in a Pecan Shell
In 1821 the first of Stephen
F. Austin's colonists arrived here. A lonely house marked the site as a "port"
until 1831 when the Mexican government made the site a customs house. Over the
years an estimated 25,000 immigrants entered Texas
Like its neighboring town of Quintana across the
Brazos, Velasco was named to honor a Mexican general. The battle of Velasco took
place in 1832 and two years later a cholera epidemic reduced the town to a mere
100 residents. Velasco was made the (temporary) capital of the Republic shortly
Jacinto and the "Treaties
of Velasco" signed by Santa Anna officially ended the Revolution when they
were signed in May of 1836.
Velasco and its sister town of Quintana
became resorts for the families of inland plantation owners. Businessmen from
Galveston operated warehouses
and the town even opened the Velasco Female Academy (a seminary) in the late 1830s.
Large hotels were built to accommodate the crowds and Velasco also served as a
port of debarkation to New Orleans and Galveston.
When a canal was connected to Galveston Bay in the mid 1850s, Velasco (and Quintana)
began to lose importance.
Velasco was turned into a Confederate stronghold
during the Civil War, forcing Union gunboats to operate out of distant New Orleans.
When possible, blockade runners defied the blockade and took cotton
to exchange for guns and medicine. The status of the two towns declined further
after the Civil War when no one had the money or leisure to spend summers on the
beach. The hurricane of 1875 destroyed most of the town and by the 1880 only fifty
people called the place home.
By 1891 plans were made to plat a new town
which had official recognition by the US Treasury Department. Over $1,000,000
worth of lots were sold to Midwesterners looking for greener pastures and a seaside
environment. In short order the town was electrified and the port was dredged
to a depth of nearly 18 feet.
Settlers came by rail through Houston
where they transferred to the Columbia Tap branch of the IG & N Railed and finally
by riverboat down the Brazos River. In the mid 1890s a lighthouse was constructed
and Velasco was on it's way to becoming a rival to Galveston.
An electric railroad connected the town to Surfside
(AKA Old Velasco). The population was right at 3,000 persons in 1900
when disaster struck.
The population was reduced by two thirds by 1914
and the town lost one of its two newspapers. By the time of the Great Depression
it was down to only 400 people and around a dozen businesses. The Brazos River
was diverted in the 1940s and an estuary was dredged deep enough for large ships.
Velasco and Freeport were revitalized. The population
was restored to nearly 1,000 and by 1950 it reached 5,200. Velasco was incorporated
with the city of Freeport in 1957 when it had
an independent population of nearly 4,000. The former Velasco post office became
Freeport's "Velasco Station."