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At Our Very Door

(Galveston Daily News, January 31, 1901)

High Island, Galveston County, Tex., Jan. 28--Additional Information Regarding High Island in Galveston County--Mr. Lucas' Contract--Has Both Purchased and Leased Lands--Gas Discovered In 1882--More Attention Was Paid To Mineral Waters Than Gas Because Water Could Be Marketed.

To the Galveston News: I will try to answer some of your questions. To begin with, High Island is 32 miles from Galveston by air line, about 45 miles by boat via East Bay (of Galveston Bay) and East Bay Bayou, and is the last survey in Galveston County, cornered by Chambers and Jefferson. It is 30 miles to Sabine Pass and 42 miles to Beaumont, is 45 to 48 feet above sea level; in fact, is the highest place on the gulf between Louisiana and Mexico.

I think it was in 1882 that my father discovered gas. We then had simply a No. 3 peach can set up over a four-inch augur hole 18 feet deep. The can was then plastered with clay and we boiled water in a tea kettle in three minutes over the (ignited) gas. At that time there was no way to get here except by boat, which was tiresome. In 1893 or 1894, there was talk of a railroad. I then commenced work with the waters, not caring much for the gas, as there was no way to utilize it, and in fact, there was not yet (a way to utilize it), but I think there will be soon.

I had learned the waters were of great value. I have had 21 distinct waters, some frome natural springs, while the deeper one is 32 feet. This is one of the gas springs or wells, the same one discovered in 1882, only deepened. This is bored in heavy blue or gray clay, the well itself being 12 feet, cemented sides and bottom, with 4-inch augur hole 20-feet deeper, capped with cylinder head through which the water and gas come into the well. The gas has been utilized for lighting, heating, and cooking. Known as well No. 2, the analysis enclosed shows amount of gas in each gallon of water. (The analysis referred to was printed in last Sunday's News.) Experts say we have salt, oil, and sulphur, but Captain A. F. Lucas will determine which shortly. There must be some prospect for minerals when Captain Lucas has both purchased and leased lands. Also Colonel Oppencoffer of the United States Surveyors' Corps bought a tract of land, paying $2,000. Three months ago, the same could have been bought for $350. Both are in Galveston now.

There are some forty-odd land owners. If you should ask me what we cannot grow here, the answer would be easy. Galvestonians will tell you I have taken in (carried to Galveston) the best flavored fruit raised on the coast - peaches, pears, and strawberries - which are now ripening. Captain C. T. Cade makes his syrup here and ships some back to his Louisana sugar farm, this being of finer flavor. But I raised toacco in 1899 that cigar judges say was of extra fine quality. Last season being so wet, we could not cure it to advantage; will try (again) this season. To get here now, one has to come by boat, or ride up the beach from Bolivar Point, 28 miles (to the west). (Ed.'s Note: Only five months earlier, the September 8, 1900, Galveston hurricane had completely destroyed the Galveston and Interstate Railroad between High Island and Port Bolivar, leaving a locomotive and its passenger cars completely covered with sand. It would be 1904 before the train was sufficiently uncovered and the track repaired so that the locomotive and cars could return to Beaumont.) My schooner Etta makes weekly trips to Galveston, sometimes semi-weekly.

Captain Lucas will begin work on the well here as soon as he can get the rigs, so his agreements read. You will find same on record, I suppose, by this time (in the Galveston court house). Mr. William Ludgate did almost all my (well) boring and can give all information about the different stratas and gases; he is now superintendent of pavements (streets) in Galveston. Geo. E. Smith. (compiled by W. T. Block)

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