in a Sea Shell|
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.
simplified time-line of events
1528: Cabeza de Vaca is shipwrecked
1685: LaSalle visits
Lafitte settles here and builds his combination house/fort Maison Rouge
1836: becomes homeport for the Texas Navy
1839: Galveston is
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.
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.
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."
eye view of Galveston in 1905|
by Archie P. McDonald, PhD|
"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
by Mike Cox
"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
Secret Hurricane by Mike Cox
From "Texas Tales" Column
Secret Hurricane of 1943
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
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.
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
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
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.
Room Cashiered by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales")
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...
Last Voyage of the Hotspur by W. T. Block, Jr. ("Cannonball's
"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"
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...
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"
by Archie P. McDonald ("All Things Historical")
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
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"
of Nicaragua Smith Still Haunts Graveyard by W. T. Block, Jr. ("Cannonball's
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
Texas, The First Cotton Export Port of the World"|
Postcard courtesy rootsweb.com/
of the paddlewheel and refineries from Moody Gardens |
of Lou Ann Herda
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
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
on Galveston, Texas
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