,
were objectives of Federal blockading vessels. Pass Cavallo, ten miles south,
was one of several entrances to the inside waterway created by Matagorda Peninsula
and the offshore islands extending to the Rio Grande. To deny Confederate use
of this waterway for commerce through Mexico the Federals had to seize control
of these entrances.
Before Confederate defenses at Fort Esperanza were
completed, two Federal steamers slipped through Pass Cavallo to Indianola and
on October 31, 1862 demanded the surrender of Lavaca (now Port Lavaca) to the
northwest. The Confederate command refused, stood off the naval guns with land
batteries, and forced the withdrawal of the Federal ships.
attacked Fort Esperanza November 22, 1863. The Confederates withstood the assault
of naval and land forces for six days then spiked their guns, destroyed their
magazines, and withdrew to the mainland. Indianola then fell December 23. On Christmas
Eve, Federal and Confederate forces clashed at Norris Bridge, eight miles north.
Two days later Lavaca was occupied and the entire Matagorda-Lavaca Bay area remained
in Federal control until the war's end.
Indianola was partially destroyed
by a hurricane in 1875 and completely destroyed by another in 1886.
A memorial to Texans who served the Confederacy.
Cemetery Marker near Indianola|
Gibson, December 2006
Angelina Bell Peyton Eberly Marker near Indianola|
Gibson, December 2006
Indianola Railroad Company | Indianola and GuadalupeValley Railway | |
Indianola, San Antonio and El Paso Railroad
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