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PELLY, TEXAS

Harris County, Texas Gulf Coast
Now part of Baytown (since the late 1940s)
30 Miles E of Houston
Population: Included in that of Greater Baytown

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History in a Pecan Shell

Fred T. Pelly, an Englishman by birth is the community’s namesake. Pelly owned much of the land here and became the first mayor when the community formed.

When the Goose Creek oilfield came in, workers needed to live close enough to the fields to work, but at a safe distance from the frequent oil field catastrophes.

The boomtown quickly split into two separate neighborhoods called “Old Town” (on the bay) and “New Town” which was slightly inland.

New Town had the backing of future governor Ross S. Sterling, and was incorporated in 1919. An application for a post office was granted under the name Goose Creek.

In the meantime, another community known as Middle Town came into being – and they had an existing post office. This modest building was loaded onto a wagon one night and moved – not for untoward motives, but to prevent an interruption of mail. But because of the nighttime relocation, rumors spread that it was scheme of some sort.

Now that their post office had been “stolen,” Middle Town (with a considerable population of over 7,000 residents) feared absorption by Goose Creek so they incorporated as Pelly in 1920.

Due to a drop in oil production, the population declined to 4,000 by the end of the decade. Unemployed residents moved to Baytown to work at the refinery there. The heretofore reluctant oil companies and landowners who held the land as potential leases, gave in to accept the bird-in-the-hand payments of the would-be permanent residents.

The town was platted and infrastructure installed. What had been a slum morphed into brick bungalows and modest cottages. A fire department was organized and a two-story city hall built. Pelley became respectable and even a desirable place.

The Tri-Cities (Pelly, Goose Creek and Baytown) rubbed shoulders and while it seemed sensible to merge, several attempts were thwarted. Pelly was cautious of Goose Creek and in a pre-emptive move, annexed (unincorporated) Baytown in 1945. This prompted a fight in the courts that was settled a year later when the Texas Supreme Court declared the action legal.

Residents of Pelly and Goose Creek voted for the merger on February 15, 1947, missing a chance to “wed” on St. Valentine’s Day by one day.

With the acquisition of old Baytown, Pelly’s population surpassed that of Goose Creek by around 1,000 residents, and the towns merged. Pelly enjoyed two days of “independence” (which may have included some gloating), but on January 26, 1948, Pelly (with Goose Creek) formally became Baytown.


Pelly Chronicles

  • From Boom Town to Baytown by Wanda Orton
    ...Goose Creek, Pelly and Baytown consolidated in 1947 and chartered in 1948 under the name of Baytown... more

  • Harris County Texas 1940s map
    1940s map showing Harris County - Baytown & Goose Creek
    Courtesy Texas General Land Office
    Pelly, Texas Area Towns:
    See Harris County | Baytown | Houston
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    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic photos, please contact us.



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