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  • Galveston Texas
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    Galveston, Texas History
    Galveston, Texas

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    History in a Sea Shell

    It is difficult to come up with an abbreviated version of Galveston's fascinating history. It has loomed large on the pages of Texas History and has even taken center stage for events of national interest. From the time when Jean Lafitte called it Campeche to its use as the homeport for the Texas Navy, involvement in the Civil War, the Great Storm, its gambling heyday and WWII involvement - Galveston has kept an interesting diary. Galveston is also one of the rarest of American cities - one that was once on the ropes economically and came back a champion. Galveston's architecture alone has been the subject of many books.

    A very simplified time-line of events
    1528: Cabeza de Vaca is shipwrecked nearby
    1685: LaSalle visits
    1815: Jean Lafitte settles here and builds his combination house/fort Maison Rouge
    1836: becomes homeport for the Texas Navy
    1839: Galveston is incorporated
    1850s: Stagecoach service established to Freeport
    1860s: Site of several battles during the Civil War - several sunken vessels remain in the channel.
    1897: Ft. Crockett established.
    1900: The great storm - One of America's worst natural disasters. No exact figures are known, but the death number has been given as well over 5,000.

    Galveston's Namesake
    Bernardo de Galvez by C. F. Eckhardt
    "If it hadn’t been for a Spaniard named Bernardo de Galvez—and yes, Galveston is named for him—the United States might not exist."
    Galveston Stories & Personalities: See
    "Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories" columns
    Galveston Texas bird's eye view, 1905
    Bird's eye view of Galveston in 1905
    Postcard courtesy rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
    * * * * *
    The Galveston Storm by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
    From "All Things Historical" Column
    Because it occurred before petulant females -- and later males -- lent their names to hurricanes, this one will always be known simply as the Galveston storm, or hurricane. Galveton has been the bullseye for many of them, but the one that struck on September 8, 1900, still reigns as the worst natural disaster in United States history because an estimated 10,000 people lost their lives. more

    Galveston 1900 by Mike Cox
    From "Texas Tales" Column
    An important coastal city is devastated by a powerful hurricane. Thousands are believed dead. Bewildered survivors are left with no water, food, electricity, transportation or communication. Looters prowl the ruined community, stealing anything they can carry away. Fires rage out of control, frustrated firefighters helpless to put them out. Survivors swelter in the heat and humidity as they slosh through mosquito-infested quagmires. Local officials plead for assistance as those who can leave town... more

    The Secret Hurricane by Mike Cox
    From "Texas Tales" Column

    The Secret Hurricane of 1943
    Galveston end of Seawall 1908 old photo
    "End Of the Seawall, 1908, Galveston"
    * * * * *

  • Norris Wright Cuney by Archie P. McDonald
    Norris Wright Cuney, though born in 1846 on a plantation located near Hempstead, became a powerful figure in Texas' Republican circles, especially in Galveston. ......
    Cuney died in 1889, and is buried in Galveston. He was the most remarkable African American leader in Texas in the nineteenth century. more
  • Rabbi Cohen by Archie P. McDonald
    Rabbi Henry Cohen (1863-1952) - Rabbi of Galveston's Temple B’nai Israel, provided a place for thousands of Jewish immigrants routed through the port of Galveston.
  • Heavyweight Champ Jack Johnson by Bob Bowman
    Johnson, who was born in Galveston and honed his physical skills by lifting cotton bales as a youngster in the Newton County river port of Belgrade, became the heavyweight title in 1910 when he defeated Jim Jeffries. But eight years earlier, Johnson was thrown in jail in Galveston for violating a state law banning boxing. more
  • * * * * *

    Related Stories

  • Texas Navy vs The Press by Mike Cox
    A war of words that could have escalated into real violence broke out in the spring of 1840 between the Texas Navy and a Galveston newspaper editor.

  • What happened to Charles Francis Coghlan by Mike Cox
    His story is either one of the most incredible tales ever told, pure legend or a mixture of fact and fiction.

  • Balinese Room Cashiered by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales")
    The Texas Rangers finally succeeded in eliminating gambling at Galveston’s famed Balinese Room in 1957, but it took a Category 2 hurricane to cashier the old casino-on-a-pier once and for all. Coming ashore on Galveston Island in the predawn hours of Sept. 13, Hurricane Ike...

  • The Last Voyage of the Hotspur by W. T. Block, Jr. ("Cannonball's Tales")
    "For three centuries Spain ignored Galveston Island... On many of the oldest maps, the 25-mile-long sliver of sand did not even have a name until about 1775... Others called it "Isla de Serpientes," or Snake Island, because of the countless cotton-mouth snakes that slithered across its beaches. Elsewhere on the island, verdant marsh grasses waltzed in rhythm with the crisp ocean breezes, providing excellent forage for the large herds of deer that had swum over from the mainland... more"

  • A Steamboat’s Tale by Bob Bowman ("All Things Historical")
    "... The A.S. Ruthven, weighing 144 tons and measuring 127 feet long, was built at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1860 by a shipyard that turned out 288 steamboats.

    While most of the steamboats were placed in service on the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the Ruthven came to Texas, where she was placed in service hauling cotton down the Trinity River to Galveston... more"

  • Poker by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales")
    "No matter the infrastructure that tied the island to the mainland, the residents of the city believed the bay separated them from the rest of Texas in other ways. Certain laws, particularly those dealing with gambling and prostitution, were not taken seriously in Galveston for a long time... more"

  • Juneteenth by Archie P. McDonald ("All Things Historical")
    "Most East Texans who have lived here more than at least a month of Sundays know that African Americans claim June 19, or Juneteenth, as their own special day to celebrate freedom. ...

    June 19, 1865, is the day Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with the first federal troops after the Confederate Department of the Trans-Mississippi had been surrendered nearly three weeks earlier. On that day, then, Granger proclaimed the Civil War ended in Texas and all wartime proclamations in effect. This included the freeing of slaves of all persons who had remained in rebellion against the United States after January 1, 1863, which included every slave owner in Texas... more"

  • Ghost of Nicaragua Smith Still Haunts Graveyard by W. T. Block, Jr. ("Cannonball's Tales")
    If you should ever pass near the Old City Cemetery in Galveston on the night of January 8th, you might hear a screaming voice out of the ocean mists...

    Galveston Hotels >
  • * * * * *
    Galveston, Texas, the first cotton export port of the world
    "Galveston, Texas, The First Cotton Export Port of the World"
    Postcard courtesy rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
    See Cotton
    Galveston bay view of paddlewheel and refineriesView of the paddlewheel and refineries from Moody Gardens

    Photo courtesy of Lou Ann Herda

    Galveston Texas Forum

  • Galveston Memories
    Subject: Galveston's All Day Indoor Outings

    My dad worked at Todds Drydock on Pelican Island. He would have to catch the ferry at 22nd street to ride over to Pelican Island since the Pelican Island bridge wasn't built till the 1950's. On Saturdays my mother would give me and my sister fifty cents apiece to ride the State Theater (on 21st and Post Office Streets). We lived at 53rd and Q 1/2. We could pay admission, buy a bag of popcorn, a Coca-Cola and even candy. We'd stay all day watching cartoons, serials. and cowboy shows. Back in the late 1940's and 1950's you didn't have to worry about your safety. When we'd return from our all-day outing we would still have ten cents left over. - Margie Bennett Hill, Galveston, April 09, 2007

  • Subject: Texas City Explosion
    Dear TE, I attended 1st grade in Galveston at the Rosenberg school on 10th Street. One morning about 9:00 the whole school shook. We had a fire drill and had to go outside. Mama had made me a nice Easter dress and while we waited outside it became spattered with oil. We went back into the school and classes were dismissed for the day. I had to walk to 7th street where we lived and I found Mama in the bathroom washing clothes on a scrub board, In the afternoon we stood on the porch and looked towards Texas City where the sky was red and glowing. We lived close to St. Marys hospital where the emergency people were bringing in the injured from Texas City in the back of trucks. Later we found out [about the] explosion. That's all I remember about that terrible day.
    - Margie Bennett Hill, Manvel, Texas, April 09, 2007

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