Chapter VII
Home ] Up ] TOC ] Chapter I ] Chapter II ] Chapter III ] Chapter IV ] Chapter V ] Chapter VI ] [ Chapter VII ] Chapter VIII ] Chapter IX ] Chapter X ] Chapter XI ] Chapter XII ]

 

Chapter VII: A History of Jefferson County, Texas

Early Transportation And Commerce

By W. T. Block

The popular image of the self-sufficient frontier family, requiring only an occasional journey to market, falters when one studies the migratory habits of many early Southeast Texas pioneers. An abundance of virgin soil, one-crop farming patterns, and a lack of fertilizer and scientific methods caused many farmers to move to a new location annually. This custom and a perpetual stream of immigrants moving westward across Jefferson County necessitated the maintenance of a network of ferries and primitive roads.

Bi-directional movement of cattle, east and west, was another factor that dictated the requirements for transportation facilities. Most immigrants drove small herds into Texas, whereas the annual drive of a market-bound herd between Jefferson County and New Orleans usually began in the spring of each year.

The importance of cattle movements is verified on old maps which identify “cattle crossings,” and a Jefferson County ordinance of January 1837, which required Richard Ballew to maintain stock pens and “three hands for crossing cattle” at his ferry on the Sabine River.1 During three months of 1856, 15,000 eastbound cattle swam the Neches River at Beaumont. The town council’s minutes for the year 1840 are largely concerned with that activity.2

A system of post roads existed while Jefferson County was still a part of Mexico. Stephen H. Everett held a contract to deliver mail between the Municipality of Jefferson and San Augustine in 1835.3

However, Jefferson County’s peculiar geography made water transportation the most frequently used mode of movement, and, where practical to use, “the rivers offered better avenues of trade and communication than the slow ox wagons or pack trains.”4 Two rivers, the Neches slicing through the center and the Sabine on the county’s eastern border, were navigable throughout the year. Sailboats and small steamboats could, also traverse four large bayous; Adams, Cow, Taylor’s, and Pine Island.5 The marsh areas along the coast and the oft-flooded lowlands that lay east of the Sabine and Neches Rivers also discouraged land transportation.

Frederick Olmsted, an early traveler, left an excellent account of the Neches River swamps opposite Beaumont, where market bound cattle often bogged down and were abandoned. Upon debarking from the Neches River ferry, he noted that “the bank on which we were landed—some ten feet in width—being the only earth visible above the turbid water … At certain spots, where logs of the corduroy [road] had floated away, we were cautioned to avoid the road and pick a way for ourselves.”6 Elsewhere, Olmsted added, “no other road is known than the one by which cattle are driven to the New Orleans market.”7

An 1840 map shows four roads intersecting at Beaumont. One went east to Ballew’s Ferry, intersecting the Jasper road at Pattillo’s Station. Another road went south to Grigsby’s Bluff, Aurora, and Sabine Pass. The Atascosita Road went west to Liberty and Anahuac, and a fourth, to Woodville and Town Bluff, crossed Pine Island Bayou at Chessher’s Ferry and Village Creek at Brown’s Ferry.8

County roads were placed under the jurisdiction of overseers, called “reviewers of roads,” who, in turn, called out the county’s citizens to maintain them. Citizen labor on the county roads, or payment of a road tax in lieu of it, remained in effect until after l900.9 Court minutes indicate that, by 1847, bridges had been built over Cow Bayou, Adams Bayou, and Ashworth Bayou, but ferries continued in use on the rivers and wider streams.10 One road in and near Beaumont was required to be maintained as a “first class” road, whereas other county roads were kept in “second class” condition. While the “class” of roads was left unexplained, a “second class” road apparently meant a dirt roadbed with a corduroy of logs laid over lowlands, marshes, and sloughs.11

Ferries were widely used in Jefferson County before the Texas Revolution.12 The oldest was probably Ballew’s Ferry, north of Orange, the franchise of which was awarded to Ursin Guidry after Ballew’s death.13 Although obsolete place names make the locations difficult to identify, apparently three ferries were in use at Beaumont at an early date. W. C. Beard and William Ashworth operated the Santa Ana ferry until 1846, when their franchise was revoked and passed to Nancy Hutchinson.14 John and Parson Collier owned a Neches River ferry north of Beaumont at the site that still bears their name. Collier’s, or “Pine Bluff,” ferry had been operated by Henry Millard at an earlier date.15

Mansfield ferry, near the Jefferson County courthouse, did not cease operating until about 1928.16 John and Augustine Montez owned an early ferry a few miles southeast of Beaumont, where their land grant spanned both sides of the Neches River.17

Ferrymen paid an annual tax or fee based on their estimated annual tolls, although, occasionally, ferry franchises went to the highest bidder. All ferry tolls were set by the county court, but a wide variation existed due to the width of the stream, frequency of use, and ferry equipment furnished. County officials and ministers were ferried free of charge.18

Two ferries, Beard and Ballew’s, had rates for “short ferriage” and “long ferriage.” The former meant a journey across to the bottomlands on the opposite bank. The latter at Beard’s ferry took the passenger two miles up Beard’s Bayou to “Ashworth’s old field,” a bluff of high land. “Long ferriage” at Ballew’s ferry, at “The Narrows” of the Sabine River, was a four-mile voyage up the river’s “old channel” to Milspaugh or Niblett’s Bluff.19

Some ferries, particularly those with “long ferriage” rates, could only be operated during daylight hours and had to provide night accommodations for passengers. During the 1840’s, most ferrymen also held licenses to retail liquors.20

The hardest labor that befell ferrymen was the crossing of cattle, for which they were paid at the rate of two or three cents per head.21 One account described Sterling Spell, an early Beaumont cattle- crosser, who would “go in among the cattle and seize a big, 1,000-lb., 4-year-old steer by the horns, back it into the river, turn it around, hold to the horns by his left hand and swim across the river with him. The other steers of the drove would follow.”22

There is a surprising lack of information about stagecoach lines, which may reflect, to some degree, the extent and reliance of early Jefferson County citizens upon travel by water. In 1859, northbound travelers could utilize a weekly water and land connection to reach San Augustine. The mail packets Mary Falvey and T. f. Smith carried Sabine and Beaumont passengers to Wiess Bluff, a Jasper County river port sixteen miles north of Beaumont, where Taylor’s stage route from San Augustine ended. The only line known to have operated in Jefferson County was the Galveston and Sabine Bay stage, owned by George Bryan of Galveston, the father of Captain George W. O’Brien (see footnote). In 1847, Bryan’s stagecoach made one round-trip a week via the beach, leaving Bolivar Point on Tuesday mornings and arriving at Sabine Pass on Wednesday evenings. One-way fare was $6.00 for those persons “with no other luggage than saddle bags.”23

Other early post routes included the 112-mile mail route No. 3, which operated between Houston and Pattillo’s post office, via Liberty and Beaumont. The mail rider made one round-trip each week, the saddle journey requiring three days each way.24 The 107-mile mail route No. 6 extended from Liberty, via Beaumont, Cow Bayou, and Ballew’s Ferry, to the Calcasieu River. The mail rider made one round-trip weekly, leaving Liberty on Wednesday mornings and arriving at Lake Charles, Louisiana on Friday evenings.25

As of March 1839, no post office existed at Sabine Pass, and no post route operated between Sabine Pass and Beaumont.26 However, scheduled mail service began the following month when the steam packet Newcastle began calling at Sabine Pass twice monthly.27 As of October 1840, Wyatt McGaffey was the postmaster there.28

In 1848, three new post routes were authorized, one running from Beaumont, via Jonas Cravey’s, to Town Bluff in Tyler County. Two other routes operated from Green’s Bluff, via Lawhon’s Mills, to Newton, and from Lyons, Louisiana, via Green’s Bluff, to Sabine.29 In 1852, new routes began operating between Sabine, Wiess Bluff, and Nacogdoches and between Sabine and New Orleans, via the Gulf of Mexico.30 By 1854, other post routes ran between Beaumont and Ballew’s Ferry, Beaumont and Woodville, Sabine and Jasper, and Sabine and Green’s Bluff. In 1 850, Beaumont, Pattillo’s Station, Sabine City, and Green’s Bluff were the only post offices in Jefferson County.31

As of 1856, a fifteen-year-old boy carried mail along wooded, unmarked paths between Jasper and Beaumont. When a fellow traveler pointed out the twenty-mile distances between houses and the danger of robbery, the youth boasted that he had “rode the mail for more than a year and hadn’t been robbed yit.”32

Inland steamboat transportation became a reality after 1837, but existing information indicates that the bulk of the early cotton moving south to Sabine was floated on flatboats or keelboats. These were box-like barges, of 200 or more bale capacity, which were “poled” and steered through the rivers, when water levels were high and currents rapid.33 New Orleans cotton schooners usually anchored in Sabine Lake while awaiting the arrival of such vessels.34

Keel boaters earned good wages, transporting cotton at $1.00-$1.50 per bale,35 and their cargoes were insurable. By 1840, Stedham and Van Dusen, of East Hamilton on the upper Sabine, owned five keelboats that carried cotton to Sabine Lake at fifty cents per hundred pounds.36

Neches River keel boating dated from 1830, when Thomas McKinney shipped cotton from Nacogdoches to New Orleans.37 Frequently keel boats were dismantled and sold for lumber at Sabine Pass. In 1844, Captain Robert S. Patton, a Nacogdoches County merchant-planter, owned the Thomas J. Rusk, which made a number of trips to the coast.38 On return voyages, the “poleboat” was apparently towed by Patton’s steamboat Angelina.39 In 1844, Patton’s brother, Moses L. Patton, was master of the keelboat Rusk, but he was captain of the Angelina as of 1849. In June of that year, the Angelina ‘s superstructure was rebuilt at Baxter’s shipyard at Green’s Bluff. In February 1850, the cotton steamer sank near Evadale while ascending the Neches River with a load of lumber.40

Although the Neches was navigable to steamboats as far inland as Wiess Bluff,41 the removal of large logjam obstructions in the Sabine River resulted from budget reductions of the United States army. In 1837, the army’s Camp Sabine, opposite Sabinetown, Texas, and Fort Jesup, near Many, Louisiana, were serviced at exorbitant rates by wagon freighters from Natchitoches, Louisiana.42 A by-product of the river project was the luring of much East Texas cotton, which had formerly gone to New Orleans via the Red River, to Sabine Pass.43

In 1837, Major W. G. Belknap’s expedition of the Third U. S. Infantry arrived in Sabine Lake and established its base of operations at Garrison Ridge. Its purpose was to sound, map, and blow up logjam obstructions in the Sabine River, work that was supervised by Lieutenant J. H. Eaton.44

After the work was completed in December 1837, Belknap sent Captain Isaac Wright, master of the steamboat Velocipede,45 to make a 300-mile exploratory journey to test the river’s navigation as far as Sabinetown. After his return, Wright reported no difficulty “in ascending or descending the river . . . without the least injury to my boat.”46 He added that the advent of navigation would enhance land values along the river by 200% and that the price of freight from New Orleans to Camp Sabine would be reduced from six cents to two cents per pound.47

At the same time, the newborn Texas Republic had created a number of customhouse districts, one of which was the Port of Beaumont and Sabine Bay, authorized on May 19, 1837.48 Apparently, a Mexican customhouse, under Captain Samuel Rodgers, existed at Beaumont in 1836, but nothing is known of its operations.49

In May 1837, President Houston appointed R. C. Doom of Jasper as the first collector of the new port.50 Doom was reappointed by President Lamar in January 1839, and served until his resignation the following October.51 Records indicate that Doom kept the customhouse at Beaumont until shortly before his resignation, although a customhouse building was begun at Sabine Pass in 1838 on an acre of land donated by John McGaffey.52

President Houston probably regretted doom’s appointment. On May 6, 1839, his political foe, S. H. Everett, wrote to President Lamar from Beaumont that “there is, or will be, an effort made by those opposed to you (to wit, N. F. Smith and associates) to have Mr. Doom, our present collector, removed, and for no other reason than that they want a man to be made collector of this port who will remove the present customhouse to the City of Sabine, and one who will be governed in all respects by those who are the proprietors of the said city.”53

Four other collectors served at the Port of Sabine Bay under the Texas Republic. In November 1839, President Lamar appointed John D. Swain as the new collector at Sabine Pass. In turn, Swain was replaced by Joseph P. Pulsifer in September 1840, Pulsifer by Dr. Niles F. Smith in February 1842, and Smith by W. C. V. Dashiell in December l843.54

After Texas’ entry into the Union, an act of congress left one customs district at Galveston and a single customs “surveyor” in other Texas ports.55 On March 3, 1847, Sabine Pass was authorized a deputy collector of customs, a post filled by W. C. V. Dashiell until his death in 1848.56 Captain Norman Hurd, a Texas naval veteran, who served as deputy collector until the Civil War began, replaced him.57

By 1839, reports of a lingering slave trade caused the United States to establish a customhouse at Garrison Ridge on Sabine Lake, where Captain Green, a former master of the New Orleans revenue cutter Woodbury, served as collector.58 In April 1843, Stewart Newell was transferred from Velasco to serve as United States consul at Sabine Pass.59

Under United States treaties, beginning with Spain in 1819 and subsequently with Mexico and Texas, the Sabine River, to its estuary in the sea, was an international boundary. Sabine inland waters, to the point of landfall on the west bank, were territorial waters of the United States.60 Both smugglers and legitimate American vessels considered themselves as being beyond the jurisdiction of the revenue laws of Texas.

Beginning in 1837, letters of the Sabine customs collectors reported rampant smuggling of American products to Texas. American schooners refused to pay Texas tonnage fees while loading cotton from Texas keelboats in Sabine Lake.61 When Collector John Swain seized a shipment of Thomas H. Brennan, a prominent Beaumonter, the latter went to court, won his case, and the collector resigned.62 To the chagrin of Sabine Pass merchants, American steamboats anchored in Sabine Lake, opened stores on their decks, and sold duty-free merchandise to Americans and Texans indiscriminately.63

Gradually, an undeclared customs war began when armed Texas keel boatmen defied the Texas collector’s deputies. The Texas cutter Santa Anna and the American cutters Vigilant and Woodbury patrolled in Sabine Lake at intervals. On one occasion, armed conflict was avoided only when Captain George Simpton relented and ordered the Santa Anna sailed back to Sabine City.64

In February 1844, the American collector and revenue cutters became more militant when President Houston ordered the arming of the Sabine customhouse.65 His letter ordered Collector Dashiell to fire warning shots at the New Orleans cotton schooners which refused to stop, and for any vessel not heaving to after such warning, “the collector will forthwith fire into, and, if necessary, sink it.” Two weeks later, Captain Simpton loaded two cannons at Galveston and delivered them to the Sabine collector.66

The boundary sore erupted on April 17, 1844, when the New Orleans-bound cotton schooners Louisiana and William Bryan entered the Sabine Pass. When their captains failed to respond to warning shots, Collector Dashiell endeavored to sink both vessels. The schooners then docked at Sabine City while the captains, D. B. Eddy and D. N. Moss, executed bonds for tonnage fees.67

As a result, the captains filed depositions of protest. Collector M. S. Cucullu of New Orleans was told to use his cutters “to extend all reasonable protection to American vessels in the coasting trade, while navigating that [Sabine] river.”68

The incident triggered a series of diplomatic notes that were still unresolved as of 1846. In February 1845, Secretary of State Ashbel Smith advised the United States of Texas’ new position with regard to the waters of Sabine Lake and the Sabine Pass.69

Another armed incident occurred between the cutters Santa Anna and Woodbury in Sabine Lake, and again as the Woodbury escorted the schooners Lone Star and Louisiana through the Pass. Captain Simpton was attempting to board the Lone Star when the Woodbury arrived on the scene, “armed and ready for action.” Unwilling to provoke another shooting incident, the Santa Anna’s master docked at the customhouse and remounted his guns ashore. As the Woodbury and the cotton schooners sailed through the Pass, Dashiell and Simpton yielded to discretion and allowed the vessels to proceed.70 The debate in Washington of a joint resolution to annex Texas probably influenced their decision. The Sabine Lake border quarrels vanished when Texas entered the Union.

Forty-six bales of cotton were shipped from Sabine Pass during the six months prior to December 31, 1837. Joseph Grigsby of Port Neches, the only significant cotton planter in Jefferson County during the 1830’s, probably grew some of the cotton.71 In 1840, 3,50Q bales were shipped to Sabine from Nacogdoches, Sabine, and San Augustine counties alone, and their shipments increased to 5,500 bales in 1841.72 For comparative purposes, only 754 bales and 805 bales, respectively, were registered each year at the customhouse, indicating that 80% or more of the East Texas cotton shipped to the coast was exported to New Orleans in American schooners which did not pay Texas tonnage fees.73

In December 1843, Collector Niles Smith predicted that 15,000 bales would be shipped south on the Sabine River, and that “not one bale in fifty” would receive customhouse clearance.74 Actually, 2,039 bales were registered with the collector during the 1844 shipping season and 2,270 bales in I845.75 Smith’s prediction was probably exaggerated for, more than a decade later, only 15,176 bales of cotton were shipped from Sabine Pass in 1858.76 The quantity increased to 18,393 bales in l859.77

Cargoes other than cotton were also shipped from early Jefferson County. In 1839, the schooners Santa Anna and Waterwitch, a former slave ship, carried loads of hand-hewn cypress shingles to Galveston.78 In 1842, the sloop Glide left Beaumont for Galveston with a mixed cargo of cotton and cattle hides.79 Six months later, the schooner Susan cleared for Galveston carrying hand-hewn lumber and molasses.80 The schooners William Wallace, Santa Anna, Buckeye, Waterwitch, Reindeer, and Glide sailed frequently between Sabine and Galveston after 1839,81 although the Santa Anna entered the customs service in 1842.82

Prior to 1845, an average of two or three steamboats visited Sabine waters each month during the cotton-shipping season. By 1850, some vessels were registered in the Sabine area and were owned by local merchants. The earliest steamers, owned by McKinney, Williams and Company of Galveston, came to trade in Sabine Lake or to ascend the rivers to Beaumont and Orange. As late as 1839, McKinney’s steamer Laura advertised to deliver passengers and freight to Sabine Lake. In 1842, the company’s steamboat Lafitte carried cotton from Sabine to the Island City.83

The second steamboat to duplicate the Velocipede ‘s feat in the Sabine River was the Ceres in 1838,84 followed by the 125-ton Wisconsin, which made two voyages in the Sabine in 1839. Both vessels foundered in the river.85 In January 1840, the steamer Rufus Putnam struck a snag and sank in the Sabine near Belgrade in Newton County.86 Between February and June 1840, the Albert Gallatin made three successful voyages in the Sabine.87 On the third trip, the steamer carried members of the Texas-United States Boundary Commission, who surveyed the river to its juncture with the thirty-second parallel.88

Beginning in 1840, an average of two steamboats traded in the Sabine River during each cotton-shipping season. In 1841, the Texas steamer Philadelphia made two successful voyages under Captain James Havilland.89 While descending the river from Sabinetown in March 1842, the General Bryan struck a log and sank with 400 bales of cotton aboard.90 In November 1842, the steamer Mustang advertised that it was leaving Galveston on a trading “excursion” in the Sabine.91 Between January and March 1843, the steamboat Pioneer made two voyages, carrying general cargo to Sabinetown. On the second trip, the vessel’s crew mutinied while on the Sabine, after which they were jailed in Galveston to await trial. The Pioneer was then auctioned by decree of the admiralty court, but soon ran aground and was wrecked en route to Matagorda Bay.92

The 95-ton Scioto Belle made two voyages in the Sabine in the spring of 1844.93 The Scioto Belle was followed by two voyages of the 134-ton Colonel Woods during the same season. In March 1844, the steamer lightered 502 bales of cotton aboard the American schooners Cabot and Robert Center in Sabine Lake.94 Two other steamboats, the John H. Bills and the 106-ton Sabine, also traded in the river during that year. The latter vessel was new, built “expressly for the Sabine trade.”95

The Sabine had no competition on the river in 1845-1846. In March 1846, its master advertised that cotton shipped on the Sabine would be insured at cheaper rates than cotton aboard keelboats.96 At the end of one voyage, he lightered 299 bales aboard the New Orleans schooner William Bryan.97 The Sabine survived to an old age. In 1860, it belonged to the Burch brothers of Sabine Pass, three of whom were in the fifteen-man crew under Captain Increase R. Burch.98

The records point out that Sabinetown enjoyed early supremacy as a Sabine River port and rivaled Nacogdoches for a time as the commercial center of East Texas. As early as 1839, the Rufus Putnam had contracted to bring 4,000 bales south from that city.99 During 1850, the steamer Buffalo made several trips to Sabinetown, but sank on a return voyage.100 In 1849, the steamboat Ogden carried a load of cattle from the Sabine River to New Orleans.101

Prior to 1850, most of the East Texas cotton was being shipped to New Orleans via Grand Ecore, Louisiana on the Red River. Shipping costs per bale from Nacogdoches were $8.75 via the Red River as opposed to $4.00 via Sabine Pass.102 As of 1841, shipping costs from Sabinetown via Grand Ecore was $6.50-$7.00 per bale and only $3.00 per bale via Sabine to Galveston.103

In an effort to reduce the costs, Robert Patton, the Nacogdoches County merchant-planter, became a pioneer navigator of both the Sabine and Neches Rivers. In an apparent effort to garner the cotton trade of some of the Northeast Texas counties, Patton began shipping from two points on the Sabine, Fredonia in Rusk County and Belzora in Smith County, the latter more than 800 river miles inland.104 Under the Texas Republic he had been one of the worst violators of the Texas revenue laws, and two of his cotton shipments were involved in the Sabine Lake border crises of l844-l845.105 In a letter to Secretary of the Treasury W. B. Ochiltree in 1845, Patton complained that he shipped cotton on American schooners in Sabine Lake because Texas vessels never anchored there. He described the competitive disadvantage that resulted when tonnage fees were charged in Sabine Lake, but were exempted along the Red River and its tributaries.106

In 1851, the steamer Liberty navigated the Sabine as far as Fredonia, southeast of Longview.107 In the same year, Patton “fitted out” the General Rusk, the first of his Sabine River steamboats.108 By 1856, Patton’s steamer Uncle Ben was ascending the river “to a point opposite Tyler in Smith County.”109 In 1857, the Uncle Ben brought 5,000 bales, one-third of the exported volume at Sabine, down the river during five successful voyages, two of which reached 800 miles upriver to Belzora.110 After Patton’s death at Orange in 1857, his estate sold the Uncle Ben to John G. Berry, who later sold the steamer to Ruff Brothers of Beaumont and C. H. Alexander of Sabine.111

Jefferson County’s antebellum steamers can be identified principally, but not solely, with a single river. Steam boating on the Angelina-Neches watercourse began with Patton’s vessel, the Angelina, which sank in 1850.112 In 1849, Bondies, Roehte and Company based their steamer Kate at Pattonia and operated stores at Nacogdoches and Sabine. In 1853, Captain George Bondies closed his stores and moved the Kate to the Trinity River, where it sank in 1856.113

The principal cotton exporter on the Angelina-Neches during the early 1850’s was Captain John Clements, who brought the steamers Doctor Massie, Juanita, Pearl Plant, Sunflower, and Mary Falvey to Jefferson County and maintained warehouses at Bevilport and Sabine. By 1852, the Pearl Plant was making three round-trips monthly from Sabine to Bevilport, on occasion sailing as far inland as Pattonia.114

By 1856, the Doctor Massie and Mary Falvey were carrying cotton southward from Nacogdoches County. In February of that year, the Doctor Massie sank at Town Bluff, blocking the Neches for a few months, but was soon raised, repaired, and soon back in service. In October 1856, Clements sold the steamer to Alexander and Company of Sabine.115 In 1858, the Mary Falvey was sailing regularly to Pattonia. In 1859, the steamboat was purchased by Charles H. Ruff of Beaumont and sailed weekly as a mail packet between Sabine, Beaumont, Concord, and Wiess Bluff. In April 1861, the Falvey was removed from service, tied up at Sabine, and its history is unknown thereafter.116 In 1860, Captain Clements sold the Sunflower to Captain William Neyland, a Bevilport merchant, purchased the Sour Lake resort hotel, and retired from further maritime pursuits.117

The mail packet T. J. Smith, built at Town Bluff in 1857, belonged to Henry Clay Smith and Henry B. Force of Orange. The steamer carried mail and cotton on the Neches until the Civil War began. When Captain Smith defected to the Union navy in 1862, his steamboat was confiscated by the Confederates and was being used to ferry troops on the Calcasieu River in 1863.118

There were other antebellum steamboats, namely, the Roebuck, Rough and Ready, Grand Bay, Jeff Davis, and Dime, which carried cotton on the Sabine-Neches waters, but very little is known about them prior to the Civil War.119 Two of the largest steamboats based at Beaumont, the 1,800-bale Josiah H. Bell and the 2,500 bale, 220-foot Florilda, did not carry cotton. Purchased by the Texas and New Orleans Railroad Company in 1859, both vessels were used to transport rails, crossties, and bridge timbers to construction sites in Jefferson and Orange counties. As of 1860, the Florilda, under Captain T. A. Packard, had a 17-man crew, which included three of the railroad’s officials, Dr. David Scott, a physician, and two civil engineers.120 Hence, the riverboats helped construct the transportation systems that would eventually displace them. At a later date, the Bell, Florilda, and Uncle Ben performed yeoman service for the Confederacy.

During the 1850’s, Jefferson County acquired its most reliable water transportation when the Morgan Steamship Lines began calling at Sabine Pass, bringing mail once weekly from Galveston to New Orleans.121 K. D. Keith recalled in his memoirs that his firm, Keith and McGaffey, held the agency for the steamships after 1857. Keith added that the Morgan ship captains were reluctant to enter the Pass until pilots proved to them that there was ample depth in the previously uncharted Louisiana Channel.122

Beginning in 1855, the steamer Jasper began weekly voyages from Sabine to Berwick Bay, Louisiana, carrying cotton during the shipping season and eighty head of cattle on each trip in summer. The vessel belonged to an association of New Orleans butchers, who kept an agent at Sabine to buy cattle and collect them for shipment. By March 1, 1858, 10,000 bales of cotton had reached Sabine during the 1857-1858 shipping season, 9,000 bales of which were exported to New Orleans aboard the Jasper. By June 1858, the steamer had carried more than 8,000 beeves to Berwick Bay for transshipment to New Orleans by rail.123

The rafting of logs through the rivers was another transportation medium that reached antebellum Jefferson County. It may seem odd that the county’s first steam sawmill, built by Sidney A. Sweet in 1846, was at Sabine Pass, a marshy sector devoid of timber. The answer was one of economics. It was cheaper to raft logs, towed by steamboat, through Sabine Lake than to ship finished lumber from inland points.124 Beginning in 1856, logs were rafted down the Neches River to the Johnson-Remley sawmill at Port Neches and to the three steam mills built at Beaumont between 1856 and 1859.

Rail transportation came to Jefferson County on the eve of the Civil War. Two systems, the Texas and New Orleans from Houston to Orange and the Eastern Texas Railroad from Sabine Pass to Beaumont, had laid trackage in Jefferson County by 1861. Except for service rendered to the Confederacy, both lines were exercises in physical and financial futility. War, disuse, and inferior construction materials, methods, and practices left both railroads bankrupt and irreparable at the war’s end, and both lines had to be rebuilt at later dates.125

After the chartering of the Henderson and Burkeville Railroad in January 1854,126 the line’s promoters decided to build 170 miles of track, at an estimated cost of $3,200,000, to the Gulf of Mexico rather than to the Sabine River.127 Its successor became the Mexican Gulf and Henderson, and construction work began in 1857 when Ferguson, Alexander and Company cleared and graded a part of the right-of-way between Beaumont and Pine Island Bayou.128

After a third charter in January 1858, the line became the Eastern Texas Railroad, capitalized at $7,500,000.129 John Stamps, a contractor and principal stockholder, began building north from Sabine Pass in 1859, and by October, had twenty- seven miles of embankment ready for the rails and crossties.130 Apparently, the construction pace fell short of the requirements stipulated in the charter. In November 1859, Stamps and the board of directors hurried to Austin to seek a charter extension.131

Early railroad building, with its construction crews and payrolls, had an immediate effect on Jefferson County’s economy. K. D. Keith reported in 1859 that “a great deal of shipping from New York and Pennsylvania came in, bringing railway construction material.”132 In May 1859, the first 325 tons of rails for the Texas and New Orleans Railroad arrived, another 2,000 tons of rails were en route to Sabine, and by October, the town’s wharves were lined with “steamships, steamboats, schooners, brigs … and all manner of amphibious” craft.133

By November 1860, a railroad bridge had been completed over Taylor’s Bayou, and J. D. Kirkpatrick, a Sabine contractor, completed the bridge over Mud Bayou at Mesquite Point for S. H. Witmer, the Eastern Texas Railroad’s general superintendent.134 A month later, a newspaper reported that 500 workers were employed on the fifty miles of the railroad’s right-of-way that had been graded, three miles of rails had been laid, and work was progressing at the rate of one mile each day. The article added that “Beaumont is rapidly increasing in inhabitants, and many new public and private buildings are in the course of erection.”135

E. I. Kellie, an early Sabine resident, reported that the East Texas line was completed to within two miles of Beaumont when the supply of rails was exhausted and no more were available. A number of Confederate maps, however, show the line as extending from Beaumont to Mesquite Point, one mile north of Sabine City.136 Rail transportation to Sabine ended on September 25, 1862, the date that a Federal patrol burned the bridge over Taylor’s Bayou. A map drawn in 1864 indicates that the rails and crossties south of Taylor’s Bayou had been removed for military construction needs at Fort Griffin.137

The Texas and New Orleans was originally chartered as the New Orleans, Texas, and Pacific Railroad Company in February 1854.138 Its successor was chartered in September 1856 as the Sabine and Galveston Bay Railroad and Lumber Company, its route to extend from the Sabine River to Galveston Bay. The company’s stockholders met at Liberty in February 1857 and elected the first board of directors. Capital stock was authorized at $2,000,000, the line’s principal promoters being William Fields, A. M. Gentry, W. P. Herring of Beaumont, George W. Smyth of Jasper, and William Smith of Orange.139

The charter, as later amended, allowed three years for construction of the first twenty-five miles of track, and five years thereafter for completion. In November 1858, the new firm borrowed $1,500,000 from Charles Congreve and Archibald Lowery of New York. In order to repay the construction loan, the promoters decided to issue railroad bonds for sale to the public.140

In 1859, the line was renamed the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, and Gentry became its president. By August 1860, the first forty-one miles had been completed to Liberty, and by January 1861, the last Texas and New Orleans rails were laid at Orange.141 As the line moved eastward, hundreds of construction laborers were employed in Jefferson and Orange counties in 1860. Six railroad contractors maintained camps for their employees at Duncan Woods in western Orange County.142

The Texas and New Orleans road, except from Beaumont to Orange, served the Confederacy throughout the Civil War. One railroad historian doubted that rail service ever extended east of Beaumont during the early period,143 and as of August 1863, the Orange County trackage was not in use. At that time, a Confederate officer urged repairs to the damaged system in the western part of the county, but subsequent invasion attempts, beginning one month later, ended such activity for the remainder of the war.144

In summarization, insufficient shipping, high freight rates, and the lack of a rail system retarded Jefferson County’s antebellum growth. In one form or another, the transportation problems still existed as of 1886. Jefferson County had only two items to sell—cattle and timber products. Cattle could be driven to market, but lumber required a rail system that did not exist.

The dilemma is well-expressed by Jacob DeCordova, a Texas publisher and land promoter, who wrote that “it must indeed seem strange … that we should be compelled to import so large an amount of lumber into Texas, after being informed of … forests extensive enough to supply the whole of Texas … Not only to Mobile are we indebted for timber and lumber, but large quantities are brought from the State of Maine. Even the ties for the Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railroad had to be procured from the latter point … in consequence of the exorbitant rate of transportation.”145

As of the year 1856, Beaumont and Orange had a multi-billion foot reserve of virgin timber, both cypress and pine, within twenty miles of either community. In 1857, there were seven steam mills in Jefferson and Orange counties. In 1849, the three circular saws of Spartan Mill Company at Sabine Pass had a daily capacity of 10,000 board feet. The Empire Mills near Orange, a victim of fiery vigilante violence on May 31, 1856, were described as “the best in the state.”146

Steamboats and schooners could afford to carry lumber only when cargoes of upland cotton were unavailable. In 1860, a thousand feet of lumber, worth $18 at the mill, occupied the same space as seven bales of cotton, worth $700 at the usual market prices (the freight bill for seven bales totaling $10.50 from Sabine to Galveston). There were rarely enough vessels to carry the cotton reaching Sabine. From 1839 until 1842, Augustus Hotchkiss’ weekly advertisements stated that “there will be wanted in all the months of December, January, and February next 10 to 15 vessels of lawful tonnage to carry cotton from the city of Sabine Pass to New Orleans.”147 Although one million feet of lumber was exported at Sabine in 1859,148 the Jefferson and Orange county mills cut a total of 6,500,000 feet of lumber in that year.149

The irreparable lines continued to hinder the county’s economy until they were rebuilt in the late 1870’s. Although 75,000,000 feet were cut at Beaumont and Orange in 1879 (as well as 82,000,000 shingles),150 it was 1881 before the first train crossed Pine Island Bayou going north or before one could travel entirely by rail from Houston to New Orleans.151 Although lumber demand remained extensive in West Texas, a constant boxcar shortage plagued the mill owners, a situation still unresolved as of 1886.152 During the Reconstruction years, many mill owners, including David R. Wingate, Alexander Gilmer, and Robert B. Russell, solved their transportation problems by owning their own fleets of lumber schooners.

click for larger image  STEAMBOAT LAURA—Stern wheel and side wheel steamers, such as Capt. Andrew Smyth’s Laura of the 1870’s, freighted Jefferson County’s commerce to distant markets.

Endnotes

1 “General Map of The Lower Sabine River,” Map Z-54-4, Record Group 77, National Archives; Volume A, p. 3, Commissioners’ Court Minutes, Jefferson County, Texas.

2 (Galveston) Weekly News, December 2, 1856; F. E. Willcox (compiler), “Records of The Hon. The Board of Aldermen of The Town of Beaumont,” Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record, VIII (November, 1972), pp. 62-65.

3 Lewis W. Kemp, The Signers of The Texas Declaration of Independence (Salado, Texas: Anson Jones Press, 1944), p. 108.

4 Cleo F. Burns, “Transportation in Early Texas” (Unpublished M. A. thesis, St. Mary’s University, 1940), p. 71.

5 William Kennedy, Texas: The Rise, Progress, and Prospects of The Republic of Texas (reprint; Fort Worth: The Molyneaux Craftsmen, Inc., 1925), pp. 26-28; G. W. Bonnell, Topographical Description of Texas (reprint; Austin: Texian Press, 1964), pp. 11-13. It is difficult today to view certain streams and realize that large steamboats once traveled on them. This was possible only during the winter rainy season when the streams were at flood stage.

6 Frederick L. Olmsted, Journey Through Texas: A Saddle-Trip on The Southern Frontier (Austin: Von Boeckman-Jones Press, 1962), p. 236.

7 Ibid, p. 228.

8 0. H. Delano, county surveyor, “Map of Jefferson County,” April, 1840, Texas General Land Office; Volume A, pp. 86-87, Commissioners’ Court Minutes, Jefferson County, Texas.

9 Volume A, pp. 67-68, 87-89, Commissioners’ Court Minutes, Jefferson County, Texas; Beaumont Journal, December 17, 1905. In 1905, three hundred persons were brought to court for non-payment of road taxes or failure to report for roadwork.

10 Volume A; pp. 66, 68, 82, Commissioners’ Court Minutes, Jefferson County, Texas.

11 Ibid, Volumes A, pp. 86-89, and B, pp. 207-213.

12 W F. Gray, Prom Virginia To Texas, 1835: Diary of William F. Gray (reprint; Houston: Fletcher Young Publishing Company, 1965), p. 166. Upon reaching the Neches River on April 20, 1836, Gray recorded that “the boats were said to have been taken from all the ferries and carried down to the lower bluff.”

13 Volume B, p. 45, Commissioners’ Court Minutes, Jefferson County, Texas.

14 Volume A, pp. 66, 76, 84, Commissioners’ Court Minutes, Jefferson County, Texas; H. P. N. Gammel (compiler), The Laws of Texas, 1 822-1897 (10 volumes; Austin: Gammel Book Company, 1898), III, p. 329.

15 Volumes A, p. 50, and C, pp. 22, 109, Commissioners’ Court Minutes, Jefferson County, Texas.

16 The writer crossed the river many times on this ferry during his childhood.

17 Volume A, p. 103, Commissioners’ Court Minutes, Jefferson County, Texas.

18 Ibid, pp. 3, 50-51, 68, 76, 84, 102-103.

19 Volume A, p. 76, Commissioners’ Court Minutes, Jefferson County, Texas; Olmsted, Journey Through Texas, p. 245.

20 Record of Retail Licenses, 1839-1851, pages unnumbered, Jefferson County, Texas.

21 Volume A, pp. 3, 50-51, 76, Commissioners’ Court Minutes, Jefferson County, Texas.

22 Beaumont Journal, April 11, 1908. A cattle-crosser was any ferry employee, whose principal duty was the swimming of cattle herds. Some ferries owned trained oxen that acted as lead animals to entice cattle droves to enter the water. Ferrymen usually swam the river on horseback, and their work was extremely hazardous when river currents were swift.

23 (Galveston) Civilian and Galveston Gazette, July 9, 1847; (Galveston) Weekly News, September 21, 1858 and November 29, 1859. Captain O’Brien retained the letter “0” in his surname, although his father dropped it. After the Civil War, the son altered the spelling from O’Bryan to O’Brien. Around 1850, he was the Beaumont to Galveston mail rider, who perhaps rode his father’s coach for a part of the way. See Beaumont Enterprise, April 16, 1905.

24 (Washington) Texian and Brazos Farmer, January 28, 1843. Post routes in Southeast Texas were adjusted constantly to conform to the needs of activated and discontinued offices. In 1855, the Duncan Woods post office in Orange County was authorized, and in 1859, Holmsville (location unidentified) and Grigsby’s Bluff in Jefferson County became post offices. See (Galveston) Weekly News, June 12, 1855 and November 1,1859.

25 (Nacogdoches) Texian and Emigrants Guide, December 19. 1835; Gammel, Laws of Texas, II, p. 831; F. C. Chabot (ed.), A Journal of The Coincidences and Acts of Thomas S. McFarland Beginning With The First Day of January A. D. 1837 (San Antonio: Yanaguana Society, 1942), p. 88.

26 Letter, S. H. Everett to M. B. Lamar, Beaumont, March 11, 1839, as reprinted in C. A. Gulick and K. Elliott (eds.), The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (reprint; New York: AMS Press, Incorporated, 1973), II, p. 491.

27 (Galveston) Civilian and Galveston Gazette, May 17, 1839; “Quarterly Return,” R. C. Doom, collector, to the Secretary of the Treasury, Sabine Pass, June 30, 1839, Port of Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives.

28 (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, October 7, 1840.

29 Ibid, May 17, 1849; Nacogdoches Times, November 4, 1848; (Galveston) Weekly News, October 30, 1848.

30 (Nacogdoches) Chronicle, October 2, and November 6, 1852.

31 (Houston). Telegraph and Texas Register, February 21, 1850; (Nacogdoches) Chronicle, February 14, 1854.

32 K. D. Keith, “The Memoirs of Captain Kosciusko D. Keith” (Luling, Texas: unpublished manuscript, February 5, 1896), p. 11.

33 Beaumont Journal, March 11, 1906; (Galveston) Weekly News, May 20, 1856; (Nacogdoches) Chronicle, March 15, 1853.

34 R. E. Crane, “The Administration of The Customs Service of The Republic of Texas” (unpublished M. A. thesis; Austin: The University of Texas, 1939), p. 186.

35 (Galveston) Daily Galvestonian, December 4, 1841; (Galveston) Weekly Galvestonian, December 6, 1841.

36 (San Augustine) Redlander, March 12, 1846; (San Augustine) Journal and Advertiser, December 17, 1840.

37 A. W. Williams and E. C. Barker (eds.), The Writings of Sam Houston, 18 13-1863 (8 volumes; Austin: Pemberton Press, 1970), IV, pp. 32-34.

38 (San Augustine) Redlander, January 20, 1844; Lois F. Blount, “The Story of Old Pattonia,” East Texas Historical Journal, V (March, 1967), pp. 14-16.

39 Beaumont Enterprise, September 21, 1910; Archie P. McDonald (ed.), Hurrah For Texas! The Diary of Adolphus Sterne (Waco: Texian Press, 1969), pp. 194, 199; (Nacogdoches) Times, January 13, 1849.

40 Burns, “Transportation in Early Texas,” unpublished thesis, p. 82; Volume A, p. 69, Personal Property Record, Jefferson County, Texas; (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, May 2, 1850; (Galveston) Weekly News, March 11, 1850.

41 0. Fisher, Sketches of Texas in 1840 (reprint; Waco: Texian Press, 1964), p. 25.

42 Gray, From Virginia To Texas, p. 86; Nancy N. Barker (ed.), The French Legation in Texas (2 volumes; Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1973), II, p. 522; Lt. J. H. Eaton, 3rd U. S. Infantry, “Sketch of The Sabine River, Lake and Pass from Camp Sabine to The Gulf,” 1838, Library of Congress.

43 Texas appropriated money for clearing the Angelina-Neches in 1837, and Robert Patton expended his personal funds for that purpose. Patton won the contract for clearing the Sabine River following another state appropriation in 1856, but died soon after moving to Orange. See Gammel, Laws of Texas, I, pp. 1388-1389; (San Augustine) Journal and Advertiser, January 28, 1841; (Galveston) Weekly News, October 13 and December 8, 1857; November 11, 1858; April 5, 1859.

44 House Document No. 365, 25th Congress, 2nd Session, 1838, Library of Congress.

45 The Velocipede was sufficiently large to gauge the river’s navigation. A former Vermillion River steamer, the vessel was 134 feet long, 32 feet wide, weighed 143 tons, and drew five feet of water. See House Document No. 365, p. 2, and Kennedy, Texas: The Rise, Progress, and Prospects, p. 34.

46 Letter, Isaac Wright to W. G. Belknap, Sabine Pass, March 23, 1838, in House Document No. 365, 25th Congress, 2nd Session, 1838, Library of Congress.

47 Ibid.

48 Williams and Barker, Writings of Sam Houston, II, pp. 95-96.

49 Gray, From Virginia To Texas, pp. 167-168. Jefferson County records indicate that a Samuel Rodgers lived at Beaumont in 1836, but he died soon afterward. Gray identified him as a “principal proprietor of the town.” Deed records verify his connection with the earliest land promotion, but he was not one of Beaumont’s five proprietors of 1837.

50 “Register of the Texas Collectors of Customs,” Texas State Archives, copy owned by the writer; Williams and Barker, Writings of Sam Houston, II, p. 95.

51 Gulick and Elliott, Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, III, p. 133; E. W. Winkler (ed.), Secret Journals of The Senate, Republic of Texas, 18 36-1845, in Texas Library and Historical Commission First Biennial Report 1909-191 0 (Austin: Austin Printing Company, 1911), pp. 49, 129.

52 Volume E, p. 372, Deed Records, Jefferson County, Texas; “Quarterly Return,” R. C. Doom, collector, to the Secretary of the Treasury, June 30, 1839, Port of Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives.

53 Gulick and Elliott, Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, H, p. 563.

54 Winkler, Secret Journals of The Senate, Republic of Texas, pp. 136, 187, 220, 282-284; “Register of The Texas Collectors of Customs,” Texas State Archives. Other Sabine customhouse employees included T. C. Bunker and S. K. McIlhaney as chief clerks. At various times, the deputy collectors and inspectors included David Garner, W. Williams, Z. W. Eddy, William Swain, Jacob Townsend, R. E. Booth, George A. Pattillo, Peter Stockholm, Wesley Garner, A. J. F. Phelan, W. S. Wilson, Henry Hubbell, and John White. See “Reports of Expenditures,” R. C. Doom, collector, to the Secretary of the Treasury, December 31, 1837 and March 31, 1839, Port of Sabine Bay Customs Records; ibid, J. P. Pulsifer, collector, to the Secretary of the Treasury, December 31, 1840; and R. E. L. Crane, “The History of The Revenue Service and The Commerce of The Republic of Texas” (unpublished dissertation, The University of Texas, 1950), pp. 270, 273.

55 (Galveston) News, February 27, 1846.

56 Letter, W. C. V. Dashiell, deputy collector, to R. J. Walker, Secretary of the Treasury, Sabine Pass, Texas, November 18, 1847, Letters from U. S. Collectors of Customs, 1847, Microfilm Reel No. 000039, General Services Administration, Fort Worth, Texas.

57 Manuscript Returns of Jefferson County, Texas, Schedules I, Seventh and Eighth Censuses of the United States: for 1850, residence 191; for 1860, residence 335. In 1835, Captain Hurd came to Texas, where he was awarded one league of land in Zavala’s colony “on the west side of the Neches River.” In partnership with David G. Burnet, he was one of the republic’s earliest saw millers. His Texas naval career prior to 1845 included service as purser on the Texas schooner Brutus and the flagship Austin.

58 Lt T. J. Lee, “Map of The Sabine River,” Texas-United States Boundary Commission, 1840; Letter, Levi Woodbury to S. C. Phillips, June 11, 1838, in House Document No. 466, 25th Congress, 2nd Session, 1838, Library of Congress, copy owned by the writer; Kennedy, Texas: The Rise, Progress and Prospects of The Republic of Texas, p. 761;(Houston) Morning Star, May 1,1839.

59 George P. Garrison (ed.), Diplomatic Correspondence of The Republic of Texas, in American Historical Association Annual Report, 1907 (3 volumes; Washington: Government Printing Office, 1908-1911), II, pp. 171, 366.

60 Wallace and D. M. Vigness (eds.), Documents of Texas History (Lubbock: Texas Technological College, 1960), pp. 41-42; Robert and Pauline Jones, “Texas Eastern Boundary,” Texana, III (Summer, 1965), pp. 145-146. The complete history of the Port of Sabine Bay customhouse from 1837-1846 is well-documented in R. E. L. Crane, “History of The Revenue Service and The Commerce of The Republic of Texas” (unpublished dissertation, The University of Texas, 1950), pp. 264-311.

61 G. Jackson, “A History of Sabine Pass” (unpublished M. A. thesis, The University of Texas, 1930), p. 14.

62 Letter, John Swain to James H. Starr, Sabine Pass, July 11, 1840, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives.

63 Crane, “History of The Revenue Service and Commerce of The Republic of Texas,’ unpublished dissertation, p. 289.

64 Ibid. pp. 270, 290-29 1.

65 Letter, Sam Houston to James B. Shaw, Secretary of the Treasury, February 22, 1844, as reprinted in Williams and Barker, Writings of Sam Houston, IV, pp. 270-271; Letter, W. C. V. Dashiell to James H. Cocke, March 11, 1844, Comptroller’s Papers, Texas State Archives.

66 Letter, Houston to Shaw, as reprinted in Williams and Barker, Writings of Sam Houston, IV, pp. 270-271; Letter, Dashiell to Cocke, March 11, 1844, Comptroller’s Papers, Texas State Archives.

67 Indenture, Eddy, Moss, and Dashiell, and bonds, Eddy and Moss to Dashiell, Sabine Pass, April 17, 1844, as reprinted in Garrison, Diplomatic Correspondence of The Republic of Texas, H, pp. 321-322.

68 Ibid, letter, Peyton to Cucullu, New Orleans, April 26, 1844, and protests, Eddy, Moss, Brown, and Jones, April 23, 1844, pp. 320-322.

69 Letter, Ashbel Smith to A. J. Donelson, February 10, 1845, as reprinted in Garrison, Diplomatic Correspondence of The Republic of Texas, II, pp. 355-358.

70 Crane, “History of The Revenue Service and The Commerce of The Republic of Texas,” unpublished dissertation, pp. 300-310.

71 Ibid, p. 309; Beaumont Journal, November 12, 1905.

72 Letter, Charles Power to Count Dubois de Saligny, June 20, 1842, as reprinted in E. D. Adams (ed), British Diplomatic Correspondence Concerning the Republic of Texas, 1838-1846 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1917), p. 77.

73 Crane, “History of The Revenue Service and Commerce,” p. 309.

74 Ibid, p. 291.

75 Ibid, p. 309.

76 Texas Almanac, 1859

77 Texas Almanac, 1861 (Galveston: Richardson and Company, 1862), p. 237.

78 “Quarterly Return,” R. C. Doom to the Secretary of the Treasury, June 30 and September 30, 1839, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives.

79 Ibid, “Quarterly Return,” N. F. Smith, collector, October 31, 1842.

80 “Quarterly Return,” N. F. Smith, collector to the Secretary of the Treasury, April 30, 1843, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives.

81 Ibid, “Entrances and Clearances.” R. C. Doom, collector, to the Secretary of the Treasury, March 31, June 30, and September 30, 1839; (Galveston) Civilian and Galveston Gazette, May 17, 1839. See the maritime columns of the various Galveston newspapers between 1839 and 1845.

82 E. Hollen and R. L. Butler (eds.), William Bollaert’s Texas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1956), pp. 36, 36n, 41; Crane, “History of The Revenue Service and Commerce of The Republic of Texas,” p. 286.

83 (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, January 12, 1839; (Houston) Morning Star, April 8, 1839; “Abstract of Imposts,” N. F. Smith to the Secretary of the Treasury, January 31, 1843, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives. Two steamers of 1840, the Laura and Albert Gala tin, should not be confused with two other steamers with identical names, circa 1870. The Lafitte was the first steamboat built in Texas. See (Houston) Morning Star, October 5, 1841.

84 Chabot, Journal of The Coincidences and Acts of Thomas S. McFarland, p. 35.

85 Ibid, p. 61; Kennedy, Texas: The Rise, Progress and Prospects, p. 24; (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, July 24, 1839; “Report of Arrivals and Departures,” R. C. Doom to the Secretary of the Treasury, March 31, 1839, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives.

86 “Entrances and Clearances,” J. D. Swain to the Secretary of the Treasury, March 31 and June 30, 1840, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives; (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, April 17, 1839; Lee, “Map of the Sabine River,” 1840; (Richmond) Telescope, April 4, 1840.

87 “Entrances and Clearances,” J. D. Swain to the Secretary of the Treasury, March 31 and June 30, 1840, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives.

88 Chabot, Coincidences and Acts of Thomas S. McFarland, p. 66; Beaumont Journal, December 24, 1905. On December 21, 1841, the Albert Gallatin exploded in Galveston Bay with a loss of five lives. See (Houston) Morning Star, December 25, 1841.

89 “Entrances and Clearances,” J. P. Pulsifer to the Secretary of the Treasury, March 31, 1841, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives. The careers of Captains Havilland and John Sterrett spanned more than 30 years each along the Texas coast. A subsequent mayor of Galveston, Havilland was also master of McKinney’s steamers Lafitte and Constitution. He was vice-commander of the squadron sent out to guard the Texas coast in March 1842. Sterrett, the most ill fated of all, sank the Putnam in 1840, the Albert Gallatin in 1841, and the Lady Byron in 1844. As second in command of the Texas Marine Department, Sterrett served as superintendent of transports under Colonel Leon Smith during the Civil War. See Hollen and Butler, William Bollaert’s Texas, pp. 38-76; (Galveston) Texas Times, November 6, 30 and December 7, 1842; (Galveston) Galvestonian, April 3, 1840, March 31 and April 1, 1841; (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, January 10, 1844 and February 8, 1849.

90 (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, March 9, 184 2;(Houston) Morning Star, March 3, 1842.

91 (Galveston) Texas Times, November 6, 1842. The Mustang sank in the Brazos River in November 1843. See (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, November 29, 1843.

92 “Abstract of Imposts,” January 31, 1843 and “Quarterly Return,” April 30, 1843, N. F. Smith to the Secretary of the Treasury, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives; (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, April 12 and June 21, 1843.

93 “Quarterly Return,” April 30, 1844, “Arrivals and Departures,” July 31, 1844, W. C. V. Dashiell to the Secretary of the Treasury, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives; (Galveston) Weekly News, May 9, 1842.

94 “Quarterly Return,” April 30, 1844, and “Arrivals and Departures,” July 31, 1844, Sabine Bay Customs Records; (San Augustine) Redlander, January 13, 1844.

95 (San Augustine) Redlander, December 9, 1843.

96 “Quarterly Return,” January 31, 1845, “Arrivals and Departures,” April 30, 1845, and “Quarterly Return,” July 31, 1845, W. C. V. Dashiell to the Secretary of the Treasury, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives; (San Augustine) Redlander, March 12, 1846.

97 “Quarterly Return,” July 31, 1845, W. C. V. Dashiell to the Secretary of the Treasury, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives.

98 Manuscript Returns of Jefferson County, Texas, 1860, Schedule 1, pp. 54, 61, residences 327, 328, 372.

99 (Richmond) Telescope, April 4, 1840.

100 (Galveston) Weekly News, March 11, 1850; (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, May 2, 1850.

101 (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, September 6, 1849.

102 (Nacogdoches) Chronicle, November 6, 1852.

103 (Houston) Morning Star, August 14, 1841.

104 Lois F. Blount, “The Story of Old Pattonia,” East Texas Historical Journal, V (March, 1967), pp. 17-27.

105 “Quarterly Returns,” April 30, 1844 and April 30, 1845, W. C. V. Dashiell to the Secretary of the Treasury, Sabine Bay Customs Records, File 4-21/10, Texas State Archives; Crane, “The History of The Revenue Service and Commerce,” p. 300.

106 Crane, “History of The Revenue Service and Commerce,” p. 299.

107 (Houston) Telegraph and Texas Register, May 16, 1851.

108 Ibid, January31 and May 16,1851.

109 (Galveston) Weekly News, April 1, 1856.

110 Texas Almanac, 1859, 150.

111 Lois F. Blount, “Story of Old Pattonia,” East Texas Historical Journal, p. 27; File 195, Estate of Otto Ruff, Probate Records, Jefferson County, Texas.

112 Blount “Story of Old Pattonia,” East Texas Historical Journal, pp. 17-18; (Galveston) Weekly News, March11, 1850.

113 Blount, “Story of Old Pattonia,” East Texas Historical Journal, pp. 19-20; (Nacogdoches) Times, January 20, 1849; (Nacogdoches) Chronicle, August 7, 1852 and November 8, 1852; (Galveston) Weekly News, April 8, 1856.

114 (Nacogdoches) Chronicle, October 30, 1852 and December 13, 1853.

115 Volume B, pp. 145-147, Personal Property Record, Jefferson County, Texas; (Galveston) Weekly News, May 27, 1856 and March 9, 1858.

116 (Galveston) Weekly News, November 9, 1859; (Galveston) Tri-Weekly News, April 6, 1861;(Nacogdoches) Chronicle, March 2, 1858.

117 Volume B, pp. 297-299, Personal Property Record, Jefferson County, Texas.

118 (Galveston) Weekly News, December 15, 1857 and September 21, 1858; War of The Rebellion: A Compilation of The Official Records of The Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901), Series I, Volume XXVI, Part 2, p. 337.

119 Captain William Wiess, “Early Steamboats of East Texas,” Beaumont Enterprise, September 21, 1910.

120 Florence Stratton, Story of Beaumont (Houston: Hercules Printing Company, 1925), p. 42; Manuscript Returns of Jefferson County, Schedule I, 1860, Eighth Census of The United States, pp. 46-47, residence 288; E. I. Kellie, “Sabine Pass in Olden Times,” Beaumont Enterprise, April 16, 1905; (Galveston) Weekly News, November 1, 1859.

121 K. D. Keith, “Memoirs of Captain Kosciusko D. Keith” (Luling, Texas: unpublished manuscript, February, 1896), p. 15; (Galveston) Weekly News September 21, 1858.

122 Keith, “Memoirs of Captain K. D. Keith,” p. 15. An oyster reef divided the Texas and Louisiana channels in the Sabine Pass.

123 (Galveston) Weekly News, August 4, 1857; March 9 and June 8, 1858.

124 Volumes F, pp. 166-169, and G, pp. 157, 164, Deed Records, Jefferson County, Texas.

125 S G. Reed, A History of The Texas Railroads (Houston: The Saint Clair Publishing Company, 1941), pp. 87-89, 225; Charles S. Potts, Railroad Transportation In Texas, in Bulletin of The University of Texas, No. 119 (Austin: University of Texas, 1909), pp. 31, 37-38, 50.

126 Gammel, Laws of Texas, III, p. 1145, and IV, pp. 32-34.

127 Reed, History of The Texas Railroads, p. 8 (Nacogdoches) Chronicle, February 28, 1854.

128 Reed, History of The Texas Railroads, pp. 87-88; Volume B, p. 172, Personal Property Record, Jefferson County, Texas; Keith, “Memoirs of Captain K. D. Keith,” p. 13. C. H. Alexander of Sabine and W. A. Ferguson of Jasper were mercantile partners, owning stores in both cities, when they organized the railroad construction company. As may be surmised, they were also two of the railroad’s biggest promoters. A quarrel between them, which developed in 1857, probably had its roots in the construction company, and work on the right-of-way ended at that time. The line’s successors were required to pay them $3,000 for the work completed. In April 1857, Ferguson and Alexander dissolved the partnership and construction company, with Ferguson retaining the store in Jasper and Alexander keeping the one in Sabine. Ferguson’s store in Beaumont was his personal property.

129 Gammel, Laws of Texas, IV, pp. 1239-1244.

130 (Galveston) Weekly News, November 1, 1859; Manuscript Returns of Jefferson County, Schedule I, Eighth Census of the United States, 1860, p. 52, residence 312; Reed, History of The Texas Railroads, p. 88.

131 (Galveston) Weekly News, November 22, 1859.

132 (Galveston) Weekly News, November 1,1859; Keith, “Memoirs of Captain K. D. Keith,” p. 15.

133 (Galveston) Weekly News, May 17 and November 1, 1859.

134 Volume C, pp. 52-53, Personal Property Record, Jefferson County, Texas.

135 (Houston) Telegraph, December 20, 1860.

136 E I. Kellie, “Sabine Pass in Olden Times,” Beaumont Enterprise, April 16, 1905; J. Kellersberg, “Plan of Sabine Pass, of Its Defenses and Means of Communication” October 15, 1863, reprinted as Map 3, Plate XXXII in Official Atlas of The Civil War; J. Kellersberg, “Military Map of Sabine Pass,” Map Z-54-11, Record Group 77, National Archives.

137 Keith, “Memoirs of Captain K. D. Keith,” p. 21; V. Sulakowski, “No. 116--Coast From Sabine Pass to Galveston and Vicinity,” Map Z-54-2, National Archives.

138 Gammel, Laws of Texas, IV, pp. 55-58.

139 Ibid, pp. 744-749; (Galveston) Week4y News, March 10, 1857.

140 Gammel, Laws of Texas, IV, p. 1301; Volume L, p. 496, Deed Records, Jefferson County, Texas.

141 Reed, History of The Texas Railroads, p. 85.

142 Manuscript Returns of 1860, Schedule I, Eighth Census of the United States: for Jefferson County, pp. 48-50, for Orange County, pp. 32-35.

143 Reed, History of The Texas Railroads, p.86.

144 War of The Rebellion— Official Records, Armies, Series I, Volume XXVI, Part 2, p. 133.

145 J. DeCordova, Texas: Her Resources and Her Public Men (reprint; Waco: Texian Press, 1969), p. 39.

146 (Galveston) Weekly News, June 7, 1856 and June 2, 1857;(Nacogdoches) Times, January 20, 1849.

147 (Galveston) Civilian and Galveston Gazette, November 4, 1840 and April 16, 1842.

148 Texas Almanac, 1861, p. 237.

149 Manuscript Returns of Jefferson and Orange Counties, Texas, Schedule V, Products of Industry, Eighth Census of the United States, 1860.

150 Ibid, Tenth Census of The United States, 1880, Microfilm Reel No. 48, Texas State Archives.

151 Reed, History of The Texas Railroads, pp. 29-30.

152 Beaumont Enterprise, March 19 and April 9, 1881; “Letter-book of The East Texas and Louisiana Lumbermen’s Association, 1884-1886,” a 700-page volume of office correspondence owned by Mrs. Lois Parker, Lamar University library, Beaumont, Texas.

Copyright © 1998-2016 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WTBlock