Story of Corpus Christi
MRS. MARY X. SUTHERL.\XD
Frank B . Harrison
Corpus Christi Chapter
Daughters of the Confederacy
COPYRIGHT APPLIED FOR
Rein & Sons Company
Mary A. Sutherland
TO THE SOLDIERS OF THE CONFEDERACY, THEIR WIVES,
DAUGHTERS AND SONS WHO EVER STRIVE TO KEEP
ALIVE THE GALLANT, DEVOTED SPIRIT OF THE OLD,
AND COURAGEOUS, OPTIMISTIC SPIRIT OF THE
NEW SOUTH, THIS VOLUME IS AFFECTION-
ATELY DEDICATED BY THE AUTHOR
AND CORPUS CHRISTI CHAPTER,
DAUGHTERS OF THE
The Story of Corpus Christi, presented in this liook
form as the labor of Mrs. Mary A. Sutherland and with
biographical sketches by Mrs. Sam Rankin, Eli T. Merri-
man and others, does not undertake a general and compre-
hensi\e review of the many years' history of Corpus Cliristi
and section, nor does it pretend to detail the many activities
that have contributed into making Corpus Christi the beauti-
ful gem city of the Texas Coast.
Rather the efforts of the author have been devoted to
presenting in plain narrative form, a recountal of the days
when Corpus Christi was young, of the trials and tribulations
that fell to the lot of her residents in the war periods, and
finally to emerge as a fast growing and progressive city of
If an error has been made it has been of the head and
nut the heart. Honest effort has been made to present a
book that will reflect great credit on Corpus Christi and her
people and to be remembered with pride l)y Corpus Christi-
ans in the years to follow.
With the author the work has been a labor of love. For
years it has been with her, a cherished ambition to give to
the people of Corpus Christi a history of their city. Through
the untiring energy of Corpus Christi Chapter, Daughters of
the Confederacy, the volume has been published with the
hope that it will meet with the approval of those men and
women who know and lo\e the Corpus Christi, of yesterday
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I. p^ge.
The Story of Corpus Christi i
The discovery of Corpus Christi. First settlement on
the site of our present city. Village first occupied by Span-
ish Garrison. The legend of Casa Blanca. The first white
man to reach Corpus Christi.
Landing of General Taylor 6
When the United States declared war on Mexico. Gen-
eral Taylor and troops in camp at Corpus Christi. A fight
between soldiers and snakes. When Jefferson Davis, U. S.
Grant were stationed in Corpus Christi.
Mexicans Attack Americans 9
Americans attacked while attending Mexican haile.
Headquarters of General Taylor on Water Street. Taylor
and his army depart for Mexico. The old Military Cemetery.
Indian Depredations 14
One of the early depredations. When yellow fever in-
vaded Corpus Christi in 1854. An early day ball, given by
the enlisted men. Bookkeeping in the early days. Begin-
ning of the Civil War.
The Civil \\ar 19
Civil War days in Corpus Christi and vicinity. Pre-
sentation by ladies of first Confederate flag. Blockading
fleet of the Federals at the two Passes. When John Ireland
was Military Governor of Corpus Christi.
Th e Last Flag of Truce 23
How the Confederates sent out the last flag of truce.
Federals liombarded Corpus Christi August 7, 1802. The
landing of the enemy.
viii Table of Contents
CHAPTER VII. p^gp
A Trap for the Enemy 28
How the Rebels trapped the Federals. Attempts to
prevent Rebels from gathering salt. Two lucky soldier boys
find Mexican coins.
When the War Ended 32
Two negro regiments officered l)y white men, first to
occupy Corpus Christi. The Ku Kkix Klan. The first
bicycle and the first baseball games in Corpus Christi.
First Carpetbagger Governor 38
E. J. Davis left Corpus Christi to rule Texas as the first
Carpetbagger Governor. Corpus Christi again visited by
yellow fever, claiming scores of victims. Death of the be-
loved War-Time Priest, Father Canard.
Some Early Day Merchants 42
The early day wagon trade and pioneer merchants.
Building of the Texas-Mexican Railroad. Captain Richard
King an early day ranchero and progressive. Trouble with
Mexican freebooters. Mexicans make raid at Nuecestown.
The Author Reaches Corpus Chrlsti 48
How Corpus Christi appeared in 1876. Jangle of Mexi-
can words first impressed visitors. The cattle and sheep
The Man W'ith the Hoe 52
Early truck growing in Nueces County. Building of the
San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad. Early day baseball
teams and some historic games. The arrival of Colonel
Ropes and the Ropes boom. Building of the St. Louis.
Brownsville & Mexico Railroad. Building of the ladies'
pavilion. Epworth League Encampment.
When Fitzsimmons Trained in Corpus Christi. .... 59
Tn the summer of 1895 Fitzsimmons trained in Corpus
Christi. The first naval show on Nueces Bay. The first
electric lights and the first automobile.
Table of Contents
The Visit of Presidkxt Taft 62
President William H. Taft visited Corpus Christi in
1909. Entertained at the home of Mrs. Henrietta M. King.
The Aumimstratiox of Dan Ri:id 65
The administration of Mayor Dan Reid, his accom-
I)lishments and his untimely death. Early day social aflfairs.
The annua! halls of the Corpus Christi Volunteer Fire
So-ME Early Entertainments 69
The arrival of the lightning rod agent and medicine
shows. The first street carnival. The first city hack and
how it was used at an election. Inc<^rporation of Corpus
Christi. The Mavors of Corpus Ciirisli since incorporation
in 1852. " .
Corpus Christi Schools 78'
When Colonel Kinney hrought a circus to Corpus
Christi from New Orleans. Carnival given by Master
Butchers. Early day puldic and private schools.
Th e Pastores 82
The Mexican Pastores held at the Vuletide season. Tlie
Mexican in South Texas. Mexican amusements. Early
Early Xewspaper Articles 88
The first public school enrolled one hundred and forty-
six pupils. The first fire engine. The first bonus raised by
citizens was to dig channel. Items from early issues of
Corpus Christi newspapers.
The Tmrst Churches ■ 92
Methodist Sunday School organized in 1858. Building
of Protestant Church buildings and organization of congre-
gations. The murder of George Hatch.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER XXT. Page.
SoM E Early Settlers • 95
Short biographical sketches of James Hunter, Mark
Downey, Colonel Spann, George French, M. Lichtenstein,
R. G. Blossman, Capt. James Thompson, August Ricklefsen,
John Uehlinger, James McKenzie, Thomas Beynon, Captain
Oliver, W. B. Wrather and others. The civic works of Eli
Other Pioneer Residents 102
Short biographical sketches of pioneer Corpus Chris-
The Life of Colonel Kinney 104
Colonel Kinney killed in Matamoras in 1865 while a
skirmish was in progress between two Mexican factions.
The Kinney-Jones land title cases. Some hard cases of
Haverty Versus McClane 106
Sherifif John McClane goes to Chicago and "kidnaps"
D. Haverty, sutler in a negro regiment. Haverty later
causes arrest in Chicago of McClane. How the case
Civil War Battles at Corpus Christi 1 1 1
Two engagements between the North and South on
Corpus Beach during the Civil War. Confederate Camp
organized in 1910.
Stories of Early Days 116
First white child born in Corpus Christi was Andrew
Baldeschwiller. The old crossing at the reef.
Our Mexican Citizens 120
Stories that illustrate the typical Mexican resident of
Story of Raids By Mexican Bandits 123
Corpus Christi Postmasters 129
Beginning and Ending of Civil War 130
Some Early Settlers 132
The Daughters of the Confederacy 140
The Corpus Christi of Today i45
The Story of Corpus Christi
By MRS* MARY A. SUTHERLAND
Corpus Christi, quietly, queenly and beautiful, she lies
on the warm white sands, like a mermaid taking a rest after
her bath in the sparkling waters at her feet.
The first knowledge we have of our beautiful Bay of
Corpus Christi, is derived from ancient French Chronicles.
In 1687 the ill-fated La Salle, in his search for the mouth of
the Mississippi, visited and claimed this coast for the Crown
of France, and in his search undoubtedly visited our shore,
but went no further inland.
The Bay was discovered on a Catholic festival day.
Corpus Christi Day, and hence the name Corpus Christi.
Our first information of a settlement on the site of our
present city, is of a little Mexican settlement which, about the
beginning of the last century, was surprised by a band of
Indians and the inhabitants killed or carried into captivity,
and a small boy, after years of roaming with his captors,
escaped and returned, living on and being a constant em-
ployee of the Santa Gertrudis Ranch until the time of his
death, when he was a very old man.
The original Mexican village above mentioned was
located about where the Kenedy Pasture Company Building
now stands. There can be no douI)t but that this was a
favorite fishing ground for the wild tribes of Indians roving
this section of the country, which teemed with food ; fish to
be had for the taking, and great oyster beds uncovered at low
tide. The adjoining prairies were covered with deer and
buffalo. The Indians held possession here for years after
the destruction of this village, using the same as a hunting
and fishing ground.
The village mentioned was imdoubtedly established here
during the occupancy of this place by a Spanish garrison, and
The Story of Corpus Christi
left to its fate upon the withdrawal of the troops. The troops
at this point were commanded by Captain Enrique Villareal,
who afterwards received a grant of land from the Spanish
Government, extending from what is known as the "Oso,"
on the south, to Nueces Bay, a distance of about fourteen
miles, on the north, and from Corpus Christi Bay on the
east, to Barranca Blanca, about 28 miles, on the west, which
grant was by his heirs sold to Captain H. L. Kinney.
While Captain Villareal was stationed here, he sent a
report to his King, reporting the discovery of a rich silver
mine in this section of the country, two days' ride from
Corpus Christi, stating that he, Villareal, had opened this
mine, and was working it with a detachment of soldiers to
guard it, and that the Indians had surprised and killed the
entire party, and that he needed a stronger force of men to
There the report ended, and to this day no one knows
the locality of this mine. Two days' journey at that time
meant the distance that could be traveled by an ox team be-
tween dawn and sunset. About this distance from Corpus
Christi stands the old deserted ruins of Casa Blanca (White
House). Of this old ruin no one living knows one word of
its story. White and silent it stands on the hillside, with
great trees growing up through its chimneys, and vines
climbing over its doorsills, the very picture of desolation,
guarding its secrets well.
As the Spaniards hid all their mines, on the evacuation
of the country after the War of Independence of Mexico in
1810, did they hide this mine so closely that it remains a
secret to this day to the white man who pastures his flocks
upon the site. Many men have sought in vain for this
Eldorado. That there is documentary evidence of this lost
city is borne out by a circumstance occurring years after the
Spaniard, with his plumed hat and silver spurs, and the fierce
Indian, with bloody tomahawk, had blazed his last trail and
gone into the Great Beyond.
In 1868 a young ranchman bought land, built a home,
and brought his young bride to live on this lonely ranch near
the Silent City. They noticed and spoke of a peculiar mound
of stones standing near their home, remarking that it seemed
The Story of Corpus Christ: 3
to be built by hands, and not a natural heap of boulders, but
were too busy to investigate. During the following winter,
one wild night when a Texas Norther, of the wet variety,
was whooping over the plains, and the inmates of the ranch
home were snug behind closed doors, the dogs began to bark-
wildly, keeping it up for several hours. Their master sup-
posed they were defending the sheepfold against some wild
animal, knew they were to be trusted, and did not go out.
What was his surprise next morning to see that the mound
had been removed during the night and a gaping hole opened
at its base. Who came, from where, for what, no one knows.
But so many years had elapsed since the desertion of the
place that we can only suppose that the discovery of some old
record, perhaps in Mexico, or even in Spain, might have
incited the hunt. The ranchero, though full of curiosity, was
glad that his confidence in his dogs had kept him in, being
sure that his visitors would not have scrupled to add another
tragedy to the list, if interrupted in their hunt for buried
treasure the stones had been placed to mark. What? Vale
Casa Blanca and your Mystery. The Conquistadore has
gone, his camp deserted, and the places that knew him are
glad to know him no more.
Next we read of an efifort to colonize our sister County
of San Patricio, and a colony was placed at the town of that
name. One was also formed for Mission Refugio, another
at Copano. At each place there was a Spanish Mission and
small garrison of Mexican troops.
Going back, in 1824, we have the very first news of a
white man in Corpus Christi, the sole survivor of a vessel
wrecked on Padre Island, pulled across the bay in a yawl,
and who found a home with a few Mexicans then here. He
afterwards removed to Refugio, where he lived to a great
age. From him we learned much lore of early days, and of
some things which had puzzled us. Particularly as to how
the earliest inhabitant earned his living.
One word enlightened us — Smuggling. Our bay was an
ideal spot for this industry, and though the life was hard
and wild, good money was made at it. In "Lynn's Fifty
Years in Texas," we read that the author came to Corpus
Christi in 1829 with a cargo of goods purchased in New
The Story of Corpus Christi
Orleans for the Mexican trade ; that a man named Wright
was to meet him here with a pack train to carry the goods to
Wright failed to appear, and Lynn went to Matamoros
for a train, leaving his boat at Flour Bluff. On the journey
he stopped at various Mexican ranches on the trail, and was
well treated by rancheros, who reminded him of the Patri-
archs of Bible days, living by their flocks and herds, all
being pious, God-fearing Catholic people, holding morning
and evening prayer, but not another word does he tell us
of our little city.
Again we learn that prior to 1846, a Mr. Moore, with
his wife and daughter lived here. Their house, a neat adobe,
stood on the site of the Corpus Christi National Bank, and
was torn away when the Bank was built, late in the years of
A Mr. Belden, who was married to a Spanish lady, also
lived here, and he and the Moores were the only Americans
here at that date. The old Belden house stands yet on
Mesquite Street near the Arroyo. It is a certainty that the
bold Buccaneers often visited our bay for fuel and water,
as they kept guard on the nearby high seas for the rich
galleons of Spain, loaded with the loot from the Aztec
For more than two centuries these freebooters sailed
and robbed the robber, and not until 1820 did the last one
sail away from these waters. Jean Lafitte in that year, act-
ing upon a hint from our Government, set fire to his head-
quarters on Galveston Island, called in his scouts, and has
the doubtful honor of being the last pirate ever on this coast.
From this time we have no record of events for the years
between 1820 and 1846. That a trade was built up with the
interior, and Mexico, is borne out by the fact, as the few
Americans here in 1846 were engaged in some business
netting a living. Occasional boats from New Orleans and
Mobile visited the settlement. As to whether or not they
paid duty on their cargoes, is not our affair.
Our bay, with its many tributaries, was an ideal spot
for the contraband. The trade was with half civilized
people, and if the earliest inhabitants risked life and prop-
The Story of Corpus Christi 5
crty in the venture, they were a brave, hardy race. The risk
was theirs, and they were paving the way to give this near
I'^arthly Paradise to the people who could make a white
man's country of it.
From 1840 to 1846 there were various Colonies brought
to nearby sites. The Irish Colony of San Patricio, the Mis-
sion Refugio, and what was then known as Sabardie, a
mission near Goliad. These earliest emigrants suffered ter-
rible privations. In 1834 two schooners were wrecked at
the bar, on St. Joseph's Island. Cholera appeared among
them, and it is estimated that four out of every six found
a resting place 'neath the waters of the Gulf, as the sur-
vivors were not able to give them Christian burial, and they
were cast over without ceremony. The survivors were fin-
ally carried to Copano on rafts, by ^Mexican soldiers, where
they made rude shelters of poles and bedding. Eventually
they traveled on to other villages where a few of their coun-
try people had preceded them, to get a foothold, only to be
harried and their last belongings burned, and they driven
from the State by the Revolution of 1836. Many of them
came back, some of the best names, of the best citizens in
the surrounding country, were borne by the families at that
time. An incident of the landing of the unfortunates at
Copano was told by an eye witness.
A party of Indians went out to help them land, as there
was no dock and they had to wade ashore. The Indians
were friendly, but as they approached the barge, holding
out their arms to clasp the children, the poor mothers clasped
them tight and went over the opposite side. Poor mothers
and poor babies ! We are forcibly reminded of the saying.
"Between the Devil and the deep blue sea." The women
of that time realized its meaning. One of the children oft"
that boat, who remembered that trip, lived many years in
Corpus Christi, dying only a few days ago.
On June 2^, 1845, Texas became a State of the Union.
The Story of Corpus Christi
Landing of General Taylor.
On May ii, 1846, the United States declared war
against Mexico. During the autumn months of 1845, our
eastern horizon went mad. Clouds of white canvas appeared,
long lines of barges, towed by fussy little tugs, traveled
across the water. General Taylor's army of occupation had
arrived and camped upon the disputed territory.
Mexico claimed the Nueces River as the dividing line,
while Texas claimed south to the Rio Grande. Texas had
become a State of the Union, June 23, 1845, ^^^ Uncle Sam
was backing her rights. Slowly the fleet crawled into this
unknown bay, and putting in close to shore they anchored,
and men and horses sprang into the water and waded ashore.
Where the Epworth League was located, was the landing
place, and soon long rows of white tents dotted the plain,
and the American officer, in all his bravery of gold epaulets
and nodding plume, exercised his blooded steed on the snowy
shell beach. Long lines of infantry followed. Cannon was
tmloaded, parked camps surveyed, and guards placed.
General Taylor was at home in Texas, or Mexico as
the case might seem ! The troops were put to work to clear
the ground, no small work at that time as the grass was as
tall as a man's head, and like all the Texas coast, the ground
literally swarmed with serpents, principally the rattler,
though all the native varieties were present ; the soldiers even
claiming that the sea serpent landed nightly and gave battle
to the land forces.
One still night the rattle of the numerous snakes created
a panic in the camp of the Seventh U. S. Infantry, and they
fled, to a man. Following the beach they came south to the
Bayou, where they stopped with the artiller}^ men until day-
light, when they returned and killed one hundred and four-
teen snakes in and around camp.
The soldiers, in addition to making camp, were put to
work to build long embankments of saiid as a windbreak and
The Story of Corpus Christi
protection from the Northers. They may Ije plainly traced
today, long mounds of earth lying east and west. Some
years since, the writer was able to trace several redoubts,
one very plainly at the foot of Hughes Street, near the bay.
About the center of block fourteen, west side of Chaparral
Street, was an enclosed space of about fifty feet square, with
only one entrance. This, an ex-soldier told me, was undoubt-
edly the magazine, but in the march of progress those old
landmarks have gone, and only the long rows of windbreaks
remain, mute witnesses of the days when the brave men
faced an unknown foe, and won for the white race one of
the fairest spots in all Texas.
In that great army of occupation came many in the
heyday of youth, whose names later were to become known
throughout the world.
Here on our beach landed the Mississippi Yagers, so
called because armed with the then new Yager rifle. This
regiment was commanded by Col. Jefiferson Davis, soon to
win laurels in Mexico, and later to be the only President of
the Southern Confederacy, a soldier, a student, a scientist, a
gentleman. A bright man in each role, but reaching the
grandeur of his life and manhood when old and poor, a
manacled prisoner in Fortress Monroe, he defended, at immi-
nent risk of his life, the people and the cause which he had
served so faithfully, and during the remainder of his life,
was an honor to the land which gave him birth.
U. S. Cjrant was a young officer in this command, and
noted as a fearless horseman. The story- goes that he pur-
chased an untamed horse from a native. No one would go
near the vicious brute, and the Captain took him in hand.
With the help of his entire troop he mounted and away over
the brush and briar, through thorn and chaparral, went this
blue streak, occasionally approaching camp only to have the
maddened animal bolt anew, much to tiie edification of his
brother oft'icers and the men, but a few hours later he rode
into camp with a thoroughly subdued mount. Another story
of the Captain was that he went one evening to call upon the
only American lady of the village. Some of his brother offi-
cers, thinking he was monopolizing too much of her time,
f^nt some one to trim up his horse, which was tied at the
The Story of Corpus Christi
gate (now the Corpus Christi National Bank). When the
officer came out he found an apparent mule standing at the
rack. He hunted the miscreant in vain, consigning the poor,
disfigured and disgraced steed to the pack or wagon train.
He purchased and mastered the mustang.
With this brave galaxy came the afterward noted Rebel,
General Longstreet, and the equally to be distinguished,
General Sherman, who won fame by marching through
Georgia, and on that same march to the sea, the undying
hate of the Georgian, which was plainly demonstrated a few
years since, when his son, Father Sherman, started to follow
the route his father had burned his way through some forty
years before. No less a personage than our own Colonel
Theodore Roosevelt called off the escort, and not wishing to
see a new Civil War organized, the trip was abandoned.
The Story of Corpus Christi
Mexicans Attack Americans.
One night some of the enhsted men attended a Mexican
baile or dance on the hill. The Mexicans attacked the Amer-
icans, killing one man and chasing the others into camp.
Although war had not been declared against Mexico at this
date, there was no love between the races.
Longstreet, Sherman and others not mentioned, headed
a party and made an informal call upon the revelers, killing
four men, burning every jacal (called hackel) on the bluff,
and running every Mexican ofif the hill into the brush.
Some of the wives of the officers and men came out. as
did the sutler and other camp followers, and Corpus Christi
soon had a little American Colony.
General Taylor's headquarters were on W^ater Street,
in block four, in a concrete or adobe house, lately torn down
to make room for a warehouse built by John Jordt, pioneer
furniture dealer. The only American young lady in the
colony was wooed and won by a gallant Captain of the volun-
teers. Captain Berry, who returned at the close of the w^ar
and married her. She died after a short and happy married
life, mourned by all who knew her. She left an infant son,
now one of the sterling citizens of a sister city.
But the day and the order to advance came. There was
wild riding to and from the various camps. Groups of
orderlies and staff officers came and went again to head-
quarters, and if the mermaids were looking at that scene of
brilliant array, which was gathered that April morning on
the borders of their domain, they saw the American soldier
at his best.
And if a mermaid is gifted with second sight, they must
have shed tears, lots of tears, knowing that some of the
hearts beating wnth enthusiastic patriotism were never to
reach that boundar}^ river in dispute, that others were to
sleep their last sleep 'neath an alien sky, while others were
10 The Story of Corpus Christi
to suffer the tortures of a Mexican dungeon, and come back
broken in health and return home to die.
The order was given and the advance was on. Long
Hues of cavalry led the way over the plain. The artillery
bumped its slow pace over unmarked roads, followed by the
infantry, and they in turn by miles of wagon train, great
pack trains, each, wagon drawn by six large mules, for the
army of occupation must carry its subsistence with it.
The noisy little tugs and transports, with a part of the
troops, were sent to Point Isabel, about one hundred miles
south of Corpus Christi, at the mouth of the Rio Grande.
The landing of these troops, and the advance of General
Taylor's land forces deeply stirred Mexico. Taylor reached
the river and founded Fort Brown (now Brownsville).
In moving down the river to form a junction with his
forces at Point Isabel, he was met by a Mexican force, and
the first battle of the war, Palo Alto (high tree), was fought
on May 8, 1846. The next day the battle of Resaca de la
Palma was won by American arms. These battles were
fought on Texas soil, near Brownsville, on the 8th and 9th
of May, 1846, though the war with Mexico was not de-
clared until May 11 of that year. The Mexicans, smarting
over the loss of Texas, were eager for the fray, and pre-
cipitated the war by which they were to lose more territory,
but to this day they believe that Texas fought that war, and
among the ignorant class, and there is legion of him, every
American or citizen of the United States, is a Texan. They
hate him only as an Indian can hate.
Taylor with his victorious army crossed the Rio Grande,
and we travel back over his well marked trail with our
story. But on the route back, a few miles north of Browns-
ville, we come upon a veritable horror. At the Arroyo
Colorado, a party of Americans (civilian traders), following
in the wake of the army, camp for the night. The next morn-
ing the sun beat upon a rifled camp, and sixteen stark bodies,
but one of the bodies moves, crawls slowly to the shade of
the brush, where later he is found, covered with knife
wounds, by a Mexican farmer. He was but a young Ameri-
cano, and he was carried to the Mexican women of the fam-
ily. They hid him and nursed him back to health. Captain
The Story of Corpus Christi U
Rogers lived many years in Corpus Christi, and his children
and grandchildren are today of our best citizens.
Back to our starting point ! How hard to realize that
many years have flown. Today perhaps there are some-
where, a few old cannon in some home, a sword or epaulet,
cherished as souvenirs of that splendid army. The ships, the
wagons, the horses and the men are dust. A few long
mounds of shell, a cemetery which was surveyed by Taylor's
engineers, a few old traditions, is all that is left of that army.
That some of them died here we know, hence the ne-
cessity of a cemetery. They lie in long forgotten gra\es. A
few years since a letter was received by the Woman's Ceme-
tery Association, asking if the grave of one Colonel Hodge-
kiss could be traced. It could not, and only from that letter
do we know that Colonel Hodgekiss served with Taylor, and
died in camp here, and was buried on the hillside.
In later years, officers and men of other times and other
wars were laid beside him, and for the last few years the
ladies of the Cemetery Association cared for the Cod's Acre
in this old Military Cemetery, now Bay View.
In a beautiful spot, overlooking two bays, lies the dust
of heroes, men who ser\-ed in the Texas Army, the Mexican
War, Indian Wars, Ci\ il War (both sides), and one poor
fellow who died in camp here during the Spanish-.\merican
'Neath a lonely mound, marked by a simple marble slab,
lies all that is mortal of Captain Van Buren, of the Mounted
Rifles, who was mortally wounded in an engagement with
the Indians in 1854, the stone erected, according to the epi-
taph, by his only sister. On the face of the stone is the
mark showing where it was struck by two grape shot during
the bombardment of the city by the Union fleet during the
Civil A\'ar. Beside it lies another stone, shattered by shots
hred at the same time.
.\ busy city has grown up on all sides of the old ceme-
tery, and at the foot of the hill stand the depots of the San
Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad, and the San .\ntonio,
Uvalde and Gulf Railroad ; and ever busy life surges around
the spot to which the early settler always carried his gun.
ever on the lookout for the skulking savage.
12 The Story of Corpus Christi
But few of the soldiers' graves are marked, but we
know that they lie there. Owing to the efforts of Post Com-
mander E. J. Kilmer of the Grand Army of the Republic,
the graves of the Union soldiers have been marked by a
marble stone. A large stone bearing the simple words, "To
the Memory of Confederate dead, who lie in this and ad-
jacent cemeteries," was erected a few years since by a local
historical association, whose names will appear later.
Sometime in the Forties, one Colonel Kinney purchased
the Villareal tract of land, bordering on the bay shore, upon
which the city now stands, and it became known as Kinney's
The Colonel was a progressive man, and willing to di-
vide the good land with others, he started a real estate boom
that would be up-to-date even in this fast age. We read of
his agents in far away Ireland, England, Scotland, and even
the Northern Isle of Man was on the list. Supposedly also
in Germany, as we got German Colonists of a superior class.
In truth, all of the earliest arrivals were of a staunch, pros-
We read in an unpublished history, which was written
by a highly gifted lady, whose father emigrated at an early
date, that each head of a family was required to bring farm-
ing tools, and provisions for a year, also clothing and general
supplies. All of them brought some money, but alas, many
of the tools were never to kiss the virgin soil. And provisions
that would keep sweet in the climate from which they came,
would soon be unfit for use in our warm zone. This lady's
father was of the earliest colonists, who for some strange
reason, in this and other parts of the State, passed the good
lands and tried to found cities in impossible nooks. For
proof, San Felipe, Washington, Velasco, Anahuac, San Pa-
tricio are recalled. I can call to mind but one of the early
places which held its own, San Antonio, and she owes her
prosperity to the God-given water, pure and plenty. This
with the seemingly inborn instinct of her people to tear down
anything standing in the way of their progress. A sister city
is kin to San Antonio, only while she pays tribute to Alamo
San Antonio, like our city, has won out, and we will
The Story of Corpus Christi 13
visit and enjoy her streams and parks. If we have not the
same, we have water, salt water with fish in it, and oysters
and crabs and shrimp, sea food for the taking.
This was a golden age for the Bay Sailors who unloaded
the heavy draught steamers at Aransas Pass, lightering the
goods across the bay to the city. Years afterward an old
Bay Captain told me that his banner trip netted him an even
five hundred dollars, this on a cargo of flour. Never less
than one hundred dollars a trip was cleared. When we
say Aransas Pass, we mean Aransas Pass, the pass from the
Gulf, between Mustang and St. Joseph's Islands, which has
borne the name since it was charted. Situated on the North
Bay Shore, between here and Rockport, a town sprang up,
known as Aransas Harbor. In the boom in the eighties,
later it appeared as Aransas Pass. We are surprised that
no attention was paid to the change in name, as it is, to say
the least of it, misleading. The Washington telegrams occa-
sionally give the news of appropriations for Aransas Pass,
and of work progressing at that point.
Naturally, to a person not on the ground, it would seem
that the Government was doing a lot of work there, while in
reality there has never been an appropriation of any kind
for this little place. The citizens of the simon pure pass
accommodatingly named their postoffice Tarpon (later
changed to Port Aransas), but to the outside world, to the
Government Engineers, and to all of this country, Aransas
Pass is still at the same old spot as in the days of Lafitte,
and of the early settlers, where in the near future a great
seaport will be built ; Government Dredges have dug a chan-
nel from thence up to the wharves at Corpus Christi.
14 The Story of Corpus Christi
During the years between the Mexican and Civil Wars
our people led an easy care-free life, an occasional Indian
scare, or the arrival of a bad man who shot up the town,
were about all the excitements of the times. The Indians
raided near, and occasionally shot an unwary hunter or trav-
eler. One of the earliest depredations mentioned was the
killing of a white man near the site of the Court House. He
had gone out to bring the cows in for the evening milking.
This was out of town at this time. Another man journeyed
out and camped at the reef north of town, meaning to cross
in the early morning while the water was calm. Later his
poor, mutilated body was found by stock hunters, wagon
burned and horses gone.
But the saddest story of all was that of young Dolan.
Like all boys he wanted a gun. His mother sent to New
Orleans by a friend and got the gun for his sixteenth birth-
day. A proud and overjoyed youth he was the day it ar-
rived. Taking a Mexican boy with him, he crossed the reef
to try it out. No doubt their progress across the two miles
of open water was watched by hidden savages on the other
side. Soon after arriving on firm ground, they were con-
fronted by the warriors and a fight for life was on. The
boy dropped the gun, and fatal error left it, as they kept at
a distance as long as he held it. Then they seized it and the
poor boy was slain with his own gun.
The Mexican boy, true to his training and the Indian
blood in his veins, wormed his way through the chaparral
and escaped. Late that night he returned, bringing to the
v.-aiting parents the heart-rending news that their only boy
lay dead under the stars. An old chronicle says that this was
the saddest funeral ever held in Corpus Christi, a party of
armed men having gone over in the morning and brought
the body home to the mother, who never forgave herself for
buying the gun which, was the cause of the tragedy. This
The Story of Corpus Christi 15
was the last Indian murder in the immediate vicinity of
Corpus Christi. It occurred sometime in the fifties.
If memory serves aright, it was at the house of this
Mrs. Dolan that Captain Van Buren, before mentioned, died
on the ninth day after being wounded. As the story goes,
he got up that morning and asked Mrs. Dolan to make him
some soup, saying he felt hungry. She went to do his bid-
ding. She had almost hnished preparing the meal when his
attendant, an enlisted man. called her to come ([uick. They
barely got him to his bed when he breathed his last.
Poor boy, barely a fortnight before, he with his regi-
ment, Maryland Mounted Rifles, went on a scout after a
band of Indians, reported nearby. They found them near
the mouth of the N-ueces River, and had a fierce fight. Of
this I can get no report of casualties, and only Van Buren's
lonely tomb remains to tell the story of days which tried
men's souls, and of the death of the young and gallant officer.
This year of 1854 was destined to be a sad one for
brave little Corpus Christi. A foe more deadly than painted
savages was on its way, a foe which in that day and time
we could not fight, sailing across our bay in open daylight,
met with open arms it came, and deadly was its visitation.
In the summer of that year a Mexican fruit vessel,
peddling her cargo from port to port, touched at our wharf,
and did a brisk business. What a boon, rich, ripe fruit to a
people who grew nothing at home, great golden oranges,
bunches of bananas turning from green to gold, which might
be kept for days, lemons, limes, colossal pineapples, mangoes,
the very air was laden with the rich odor of fruit.
The merchants came and bought for their stores, the
householders bought for their families, nearby rancheros
hearing of the unusual treat, came in to get a share, the
Mexican citizens came from the hill to hear the news and
palabro with their countrymen. First and last, almost every
soul in the place visited the vessel in its week's stay, and
everyone who visited the vessel had been exposed to that
deadliest of Southern diseases, the vomito of Mexico, yel-
low fever of the American.
Within two weeks the town was a fever ward, and the
Grim Reaper gathered toll in almost every home. Mothers
16 The Story of Corpus Christi
were left with a family of small children, thousands of miles
from native land or kinsmen. Fathers had to leave the little
ones neglected while they left them to toil for food, while
in some cases both parents were taken. Scarce a family
escaped, but the cold weather came, or the disease died out
for the want of new victims. The Christmas of 1854 was a
sad holiday. Corpus Christi, the stricken, mourned its dead.
Shortly after this a detachment of soldiers were sta-
tioned here. Of this command I know very little, except
they were regulars commanded by Major Chapman; his old
headquarters, a very pretentious house for that time, still
stands and is in possession of his descendants, who rank as
one of the oldest families. Some of his men, at expiration of
enlistment, remained here. One of them, an old Sergeant,
related to me stories of the good old times of his youth, all
forgotten except one, of a grand ball given by the enlisted
men for the benefit of the widow of a comrade recently dead.
Meetings were held, committees appointed, tickets pro-
cured and sold at two dollars each, all the officers and many
The next question was as to invitations. A flutter went
down soapsuds row, and there was an overhauling of finery
in the officers' kitchens, and the boys were told off as to
who they were to escort to the dance. Working for one of
the officers was a girl named Lucindy. Now Lucindy was
no beauty, nor was she young. Although ladies were scarce,
no one would agree to go with her. Up spoke my friend,
the Sergeant, from the kindness of his Irish heart, "Til take
Tushindy, bedad, and the laddie that don't dance with her
can meet me out byant the corral after roll call tomorry
morning." Needless to tell that for once poor Lucindy was
the belle of the ball, and had partners to spare. A goodly
sum was raised for the widow, the officers attended, and the
ball was a success.
About this time there was a little episode typical of the
time and place. A couple of Mormon missionaries arrived
and began to hold meetings in a warehouse on the waterside,
for men only. Amusement was scarce and the men attended
regularly. The meetings had been on nightly for some time,
and the Saints felt that they were gaining ground rapidly.
The Story of Corpus Christi 17
This night the speaker was in the midst of an impassioned
appeal for recruits. Suddenly he stopped as if stricken
dumb. His jaw dropped and he stood as if petrified, but
only for a moment. Then things began to liven up. Into
the room marched the good wives of the congregation.
The leading lady carried a very dead cat by the tail, this
she brought down across the open mouth of the speaker,
while her cohorts hurled eggs and other missiles at the pair.
Again and again the cat descended, wielded by a strong
arm. The Saints sought the open air in undignified haste,
not waiting for their hats, made a wild dash for the hill,
over its brow they went, crashing through brush, racing like
unto wild cattle. They were known to Corpus Christi no
more. The ladies then proceeded to dismiss the meeting, in
which ceremony they used the remainder of the ammunition.
The narrator, who was one of the congregation, told the
writer that he did not return to the bosom of his family for
several days, not until a general amnesty was declared, and
though his hair was as the driven snow, his eye lit up with
the fire of youth at the memory of the Mormons' last
People of that day had a higher business morality than
we of the present day, that is, they paid their debts more
promptly, the merchants did a general credit business, and
as far as recalled no one went "broke." Judge Fitzsimmons,
then a young man. afterward an eiTicient County Officer,
for years holding the office of County Judge, told the follow-
ing story :
"A nearby ranchero traded at the store of W. X.
Staples, where I was at the time bookkeeper. The old fellow
came in about twice yearly, and settled up. One day, as
usual, he came in for his account. I called the amount, he
hesitated awhile before taking the bill. 'No, sor. that's not
right,' he said, laying it back on the desk, and reaching down
into his pocket he handed out a stick covered with notches.
*No, sor, you have charged me twinty cints too much; I'll
not pay it.' Running his finger down the stick he counted.
'This is ten dollars ; this is five ; one-seventy, two forty-five,
terbacce twinty-five. ax for John, seventy-five ; one tin wash-
pot for the old woman, two-thirty ; one dollar, what the divil ?
18 The Story of Corpus Christi
— Oh, yes, two gallons whiskey for Auld Jerry's wake,' and
so on to the end of the stick. Meanwhile the clerks hunted
and added wildly, the overcharge of twenty cents was actu-
ally found, and the old man, who did not have a speaking
acquaintance with the alphabet, settled up and cut a new
And now I come to the saddest story of all, the begin-
ning of the Civil War. There was no telegraph in those days,
and our mail by boat, via Indianola, was often overdue, but
in due time the news of bombardment of Sumter came, and in
a day the peace of not only the nation, but of our little town
was gone. A great part of our population being of foreign
birth, naturally supported the Government, which gave them
liberty and protection, while others, born under a Southern
sky, ardently espoused the cause of their people, and the sun
which had shone so merrily as it peeped over the waves that
morning, went sadly to bed, leaving in darkness a sadly
The Story of Corpus Christi 19
Civil War— 1861.
The bugle sounded and the cavalry sprang into life.
Drums beat the long roll and the infantry hep, hep, to the
cortimand of its olTicers. Captain Wm. Maltby, with his
Lieutenants McDonough and Russell, and a force of men,
sailed over and fortified Aransas Pass. The ladies of the
city got together and fashioned a Confederate flag. This
flag was presented from the old Court House steps, to the
Company of Captain Neal. The flag was presented by Miss
Mary Woessner, who stood on the steps surrounded by her
schoolgirl friends, all dressed in white, and the hardy war-
riors stood ranked below, for only warriors dwelt on the
frontier of this day. The banner was presented in a neat
speech, which voiced the sentiment of her hearers. A new
nation had been born ; here was her emblem. \\\ B. Wrather
received the flag on behalf of the Company, and promised
to carry it to victory or death. The wildest enthusiasm pre-
vailed, and again the town was a military camp.
The blockading fleet arrived at the two Passes, Corpus
and Aransas, and promptly bottled Corpus Christi. Federals
landed and established camp on the southern end of Mustang
Island, at Corpus Pass, over which bar they brought light
draught vessels, both armies at times visiting the Islands.
We quote from Confederate Military History, Texas
Volume: "On May 3, 1863. the enemy attempted to land on
St. Joseph's Island, were repelled by small force commanded
by Captains E. E. Hobby and B. F. Neal. Colonel A. !M.
Hobby, Commander at Corpus Christi, reports that the men
were exposed to heavy rain and without food. They num-
bered sixty-four, armed with forty guns. The enemy was
many, the three boats'coming in single file. The first launch
was captured, with six new Sharp rifles and cartridge boxes
and one ammunition chest. The other boats fleeing back to
the fleet; the captured boat was dragged across the Island
to Aransas Bay. Of more importance was the recapture of
20 The Story of Corpus Christi
ten bales of cotton, which had been confiscated at some point
on the coast, by the enemy and placed there pending ship-
ment North, for cotton sent to Mexican border meant shoes,
clothes, food, medicines, ammunition. At that date cotton
and gold were synonymous terms, with cotton slightly in the
lead. To the Union Camp on Mustang went the citizens who
refused to accept the Confederacy, where they were given
shelter, and later transportation to New Orleans."
I am wrong in saying that all of our foreign born citi-
zens stood by the old flag, there were notable exceptions. Of
names I can call to mind are the good and old names of Von
Blucher, of same family as he of Waterloo ; Colonel Loven-
skiold, a highly educated gentleman at one time a teacher
here ; John Uehlinger, for many years after the war a lead-
ing merchant ; August Ricklef sen, who died many years
since ; Andrew Dove, a native of Bonny Scotland, and un-
doubtedly others whom the writer did not know. The names
mentioned are all borne today in Corpus Christi by good
people, representative people, hence knowledge of them.
To Corpus Pass, to run the bar for the United States
Government, as Pilot, came one Captain Grant, and with him
his family. After the war he remained on the Island and
became a cattle raiser. His house became a landmark to all
Bay folks, hunting parties and sight-seers, for its unbounded
hospitality. The Captain and his good wife have gone to
their reward, the children have founded homes nearer the
haunts of men, and the old home, like the shallow Pass, is
The cry of the sea bird and the moan of the wave is the
only sound to be heard today on the spot where half a
century ago armed men and ships kept watch on a hostile
coast. South of Mustang Island lies Isla del Padre, rich in
legends of pirates and buried treasure, and in years agone,
after a storm at sea, coins might be (and were) picked up
on the Gulf shore, Spanish coins worn smooth by the waters.
They probably came from some long forgotten wreck, as it
was gradually torn apart by the raging waters, mute messen-
gers from the past, of the days when Spain held sovereignty
of the Southern seas. This is the only treasure ever reported.
This Father of Islands reaches southward to the Mexi-
The Story of Corpus Christi 21
can border, and to it came, in those days, traders willing to
do business with either side, traders of various wares, but
principally cattle dealers, not particular as to whose cattle,
gathering herds on the mainland by the light of the moon,
crossing them by fords across Laguna Madre, and selling
them to the enemy for use of camp and fleet. The owners
of the cattle objected to this trafific. An expedition was
organized to capture the Mexican bandits engaged in it.
They reached the vicinity of the camp and were carefully
advancing when the freebooters, who had been warned by
pickets, fired upon them from ambush, from the sandhills.
Two men were killed by the first volley and the surprise
threw the party into a panic. They gathered up their dead
and began the march home. We never heard the name of
one of the men killed. The other was Lawrence Dunn, and
to his widow and little children came the terrible news. Mr.
Dunn and wife, a few years earlier, had left all the comforts
of civilization, and sought fortune in the Western wilds, and
this was the parting of the young wife and husband, she
alone to care for the young family.
Truly, we of this day cannot realize w^hat the women of
that day suffered, one long agony of suspense and fear. Later
another scouting party went down and captured two young
men, deserters, making their way to the enemy. They were
brought back, tried by courtmartial, and hanged to a tree,
near where Mesquite Street crosses the Texas-Mexican
Railroad tracks. They were buried beneath the tree, which
shortly died (as trees, according to tradition, do when a
human being is hanged to their branches), and the exact spot
where two young lives went out in dishonor was lost
trace of. That some of the citizens did not sanction the
findings of the Court was proven several years later, when
the Honorable John Ireland was a candidate for Congress.
Colonel Ireland had been in command of Corpus Christi at
the time of the execution. During his canvass he spoke to
a small audience here. The writer heard his denial of being
responsible for this unfortunate happening. In his speech
he said, "The man who says I had art or part in the death of
these men is a liar. As Commander of this Post. I was
ordered to see the sentence executed. As a soldier I obeyed
22 The Story of Corpus Christi
orders." He was a soldier and a patriot, and the fortune of
war brought this most unfortunate episode into his hands.
All this time the small garrison at Aransas Pass was
holding its own against the fleet. On the i6th day of No-
vember, 1863. Colonel Bradfute with Maltby's Company of
Eighth Infantry and Garrett's Battalion, boarded the steamer
Cora and attempted to rescue the garrison at that point, but
were not able to reach them. On November 17, after a
severe fight, the brave defenders surrendered and w^ere car-
ried prisoners of war to New Orleans, where they remained
until the close of hostilities. The way being open, the ves-
sels entered the bay, and Corpus Christi was at their mercy.
The Story of Corpus Christi 23
The Last Flag of Truce.
Prior to this time we sent out the hist fhisj^ of truce e\er
sent out by Confederates from here. The story was told
me by one of the bearers of the fhig, an old Bay Captain,
member of the Hobby Regiment at that time. This is Cap-
tain Hawley's story : "I was ordered to get a boat and crew
and go on a cruise with Captain Mann. I secured a little sail
boat and a crew of two men and waited at Central Wharf
for orders. The Captain came down, the white flag was
raised, and we were ofif, envied by every man in sight. We
felt jubilant, for we were to have a view of the enemy, and
the old familiar Gulf. All went well, we reached the Pass,
sailed boldly out and headed for the vessel on duty as
Blockader. When within a hundred yards the order to halt
came from her decks. W^e lowered sail. 'WHiat boat is this?'
came next. 'Flag of truce.' answered our Captain. 'Come
aboard,' was the next order. W^e lowered our yawl, the
Captain took his seat, and I and one of the crew took the
oars. We rowed to the side of the vessel and he climlied
aboard. A sentinel on deck looked over the side and called.
'Hey, you, com% aboard,' as he pointed his gun in our direc-
tion, and looked fierce. W^e wonderingly obeyed, and when
we stepped on deck the Captain was getting his. The crew
was having fun at his expense. He was dressed as became
a dashing cavalry officer of the South, grey uniform, soft
hat with plume, gauntlets and silver spurs. Unchided by the
marine officers, the sailors were making fun of the angr>-
officer, his communication refused by the officer in command
of the vessel, who threatened to hang the whole Rebel gang.
About this time I saw a boat's crew going over our little
vessel. They ran her in near shore, setting fire to her.
"Captain Mann pointed to our little flag of peace, and
said things about usages of civilized warfare, but was ordered
below. ]\Iv comrade and myself were ordered into a small
boat, where we found the remainder of our crew, one man.
24 The Story of Corpus Christi
We were carried to a nearby transport which landed us later
in prison in New Orleans. I never saw Captain Mann after
our hurried parting on ship, though he survived the war.
Though he used lurid language, derogatory to the flag, the
Yank and that particular crew, they did not carry out
their threat of hanging him. After getting on the transport
and having time to think, the ludicrous side of it struck one of
my crew, as to the desire of Corpus Christi citizens to come
with us. He commenced to laugh, then to roll, and we could
only get from him, 'John Bell wanted to come, Sam wanted
to come. Miss Brown told me to beg a little coffee from them
for her.' His conduct attracted the notice of the crew. The
wily fellow seeing this, kept it up, and actually got released
and sent back to the Texas Coast as insane."
In speaking of different men as Captain, let me explain
that at that date almost every man you met had this prefix.
Captains were as common here as were Colonels in Ken-
tucky, as the greater part of our men worked on the bay,
and had boats of various sizes and descriptions, so Private
Hawley of Hobby's Regiment was known as Captain Haw-
ley in civil circles. He came here just prior to the war to
work on a dredge boat belonging to his father, who had a
contract of opening a channel from Aransas Pass up to the
city. This dredge was new, and its owner had placed his
moderate fortune of about twenty-seven thousand dollars
in it. Some of its machinery was invented by himself. At
the beginning of trouble, the elderly owner went North, the
son remained to keep watch o\er the boat which was laid up
at what is known as shell bank, in Corpus Christi Bay. Later
the enemy, on its first trip into the bay, burned her to the
water's edge. Although the son had joined in the war with
the South, the father was a staunch Union man, but he never
received a cent for his loss, or the work he had done previous
to war. The work on the channel was stopped for half a
century. In 1910, the Bowers Dredging Company arrived
with two dredges to deepen our channel from Aransas Pass
to Corpus Christi.
I find by consulting Confederate Military History, that
the P>derals bombarded the city on August 7, 1862. That
they must have entered by Corpus Pass is obvious as the
The Story of Corpus Christi 25
defenses at Aransas Pass did not surrender until the follow-
ing day. Non-combatants had been notified to leave, and had
gone out to camp in a grove about three miles west of town.
There was more noise than damage to life in the assault on
the city. One man of the Confederate cavalry was killed by a
round shot. He fell at about the intersection of Chaparral
and Power Streets. Many houses were struck, but being of
adobe, not much damage was done. Fortunately no fires were
started. Many of the shots fired in that day are still to be
seen. Notably, two unexploded shells on the lawn of E. T.
Merriman, on Water Street.
Some ludicrous incidents occurred during the fight. One
man nailed to his bed with rheumatism, in the upper story
of a building (still standing), on the corner of Chaparral
and Peoples Streets, refused to be moved, said he preferred
death to the pain of being lifted to a stretcher. A round
shot struck the house, passing a few feet above him. He
arose with a bound, cleared the stairs in a couple of jumps,
and led the party of belated stragglers up and over the hill,
and got into the camp ahead of the field, and from that day
until his death, years later, he never had a tinge of his old
rheumatic enemy. This is true to the letter.
A warehouse in which hides were stored was struck
by an exploding shell, and hides filled the air. A Johnny
Rebel legging it nearby glanced over his shoulder and yelled,
"My God, they are shooting goat skins at us." The Con-
federates returned the fire, but being poorly armed, did little
harm. One battery was stationed at the foot of Belden
Street. G. B. Williams and James McKenzie were of this
command. Mr. Williams told me that on the night before
the fight they were drilled, the commands being whispered,
fearing to draw the enemy's fire, so near were they. One
lady still with us, told me she remained under fire during the
entire time. She was about a mile from town with her
young sister who was very sick with fever. The phyiscian
said to move the patient meant death, and this brave woman
and the doctor remained by the bedside. Shot and shell fell
in the yard, but they were unharmed. To add to her trials,
her husband was in the beleaguered port of Aransas, which
was surrendered the next day, and long weeks must elapse
26 The Story of Corpus Christi
before she could get news of his fate. He returned at the
close of the War, and as a leading jurist and District Judge,
was one of our most respected townsmen. Judge J. C. Rus-
sell, pioneer and soldier, was known to all the Southwest.
The enemy finally landed near the reef and under cover
of the guns of the fleet, marched down and occupied the
town, the Rebs holding the brow of the hill. The fight was
kept up all day. The enemy having taken possession of the
light house, then standing exactly in front of where the Col-
ored Congregational Church now stands, posted a signal man
in the tower, and held all north of that point. In the old
chronicle written by an eye-witness, a pathetic incident of
the day is related. The Confederate cavalry, hastily sum-
moned from their camp west of town, met a man and two
boys going out to a nearby ranch. These they arrested to
hold until the fight was over. Tihs party had left their home
near Salt Lake very early, knowing nothing of the immi-
nent attack on the town. The cavalrymen told their prisoner
that positively they were suffering with hunger. He knew
many of them, and told them to send a man with his son
to his house and get some bread, which was cooked. The
soldier taking the little fellow on his horse and keeping to
shelter of the brush, went to get the bread while his regi-
ment moved up to the attack. He found a whole-souled
woman at the house who gave him all the bread on hand,
and told him she would have more baked in an hour, so
throughout the day came the hourly messenger to carry hot
bread to his comrades who held the line. This noble pair
who gave food to the hungry soldiers was Mr. and Mrs.
Priour. Their children and children's children are still with
us, and the name stands for honesty and integrity even unto
the third and fourth generations. Mrs. Priour was an ac-
complished woman, and taught the only school open during
this bitter period. When we pause to think of the scarcity
of food, particularly breadstuff, we realize the generosity of
the act, an unselfishness truly grand. The poor, hungry
cavalrymen who accepted her bounty might at any time have
laid down their guns and stepped into a land of plenty, but
they were men of the South and of a heroism unequaled in
history, the first people of the earth to build monuments to
The Story of Corpus Christi 27
defeat, and at the same time build a new South on the ruins
of the old, and hold as strongly to their customs and tradi-
tions in defeat as they would have done had victory blessed
Both parties drew off at nightfall of this day of much
fighting, barren of results. From this time the little town
was occupied by first one and then the other.
28 The Story of Corpus Christi
A Trap for the Enemy.
The Rebs noticed that the enemy invariably landed when
they departed, so some Napoleon of the Art of War, laid
a trap for the undoing of the party giving information to the
enemy. Under cover of darkness a party of soldiers sailed
across to Ingleside. Next morning the remaining part of the
Garrison made a pretended departure. The party in the boat
approached the city across the bay from the direction of the
enemy's stronghold, beating up and down in front of the
city, they watched for signals. The signals soon appeared.
From the upstairs east window of the old Seaside Hotel
(still standing) a wdiite sheet was hung. The boat stood off
and on until the crew was sure of their man, and sailing in
they arrested him at the wharf where he had come to meet
them, not learning his mistake until they landed.
The old man (I have forgotten his name) must have
felt as did Benedict Arnold when he heard of Andre's cap-
ture, and the feeling was made more acute by the suggestion
of the crowd as to a just punishment. Death was the general
verdict, the only difference of opinion being as to how.
Everything including plain hanging was canvassed. A short
imprisonment and a long scare was what he received.
Tlie enemy occasionally picked up a stray Johnny and
carried him off to prison, and once the Johnnies retaliated
by capturing one Captain Kitterege who made himself ob-
noxious by his too frequent visits. Later he fell into durance
vile, while foraging for eggs and butter at Flour Bluff. I
do not know anything more than his capture by one Captain
Ware, who died a few years since in the Old Soldiers' Home
To a man from Northern Virginia, or the Army of
Tennessee, our share of the War looks like the antics of
the Home Guard, but we had just as much enthusiasm as
had the men who stormed the heights of Gettysburg. One
great drawback was our poverty of arms. \\'ith these in
The Story of Corpus Christi 29
plenty, or sufficient to give each man a gun, the enemy would
not have raided our coast.
1 now relate a story as it was told to me. As an Ameri-
can, I am ashamed of it, Init inclined to believe it a com-
panion piece to the one of the man who signalled from the
A company of negroes had landed in town and gone on
a scouting trip a short distance in the country. On their
return four of them were missing. The night passed, and
next day and night. The Commander raved that they had
been caught and hung by the Rebs. Coing to the prison he
ordered the prisoners to draw lots, saying he would retaliate
by shooting an equal number. The doomed men drew lots
and were actually on their way to their execution when the
four demoralized negroes appeared. They had been lost on
the prairie. Whether the sentence would have been carried
out, had they not returned, we cannot say. The ofificer was
white, and we can hardly think that such extreme cruelty
would have been resorted to, but, using the Mexican saying,
"quien sabe." It was war times, and war is horrible, par-
ticularly civil war.
Our town being in an isolated i)art of the country,
and new, we can understand that at times personal matters
naturally crept in. and private feuds paraded as patriotism,
but to the credit of our people, I am glad to say that with
the exception of the two boys hanged for desertion, there
were no executions during the entire W ar, and by all mili-
tary law, they had forfeited their lives.
The little fleet of bay boats gradually disapjieared. as
the enemy burned each one as caught. Some incidents are
told of this one-sided warfare. One Captain Sands (who
later Inirned another boat on Corpus Reach), was chased
down the lagoon. He had a cargo from Mexico, for Corpus
Christi, and was attempting to steal up an inside route. See-
ing ca[)ture was certain, he headed his boat for shore. Ha\-
ing a bag of gunpowder on board, he laid a fuse and jumped
olT, making his escape to cover, but the expected explosion
did not come. Afterward he knew he had carefully laid his
train to green coffee.
Another, of a man who attemiUed to pass danger line in
30 The Story of Corpus Christi
darkness. The wind was light and he sat and steered care-
fully all night. In the earliest dawn he noticed a familiar
landmark as the last thing he saw when darkness fell. He
had grounded on soft mud and had steered a standing boat
throughout the night. Not relishing a chance at prison, he
too waded to safety, leaving the boat to its sure fate.
Great activity was practiced by the enemy in preventing
the Rebs from making or gathering salt. The whole South
suffered from need of this item, and the writer remembers
seeing the floors of old smokehouses dug up, and a very
dirty looking article of salt extracted from the soil. This
was used to cure meat. The very best we could get was a
coarse grade, but of course our own people could get salt
for home consumption from the bay, but any attempt to boil
in quantity on bayside was promptly attended to, and little
bloodless brushes with the Yanks kept us busy, they coming
and getting a few prisoners occasionally, and the town
changing hands continually. But the end was near. Our
troops neither received nor expected pay. Confederate money
had gone out of circulation. The trade on the border brought
a little specie. This, with "swapping" articles, was our
medium of exchange.
There were two lucky boys in the cavalry company
near here. In the last days of the War' the command halted
at ni^ht and made camp in what is known as the sands. Two
of them slept on one blanket, a little apart. What was their
surprise in the morning to find that the wind, eddying against
their bodies, had swept the sand away, and left a little pile
of coin exposed near their bed. One of the men told me
that the money was Mexican dollars or coins of early date.
That they were in small piles, one on another, as if they had
been placed in a box and buried, though no sign of the box
remained. The bunkies divided the find, something over
three hundred dollars, equally, and had the envy of com-
rades while it lasted.
But the War was over, though we did not know it until
some six weeks later, and the last fight of the War, the last
gun fired for the lost cause, was on our border. In February,
1865, General Lew Wallace, in command of Federals at
Brazos Santiago, with Mr. Charles Worthington, a Texas
The Story of Corpus Christi 31
Unionist, met General Slaughter and Colonel Ford of the
Rebel Army at Point Isabel and signed a local truce pact.
General Wallace, to win fame in later life by writing "Ben
Hur," proposed cessation of hostilities, saying that if every
man of this army on both sides was killed it would not afifect
the result: "You, Colonel I'ord, keep your men on your own
territory and I will do the same."
The Texans sought a spot where wood and grass were
plenty and went into camp, keeping out a few pickets for
form's sake. Thus a couple of months passed. On May 12.
1865, Ford's scouts reported the enemy in their territory, at
Palmetto Ranch, which they burned that night. Ford, never
slow in a fight, ordered an advance, and on the 13th the
forces met. The fight soon became a rout, as the Rebs had
a field battery of three guns which did good service. The
enemy lost some thirty, dead and wounded, and one hundred
and thirteen prisoners. Getting near the Yanks' defenses.
Colonel Ford ordered a halt, for which he was never for-
given by his men. They wanted to go on, but the wary old
Indian fighter smelled a trap. His officers raved, even ac-
cusing him of white feather, but halt they did, and had not
quit shouting till the neWs of Lee's surrender came. Why,
or by whose order the truce was broken was never known.
For particulars of this last fight, ofificers and commands en-
gaged, see Confederate Military History, Texas Volume.
History repeats, on this ground was fought the first battles
of the Mexican W'ar and last of the War of Secession.
32 The Story of Corpus Christi
When the War Elided.
The War was over. The enemy marched into town and
went into camp. Two negro regiments, officered by white
men, were the Federal forces. The citizens were generally
well treated as compared with other parts of the South.
Excepting raids by the negro soldiers on hen roosts and gar-
dens, and considerable thieving from residences, there was
no serious trouble, though in two cases there came near
being tragedies. A negro going into a yard for water, peeped
into the kitchen window and saw a lady kneading bread. He
stuck his head in and demanded a loaf. "Why," said the
frightened woman, "It is not baked, I am just making it." To
the woman's horror, he threw up his pistol and fired,
knocking a great piece of plaster from the wall, then dis-
appearing before anyone came to her aid.
Another white woman went to a nearby cabin to carry
food to an old negro in her employ who was sick. As she
left the place and turned to shut the door, someone in the
dark fired three shots into the door above her head. No
harm was done save to the nerves of the poor near-victim.
The officers of our re|^iments seem to have been a very
gentlemanly lot, and being Northern bred, of course saw
nothing wrong in commanding negroes, believing they were
doing missionary work in learning the ex-slaves to be good
soldiers and citizens. That they would never be the first
has been proven time and again. Never more forcibly than
in shooting up the city of Brownsville, a few years since,
for the sole reason that Brownsville was in Texas. As to his
citizenship, half a century of freedom has not proved him a
Reconstruction was on ! Our people, as stated, fared
well. They were mostly foreign born, and few of them
owned slaves. Colonel John Moore, in command of a bat-
talion camped near by, rode in to surrender and make terms
for his men. He found headquarters of the Yankee com-
The Story of Corpus Christi ' 33
mander established in his residence, still standing on North
Water Beach. What bitter thoughts must have passed
through the mind of the old Southerner, a scholar and a
gentleman to his fingertips, to enter the door around which
his children had played in happy childhood, where he had
ever been met by the smile of a wife and greeting of kins-
men, a prisoner, willing to meet his fate, asking for himself
nothing, for his men best terms which might be granted.
The Commander, 1 am glad to say, was a soldier. He
refused the Colonel's sword, telling him it was the fortune
of war, and to meet defeat as bravely as victory, and com-
plimented the Southern Army. He told him the terms of
surrender and invited him to consider this his home and
he (the Yankee) as the guest. I am sorry I cannot give the
name of this noble officer, whose words of sympathy to his
vanquished foe were above jewels to the broken man. Yester-
day a capitalist, today a stranger in his home, slaves freed
and the ruins of a tine dredge boat nearby.
Colonel Moore came to Corpus Christi to finance and
aid in a scheme to make a great seaport here, and if the
War had not interfered the chances are that we, and not
Cialveston, would have been the earliest seaport, and the
story of the great storm in Galveston, in which thousands
lost their lives, would have remained untold. The Colonel
brought his family back to the old home and he and his
loval)le wife spent the remaininf^ years of their lives with us.
The story of his surrender was told to the writer by his
daughter. Mrs. Conklin, for years a teacher in our schools.
She remembered vividly the early days of the War, and a
certain red silk dress of hers which was used to give color to
a Rebel flag which the patriotic ladies fashioned, perhaps the
one presented by Miss \\'oessner. afterwards Mrs. W'. R.
The white officers of the colored regiments formed a
club and set up a mess hall in a house, yet standing on the
lot adjoining and north of the Methodist Church, on Mes-
quite Street, and honestly curbed as far as possible the out-
lawry of their command. As the citizens did not hold the
bitterness of other sections of the South, they soon became
quite an acquisition to the society of the little town. Sc^me
34 The Story of Corpus Christi
of the married men brought their families, and in the return
of prosperity the War was ahnost forgotten. The negro at
that time was an unknown quantity to the Northern people.
The officers were soon disillusioned.
But good women came to West Texas, just as they go
to Africa today, burning with zeal to do the work of the
Master, and to help those poor people over which the abo-
litionist had howled for years. They came, they saw, they
fled. Uncle Tom's Cabin on the stage and Uncle Rastus'
Cabin on the Nueces was different. Besides, the negro had
no respect for "No poor white trash what 'sociate with nig-
gers," but they started fair. The Congregational Church,
which stands near the site of the old light house, was built
for both w^hite and black worshipers. A very few whites
attended for a while and then it was given over to the negro.
The ground upon which it stands has grown to be very
valuable, but the Northern Society who own it refuse to sell.
The members of the present day are a very orderly, quiet
people, not given to holding all-night sessions as are their
more tuneful Methodist and Baptist brethren, who have been
bought out and moved out of sounding distance. And may
the old church stand for many years, mute monument of
the days gone by, and failure of fanatics to force social
equality on a stricken people.
But the War was over ! The troops held on the border
awaiting developments in Mexico were disbanded when news
of Maximilian's death came. Good-byes were said to the
enemies who had become friends, and Johnny went march-
ing home. But two of the handsomest young officers were
held prisoners of war, and watched their comrades go, held
as firmly and securely as was President Davis in his prison
cell in Fortress Monroe, and our grateful Government never
demanded their release, nor did they ever once attempt to
escape, for the bonds were silken and the captors two fair
daughters of the South. They became of the South, veritable
South Texans, living the remainder of their days in the
South : Captain E. H. Wheeler and Captain Barnes Down-
ing, both of whom have answered the last roll call, their
deaths regretted keenly by all who knew them.
Right here I want to say that various reasons have been
The Story of Corpus Christi 35
given as to a better feeling existing between the Xorth and
South, the Spanish-American War being one reason as-
signed. That is not the cause of this feeHng, nor is it the
lapse of time, for the Southerner has a retentive memory.
Acquaintance is the cause. The people of Northern birth
who simply thought they were taking their lives in their own
hands when they came South, found differently, made
friends and intimacy begot respect. If we had been ac-
quainted we might never have fought, but we did fight, and
as Americans, I believe we are a little proud of the scrap.
It w-as such a war as none but Americans could have waged,
and ended as never a war before. We all went home and
to work to make up for lost time.
True, the Ku Klux Klan gave a little trouble, but a
great good was done by them in wresting the vState from
negro rule. Corpus Christi being out of the black zone, did
not have a Klan, but there w^ere thirty thousand in the State.
The writer, at that time in Houston, began to hear strange
stories from the negro cook. Even though common sense
told us it w^as a trick, it gave us an uncanny feeling. Nightly
sights were seen by colored church-goers, and more par-
ticularly by colored attendants of political meetings. The
recital of them caused creepy feelings. A couple of old
covered forts on Buffalo Bayou seemed favorite stamping
grounds for spooks. Imagine a crowd of darkies coming
home from a perfectly orderlji meeting, held nightly, for
the purpose of finding where to get forty acres of land and
a mule, and getting no nearer an understanding than that in
the event of election of certain Carpetbaggers, they would get
both mule and land, and a pension, reported of various
Imagine the meeting closed after an almost all night
session, and the crowd going home in a body. Out of the
fort issued groans, unearthly cries ; out pops a man all in
white, without a head, another with both arms missing, an-
other whose white clothes are covered with blood, while
flames issue from the mouth and eyes of a black fellow.
Another, but nobody to see more of the sights; a Gilpin
race is on, and no threat or entreaty will get a darkey out
36 The Story of Corpus Christi
Nobody wants a mule, meetings deserted, and the white
man comes into his own, a bloodless victory !
The writer heard the fearsome stories in the kitchen,
and repeated them to a grave-faced man who headed the
table, also the house. He had followed Lee and limped as
a result. He seemed to take great interest in the recitals,
and long afterward the writer knew that the husband took
a little time from his numerous lodge meetings to go to spook
festivals in the old fort, in which there had never been a
gun fired nor a man hurt ; and in later years he told of the
fun and of the "wailing cry of distress." Don't think it was
ever published, this way of giving the signal, drawing up
right arm and striking out as if dealing a blow, you called,
"I'm Sampson, I'm Sampson." At the peril of your life, if
you were a Sampson, you must rush to his rescue.
A strange item in the Houston Post caught my eye a
year or so ago. Nothing less than a call to arms of the old
Klan to clear the city of thugs and murderers. Poor old
man who made this call ! The men who rid the State of
negro rule so many years ago, and who kept the secret to
death, are gone, and their like will be seen no more.
Every effort was made by officers of the Government
to catch the Ku Klux Klan, but every man on the police
force was a member. One night the news got out that a
sleuth, a Federal Captain, had scared all the secrets from
a badly frightened member. He and a couple of detectives
would visit the lodge and get evidence, the scared member
planning to give the boys a little exercise. They came masked
took three extra seats in the room, the only vacant ones by
the way, that were not numbered ; every member had a
number and sat in the chair with the corresponding number.
To their surprise they were bound, carried down the stairs
and to the banks of the bayou, where the sentence pro-
nounced before leaving the hall was to be executed. Weight-
ed by the neck, they were to go into twenty feet of muddy
water. How they pleaded. After much deliberation and
wrangling they were spared, and if either or all of them are
living to this day, I doubt if even yet they could see the
joke, or know that not a man there would have had a hand
in murder, and were all most prominent citizens. That
The Story of Corpus Christi 37
crimes were committed by masked men and laid at the door
of the Klan is true, but the members were a high-minded
people and never a crime was committed by the sworn mem-
bers. They took this method of saving the South from the
crying disgrace of negro rule by working on their super-
Early memories recall the first bicycle ever brought to
Corpus Christi, two of them in 1869, and every lady turned
out to see them on a Sunday afternoon, and the merry riders
were invited to stop at every beer joint and refresh. Xo
Sunday law those days ! Perhaps for that reason they had
to climb on a fence to mount, and led a very wobbly way
down Preston Street.
And the first ball game! The umpire carried a hand-
book, and when a chap swatted the ball, grabbed him by the
shoulder and trotted him to first. The girls came out and
walked past, and watched from nearby galleries, never
dreaming that in the years to come ladies would go to ball
games, and one of them at least would give up good money
for the privilege of watching a game, and feel a taste of
heaven when her team won and a strong smell of the other
place if they lost.
38 The Story of Corpus Christi
First Carpetbagger Governor.
Corpus Christi bears the doubtful honor of having given
up the only Carpetbagger Governor who ever misruled
Texas. E. J. Davis left Corpus Christi to fill the Governor's
chair, and notwithstanding his reputation throughout the
State, he was liked at home. A polished gentleman as to
manners, a diligent and willing nurse in the fever epidemic
of '67, he visited the homes of the lowly, putting his hand
to the work as it came. An old friend of mine remembers
him with gratitude. He came to her assistance and with his
own hands helped to lift a dying sister to a cot, and helped
carry it a distance of three blocks that the sister might spend
her last moments with her mother, who was also low with
But he went to Austin, the choice of the Carpetbagger,
and Corpus Christi knew him no more. On the night before
the departure of his family, a lovely moonlight night, Mrs.
Davis walked with a friend on Broadway, in front of the
Davis home, yet standing with its old-fashioned dormer
That the moonlight begets strange fancies we all know,
but the old moon was more fantastic than usual that night,
and the proud woman, starting on a journey to public
obloquy, dreamed dreams. She told her friend that this
journey was only the first step to the White House, and to
this moon craziness only can we ascribe future events.
Texas was under negro rule, who were led by unscrupu-
lous white men. The law was a dead letter, and only that
the former slaves had a fear of, and respect for former own-
ers, did the white race escape untold horrors. As it was the
situation was bad enough. Murders were committed and
towns were placed under martial law and compelled to .pay
immense sums of money. When the right of franchise was
granted to ex-Rebs, those ofificers and gentlemen were forced
to register before negro officials.
The Story of Corpus Christi 39
Many of them, like Hiick I'inn's father, (Icclared they
would not vote, but better counsel prevailed, and vote they
did, early and often, and not only this, but \oted the negro
with them ; not with the negro's consent, but he had been
told to vote the blue ticket, and he Noted without knowing
that the white man's ticket had lieen printed on their exact
shade of blue paper. The story goes that when the result
was heard in Austin, Governor Davis wildly telegraphed to
General Grant to send troops to sul)due the wild and woolly
Texans, but that great and truly good man refused to inter-
fere, and down from the wall came his picture, and the lady
of the mansion put her foot through it. l'',xit I'. J. Da\is
from the Texas horizon. Sound the loud timbrels from
desert to sea ! Texas had triumphed and her people were
free after fi\e years of sheol. What wonder that we got
There were some scores which could be wiped out in
blood only. Mrs. Davis was a daughter of the South, and
1 am told that her family were Southerners. One, a Captain
F.ritton, a Confederate surgeon, died here in the epidemic of
'07, and the family name is perpetuated by the Britton-
Motts. They were of tlic earliest settlers, and I have heard
that her father was a Colonel in the regular army. A family
of high standing, and we will lay it all to moon madness
flnd let it go at that.
No man or woman either knew at that day that in less
♦han half a century these bleeding, conquered people would
»ihine throughout the world as something new in history,
who. by their industry and thrift would build a new South.
Hands unused to toil grasped the plow and wrung wealth
from the bosom of old mother earth. Trades, hitherto
despised (no aristocratic .Southerner thought of a trade for
his sons, nor would he ha\e allowed him to learn one), were
fostered, and with the aid of the dollars of our Northern
Ijrother, who was willing to swap them for a part of the
rich land, an era of prosperity came, and men and women
look back to those days with pride, though they were tinged
But back to Corpus Christi again. In July of 18O7, ^
man came to Corpus Christi on horseback from Indianola,
40 The Story of Corpus Christi
crossing the reef on the wagon road, and entering town put
up at the largest hotel, the Ziegler House. Next day he was
sick, and the kind-hearted people visited him, and as was the
custom of that day, nursed him. Less than thirty-six hours
later he was a corpse, and the dread yellow jack was feeling
his way into every home. Within ten days he was holding
the poor little helpless town in his relentless grasp, and the
scenes of '54 were again being enacted. The daily, twice,
thrice pilgrimages to the old cemetery, until one day in
August there was a death rate of eighteen. In a white popu-
lation of scarce four hundred, whole families died. In two
cases in the new Catholic Cemetery, recently opened, hus-
band and w^ife were found buried in the same grave. Of
these couples, one left two little girls. A gentleman present
at the time told me that the saddest sight of the time was
these little ones getting up in the morning and hunting for
their parents through the house and yard. Both had died
during the night and had been removed to await burial. But
thank God for the Christian faith of our people, the orphans
were cared for and none were neglected !
One of our greatest losses in this epidemic was the
death of our War-time Priest, Father Canard. He had re-
mained with his people during the bitter days of the War,
aiding the women and children, keeping a little school, Mrs.
Priour's, cheered and helped by his presence and advice.
When the fever came he worked day and night, not only
with his own people, but with any who needed help. He
died as he had lived, literally in harness. Died, no ! He went
to his rest, mourned by every man, woman and child in
Corpus Christi, of every faith, for Father Canard was a
Saint who loved mankind, and like many of his kind, went
to his reward, with the noble character of his deeds known
only to his narrow surroundings. But today the eye of the
gray-haired man or woman who knew him will light with
love when they hear his name, and everyone can tell of some
simple childish pleasure which he had given. Anything of
interest to them, was never too small to engage the learned
Father's attention. One woman told me this story. Her
hair was white, but she remembered her very first pair of
shoes. Her mother got them for her. She took the lovely
The Story of Corpus Christi 41
things to show to Father Ganard, as the modern miss would
exhibit a watch or a locket. He duly admired, then sug-
gested fitting them, but the poor little feet must be washed,
and three times were they scrubbed before Father agreed
they would do. Then stockings must be had, and home again
she went, leaving the precious shoes with the Father. Back
again, and another wash to take ofif the recent travel stains,
the good Leather advising and helping. She was shod, a girl
of ten, for the first time, and felt as if 'T could never take a
step," she said. I thought of this incident a short time since,
seeing a mother purchase a pair of shoes for her daughter.
The latter day mother paid four dollars for the shoes, and
had the clerk mark the price at six, telling me the daughter
would not wear the shoes if they cost less. But times change,
and perhaps it is better to wear shoes at six per pair than
no shoes at all. But I am old-fashioned, and think what was
lacking in shoes in those days, was made up into man and
woman, and human kindness. Father Ganard sleeps in the
Catholic Cemetery here, and we love to think of him as a
Southerner, but he was too good and great to belong to one
section, and his memory is a heritage of all.
42 The Story of Corpus Christi
Some Early Day Merchants.
Just after the close of hostilities the merchants came
back, and with them new ones to establish business here.
Pat Whelan, for nine terms Sheriff of Nueces County, and
one of the most efficient officers in the State, gives me the
following list of merchants in business here at the time he
came in 1866: E. Morris, J. B. Mitchell, George Evans, P.
Hoffman, W. N. Staples, Felix Noessel, John Woessner, P.
Doddridge, banker, C. Kale, and then or shortly after there
was William Headen, afterwards Headen & Mallory, and
M. Lichtenstein, a dry goods merchant, whose sons today
have the largest store in the city, or as for that matter, in
this section, and which would be a credit to the largest city in
the State. Money was plentiful in those days. Bags of
silver and golden eagles were the medium of exchange. No
paper money for the trader in that time.
Just about the close of the hostilities a party of horse
traders visited the lower country, buying a great drove of
animals. They paid in notes on defunct Confederacy. The
news went out that paper money was no "bueno," and to
this day no Mexican wants green backs, checks or anything
but hard money. About this time the \\'estern Union Tele-
graph Company erected a line to Brownsville via Corpus
Christi. So eager were our people to get the news that the
line came in as the crow flies, across lots. This gave our
city trouble later when telephone and electric wires came, but
all is satisfactorily arranged now, each company having its
The next thing of importance to shake the city was the
proposal to build the Texas-Mexican Railroad from here to
the border, at Laredo. Meetings were held, and strange as
it may seem now, the project was hotly opposed by some
good citizens. What ! Do away with our wagon trade !
Never . Even up to recent years the writer has heard
some of the old-timers bewail the new times, and thev never
The Story of Corpus Christi 43
realized that if we did not build the road, other towns would.
Our wagon trade was doomed, and the long line of wagons,
with their picturesque drivers, who had broken and kept the
trail for nearly two centuries, were soon to make their last
journey across boundless prairies where the bison, the elk
and the deer roamed free. They, like the wagons, were
doomed. The buffalo is extinct in his wild state, though forty
years ago the writer purchased dried buffalo flesh from gro-
cery stores in Corsicana, and saw wagons fitting out to go
on hunt for his hide.
A promoter by the name of Uriah Lott planned our
first railroad, and Captain Richard King of Rancho Santa
Gertrudis financed the project for the first forty miles. Cap-
tain King was at this time one of the wealthiest men in this
section. His herds grazed upon thousands of acres of free
domain. He operated, and with his then partner. Captain
Kenedy, owned one or more steamboats on the Rio Grande.
Captain King stood for progress, and his presence in
this section was a public boon. In those days herds were
driven overland to Kansas to market, and King and Kenedy
were perhaps the largest shippers of the State. During the
War the enemy made a special raid from Brazos Santiago to
his ranch home to capture him. He wa^ absent, but in the
early morning light they saw a man on the gallery, and
without warning shot the faithful servant to death, thus
showing their fear of the man they sought. His life reads
like a romance, and if told to the letter, would not be
One story I will tell as it was printed in the Corpus
Christi paper at the time. The Captain had been in Corpus
Christi, and while here hired a newly landed German boy to
drive his coach. The party left the city and drove out to
the Petronilla Creek, stopping for lunch on the near side of
the stream, contrary to usual custom of pulling up opposite
bank before stopping. After an hour's rest they started on
the last half of the journey, and as they breasted the oppo-
site slope, were fired on from ambuscade. The poor Dutch
boy ended his journey right there, being killed instantly.
The spirited horses, scared by the shots, ran away, but fortu-
nately kept to the road. Out of the brush rode four Mexi-
44 The Story of Corpus Christi
cans and gave wild chase, but the ranch was reached with no
further loss. Next day when officers reached the spot of
attack they found that the scheme had been well laid. The
men had posted themselves in easy range and cut away all
intervening twigs so as to command the usual shade where
travelers stopped. Only the stopping short of the usual
place saved the party from swift death. This was only one
of his hairbreadth escapes, but he did escape his wily ene-
mies, the Mexicans, who did not want white men in the
grazing country, and were the direct opposite of Captain
King. They were prepared to fight progress, are fighting it
today in the Rio Grande Valley, but like the buffalo, their
day is done, and go they must.
Captain King died some years since in San Antonio, sur-
rounded by his family and loving friends, and was buried
in that city. His former partner. Captain Kennedy, died a
few years later in Corpus Christi. He sleeps in Brownsville,
where the murmur of the Rio Grande sings solemn requiem
to the memory of a man who made history on her bosom.
The names of King and Kenedy will be remembered as
long as English and Spanish are spoken on the border.
About this time there was much trouble in the adjacent
country from raids of Mexican freebooters, the natural
aftermath of civil war. On both sides of the Rio Grande
robbery and murder were frequent, and men and boys going
out to drive in the milch cows buckled on a six-shooter or
carried a gun. One sad day four coffins were carried to
the cemetery in wagons draped in black. These young men
were found murdered at a ranch on Laguna Madre, two of
them German boys who had only gone down there a few
days earlier to do some carpenter w'ork. Their tool boxes
had never been opened, showing that the robbers must have
arrived about the same time they reached the ranch, Penes-
gal by name, owned, we believe, b)' Captain Kenedy. The
Sheriff's posse who went out to investigate, found that rob-
bery was the motive. Among other booty a sugar barrel had
been emptied. A broad trail led southward, along which
every little way a little spot of brown sugar was seen, as if
carried in a slightly leaky package. Southward into the
Brownsville road the trail was lost, all except the sugar pats,
The Story of Corpus Christi 45
and these led on to Corpus Christi, and to a hut on the hill,
where the remainder of the sugar and other booty was
found. The sugar sack was found with a small hole in it.
Needless to say, this gang was rounded up and Judge Lynch
held a long session.
An old man living west of town made a pfjor li\ing by
drawing and selling water to passing teamsters. One night
his neighbors on the Oso saw his house in flames. They
hurriedly mounted and rode to his help. On getting in sight
they saw a party of horsemen riding off. Next day the
charred remains of the old man were found in his house,
bound with trace chains, showing undoubtedly tliat he had
l^een burned alive. This man's name was Murdock.
On the morning of Good Friday, 1875, a wild, inco-
herent messenger arrived in Corpus Christi. The Indians
were right at his heels, he said, and had murdered every soul
between here and the Nueces River and had burned every
ranch. There was a wild scurry on ever}^ hand. The Indian
raid was a certainty. The band was discovered some twenty
miles from the city, all mounted. They took charge of
everyone they met, taking their horses and compelling pris-
oners to march on foot. Coming to Nuecestown, then called
the Motts, they attacked the only store, conducted by Mr.
Noakes. The owner barricaded the door and fought them
off until they set the place on fire. Then he and his family
escaped by a secret passage made for just such an emer-
gency. The store was burned to the ground, though the
robbers secured some loot. This was proven later. Coming
on toward town, they arrived at Juan Saens (pronounced
Whan Size) Ranch, fi\ e miles west of the city. Here the
Mexican family of that name met them. One of the boys
of the ranch spoke to the robbers, and quick as a flash he
was shot, falling dead in his tracks. It is supposed that the
boy recognized the robber. Here the bandits held a con-
sultation, they learned that a messenger liad reached the
city, so they turned back, still marching their prisoners in
the middle of the road. Among them was Miss Allen, who
with an old gentleman. Judge Gilpin, was driving in to at-
tend Easter service in the Episcopal Church; Mrs. E. D.
Sidburv, her daughter-in-law, Mrs. James Scott, with driver
46 The Story of Corpus Christi
and maid, and many others whose names I do not recall.
After going some distance the robbers rode off and left the
prisoners, after taking everything of value which they had.
including their shoes. The ladies hid in a corn field, afraid
for a long time to answer the calls of a rescuing party,
thinking the bandits had returned. On Skidmore's Ranch
the women, one with an infant six months old, now Mrs.
Bibolette of Palestine, hid in an arroyo. When their men
came to hunt them with shouts and shots, they trembled and
kept still. One of the men had a bright idea, and they began
singing hymns. One of the ladies told me that she had heard
fine singing, but never anything to compare with the grand
old "Nearer My God to Thee," as it came floating over the
prairie in the gloaming. The cowboys were rewarded by
calls, and the poor women ended a bitter experience.
In the meantime, what was happening in Corpus
Christi t There was a military company here, the Star
Rifles. It was said of them that they led the way to Central
Wharf and aboard the Morgan Line Steamer, Josephine,
which happened to be in that day, ready to defend women
and children. The schooner Leona, belonging to N. Gussett,
was also in. and various small boats. The whole population
went to the boats ready to go at a moment's notice. A com-
pany of brave men mounted their steeds and away to meet
the marauders. They found that they had retreated and
followed. They came upon them and received their fire.
One man named Swank was shot dead from his horse.
Fearing an ambush the party halted and the enemy re-
treated unmolested. Mr. Swank was a young man, a car-
penter, who had lived several years in Corpus Christi. His
comrades brought his body back to the old cemetery, and
a few years since a friend of his youth, Mrs. Helen Dority,
had a neat tablet placed over his last resting place. Only
this friend remembered the man who died in defense of the
town in which he had neither kith nor kin. Later the trail
was taken up again by a reinforced party, and strange to
say, the trail led to nearby ranches. One young Mexican
had a gunshot wound in his arm, wrapped in a towel, recog-
nized as one taken from a looted store at the Motts. Truth
compels me to say that Judge Lynch again held court, and
The Story of Corpus Christi 47
I am afraid that he this time worked on the theory that it is
better that ninety and nine innocent ones suffer than one
guilty man escape. They no doubt intended to loot Corpus
Christi. but their hearts failed as they got near. The}^ kept
the prisoners to keep them from spreading the news. They
learned at Juan Saens that a messenger had brought the
news in, as he passed that point on a dead run, had discov-
ered the raid near Motts, and they were afraid to risk a
battle. This was the last raid in our vicinity, the raiders
being discovered as our own Mexicans and not Indians from
up the Rio Grande, as was first supposed.
48 The Story of Corpus Christi
The Author Reaches Corpus Christi.
The writer first saw Corpus Christi in May, 1876. In
those days Corpus Christi was reached by a weekly steamer
from New Orleans, a mailboat from Indianola or a stage
from San Antonio. We came via Indianola, and missing
the mailboat at that place, remained over one night. This
was the year after the first great storm, and some feeble
attempt had been made to straighten up the half destroyed
houses. Naturally, the people who had spent their lives
there tried to look at the bright side, saying this was the
first and likely the last sto^m. Fortunately the city did not
recuperate, fortunate because they were again and again
visited by destructive storms, and just eleven years later the
town was entirely obliterated, the flames aiding the wind
and water in the fearful and fatal dance of death, and today
the cry of the seabird and the lap of the tide are the only
sounds to break the silence. A few scattered concrete cis-
terns, heaps of brick marking the site of chimneys, is all
that remains of a once prosperous town, where lovers wooed,
children played, and a bright future promised, a fine harbor,
a new railroad and a rich country nearby.
An old town too it was, as towns rank in Texas, and
many of the early settlers of interior towns bade farewell
to the great waters there. To get near to this harbor the
town was founded on sand, a very low point of land running
out from the hills, seven miles distant, to meet the waters,
and between the hills and the beach was a low marsh, always
overflowed at high tide, a veritable death trap, as are too
many of our coast towns today. But we will not mention
names for fear of giving ofifense. People who found their
houses on sand do not like to hear the subject discussed,
more certainly if they are in the real estate business.
We boarded a small boat, "Star of the South," with
Captain Sewell, and leaving Indianola in the morning ar-
rived next morning in Corpus Christi. Sailing across the
The Story of Corpus Christi 49
bay and watching our future home across the sparkling
water, I thought of a vision of Heaven. The beautiful wood-
covered blufif with its two church spires, Congregational
(colored) and Presbyterian (old), were the first visible ob-
jects. No smokestacks in those days, no steam whistles! A
perfect picture in a perfect setting was the Corpus Christi
of May, 1876. Near the beach I noticed a little garden.
Everything looked so bright and green. The corn was in
roasting ear, while in Central Texas from where we had
come it was just peeping above the ground. We bade good-
bye to Captain Sewell, who had lived all his life on the
water, and who was destined later to find a grave 'neath the
waters of the Gulf. He, with his boat, was lost while coast-
ing up from Point Isabel to Rockport, and his body was
never found, nor any trace of his boat, one of the long list
of lost at sea.
Walking up Chaparral Street I saw that thoroughfare
literally filled with ox carts and wagons. Some of the ve-
hicles had as many as six yokes of oxen, and the patient
animals were lying down in a seeming tangle, reaching from
curb to curb, chewing the cud and waiting the crack of the
whip, the signal to begin the long, hot journey across the
prairies to and beyond the Mexican border, carrying in
their wake a whifif of civilization. Clothes, shoes, hats, cook
stoves, sewing machines, oil lamps, clocks, any and every-
thing, bought with proceeds of sales of hides, tallow, dried
meat, wool, etc. It seemed to me that everybody spoke Span-
ish, and that the only swift thing in evidence was their
tongues. To every new-comer the language seemed to be
a perfect rapid fire jangle of words, but right here I got
my first lesson in Spanish Aztec. The only word I could
distinguish seemed like "star wano." Everybody seemed to
be saying it. After thirty years I think it is the proper word
and should be our motto, typical of our people. Through
sunshine and shadow, days of prosperity, days of depres-
sion, the cheery word was ever in evidence, and over our
portals in letters of gold should be written Esta Bueno.
The words fit our city, our country, and if not our people
it is because the motto is hardly strong enough. We would
50 The Story of Corpus Christi
have to cull all the languages, getting the best from each,
and then fall short of fully expressing our respect for our
old citizens. Though we may differ in politics, religion and
various items of public import, we are closely allied on all
matters of civic and personal interest.
The Corpus Christi of that day and time was a town
of considerable wealth, many stockmen making their homes
here. Our little weekly paper. The Free Press, carried two
of its four pages covered with hieroglyphics, illustrating
cattle brands and notices to the general public that they
would feel the strong arm of the law if cattle bearing these
brands were killed. To those notices there was one notable
exception. At the foot of one column of marks and brands
stood the usual notice, but it read different. It was an in-
vitation to any poor person, anyone in need, to kill and use
for food any calf in above brand, the only proviso being that
they save the hide and use the meat. Think of it in our
day and time, when meat in our local markets is a little
higher priced than in the Northern cities. The name signed
to this invitation was one of which Texas may well be
proud, John Timon of San Patricio, a pioneer who helped
make this country ; a man whose charity was as broad as the
prairie over which he hunted his herds, and as beautiful as
the flowers which blossomed thereon. He obeyed the Scrip-
tural injunction and got his guests from the highways. His
friends had cattle and to spare. The poor, improvident
Mexican was the recipient of this grand largess.
The sheep industry was at its apex at this time and a
great many rancheros were in that business. Strange to
say there was no friction between the sheep and cowman
such as have disgraced other sections of the Southwest, but
the removal of the tariff off raw wool killed the sheep busi-
ness and we went back to longhorns, grazing in common on
the unfenced land. Naturally the herds got tangled and
our District Court ran overtime settling ownership of cat-
tle, a golden era for the lawyers of that day. But about
this time Glidden invented barbed wire fencing. The coun-
try was soon covered with a network of it, and for years
there has not been a case in court growing out of ownership
The Story of Corpus Christi 51
of cattle, and the animal known as the MaAcrick is as com-
pletely extinct as the buffalo.
The longhorn was superseded by blooded stock, the
festive cowboy has doffed his jingling spurs and high-heeled
boots, and his trusty six-shooter is covered with rust. The
old days, the old boys, and general picturesque setting has
gone, and the places that knew him. will know him no more.
52 The Story of Corpus Christi
The Man With the Hoe.
The man with the hoe next began to arrive and made
a feeble attempt at farming, but the drought discouraged
him. Next a couple of German farmers arrived, rented a
piece of ground near town, and hauled water w^ith which to
set cabbage plants. No rain fell and no water ever touched
the field except the one time, and this cabbage patch was the
talk of not only the town but this section, and we learned
that the finest of cabbage would thrive. That cabbage nur-
tured on the near coast dews was of superior quality. Then
we all planted cabbage and became the largest cabbage mart
in the world. Solid train loads of this vegetable went to
hunt the corned beef of the East and North. The farmer
jingled coin in his pocket. Then the winter of 1900 ar-
rived, and with it the 13th of February, the coldest day
ever recorded in Texas. Thousand of birds flying ov.er
Nueces Bay, north of town, were frozen, and falling into
the bay, were swept to the southern shore by the fierce
Norther raging, where they lay in a long windrow, in some
places several feet deep. From the tiny robin to the great
crane, all kinds were there. Fish were torpid and came to
shore in schools, but this cold was unprecedented, and man
as well as fish and fowl felt the Arctic weather and kept
close to the fireside. On the morning of the 14th. the grow-
ing cabbage looked as if it had been permaturely boiled. A
view of the landscape looked like ruin to the planter. In
desperation he sought a later crop.
The only thing possible so late in the season was cotton.
This was an experiment. Cotton was planted in between
cabbage rows. The cabbage revived, made a fine crop,
which brought a big price. Later the fields were white
with the snowy staple, and the farmer jingled money in both
pockets. Since that time we have learned that we can
grow almost anything, and are certain that we are on the
eve of great agricultural prosperity, and in a few years
The Story of Corpus Christi 53
will be shipping solid trains of citrus fruits to the Eastern
markets. Where gins are now established, ginning at times
the bale-to-the-acre cotton, a few years ago no man would
have thought of putting a dollar in a gin in this cottonless
The Aransas Pass Railroad was the second to reach
our town and put us in touch with the United States, as the
Texas-Mexican had placed us in close communion with our
sister Republic. When our railroad was first built into
Mexico we had several large excursions in from there. As
our hotel room was limited, the citizens received the excur-
sionists in our homes, got up boat races, ball games, and
gave at least two grand balls, all free, in their honor. But,
but. BUT, while they were a good people, polite in the ex-
treme, they were not our style, no more than were we theirs,
so we give them welcome and let them hunt their own domi-
ciles henceforth, which seemed to give satisfaction to all
At an early day we equipped a ball team, but haxing no
one to play but Rockport the sport languished. As soon as
the railroad put us in touch with San Diego and Alice we
re\ i\cd, and had some famous games on the diamond at the
intersection of Chaparral and Fitzgerald Streets. The
writer, along with the balance of the population, attended
regularly. We remember one game between the Uniques
of San Diego and our team which went merrily on the
whole afternoon. Each side rolled up a score of twenty-
four, and the game was declared a draw. Proudly the two
teams marched into town, side by side. Nobody's feelings
were hurt that day. Again we were playing. Corpus Christi
at the bat, one man down, one on first and one at bat. The
batter hit and ran for first, man on first ran for second,
changed his mind and legged it back in time to meet batter
at first. Both claimed base and ])roceeded to settle this
dispute according to Marquis of Tipperary rules, much to
the delight of the crowd. During the rather heated dis-
cussion both were touched out, retiring the side. Later we
organized two teams, the BluiT City's and Corpus Christi
Browns. What battles were fought on that diamond, and
what feeling expressed by the partisans. The Blufifs regu-
54 The Story of Corpus Christi
larly held the victory. They had a famous pitcher, and no
inducement could win him away from his team. Poor Frank
Larkin, soon to go down to death under his engine in
Mexico, one of nature's noblemen and one of the first and
best ball players in Southwest Texas.
Of the old Browns I remember a few names : Johnny
Mitchell, Lee and Henry Berry, Hiram and Alvin Ellis,
Frank Trabue, Hugh Sutherland, Charley Williams, Jim
Hill, Ralph Barnes, Walter Timon, and others. Of the
victorious Bluffs, Frank Larkin, Edwin and Walter Dove,
E. J. Shaw, B. Legge, F. Wissinger, and others. The old
boys are scattered now. Some have crossed the Divide, and
the few left in the old town are sedate gentlemen. There
are silver threads among their locks, and they play their
games over again from the grandstand, while watching a
hired team cavort over the field.
And now, about 1891, we were to have an awakening,
and old fashions and times go out together. One bright day
Colonel Ropes reached town and started an up-to-date boom.
His ideas were all right, but he came on about twenty years
too soon, afld did not fully understand his subject. He
bought land and laid off a city in the southern suburbs, built
a dredge to cut a canal across Mustang Island to deep water.
This dredge started in all right, cut a channel about fifteen
feet wide and ten feet deep for about a hundred yards into
soft sand, of which the island is composed, broke down, and
the sand drifted into the channel behind, shutting her in.
Her bones lie there yet. He also built the magnificent Alta
Vista Hotel, but was not able to finish it. He laid oft" a
city around the hotel, graded the streets, built a beautiful
home for himself, which he never occupied, and built other
homes for sale, graded miles of streets, and a road from the
city to his hotel, and started and graded miles of a new pro-
posed railroad to Brownsville.
Any one of his schemes would have paid if undertaken
singly, but he spent oceans of money and did not finish"
any one thing. The old settlers watched the progress of
events, and marveled. Some few went in on the boom and
got stung. A money panic came on, and everything stopped.
Laborers and contractors failed to get their wages, and
The Story of Corpus Christ: 55
people who had rushed in began to move on to the next
boom town. It was sad to drive out to the hotel and see the
beautiful building vacant except a caretaker. The new resi-
dences were never occupied. Later they were gradually de-
serted as they were too far from town for homes for people
living in the city.
Tiie Methodists of this section built a large tabernacle
a mile south of the hotel, a college and other buildings. They
were later removed, and later the same church came into the
possession of a far better locality for their encampment
grounds. Colonel Ropes went back from whence he came,
and our bubble was burst. Our town had been invaded by
speculators, horse racers, and a host of drifting population
ready for a land boom in Texas, or a land rush in Indian
Territory. They came in companies and platoons.
The place was so overcrowded that people li\ed in
garrets, sheds, tents, any shelter. They traded in every-
thing and anything, from a terrier to a ranch, provided it
could be bought on time. This class was the first to go,
they brought nothing with them and they carried nothing
away. But many good people also came and were carried
away by the excitement. Highly colored and overdrawn
literature was sent out and prospective buyers came. This
class invested in real estate, bought anything offered.
Two old gentlemen fought with canes for the privilege
of paying nine hundred dollars for a lot near the Alta Vista
Hotel. A big lot sale was held in the unfinished hotel, and
lots were sold rapidly. Two years later lots in the same
locality were offered for as low as ten dollars per lot, with
no takers, and the greater part of this property was aban-
doned to original owners, or sold for taxes.
And now the better part of the story comes. The
Brownsville Railroad is built, the town has grown south-
ward in the last few years, and the schemes planned by
Colonel Ropes have become realities, the lots have returned
to their boom values and more, and fortunate the men who
bought real estate and kept it. It was a long wait between
the collapse of the boom and the healthy reaction which
came gradually and surely, but the investment paid big in
the long run.
56 The Story of Corpus Christi
Many bought options on land, and this also paid, but
many of the investors were poor people and expected, as per
circular, to make enough on the first crop to pay for the
land and start a bank account. They lost and many of them
deserted their holdings. To add to the distress, the Bank
of Doddridge & Davis closed its doors. The news came like
a thunderclap and the old town awoke with a bound. All
sorts of stories were abroad, and as usual in such cases, the
ones losing least howled loudest and longest. This event
drove the last nail in the coffin of the boom, and things
looked blue. The depositors were eventually paid sixty cents
on the dollar. All sympathized with Mr. Doddridge, a good,
honest man, self made, and whose greatest sin was his trust
in his fellow-man. He never recovered from the shock
of the destruction of his life work, dying a few years after
the bank failure. The depositors took their per cent., and —
"Esta Bueno," let it go at that. But the blow fell heavily
on the new people who made part payment on homes. Many
of them were old people, and they not being able to meet
payments were forced to go. As if our troubles were not
sufficient for the day thereof, we had a terrible drought that
year. We were at a halt for a long time, had overbuilt, and
houses in many cases were let to caretakers, rent free. The
sound of the saw and hammer were strange for several
Our new hotel, the Miramar, built by a local stock com-
pany, on the beach where the Spohn Hospital now stands,
burned to the ground, the guests barely escaping with their
lives. Our cup of sorrow was running over, and for awhile
we lost heart. But things began to pick up gradually.
The women, as ever, in time of trouble, were to the
front. The Monday Club was organized. Among their first
work was the founding of a library for the High School, re-
claiming and beautifying Artesian Square, a little park in
the heart of the city. Under the rule of woman it was
changed from an unsightly weed-covered spot to a thing of
In this park is our famous mineral well. Some cures
made by this water are but little short of miraculous. I would
be afraid to tell them, as I scarce credit it if I had not
The Story of Corpus Christi 57
known the history of the cases, knew the patients before
and after taking, so to speak. The water has never been
exploited. It is free, and only those who test know its
Then the Women's Cemetery Association was formed.
They opened new cemeteries and cared for the old one.
Later, under the leadership of Mrs. G. R. Scott, a committee
of ladies met at the market hall and voted to form a stock-
company and build a public meeting place. The latter was
discussed from all points, one of the women declaring that
there was not enough ready money in Corpus Christi to erect
the hall. Airs. Scott was elected president, a committee of
four directors appointed, being Mrs. Jessie Grififin, Mrs.
Joshua Smith, Mrs. E. A. Born and Mrs. Mary Suther-
land. Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Born later resigned, and Mrs.
John Jordt and Mrs. P. Dunn were appointed in their places.
Mrs. S. A\'. Rankin was secretary and Miss Mildred Seaton
was treasurer, and the Ladies' Pavilion (now Olympic) was
the result. The ladies hold the real honor of being the first
stock company ever formed here who paid their stock-
holders in full, with legal interest for every day they used
it. This building was a boon to the town, as we had out-
grown the old City Hall. While the women were in charge
there were several notable conventions held there : Texas
Bankers. Texas Medical Association, Secretary of War
Dickinson spoke there at the time President Taft visited the
city, political meetings of both parties, Inland Waterway
Convention at which the Governor of Texas spoke, Texas
Press Association, and others.
But the most important of all the meetings, also in its
bearing and future prosperity of the city, was the reception
given the Committee of Texas Epworth League, who
were seeking a place for their annual encampment. \\'e
met the ladies and gentlemen of that committee, talked
matters over, showed them our bayside, on a beautiful shell
beach, off which there is to be found the finest bathing
grounds anywhere. Each August for eleven years the
City of Tents stood near General Taylor's old camp ground.
Another army was here, bent on a far different and
greater conquest than the American Army of occupati(<n
58 The Story of Corpus Christi
ever dreamed of. Under their banner of white and gold
they sought the conquest of the earth. To this annual meet-
ing came the best and brightest soldiers of the Cross, emi-
nent divines and scholars, missionaries. Under the leader-
ship of Rev. Frank Onderdonk came yearly the missionaries
from Mexico, making a fine showing of the work done
there. China, Japan, Korea, Brazil were all represented,
and where more than half a century ago armed men
swarmed and the sentinel kept his post, were spread long
rows of white tents. The sound of women's songs and
children's laughter displaced the bluff challenge. Hundreds
of electric lights were mirrored in the moonlit waves, and the
sound of prayer and praise was heard on the old camp
ground. During the years there has always been the most
perfect good feeling, a camp guard is employed, but his
office is a sinecure ; the rough element of society are as
scarce in its precincts as are serpents in the land of good
St. Patrick, and though many live in tents and cottages, and
as a rule well-to-do people, jewelry and other valuables care-
lessly left about are perfectly safe. No untoward event has
ever happened on the grounds. True, an occasional young-
ster is reported missing, but invariably the sea gives up its
very wet and happy boy or girl. The silver-haired grandpa
and small boy played together in the clear waters, with odds
in grandpa's favor. He can go into deeper water. Whole
schools of girls romp, boys shoot the chutes, mamas gossip
in circles, while the whole water line is covered with small
tykes who may safely cavort on the warm sands.
The Story of Corpus Christi 59
When Fitzsimmons Trained.
In the summer of 1895 Robert Fitzsimmons and his
family and followers came to our city. Bob was training
for his great fight with Corbett. He rented a brick house in
the northern suburbs, near the bay, and every day we would
see the long, lanky chap running or walking our streets, occa-
sionally trying to ride a bicycle, but at this he was no adept.
His pet lion cub roamed the premises unrestrained, but when
the news got out that he had disappeared from home, excite-
ment ran high, and for three days women kept their children
in and doors barred. Men riding in or out of town carried
a gun, while a posse organized and enjoyed the novelty of a
lion hunt in West Texas. On the fourth day the cub
crawled out from under the house where he had been in
hiding, and the scare was over. Fitzsimmons spent about a
month here, when the news came that Texas absolutely re-
fused to be disgraced by a prize fight within her borders,
Governor Culberson having called a special session of the
Legislature for the purpose of framing a law to fit the case.
Fitzsimmons and his wife, his mother-in-law and brother-in-
law, his followers and his cub departed. I must admit that
we Avere glad he won from Corbett for he had trained in
Slowly at first, but gaining momentum as the years
slipped past, our town forged ahead. The Brownsville Road
opened up a rich country south of us and gradually pros-
perity came to stay. Houses became scarce. The summer
and winter visitors became more numerous tvtvy year. We
could scarcely find shelter for all. One from the North, F.
E. Ring, originated the plan of laiilding small, cheap cot-
tages. Ring Villa sprang up almeist in a day. On four
leased lots he built twelve cottages. The idea caught the
public fancy and soon there were whole colonies of them,
and we could take care of all who came. Previous to this
60 The Story of Corpus Christi
time people had actually arrived and left on the next train,
being unable to find accommodations.
During the Spanish-American \\^ar we had one com-
pany of Texas troops stationed here. They camped on the
North Beach, and served their whole enlistment with us.
This being the only fragment of the war that came our way,
we made the most of it, and the boys held one long picnic.
Only one bit of bloodshed in the command. One soldier
dangerously wounded a comrade with a bayonet thrust. The
wounded man was sent to the hospital tent, and the bellig-
erent jailed. The officer in command sent to town for a
conveyance in which he and the prisoner mounted, officer
grasping his pistol, while two men walked on each side with
guns. Each and everyone who met them coming in joined
in the procession, so that they had a good crowd. Drays,
buggies, bicycles, horseback and footmen in attendance.
When they reached the County Jail the prisoner was turned
over to the civil authorities, and a few days later, when they
demanded him to carry him to military prison, the Civil
Court refused to surrender him. The sequel was, the man
got well, the war ended and the prisoner went free.
We had a great naval show on Nueces Bay right after
the Spanish-American War, portraying the destruction of
Cervera's Fleet. The first night the show was a failure. The
Mexicans who were to work the boats in the shoal water,
seeing the soldiers arrive with guns to man the fleet, got
suspicious. The story got out that they were to be killed in
the water. The news spread, and while trains from town
were carrying out thousands to view the spectacle, the
motive power of the Santa Maria and other vessels of the
hostile fleet were legging it back to safety. Next night crews
of white men were secured and the sham battle was grand,
simply magnificent !
The hostile ships lay in Corpus Christi Bay while the
Americans awaited them in Nueces Bay. The Spaniards
came singly as in the real battle at Santiago, were attacked
and set on fire, the soldiers representing the marines, and
the red lights representing fire. Powerful rockets from stove-
pipe cannon played havoc with the running Spaniard, a
magnificent show of fireworks throughout. The town paid
The Story of Corpus Christi 61
a considerable sum to secure the spectacle and the crowds
were so great that many had to keep to the trains and re-
turn, being unable to get accommodations. One car cleaner
at the depot got into trouble when the passengers of the
train which got in last began to come back and demand ad-
mission to the cars. He refused to let them in, locked the
doors and ran to 'phone the Superintendent. W hen he got
back they had climbed in at the windows, and again he ran
to 'phone for instructions. This time he got back to find
the passengers had retired for the night, on chairs, floor and
every available spot. For several days sleeping quarters
were at a premium. The town was crowded by enthusiastic
Americans, eager to see the portrayal of our latest naval
But this war was soon over, and our little command of
Texans went home, and the loafer quit meeting the man
from the Island who had heard heavy firing seaward. This
story got quite stale during hostilities. Poor old Spain had
not enough navy to guard her own shores, and none to hunt
honors on the Gulf.
The electric light reached here about icSgo or 1892, and
what a boon they were ! The kerosene lamp was good in
winter but very poor in summer, owing to the almost out-
door life we led, doors and windows wide open to catch the
breeze. Also the first auto arrived and claimed its share
of notice. I think the first car was the property of John G.
Kennedy, a wealthy ranchman. The second car to arrive
was brought on by one of our most popular physicians, the
late Dr. A. G. Heaney. This car belonged here, and many
of our people tasted the joy of automobiling for the first
time in the car of the kindly doctor, particularly the school
children, who were made happy for days by a lift of a few
blocks in the wonderful auto. Today Corpus Christi is said
to have more cars than any town twice its size in the State.
62 The Story of Corpus Christi
Visit of President Taft.
Our next very great event was the visit, in October of
1909, of William Howard Taft, President of the United
States. For months preparations to receive him were in
order. The revenue cutter "\^'indom" came over from Gal-
veston to hoist the President's flag and bring him across
the bay from La Quinta, his brother's ranch, twelve miles
away, on north shore, to our wharf. Meetings were held
and committees appointed. In the excitement our Mayor,
Dan Reid, was nearly forgotten. Finally committees w^ere
fixed. The cjuestion of dress for the reception committee
was broached. Some man, or it might have been a woman,
suggested a silk hat and tan shoes as proper. And this in
Texas ! But our never failing common sense prevailed, and
a go-as-you-please party of representative men met Presi-
dent Taft on Central Wharf, where the party had to thread
their way between cotton bales. It was a fair illustration
of how badly we needed deep water. IMayor Reid and two
City Commissioners rode with Mr. Taft in an automobile,
followed by a long line of cars, and preceded by a platoon
of mounted police.
Every eye w^as glued on the first auto, and there that
good natured face looked out at us, from under a new silk
hat — no, an old Panama which might have done duty on the
farm as an egg basket. Later the President told us this
story of the ancient headgear. He said that Governor Camp-
bell met him on his entrance into the State, at El Paso, and
there the two men made a compact. W'hile in Texas Mr.
Taft was to wear the battered Panama of the Governor, and
the Governor was to wear the President's silk hat. They
stuck to the bargain, but I imagine Mr. Governor was glad
when Mr. President flitted over the border of Texas.
A pergola was erected at the foot of the blufif on Mes-
quite Street. Seats placed on terraces on the face of the
bluff accommodated hundreds, while on the crest of the
The Story of Corpus Christi 63
hill were ranked the children of the public schools. A mili-
tary band from Fort Sam Houston was with them, and as
the President arrived they accompanied the children in the
National anthem, "America." The leader of the band was
cross, the children warm and excited. Two or three little
girls fainted and were borne from the held, and it was a
very ragged musical welcome accorded Mr. Taft. As he
ascended the steps to the platform he noticed two parties
of aged men on front seats. Learning that they were vet-
erans of the Blue and the Grey, he had them invited to seats
on the stand in the shade. Mayor Reid, in a few well chosen
words, introduced Mr. Taft to the audience, and here for
the first time many of our people saw the President of our
country. He won his hearers from the start. Looked just
as we expected this great American to look, and talked as
one of our own, though he gently hinted that he was not
President by Southern votes, but we loved him for what he
was, and a more loyal audience than that Texas crowd never
listened to a speaker than this one, who stood under the
burning sun on this ever-to-be-remembered day.
A company of militia from Brownsville aided the peace
officers in guarding the grounds, around which a fence had
been placed, and everyone entering had to get in at the well-
guarded gate. The writer noticed, as we suppose did every-
one else, a kind of nervous dread which seemed to pervade
the vast crowd, a fear of some untoward happening, a fear
for comfort and safety of our illustrious visitor. A news-
paper man standing outside of the low fence snapped a
camera. The snap sounded like a salvo of gatlins to those
nearbv. and inside a minute a couple of bayonets were at
his breast. He smilingly held up his camera and named his
paper, and we breathed free again. After the President's
talk he entered a waiting auto and visited the new Country
Club House, and golf grounds, which he formally opened.
Returning he was entertained at the home of Mrs.
Henrietta ^L King. At 3 o'clock he again boarded the
"W'indom" and sailed back across the bay to the home of
his brother, and the greatest day in the history of Corpus
Christi was over. We had met the President of our great
Nation, and were not disappointed in our American, that is
64 The Story of Corpus Christi
as to our white population. The colored citizens felt a little
disappointed as they were not particularly or specially
noticed, and they had given him their votes nearly to a man,
while our numerous Aztec or Spanish- American citizens
openly voiced their contempt for the whole show in un-
measured terms and good Mexican language. Anyone who
has met a Mexican officer, or a military band in full regi-
mentals, will understand why. They expected purple and
gold, tinsel and plumes, all the trappings so dear to the de-
scendants of the Indian and Conquistador.
The writer remembers one particular military band
visiting a neighboring city, time July 21, thermometer crowd-
ing the nineties. The bandmen wore heavy wool uniforms,
w4th broad band of gold lace down each leg of pantaloons,
gold epaulets on each shoulder, great heavy leather hats
with heavy red braid and plumes, and they were only band-
men. How ceaselessly they played, how earnestly they
played the sad peculiar music of their own land, so honestly
and earnestly that it became monotonous to the American
crowd who wanted to hear the decisions of the umpire, and
when a ball struck the leader on the hat and nearly upset
him, he bent to the blow but never missed a note.
But our great day, October 22, 1909, was over. A\'e
were pleased and proud of the honor. While Mr. Taft,
God bless him, carried a broad smile and the blessing of the
people away with him, our city, so crowded and gay. was
soon to know a great sorrow. The gay flags to hang at half
mast and the "trappings of mourning to replace the welcom-
The Story of Corpus Christi 65
Administration of Dan Reid.
Only a few days after Mr. Taft's visit our Mayor, Dan
Reid, was stricken with a fatal illness, and on December
15 the W'hole city sadly followed to its last resting place in
the old cemetery, the body of one of our most able sons.
Mr. Reid, Dan as his friends called him, Avas ever a public-
spirited citizen. In 1892 Corpus Christi installed a water-
works system. Mr. Reid purchased largely of the bonds,
and was for years president of the waterworks company,
the city purchasing the bonds just previous to his death. It
is a paying business now, but in its infancy it required a
world of coddling and good money to keep it going, and
literally Mr. Reid nursed it to maturity, and turned the stock
over to the city at 65 cents on the dollar. He, wuth a few
other public-spirited citizens, kept the company alive, and
the water flowing, through months of the greatest business
depressions and through years, when if the ledger balanced,
it did no more, turning it over the city, which would not
risk the price of installing it, in splendid condition.
Dan Reid was three times defeated for Mayor of the
city. In his fourth canvass he was elected. Not being satis-
fied with the Aldermanic form of government, he volun-
tarily resigned the office for which he had stood so often,
and with other prominent citizens applied for a charter
under commission form of government. This was granted.
a new election held, and he was again elected, serving only
a part of his term when the Grim Reaper came. But in this
short time, order came out of chaos. The city was placed
on a cash basis. City scrip, which had been as low as 25
cents on the dollar, was worth its face value. Better sani-
tary laws were made and enforced, employees paid promptly
and required to earn their salary, while the Mayor's salary
of one hundred dollars per month remained in the bank,
to be expended as the citizens wished, for the benefit of the
66 The Story of Corpus Christi
city, either in the extension of the water mains or street
An election was held under the auspices of the Daily
Caller, in which every citizen over eighteen years of age,
including women, were allowed to vote. Good roads car-
ried, but before the work could be mapped out the generous
donor was gone, and even his most bitter political enemy,
he had no other, felt that our town had suffered an almost
Mr. Reid came to Corpus Christi with the family of his
widowed mother in 1854. He was but two years of age at
the time, and remembered nothing of the trip from far-off
Glasgow, Scotland. He received a fair education in our day
schools, learned the builders' trade under the guidance of
the late E. D. Sidbury, which he quit and went into the sheep
business for a few years. Returning to Corpus Christi he
formed a partnership with H. R. Sutherland, and this firm
of Reid & Sutherland, Architects and Builders, was well
known for nearly twenty years, from the coast to the border.
And now, in the days of 1915, our old town is forging
upward. On the evening air is borne the noise of a city,
where a few years since the calm of a Sabbath stillness was
over all, the lowing of kine or the shrill whistle of the small
boy the only sound to break the silence, where now late into
the night, encroaching on the new day, the sound of the
clang of the car, puff of an auto, or chug of a motor boat
rend the air, while the laugh and shout of the merry bathing
crowds are abroad in the night, for the bathing is good the
year 'round, only taking a recess when a Norther arrives.
The calm of the old days of the Indian and the Spanish
cavalier has departed forever.
The first ball we have notice of was given by officers
under General Taylor. Undoubtedly some of the officers'
wives must have come out, and still we expect ladies were
scarce. We remember seeing an article some years ago in
one of our papers on old times, and it described an invi-
tation sent to Mrs. Belden, then a young matron, to attend
this ball. W^e suppose other ladies must have arrived, as
Mrs. and Miss Moore and Mrs. Belden are mentioned as the
only ladies here at the time of landing. The next on list is
The Story of Corpus Christi 67
the ball by enlisted men, at which our Irish Sergeant played
beau to Lucindy. Another invitation of which we saw a copy
was dated in the 50's. After mentioning time and place
the committee assured the ladies that perfect order would
be kept as an officer would be present to suppress any undue
Later many dances were given, and though most every-
one carried pistols, there is no record or tradition of any
unpleasantness. The inborn respect for women, of which
all Americans have a large share, made this not only possible
but sure. Many little dancing parties were given at private
residences by the young people both in town and country, at
which the old quadrille or cotillion and Virginia reel lasted
from dark till day. The slow two-step or languorous waltz
of the present was unknown, and dear to the memories of
the old-timers was .the sound of the violin and the whoop
of the prompter. But times change. During the stay of the
battalion here during the Spanish A\'ar, some of the boys
arranged a little private dance, at which quadrilles were
danced. vSuddenly on the night air arose sounds of apparent
strife. For blocks around, from dwellings poured men and
women. The men, true to Corpus Christi spirit, ready to
carry first aid, followed the sound to find that the noise
emanated from a vociferous prompter who was onto his
job. Revival of the old dances was a novelty at this date.
The most noted balls, however, were those given yearly
to and by the Fire Department. For thirty-seven years this
was the local social event of the season. In old days there
was a parade by day and a ball at night. At first we had
only a hook and ladder truck and a fire engine. These the
ladies decorated with evergreen and oleanders for the pa-
rade. Later we got hose carts for the different wards, and
then came the tug-of-war, each ward tr)ang to win the prize,
and the decorations could not have been surpassed in any
city. Fach and every flower of decorations was hand made,
and every petal of the thousands of flowers was carefully
examined before using in the w'ork. Every woman in the
ward was a willing helper, and days and long evenings were
given over to the work, and the finished work was grand.
At nicrht old Alarket Hall was buried, as to walls, under a
68 The Story of Corpus Christi
cloud of green flowers, and to this ball came the firemen and
their guests, little and big, rich and poor. Old and young
met once a year at the Firemen's Ball. And what hosts
those old boys were, every man of them a committee of one,
to see that everybody enjoyed the occasion, that there were
no wall flowers, that the ladies had the first and best seats
at the table, and what a table.
The ladies of the different wards, under a chairman,
arranged this, soliciting the supper and donating it This
supper became famous both as to quantity and quality, be-
cause cooked at home and sent in. Turkey or ham from one,
cake from another, and down the list. Quantity as every-
body wanted to give. A whole pig with a ruffled collar,
and an apple in its mouth. A log cabin cake, enough for
twenty hungry boys. Two beautiful white deer, in butter,
feeding on a green parsley lawn. A gift from the Convent,
an old English church, of cake, with steeple. But the great-
est artistic display was in the salads. Whole bouquets of
eatables, such spreads as have gone out of date forever.
During the past few years the growth of Corpus Christi
has been so great that the Volunteer Department, in a large
measure, has been supplanted by a paid department, splen-
didly equipped. And with the passing of the volunteers
passed the social features.
The Story of Corpus Christi 69
Some Early Entertainments.
Then one day in the 8o's the lightning rod man arrived
with his great team of gray horses and long wagon loaded
with rods. He proceeded to give open air concerts, fine
music and singing by a really good quartette of more than
ordinary ability, and between acts, a good talker, told us of
our daily danger from the clouds. W'e turned out nightly to
enjoy the show, and the thrills we felt when our danger was
pointed out. Nobody had ever been killed by lightning in
our town, and we arranged that no one should. We got
rods, some of the most timorous even putting five or six
rods on a small roof. This company made several visits to
us and we enjoyed every one of them.
Next came the medicine shows. They also gave nightly
concerts, which might have been enjoyed had they also not
brought news of so many new ailments. The Wizard Oil
Company was the first to arrive, and their oil is still a
favorite cure-all with many of us. The Diamond King also
held the public for a time, and a long list of companies and
cures followed, even to the present day, but the charlatan
of this day has no such audiences as his predecessors. The
earliest companies were a break in the monotony of the
times. Now amusement is more plentiful and we are more
fastidious in our tastes, though we are an amusement loving
people and our city classed as a good show town.
A most interesting public event of this kind to which
we went to a man, also woman, was our first Street Carnival,
the best of its kind. The tents were placed in the streets,
which was a novelty in itself. Here we saw the Flying
Woman and the first moving pictures, which were new at
the time. And the shooting galleries, where great fat tur-
keys might be and often were won, our first hamburgers,
hot waffles, and snowy popcorn came at this time. We think
this was about 1900. A\'e have had many Carnivals since,
l)Ut never one equal to this pioneer.
70 The Story of Corpus Christi
Horse races were always in order, one of which is
remembered by old-timers, in which two young ladies rode
for a prize, a fine side saddle. This race was arranged by
Colonel Kinney and attracted much attention. In the autumn
of 1898 a large colony of horsemen brought their string of
horses to winter here. They had sheds and a track in the
Rincon, and we had races galore, while our streets were one
continual horse show. The biggest event of this meet was
a ten-mile race between a lady from Kansas and a lady of the
Lone Star State. They changed mounts at the end of each
mile. Of course Texas won. They remained a few months,
then the beautiful horses were loaded on trains and shipped
out, and with them went their gentlemen owners with their
families, their drivers, jockeys, cleaners and all the riff-raff
which follow and disgrace this noble sport.
Early in the 80's a couple of herdic coaches were put
into commission on the streets, a stable built, and the first
pavilion ever erected in Corpus Christi was opened on the
beach near the bayou. A skating rink was opened and semi-
weekly dances were held there. The coaches, or herdies, as
we called them, ran daily north and south on Chaparral
Street, and on dance or skating nights did a big business.
The company owning them, of wdiich our popular townsman,
Major J. H. C. White, was president and manager, spent
considerable money in the venture, but after a few months
of honest effort abandoned the scheme of establishing cheap
transportation. Many years were to pass, much money to be
spent, a street railroad to be built and abandoned, the old
century to die and the new to be a lusty youngster, aged
ten, before a five-cent fare was pay on our streets.
But the young people of that day cherish many happy recol-
lections of those times.
The first city hack was brought on a few years after the
War by the veteran stable owner, John Fogg, and immedi-
ately found favor. An election was approaching and one
of the candi.dates scored a point by engaging the only hack
in sight to carry his friends to the polls. Things were going
fine with him, all his way, until he persuaded a gruff old
gentleman to ride to the voting place. Arriving, the old
fellow refused to quit without a longer ride. This was re-
The Story of Corpus Christi 71
peated over and over. Becoming angry, the candidate at-
tempted force, only to be met by a rather ugly gun. The
news got out and our angry politician was the butt of the
crowd. Up one street and down another sailed the hack with
its solemn passenger with the gun. The driver solved the
problem by driving into the stable and unhitching the horses.
Then, and only then, did our man condescend to alight, walk
to the box and vote for the other fellow. Other vehicles
followed, and even as a small town we supported two well
equipped livery stables, and the handy hack held its own
until the auto came to divide the honors. Previous to the
advent of the cab, the livery stables kept a line of road
wagons, vehicles suitable for travel across the country, as
there was no other method of travel until the stage lines were
In 1852 Corpus Christi was incorporated, and on the
first Tuesday in April of that year our good people met at
the polls and elected B. F. Neal Mayor. Of this gentleman
the writer is glad to be able to give a short sketch, furnished
her by an intimate friend of the family, and one time inmate
of Judge Neal's home. B. F. Neal was a Virginian by birth
and educated to the law. We do not recall the year he came
to Southwest Texas. That he was learned in his profession
is proven by the fact of his many services ; that he was fitted
for almost any position in life was also proven. We find him
serving as Mayor, District Judge, editor of one of the earli-
est newspapers. The Nueces Valley. As a soldier he com-
manded a company during the war between the States. Tak-
ing a great interest in the early schools, he was one of the
most prominent and useful citizens of the Corpus Christi of
his day. Judge Neal was twice married, his second wife
being a Miss Zula Haynes of Philadel[)hia. Mrs. Neal was
a Quakeress by birth, and a noble helpmate to her public-
spiritea, patriotic husband, a veritable leader in all works of
mercy, accepting the rough life of the frontier with a meek-
ness inherited from a long line of God-fearing ancestors. She
aided the poor, nursed the sick, and by her works was she
known. Should we ever have a Hall of Fame, the name of
our first Mayor and Zula Haynes, his wife, should occupy
a prominent niche therein.
72 The Story of Corpus Christi
In 1853 we find as Mayor of Corpus Christi one E. H.
Winfield. Of this gentleman I can tell nothing more than
his name. That his term must have been short we are sure,
as in the same year we see that E. R. Hopson is also on the
list as Mayor. Of this gentleman, as of his predecessor, we
know nothing except the name.
In 1854 we greet H. W. Berry as his Honor, and this
leads us to believe that the office was held for one year at
that time. A sketch of Captain Berry is given elsewhere.
He was at this time a comparatively young man, an ex-
officer of the volunteers who had served under General
Taylor. He returned to Corpus Christi at the close of the
Mexican A\'ar, to lead a long and useful life with us.
1855. Our first Municipal Father, Judge Neal, is in
office with us again.
1856. Henry A. Maltby, afterwards and for years a
prominent citizen of Brownsville, is Mayor.
1857. H. W. Berry again, but apparently for a short
time only, as we find from same records (copy furnished
writer by City Secretary O. O. Wright, January i, 1911).
that for 1857, 1858 and 1859 Mr. Richard Holbein, for many,
years a prominent ranchero, held this office.
1860-62. Captain Berr3\ during this turbulent time,
looked after the interest of the little war-ridden town as
1863-65. Dr. George Robertson, a native of Scotland,
held the reins of office, and at this time the position was
one of peril, as the enemy were often in evidence. On one
occasion a scouting party from the fleet espied three men
on Chaparral Street and chased them into the home of
Mrs. Swift, in the rear of the Robertson home (corner of
Schatzel and Water Streets). Two of the men went under
beds and were soon captured, but Mrs. Swift, with almost
superhuman strength, pulled out a wardrobe and the Mayor
slid behind it. She pushed it back into the corner, and he
remained through the hunt, safely hidden, the woman and
the captured men finally convincing the Yanks that they
had been seeing treble, as only two m.en were there. One
of the captured men was John Riggs. I do not remember
the name of the other. These bovs drew starvation rations in
The Story of Corpus Christi 73
a New Orleans prison until the close of the War, but the doc-
tor escaped. Dr. Robertson died of yellow fever in '67. The
house of good Mrs. Swift has made place for the elegant
home of E. T. Merriman, while the Robertson home, which
has for years been the home of his son and widowed daugh-
ter, Mrs. Jessie Clark, known to all the old residents for its
kindly Scotch hospitality, was removed, and upon its site
was erected Lichtenstein's Department Store, the first de-
partment store for Corpus Christi.
1866-67. ^^ • ^^- Staples, who opened the first lumber
yard in Corpus Christi. Mr. Staples afterward opened a
large ranch, and for years he and his good wife were promi-
nent in the social life of this section. Their ranch was ever
a welcoming haven, and both of them happy when surround-
ed by happy children.
1868-69. Colonel Nelson Plato. Here we have an
illustration of how soon we forget our political dififerences.
Colonel Plato came to Corpus Christi in the Union Army,
we believe in command of a colored regiment, and in the
next year or so we find him filling our highest local office.
We might suppose that the Colonel was elected by the Car-
petbaggers, were it not that he comes again later, after our
rights had been restored. The writer remembers him as a
very pleasant gentleman.
1870-72. J. B. Mitchell, an early settler. Pioneer hard-
ware merchant, at one time very wealthy. The name "J. B.
Mitchell Co." stood for integrity in business throughout
1873-74. P. Doddridge, pioneer banker. Notice else-
1875. Colonel Plato takes up the reins again and metes
out justice to the breaker of the law.
1876. A\'illiam Headen, one of the best loved men who
ever made a home with us, son of wealthy parents. He was
truly a sincere follower of the lowly Nazarene, and the large
and prosperous Methodist community of our town owes
much to his earnest loyalty to the early poor and struggling
church. Pie was such a man as to be remhered kindly
1877. T. C. Russell, eminent jurist, for many years
74 The Story of Corpus Christi
Judge of this District, finally resigning the office and refus-
ing further honors at the hands of his admiring constituents.
An ex-Confederate officer, a kindly man whose justice was
ever tempered with mercy in quantity.
1877-79. Hon. J. M. Moore. Notice of this grand man,
father-in-law of William Headen, elsewhere.
1880-83. John Baptist Murphy, lawyer. Also ex-
Confederate officer. Of this Mayor the writer can "hardly
be trusted to give an unbiased notice, and this without fear
or favor, as so far as known there is neither kith nor kin
of the Judge in Texas, nor was he a personal friend, but his
methods were so honest and unique that he is quoted to this
day. He drained our streets by cutting ditches to the bay.
The remains of the ditches are to be seen now, some of them
doing good service today. He worked city prisoners on the
streets, and if the prisoner worked he was given three good
meals a day ; if not he was idle on the traditional bread
and water. One man was arrested for going barefooted.
According to the charge of his Honor, a man who would
go barefooted in public was a vagrant. This man worked
out a good stiff fine, and either wore shoes or left town.
During the time of his service as Mayor a company of
Regulars was camped here for sometime, a light battery
which came for practice with the new gatling gun. One
day an ex-Confederate was met by one of our defenders
who had been drinking. The soldier pulled the gentleman's
pipe from his mouth, and a rough and tumble ensued. All
parties were arrested promptly. The pipe owner, a stranger,
had heard that the Mayor was a Yankee and expected to
pay a nice fine. Asked his story, he said : "I served with
Lee ; don't like the uniform, and when the chap caught my
pipe I hit him." "What," said the Mayor, "he attacked you
in that manner; do these men in uniform think they can in-
sult our citizens with impunity? You are discharged."
"Bring on the prisoner," and it required the utmost per-
suasion of the company officers, and strong assurances of
military punishment to save the soldier from a taste of Texas
justice. When Judge Murphy died, which he did during his
second term, our scrip was worth one hundred cents on the
dollar. Not one cent of debt, and a cash balance on hand of
The Story of Corpus Christi 75
$12,000. if I am not mistaken as to the exact sum. Anyway,
balance or not, taxes were small and our streets clean. True,
we were a small place and municipal expenses were small,
but we worked no more prisoners, and within a few years
scrip was cheap and taxes were not.
1884-85. George F. Evans. Mr. Evans served the un-
expired term of Judge Murphy to the perfect satisfaction of
our people, but I do not think he again sought the office. I
have no recollection of his name figuring as a candidate, and
in those days having so little to occupy our minds, we took
an immense interest in local politics.
1886-87. Captain C. C. Heath, a local merchant, guided
the destinies of those two years. During his term the San
Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad was built into Corpus
Christi, and we began to feel the first awakening, and to
meet people on the street whom we did not know.
1888-9T. Henry Keller drew two terms and made a
good Mayor. During his time the great Ropes boom started
and ended. Mr. Keller did much public work in which he
was ably helped by his lovable wife. Mrs. Keller visited
and welcomed the stranger, and in every way placed the
good of the town above personal matters.
1 892- 1 903. O. C. Lovenskiold, son of one of the oldest
families, a born Corpus Christian, held the ofifice at will, and
through a trying time. At the collapse of the boom, when
our city went through a depressing series of misfortunes, he
held the reins steadily and guided us safely through the
breakers. Being a gentleman of rare education and of
wealth, he was able to give both time and talent to the work
in hand during this time, the darkest, from a business view,
we ever knew. Property steadily decreased in value. More
than half our business houses were closed, and money with
which to keep the city affairs moving must have been hard
to find. Public debt was inevitable. The wonder was that
we had a shred of credit left, but we lived through, and re-
gret our Mayor did not live to see all the promise of our
f^rst boom more than fulfilled in the second.
1904-07. Dr. H. H. Segrest, a Mississippian by birth,
served through the above years as Mayor, and later as Com-
missioner. Being an ardent advocate of the commission
76 The Story of Corpus Christi
form of government, he satisfactorily looked after the city's
interest as Commissioner.
1908-09. Dan Reid. It was Mr. Reid's fortune to
begin his public life with a new and untried charter, but dur-
ing the few months of his incumbency he proved the feasi-
bility of the plan. A more extended notice elsewhere. Dur-
ing his term of office the President of the United States
visited Corpus Christi.
1910-11. Clark Pease, twenty-second man to hold the
office in the fifty-nine years since our incorporation.
In concluding the list of Mayors of our city, the writer
takes particular pleasure in comparing our first and last in-
cumbents of this office. Mr. Roy Miller was chosen our
standard bearer in 1913, re-elected by a large majority in
191 5, and if our first Mayor might come back from the
golden shore, his honest old heart would be gladdened to
know that his mantle had fallen upon such worthy shoulders ;
that today, as in the early days of our town, its Mayor is
the friend of every citizen. The bright glare of the electric
lights upon streets, lighted in his day only by the moon and
stars, would not blind his eyes to the fact that the people
of now are as able to distinguish an honest, upright man
as in the long ago. There is but one blot upon the record
of our Mayor; he was not born in Corpus Christi. This he
has remedied as far as possible by his marriage to a native
girl, and seeing that his children's first memories should be
of our Celestial City. Like our first Mayor, Mr. Miller is
never too busy, never too tired to listen to the voice of his
people, to aid and advise with them, to rejoice with the
merry, to sympathize with those who sorrow. With the
many blessings enjoyed by our city on the coast, we feel
disposed to place our whole-hearted, loyal Roy Miller as not
the least of these blessings.
In this list of men who have held the office of Mayor,
you will see by a glance at the column that we have been
particularly fortunate in our choice. Although almost on
the border, and for a long time, an isolated community,
there was never lacking, never a dearth of highly educated
people in our midst. For this same reason I ascribe our love
for schools. Whether they opened on the day (leneral Tay-
The Story of Corpus Christi 77
lor landed (when history really begins with us), I doubt,
but that they did shortly after I am sure. The country jus-
tice, as depicted on the stage, was never with us, but if our
first Mayor should come back, he would need all the nerve
he undoubtedly possessed to keep a calm demeanor. In his
day he proceeded to olTice on a deserted street, and only
when some festive cowboy or boy sailor had looked too long
on the red wine, did he ha\e a case on docket. An occa-
sional bad man of the card sharper variety sometimes
reached here and livened things up, but his principal busi-
ness was advisor-in-chief to the little community. And how
fit for this he was, this early Mayor! His principal work
after this was to agitate, write and talk deep water. Xo
entertaining Presidents or near Presidents' committees or
conventions was in his day's work. Just plain work, and he
did it well.
78 ' The Story of Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi Schools.
Some time in the 50's Colonel Kinney, perhaps pining
for recreation, sent to New Orleans and hired a circus. It
came on a steamer, bag and baggage, men and horses, wo-
men, children, canvas tent and all, and for one glorious
week the few residents and everything for miles around had
a perfect round of joyous excitement. The band played,
the riders performed their stunts, the concert woman sang,
black-faced comedians told funny stories to the end men,
and everybody was happy.
Then, as usual in old times, water became scarce.
Teams were hired and a long procession of wagons made a
daily trip to the Nueces River, fifteen miles away. For this
water the wagoners received one dollar and fifty cents the
barrel. They could afford to enjoy the show. But the
steamer returned and the show departed, bemoaned by all.
though every song, joke and stunt was memorized and
served up for years afterward. In memoriam as it were !
In 1877 we again had a show. Again it came from
New Orleans, but it was not so grand as Colonel Kinney's
circus. This time we hired the costumes and represented
the animals. A great elephant required the combined eft'orts
of two large men. Then the dromedary, camel, lion and all
the menagerie were there. The monkey family, represented
by small boys, was out in full force. Rex and his court
reached town on the Texas-Mexican train, at least they
came from the then new depot, and the more than creditable
procession, headed by a band, marched the length of our
two streets. At night a grand ball was given at the Market
Hall. The Queen of the Carnival was crowned and every-
body being invited, attended and enjoyed the festival. This
was the first and only Mardi Gras ever held in Corpus
Christi. It was promoted by the Master Butchers and not
repeated, we suppose, on account of the heavy expense. So-
cially it was a great success. Of those Master Butchers we
The Story of Corpus Christi 79
remember the names of August Ricklefsen, Henry Busch
and H. L. Dreyer.
Such things look and sound trixial in this day, but all
had a bearing on the future. The same spirit which prompt-
ed the circus and carnival prompted a try at the newly dis-
covered icemaking plant. We had one of the earliest, the
only one for a long time south of San Antonio. Then we
read of wonderful electric lights and the telephone and se-
cured both. Though small we were every ambitious, and
this has made a small city of our once little village beside the
sea. We have a peculiar style of our own in keeping up
with the times. Something good is proposed and a list
started. Some sign, knowing escape is impossible. Then
comes the tug. a second list goes out and more names se-
cured. Then the names of property holders is canvassed
and you must dig, for the good of the town, and sooner or
later you will put up. After a time you see the wisdom of
giving and the futility of trying to escape. Corpus Christi
expects every man to do his duty, and generally he comes up
to the expectation. We have built churches, schools, parks,
widened streets, and keep excellent public schools open for
a session of nine months, for both white and colored pupils,
one hospital, and various other minor enterprises, founded
by our people, either by taxation or volunteer contribution.
The earliest school of which we can get authentic data
was taught by one Mr. Whitely in a small house at the
corner of Lawrence and Chaparral Streets, where now stands
the St. James Hotel. Next, a school taught by Mrs. Dix.
Another teacher of early days was Mrs. George Robertson,
wife of our wartime Mayor. Those schools were in the late
40's or early 50's. In 1856 Colonel Lovenskiold opened a
more pretentious school than liad been known to our people
in bygone years. Colonel Lovenskiold, then a young man,
taught the higher classes, assisted by one Miss Garden, and
Mr. Croft had charge of the smaller classes. 'Later Mr.
Lovenskiold became a member of the Bar, and a Mr. Conrad
was employed to aid Mr. Croft and Miss Garden in the
school, though Mr. Lovenskiold still kept an interest in it as
superintendent, and his memory is revered by the few of the
80 The Story of Corpus Christ:
old pupils who are yet with us. One of them tells of a very
One cold morning two brothers, men in size, came to
school armed with pistols, looking for trouble with the
teacher for some fancied insult of the day previous. The
Colonel came in, and seeing the situation at a glance, told
the boys to put down their arms, which, after a moment's
hesitation, they did. He then ordered them to sit down.
He addressed them as if pleading a case before a jury. The
girls wept, then the small boys, and lastly the would-be des-
peradoes broke down and sobbed their promises to lead
better school lives. This was the one and only trouble with
pupils. He lived to a good age, becoming later a brilliant
man and successful lawyer, giving his best days and talents
to the upbuilding of his adopted State, and particularly to
his beloved Corpus Christi. He was an ofificer in the Con-
federate Army, at one time in command of this post.
Next we hear of Father Ganard teaching a boys' school,
and later aiding Mrs. Priour in keeping a little school open
during the darkest days of the War. Mrs. Priour was also
assisted by Lawyer Carroll and Judge Neal. It seems that
of those teachers, Mrs. Priour was the only one who could
be depended upon to open school daily, as in her memoirs
she tells of a school examination she was holding, at which
several of the parents of the children, and the three gentle-
men named, Ganard, Carroll and Neal, were present. The
street door, which was closed, was suddenly battered in and
some of the ladies sitting against it overturned. In the con-
fusion the gentlemen departed by the back door, and the
officer in command of the guard, seeing only women and
children present, w^ithdrew. This party of guards was on
a raid, and had apparently been directed to the place in
search of Mr. Carroll and Judge Neal.
These gentlemen seemed to have been a voluntary school
board and only able to attend when the Rebels were in
command of the city. Later Mrs. Price taught school here.
The Hidalgo, a school for young men and boys, was founded
by Professor Doherty, w'ho was president of the school for
many years, afterward selling out to Professor Campion,
The Story of Corpus Christi 81
who kept the school until the excellent public schools estab-
lished by the State made its maintenance unnecessary. Pro-
fessor Doherty was a gentleman of rare ability, and the new
country and village were fortunate in having people of this
class as citizens. The family name is prominent still in this
and adjoining counties, and we believe that the lady superin-
tendent of the public schools of Bee County is a member of
this family, who gave much for the cause of education at an
early date, and to whose teaching we believe we owe much
of our prosperity. Though for many years a border town,
we were never a lawless community, or ever disgraced by
border feuds or mob rule.
Professor Meredith established a school for young
ladies. Among other teachers of an early day w^ere Pro-
fessor Carpenter and wife, Professor McOmber and wife.
Mrs. Richardson, a Mr. Easterly, Mr. Richardson, Miss
Burke, and for a while, at a very early date, Prof. E. A.
Atlee. Professors Hopson and Butcher taught at different
times. As the town was clustered on the waterside, the
earlier schoolhouses were on Water Street. Later came the
public schools, and to get more room, the first public school-
houses were built on the bluff, one for the white and one for
the colored children. Later the colored school was moved to
a new site, and their first building fitted up for a high school
for white pupils. Now Corpus Christi has a magnificent
High School building, which was erected at a cost of seven-
ty thousand dollars, and- three splendid fireproof ward
schools, besides several other smaller buildings.
The children of today are reaping the harvest from
seeds sown in early days by those hardy, conscientious
teachers. Education was ever paramount with us. In addi-
tion to public schools, the good Sisters of the Convent of
Incarnate Word have for years conducted academies for
young ladies and boys, in which the student is carried from
the alphabet to the languages, music and art. It is an ex-
82 The Story of Corpus Christi
The Pastores are peculiarly Mexican, and are held only
at the Yuletide season. To the Anglo-Saxon they sound
almost sacrilegious, but these simple-minded people follow
only the customs of their fathers. We presume they are
the sole remaining link between the first of theatricals, fos-
tered by the Church, and the modern drama. Anyway, at
each Christmastide, actors are chosen and a place selected
for performance. A great drawback is in selecting the site.
An jacal, or hut, is cleared, and being so small, only a few
spectators can view the show. Another serious objection is
the total ignorance of the performers as to the value of time.
A performance scheduled to come ofT on a certain date may
open at 8 o'clock or at ii :30, just when everybody is ready.
The first and leading character in the Pastores is Jesus
Christ, who on the first night appears in a manger of
tissue paper and tawdry finery. Comes the Wise Men, led
by a star (very evident) to worship and bring gifts. Joseph
and Mary in charge of the Babe. The Wise Men are shep-
herds and carry crooks. The devil, we believe, also appears
at the beginning of the show. Songs and chants, perhaps
several centuries old. are repeated, and the show closes in the
wee small hours. Next night another chapter from the life
of our Savior is illustrated. The Saints are introduced as
the story progresses. Judas ■ Iscariot comes on to aid the
devil, who is ever present, and the good Saints are kept busy
to thwart him. Each night has its chants and talks and
actors. For twelve nights this passion play goes on. As
the present actor learned it from his father, he transmits
it to his children, and wherever there is a few of the Mexican
race gathered together, there is given the Pastores, a cross
between a Christmas festival and a religious duty.
Though San Antonio, with her usual modesty, claims
to be the only city in Texas in which you may see the play,
The Story of Corpus Christi 83
you will find it anywhere on the Texas border, and through-
out Mexico, the only diiTerence being in a richer community,
perhaps finer costumes and manger, but the play will be
identical, and in a city of some size there will be several
plays going on at the same time, and while the house in
small, the yard will be packed with spectators who will
stand for hours and take turns in looking in at the door or
window, growing noisy or applauding only when St. Peter
or some other good Saint has a tilt with the devil, in which
his blackship always gets worsted, and the Church triumphs.
For this peculiar, half civilized people, discovered by Cortez,
stick to the customs and religion of their conquerors.
The niche in the social ground plan into which fits the
negro of the Southern States, the half-breed of the North-
west, the Chink of the Pacific slope, is filled by the so-called
peon Mexican in Southwest Texas. Mexican he was in the
beginning, and Mexican to all intents he remains, though
his father, grandfather or great grandfather probably was
born in Texas. He is eligible to good schools, and is em-
ployed from youth to old age by white people. He never
adapts himself to their customs, or speaks their language,
nor does he require wealth or worry about the future. He
is willing to work for a part of the time, but has not the least
fear of losing his job. Of the women of this class only an
occasional one of them will work. They are good and capa-
ble servants to a certain extent, but somebody must think
for them. They keep the kitchen neat and clean, are good
chambermaids, but I never knew one who could be entrusted
with any but the plainest cooking, nor have they the least
desire to learn. The men will work exceedingly well for the
people who understand them, and size up and "soldier" on a
stranger. Mexican servants are used almost exclusively on
the ranches. They are perfectly content with just enough
to keep hunger away, and a hut to live in. As a class, they
are inveterate gamblers, and any extra money will go on
the first game or chicken fight he finds.
They are the most hospitable people in the world, and
will divide the last tortillas (thin corn cakes) with a friend.
They have the same food one day as another, tortillas
and frijoles (pink beans dried and boiled with a little pepper
84 The Story of Corpus Christi
and lard for seasoning). On festive occasions they make
tamales (meat highly flavored with pepper, rolled in a corn
dough, wrapped in a corn shuck and steamed). The finished
product is about the size of a fat cigar, and very toothsome.
On very extra occasions the filling is varied by adding cur-
rants and raisins, or using chicken in the place of beef. The
foundation of all their dishes is plain corn. This they soak in
lime water and then grind to a paste on a stone called a
metate. Only a Mexican woman could manipulate one.
Their grocery bills are very modest, and with their frugal
w'ays they might become well to do, but seem to have no
ambition along that line, and though they may attend school,
which a few of them do, they scorn to speak any but the
Spanish language, and any attempt to better their condition,
either by Church or State, has failed signally. They are
veritable children in some respects, whole families visiting
the cheap shows and riding the hobby horses, or enjoying
any childish amusement, with never a thought for tomorrow.
In their amusements the Spanish and Indian blood is
apparent. Bull fights are, of course, prohibited under our
flag, but cock fighting is popular. A few years since they
had, and may have yet, a festival on St. John's Day, called
"Running the Rooster," only it sounds better in Spanish.
Mounted men rode at full speed and caught at the head of a
well-greased rooster, who was suspended by the feet at right
height to be grabbed by passing horsemen. If he succeeded
in getting the head from the fowl, or pulling the fowl down,
he won. This is cruel, and I expect now prohibited on
most ranches. Naturally cruel to animals, he is kindly in
home life, particularly to the aged, and clannish to a de-
gree, whole families of several generations occupying one
hut. The advent of the hurrying stranger has changed his
habits somewhat. Where he used to work every day of the
week for fifty cents the day, he now gets a dollar or a dollar
fifty, and only works half the time, no better off than in the
old days. He, like the Chink, learns his work, and under
no circumstances varies unless possibly when shown some-
thing new. The women of all classes do exquisite drawn
work, and beautiful sewing by hand. But their dress is the
same, a skirt and shawl, called in Spanish, rebosa, summer
The Story of Corpus Christ:
and winter, and they seem perfectly indifferent either to
heat or cold.
This sketch, of course, refers to the class known as
peons in Mexico, the class to which President Diaz handed
the order to keep out of Mexico City during the Centennial
of 1910, unless they wore pantaloons, shoes and hats; the
class who prefer exposing their children to smallpox and
being done with it, to having them vaccinated, and who hide
their sick from the American doctors. A class far more
picturesque than clean, giving ordinary care to any work on
hand, and enjoying idleness as no other people can, but a
very necessary element in this country where no other ser-
vants may be had, though perfectly useless to the stranger
who does not understand his ways. He is apparently with-
out reasoning power. 1 f employed in midwinter and told to
start morning fires, he will keep them going in July if not
stopped. Or if irrigating the garden is one of his duties, he
will start the water flowing at the usual hour, though a
heavy rain be -falling, and the garden under several inches
of water. Consequently the employer must be on duty every
h(jur of every day.
In a file of old papers, the Nueces Valley published in
Corpus Christi, we find under the date of Saturday, August
2.^, 1870, the retiring address of the founder of the paper,
B. F. Neal. He says : "This issue terminates our connec-
tion with the paper. When we commenced the publication
of the Valley, our town was prosperous, and gave evidence
of future greatness, but things now are not like they were.
Another consideration, our health has gradually been giving
way for the last twelve months. We do not feel able to
attend to the duties of publishing a newspaper. We leave
it to younger heads, men possessing more intellectual and
physical ability than we do at this time."
He then states that all contracts for subscriptions and
• advertisements will be fulfilled by his successors. The value
of the paper will be greater, as it will hereafter be the of-
ficial organ of this District. In another article Judge Neal
emphatically declines to serve on the County Radical
The old Southerner declines to profit by the niisfor-
86 The Story of Corpus Christi
tunes of his people, or to join the forces of his enemy, and
this child of his brain, solace of his old age, his beloved
paper, passes out of his hands and is edited by one
Under date of November 21, 1870, we find the follow-
ing order from the State Capitol, verbatim: "Proprietor of
Nueces Valley. You are hereby notified that I have this
day appointed your paper, Nueces Valley, the official organ
of i6th Judicial District. Signed E. J. Davis, Governor.
James P. Newcomb, Secretary of State, in year of our Lord
1870, Independence of Texas Thirty-fifth year." This noti-
fication did not reach Corpus Christi until late in December.
On December 24 the editor tells the public that his paper
has been appointed ofificial organ for the following counties :
Nueces, Calhoun, San Patricio, Victoria and Duval, the
latter unorganized. He also notified his readers that any
legal notice published in any other paper, or any notice of
sale, or any sale made, would be void, unless due notice of
same was published in his paper.
F'or the next few years this editor had a clear monopoly,
and little but legal notices appeared in its columns, but we
gather a few local items. Copying from issue of August
24, 1870, we get : "To the recruiting ofificer at Corpus
Christi : Go on with recruiting, no change in order No. 3.
Signed by the Governor." The next issue calls attention :
"Young men between ages 18 and 45 wishing to join Ninth
Regiment, Mounted State Guards, Colonel T. C. Barden, call
at City Hall at 8 p. m. Saturday evening when company will
be organized and elect officers. Men and officers will be
mounted and equipped immediately." Later we learn that
they met and elected D. Sprague, Captain; M. \\'. Myers,
First Lieutenant ; William Ohler, Second Lieutenant.
Later Sheriff John McClare reports that he had en-
rolled three hundred and sevent) militiamen. This was the
famous State Guard with which Governor Davis attempted '
to rule Texas, and which to this day are remembered as
licensed freebooters, and rendered their name of State Guard
a term to be hated. But in our part of the State we needed
this guard to defend our border from raiding Indians and
Mexicans. Their work was legitimate, and the good people
The Story of Corpus Christi 87
of this section never realized what Carpetbag rule meant to
other parts of the State, and many good men enrolled for
the protection of their homes. But better times were fast
coming. In October, 1871, the registered vote of our coun-
ty was seven hundred. In November, same year, the county
goes Democrat by five majority. Better still, the District
hands in a Democratic lemon of fair size. Vale Carpet-
bagger forevermore. Texas has again won her independ-
ence, and we are glad t(j relate more pleasant events.
The Story of Corpus Christi
Early Newspaper Articles.
On October i, 1871, the first public school opened in
Corpus Christi with one hundred and forty-six pupils, the
late Judge Stanley Welch coming down from San Antonio
to organize it. He succeeded and placed Professor Hanna
in charge as superintendent, and the children of that day
and time had several surprises coming their way. Professor
Faupel opened a music school. Better still, Professor Mc-
Donald opened a dancing academy. The Convent of the
Incarnate Word advertised for pupils. What a lot of work
for our one hundred and forty-six shavers. But the older
people were keeping pace, and things were picking up rap-
idly. The old light house on the blufT was torn away. It
was never used, but it was picturesque and its removal was
regretted. The first fire engine came about this time and
our first fire company organized, with the kindly, genial
Felix Nossel as president, and the ec}ually popular James
McKenzie as secretary.
From files of the old papers we see fine loin steaks ad-
vertised at five cents the. steak. There were no barbed wire
fences in those days. In December, 1871, Captain H. Haw-
ley, of the schooner Bessie, brings in a fine lot of green
turtles and distributes them among his friends. Fish are
torpid from cold and many picked up in shoal water, particu-
Other items of this holiday season of '71 and '72 were:
"Herman Meuly has an up-to-date book store." "There
are at present twenty-eight pianos in town." City Marshal
P. Whelan publishes a notice that dogs must be tagged, and
hogs penned up. Our artesian water is found to contain
sulphurate of hydrogen gas, carbonic acid gas. sulphate of
soda, chloride of calcium, sodium, bicarbonate of iron. The
well has stopped flowing and the citizens are wanting it
started again. About this date a firm at Banquette sent in,
The Story of Corpus Christi 89
as payment for goods, to Colonel N. Gussett, a goods box
and a corn sack full of silver coin.
Mr. D. Hirsch opened a dry goods and grocery store.
This gentleman was a citizen of the old school, and Corpus
Christi owes much to his memory. In addition to his large
business interests, he was identified with every public move-
ment for the good of our city. He was president of the
■ first National Bank ever opened here. He gave much time
and care to our public schools, and as president of the school
board, did much to make our High School one of the finest
in the State, and one of the first three schools to be afi^iliated
with the University of Texas. Going back and still quoting
the Valley paper, we find a report on an election for Justice
of the Peace. In 1870 a Governor's proclamation published
orders for the polls to open on Monday morning, and to
stay open until the following Thursday at sundown. Think
of it, four days to poll seven hundred votes !
On May 13, 1871, w^e find the first notice of a bonus
asked of our people, when the freeholders of the city petition
the Mayor, J. B. Mitchell, to order an election to decide by
ballot if we will vote bonds to the amount of $25,000 to pay
the Texas Navigation Company to dig a channel up to our
wharf. I give the names of the freeholders of that date :
Charles \\'eidenmuller, J. W. Ward, H. L. Allen, James R.
Barnard, J. S. McCampbell, Felix Nossel, C. Cahill, F.
Stephenson. James McKenzie, L. Webber, Byrne & Buckley,
T. Baldeschwiller. H. T. O'Brien, John Dunn, J. Pollan, J.
Cody, F. Werner, R. Doherty, Ben Gravett, F. Overton,
William Dyree, Susan Leonard, Joe Almond, W. B. Wrath-
er, Fred Busse, H. Taylor, Ed Windisch, Richard Power,
R. Jordan, J. C. Russell, William Headen, Thomas C. Kear-
ney, George F. Evans, H. W. Berry, George Hobbs, T. B.
Mussett, F. Fabebe, P. Leonard, B. F. Neal, Thomas Allen,
T. Parker, P. Benson, J. T. Atwood, Pat McCabe. L. D.
Brewster, George Gold, J. R. Peterson, E. T. Joy. J. Fitz-
simmons, T. Forsch, W. S. Rains, P. Whelan, Henry F.
Barnard, A\'illiam Headen, Sr., C. Lovenskiold, \\ . Staples,
John Fogg. P. Hoffman, P. H. McManigle, P. Doddridge,
J. B. Mitchell, Kletus Hoffman, A. Albertson, Kate Mc-
Manigle. Alonza ^Montgomery.
90 The Story of Corpus Christi
The election is ordered for June 3, 1871. We quote
returns. "Hurrah ! The election is over ! Never before
have we been called on to vote on a matter of public import-
ance. On the first call Corpus Christi comes out right side
up. The entire registered vote of the city is one hundred
and eighty-one. W'hen the polls closed it was found that one
hundred and fifty had been cast, every one of them for the
channel and not one against it."' And to this day, 191 5, we
vote aye to everything proposed for the good of the city.
On June 17 Governor Davis visited the city and sold
his home to N. Gussett for four thousand dollars. The house
yet stands, corner Broadway and Leopard Streets. P. Wlie-
lan was City Marshal. The Corpus Christi and Indianola
U. S. Mail line advertised, "Fast schooners, Agnes, Henri-
etta and Emily. Captains Moore, Stephenson and Stein-
"The Presbyterian ladies netted six hundred dollars
on a fair for their church. Gen. S. G. Brown was Revenue
Collector for this District, Thomas Kearney for this port.
Twenty-three large carts of bonded goods were sent by S.
D. Brewster to the City of Mexico." Again quoting, "June
I, fine grapes grown in Corpus Christi. Sweet potatoes sell
at four dollars per bushel. Mr. J. W. Scott tells editor that
best beeves sell for $12 to $15 per head. May 13, 1871, ter-
rific hailstones fell west of Corpus Christi, wounding four
men, and killing seventeen cattle for James Bryden, who is
starting a herd to Kansas."
Our paper now gets a little spiteful. We quote the
editor : "We thought that the War ended on the Rio Grande,
but it seems that Judge Russell has renewed hostilities. He
has dismissed the quarantine officer at Point Isabel for the
sole reason that he is not a physician." Then a long article
as to this lese majesty. "He not only dismissed the ofificer,
but jailed one Captain Burke of the State Militia who at-
tempted to reinstate him." Captain Burke refused to accept
freedom and waited for Governor Davis to intervene, but
the old State was gaining her freedom. Davis had pressing
business at other points and Judge Russell lived to lead many
a Democratic meeting to victory.
Dodderidge & Lott opened the first bank in Corpus
The Story of Corpus Christi 91
Christi. We copy a big ad of September 13, 1870: "One of
the largest exhibitions of stock ever seen in West Texas will
be sold without reservation on the above date at Rancho
Palo Alto, twenty-one miles west of Corpus Christi. Fif-
teen hundred head of horses, mules and colts, sold in lots to
suit purchaser. Also cattle, two thousand head. Sheep five
thousand head, improved sheep. Also Laguna or Palo Alto
Ranch, 500 acres with improvements. Good dwelling of five
rooms, kitchen, outhouses and good stock pens. Terms cash
or its equivalent in U. S. currency, on delivery of property.
The Nueces County jockey Club, recently organized, will
have a committee on hand to judge stock and award pre-
miums in accordance thereto, to be governed by the rules of
the Club to be known at time. To give greater attraction
to the occasion a grand barbecue will be given in a grove
near the mansion house. I-'or the sporting community ar-
rangements will be made for all kinds of amusements, bull
fights, horse racing, cock fights, target shooting. It is in-
tended by its projectors to make this the most interesting
meeting of stock and stockmen ever held in Western Texas.
Signed, J. James and others." We suspect that one name
represented the whole push, that one man constituted the
Nueces Club, and that this same gentleman wanted to turn
his holdings into money, or its equivalent in greenbacks, and
get out. The old paper of long ago tells us nothing further
of the meeting, and we copied the old ad to illustrate the
difference in amusements combined with business of long
ago and present day, and wonder what part fell to the
92 The Story of Corpus Christi
Tlie First Churches.
The first Methodist Sunday School was organized in
Corpus Christi in 1858. We have not the names of the
founders of this school, but of the early teachers we are
able to record the names of William Headen, Ed Wlndisch,
G. B. Williams and wife, Elder Headen and. wife, Col.
John Moore and wife and daughters. For a long time this
church was the only Protestant church in this section, and
all Protestants met for worship there. The old church stood
on the back of a lot at the corner of Mesquite and Mann
Streets, a small adobe house with seating capacity of not
more than two hundred.
The Masonic Fraternity owned a large, rambling, two-
story lodge room on the front of the lot. This building was
also used as a schoolhouse, and around these two buildings
was centered almost the entire social life of the town. Big
meetings were held to which came the entire Protestant
community. Dinner was brought and the day spent in
prayer and praise, with perhaps a little gossip at intervals.
Cotton quilts and tiny pillows were furnished by the sisters
for the comfort of the small children, and the mother of a
large family of youngsters did not consider the size of her
family an excuse for staying away from church, and if she
wanted to place them and herself in the social swim, she
must begin in the church. The good women also organized
a band of hope and temperance council, which met weekly
in the Masonic Building. Little plays were gotten up, reci-
tations learned, drills taught, and the public came to applaud.
The Methodist people recently completed a fine new
church on the site of the old building, and we feel proud of
our progress, but doubt if ever again we will do the good
work as it was done in the old days. But times change, and
we must keep up with the times. The Masons sold out to
the Methodists and built a lodge room in the southern part
The Story of Corpus Christi 93
of the city, and in 191 4 it was replaced by an up-to-date
Shortly after the Civil War the other Protestant de-
nominations withdrew and built churches of their own. The
Presbyterians have a fine brick church, the munificent gift
of Mrs. H. M. King, a memorial to her husband, Capt.
Richard King. The Baptists have a new brick church, a
credit to the congregation and a pride to the city. The
Christian Church people have a comfortable tabernacle.
They also have several small places of worship in the city.
The Episcopalians have a church on one of the most desir-
able sites in the city. The Catholics, who were first to or-
ganize a church here, have a church for the Knglish-speak-
ing people, a C^erman and a Mexican church. Also a large
convent where the good Sisters maintain a most excellent
school for young ladies, many girls coming in from farms
and ranches to take lessons with those lovable women.
On June 7, 1872, the village was terribly excited over
the news of the murder of Mr. George Hatch, an old and
respected citizen. He was shot to death in his buggy, on the
north side of the reef, in full view of the town. Mr. Hatch
was an early settler and owned a splendid vineyard at Ingle-
side. His habit of making a weekly trip to Corpus Christi
for mail and supplies was undoubtedly known to his assas-
sins, who laid an ambush and shot him. He fell forward
across the dashboard in a kneeling position. His slayers
cut out his pockets, took his horses from the buggy, and
fled. A few hours later a passing traveler found the body
and brought the news to town. His slayers were never
caught. The citizens were terror stricken at the boldness of
the crime, in open day and in view of the Court House.
This old gentleman, 83 years old, was most foully slain, and
obviously by parties wdio knew his habits, and who knew the
locality. A mass meeting was called and a volunteer guard
placed nightly over the sleeping hamlet. The people were
thoroughly aroused over the crimes, including the attack on
Captain King, the murder of Mr. Murdoc, and the poor
men at Pensegal. But crime in the \icinity held its own
until the famous raid of 1875. At this time the hunt for
criminals was so earnest, that probably the gang which had
94 The Story of Corpus Christi
been operating in this county were exterminated for this
Unless there is something in a name, and our name of
Body of Christ was a protection, I cannot understand how
our little settlement escaped annihilation. This little town,
surrounded by a dense wilderness, in which lurked the sav-
age on hunt for scalps and lawless Mexicans hunted out of
their own land. True, our men adorned themselves with
six-shooters and were fine shots, but except for a few days
or nights after some startling crime, no guard was set, or
precautions for safety taken. We bathed, boated and lived
as careless as we do today, and the town might have been
rushed and taken at any time. But our Mexican citizens
claim that storms and other calamities are averted by the
name and would not change it to commonplace Smithville or
Jonesboro for a King's ransom.
We come now to a record of the old families of a later
date. Men who came to our new country to begin all over
and mend fortunes broken by the Civil War, men who gave
a new start, men who gave a new impetus to the town, who
lived the remainder of their days here, and whose children
and grandchildren are of the old guard of this new, hustling,
growing city of today.
The Story of Corpus Christi 95
Some Early Settlers.
William Biggie, of the Confederate Navy, and who was
one of the crew of the steamer W'ebb, which attempted to
pass New Orleans from Vickshurg, and its Yankee gunboats
to the open sea. The Webb was captured, but Mr. Biggio
lived to tell the story of the foolhardy attempt, and of his
experience in a Northern prison. For twenty years he was
proprietor of our one hotel, the St. James, and entertained
everybody of note who visited our town. He was a man of
unbounded charity, and while entertaining the noted visitors,
had ever a guard of mendicants at his kitchen door, and
William Biggio turned no man away hungry, whether he had
the price or not. The good name is perpetuated by several
sons and one daughter.
Captain James Hunter, an ex-Confederate ofificer,
opened a livery stable and prospered.
Mark Downey, for years a dealer in stoves, genial,
kindly, and a credit to his adopted land. He was at one
time a member of the City Council, and also second post
commander of our first camp of Confederate Veterans. He
was an Irishman and proud of it, though born in London, a
devout Catholic, one of his brothers being a Priest. He be-
longed to Hays' Louisiana Brigade, and came to Corpus
Christi with his young wife directly after hostilities ceased,
remaining in business until his death, a few years since. Mr.
Downey is survived by several daughters and one son, Jo-
seph. They are all Southerners, and proud of the fact.
Colonel Spann, a courtly gentleman of the old school ;
his sons and daughters arc residents of different localities in
George French, a merchant and for years a county of-
ficial, was in the fight at Fort Esperanzo. He commanded
a battery, and years afterwards a brother ofificer. now in the
Confederate Home at Austin, told me that the Rebs got so
excited that Captain TVench was in the act of storming the
96 The Story of Corpus Christi
other Confederate battery which he commanded ; that he had
to hold his fire and surrender to get the mistake rectified.
M. Lichtenstein, also a son of the South by choice, made
a new start in life shortly after the close of hostilities, start-
ing in a moderate way in dry goods and clothing, and
gradually built the great business which two of his sons
conduct today. The youngest son is an officer in the
United States Navy, and will serve under the old flag as
faithfully as did his honored father under the beloved
Southern Cross. Maurice Lichtenstein was at one time a
prisoner of war at Camp Chase, and though he had no
strong ties in Texas, he resolutely refused to take the oath
of allegiance to the United States, though by so doing he
could have left the prison with all its horrors, and found
ease and comfort with Northern relatives. He voluntarily
returned, on being exchanged, to his command, Green's
Texas Brigade, and served to the end of the War.
R. G. Blossman, for years the leading grocer of our
city, was of a staunch Southern family, having lost two
elder brothers in the army. Mr. Blossman also started in
a small way and until 1914 conducted a large business built
up by his energy and business methods.
Captain James Thompson, a Kentuckian by birth, was
for many years in business with Mr. Blossman. He also-
was an ex-Confederate, and retired from business a few
years since. His death occurred in 191 5.
August Ricklefsen, though born and reared in Germany,
became an American citizen in every sense of the word,
having served with poorly equipped, poorly rationed, and
altogether unpaid Rebel Cavalry which patrolled on the
coast. A good soldier ever makes a good citizen. August
Ricklefsen was both.
John Uehlinger was also a German who became a
Southern soldier and stayed with his people, turning his
cavalry saber not into a pruning hook but to a scoop, con-
ducting a grocery and bakery for many years, aiding many
of his countrymen to get a business start in the New World.
James McKenzie doffed the gray and opened the first
store in Corpus Christi for the sale of paints and painters'
supplies. Mr. McKenzie was killed by a street car many
The Story of Corpus Christi 97
years ago, being the only victim of the early dummy line
built here during the Ropes boom. "Little Mac," as his
friends called him, was a good man. ever ready to visit
and assist the sick in the days when hired nurses were un-
Captain Thomas Beynon commanded a cavalry com-
pany in the coast section, and made a noted ride of twenty-
one miles to get to the bombardment of the city, reaching
here with but a corporal's guard of his company, owing to
the poor condition of their mounts. The Captain went
into the livery business, and operated stage lines to the Rio
Grande until the railroads arrived. He was at one time
Sheriff of our county, which office he resigned to take a
position with the Laureles Pasture Company, afterward re-
turning and resuming, with his sons, the li\ery business.
His death occurred in 1914.
Captain Oliver crossed the Red River into Texas the
day that war was declared against Mexico, served in that
w-ar, in the Indian Wars, and again in the Confederate
Army. The Captain told the writer an interesting story of
one of his Indian fights. He was in Ford's Regiment and
they had found the foe in the swamp of the Nueces River.
A hot fight ensued and the order was passed to get ready
to retreat. In the regiment was a man named Lyons who
had been captured when a child by these Indians, and spoke
the language fluently. ' When the order reached him to
retreat at the signal of a bugle call, he said: "Run back
and tell the Colonel to hold on ; I hear the Indians sending
out the same order." Sure enough, in a few minutes the
Indians were in full flight, and the whites scored a victory.
W. B. Wrather, a Kentuckian by birth, served in border
warfare, and later in the Army of the Confederacy, aiding
the cause with his modest fortune, accepting State war-
rants for gold, and to the shame of our great vState, those
warrants were never redeemed.
Of other Southern sympathizers, or soldiers, were the
Dunns, the Mussetts, the Colon family. J. B. Murphy, M.
Woessner. Alexander Dove, a native of old Scotia, who,
like Wrather. advanced gold to his adopted State and re-
ceived worthless paper in payment. The brothers, D. and
98 The Story of Corpus Christi
J. Murphy, made a new start in our town, both afterward
moving to Laredo.
Captain P. R. Mitchell is at present an inmate of the
Confederate Home at Austin. The Captain first learned
the art of war in a mixup with the Kansas Jayhawkers.
Losing out, he came to Texas. Two of his former brother
officers also fled to Texas, but were assassinated shortly
after reaching what was supposed to be safety. The Captain
profited by events, and sought seclusion on Mustang Island.
Later he joined the regiment of Colonel Hobby's Eighth
Texas Infantry. At one time Mitchell was in command of
a company stationed at Corpus Pass. One day two blockade
runners were chased into the bay by the U. S. steamer
Iroquois. The vessels anchored inside the bay, and the
crew and wife of one of the Captains sought safety in the
sand hills. The Iroquois sent out a landing party in
launches. They were discouraged by a fusilade from the
Captain's artillery, one old four-pounder with the Captain
as gunner, and by a scattering fire from rifles and muskets
in the hands of the poorly equipped infantrymen, and more
soul-harrowing than all, the Rebel yell. The launches re-
treated and the ship opened fire on the camp. One shot
passed through the sail of one of the blockade runners.
The Captain's wife begged to go, and, despite advice of
Captain Mitchell, who felt able to protect them, they boarded
vessels and tried to escape down Laguna Madre. They
ran aground a few miles down Padre Island. The Iroquois
had kept pace down the island on the outside. Seeing the
plight of the blockade runner they landed a force who
rushed across the sands and set fire to the vessel.
Rebel Sergeant McRae had also crossed from Mustang
to Padre to the rescue, but the shipload of precious cotton
was burned and the enemy back on board before he ar-
rived. Late that night the crews got back to camp, hav-
ing escaped in small boats, but the Captain believes to this
day that he could have saved the cargo if the vessels had
stayed under his one gun. Mitchell returned to Corpus
Christi later as a Captain of the Provost Guard. He had
obeyed an order of his superior officer, and had spilled a
lot of illicit whiskev. After the close of the \\'ar the owner
The Story of Corpus Christi 99
of same preferred charges against him. A detachment of
five negroes were sent out to his home on Popelate to
arrest him. A whitewashed Reb commanded the party.
The officer riding ahead of his smelly escort met Mitchell
face to face in the road. "I have a warrant for your ar-
rest," said he, "which means the Military Prison for you.
Not one of these nigs knows you. Just ride on and 1 will
go out and search your premises." Mitchell rode on and
did not return home until late at night, when he learned
that the negro troops had searched every spot on the farm
To the late Captain H. R. Sutherland, also a Con-
federate veteran ; P. F. Dunn, our member of the Legisla-
ture ; E. T. Merriman, J. F. Scott of Alice, Dan Reid and
other leading Democrats of the country, we owe a debt of
gratitude, these gentlemen having, by much hard work,
carried our county for the best Congressman ever sent
out from our section, Hon. John N. Garner, a Congress-
man who has kept his promise to his people. To the in-
fluence of these men we owe the opening of Turtle Cove
and work on our harbor. At a banquet given Mr. Garner
after his election, he asked his faithful adherents to name
his first work. He wanted them to name the thing they
wanted, the thing nearest their hearts. Mr. Sutherland
arose and asked the appropriation for digging the channel.
Mr. Garner promised. How faithfully he kept his word
we all know. But so indifferent were the people generally
about this great project that only one man, E. T. Merri-
man. went over to see the work started, and only one man
raised a flag pole over his place of business when the work
Mr. Merriman, as manager of our best and largest
paper. The Caller, has known but one love, his native city.
He was the power behind the throne that made a success
of the Woman's Cemetery Association. Again, he was one
of three men who encouraged the ladies to build the much
needed pavilion, Mr. Sutherland and Mr. Leary. manager
of the E. D. Sidbury Lumber Yard, being the other two
men who expressed their faith in the women.
When ^Lavor Lovenskiold felt that our city was not
100 The Story of Corpus Christi
able to keep up the street lights, Eli T. Merriman went out
to the citizens and raised a subscription to keep, and did
keep, the streets lighted for two years, when the city again
assumed the expense. He tacked posters on our first car-
loads of vegetables, thus advertising Corpus Christi through-
out the State, doing the work with his own hands, assisted
by his then little son.
Again he advertised Corpus Christi by sending a car-
load of sea shells to Fort Worth to erect a shell tower,
Mrs. Sidbury and a few other good women sharing the
expense with him. He did the lion's share in raising the
bonus to get the Brownsville road to enter the city, raising
the last thousand dollars on the last few days of grace. In
the years to come we may rear distinguished sons in the
old town, but never one to give more, or as much, as did
Eli T. Merriman, now a retired newspaper man. He gave
so freely that the people forgot to show or even feel grati-
Of other firms of reconstruction days, we remember
that of Gullet Dry Goods. John Bernard, a popular citizen
of today, was a stepson of Mr. Gullet, and a clerk in this
Bloomenthal & Jordt Dry Goods Company, John
Jordt afterward going into the furniture business and build-
ing up the business of which he is the senior member to-
day, a business of such magnitude as to rank equal to
anything of its kind in the State.
E. Morris also carried on a large dry goods business,
with every prospect of becoming a leading house in this line.
Unfortunately the ill health and later death of Mr. Morris
closed his well known place.
John \\'oessner was also a merchant of this period,
as were P. Hoffman, N. Gusset, Wm. Headen, afterward
Headen & Mallory, and R. Simpson, those latter named
gentlemen dealing in both dry goods and groceries, or
groceries alone. The Dreyer brothers. Max and Otto, had
an excellent show of toys, candies, tobacco and soft drinks,
and ice cream occasionally, as this popular delicacy could
not be served regularly unless we had our ice house at
home, the weekly supply by steamer not being a certainty.
The Story of Corpus Christi 101
Captain Andrew Anderson had a mill on Water Street
where fresh cornmeal was ground weekly. The Captain
also put up a good grade of salt. A windmill furnished the
power. Occasionally the steamer brought a few crates of
cabbage, or barrels of apples, otherwise the stock of the
early merchants was strictly staple.
Of other business men of more than a quarter of a
century ago we remember the kindly and benevolent Julius
Henry, a pioneer merchant, as was also C. W'eidenmuiler
and a Mr. Poll in.
Of the professional men, John H. McCampbell, after-
ward associated with the eminent jurist, Robert Stayton,
and later with the firm of McCampbell & Welch. Mr.
McCampbell was a Tennesseean by birth, and a soldier in
his youth, having served as a volunteer in the war with
Mexico. Also associated with him in business were his
two sons, whom he survived, being the last member of the
old and prosperous firm to answer the final roll call. J.
H. McCampbell was of the old school, and a citizen who
left this city better by having been a dweller therein.
Of the early lawyers we also recall the names of J. S.
Givens, P. A. Doherty and C. Lovenskiold. Spohn, Burke
and Hamilton were leading physicians. Dr. Lawrence was
also a beloved doctor in the old days as were Drs. Merri-
man and Robertson.
102 The Story of Corpus Christi
Other Pioneer Residents.
Of other early people, we look back over the many
years and recall the names of E. H. Wheeler, shoe dealer,
also agent for the American Sewing Machine. Mr. Wheeler
was one of the invading army who elected to remain with
us. Others included W. H. Daimwood, gent's furnishings ;
A. Meuly, grocer and baker; H. Meuly, for a long time
the only news dealer in the city, sometimes receiving his
stock of daily papers in lots of a dozen or more; James
Henderson, who founded the "Crony," and one of the bright-
est of newspaper writers. Mr. Henderson was drowned
while bathing at Central Wharf, one of the few accidents of
the kind which have occurred on our bay, another acci-
dent of this nature being the death of Mr. Alex Hoffman,
near the reef. He fell from a boat, but being a noted
swimmer, his comrades laughed at his fall, and did not
think of danger until they saw him sink helpless beneath
the water. The whole town mourned both of those promis-
ing young men.
Of other families of this time, we remember the names
of some who are still leading names in our city. Mr. Charles
Weil, whose sons are all in business, either with their father
in the ranch business or in ventures of their own, the
grocery business of Weil Brothers being an up-to-date
establishment which would surprise the pioneer merchant
if he could look in on the old town, both as to size and
equipment. Mr. Gunst, who conducts a book and station-
ery store; Charles Hyman's family, the Littig family, Mrs.
Holbein and sons, the Hobbs and Killmers. since removed
to Alice. The noted dry goods house of Gugenheim &
Cohn of today is a monument to the energy of these two
former young men who sought employment in our little
city a quarter of a century since, Mr. Gugenheim being a
clerk with E. Morris. They opened a dry goods store of
moderate size, and gradually built to present grand dimen-
The Story of Corpus Christi 103
sions. These gentlemen have done great work for their
adopted city, builded better than they knew. In days fol-
lowing the Ropes boom, w4ien real estate was almost a drug
on the market, they purchased largely, thereby showing
their confidence in the future, and bolstering up confidence
of others in those gloomy days.
Of other noted families who settled near Corpus
Christi and helped to build the city was that of Richard
Gallagher, who opened a ranch on the Oso (Bear) Creek.
Mr. Gallagher was from the Emerald Isle, and he and his
good wife lived the life of pioneers proper. They are kind-
ly remembered by all the old settlers.
Mr. N. Bluntzer, founder of the little town of that
name, on the Nueces River, was of German birth, and true
to the reputation of his countrymen, was a man who builded
and improved, an experimenter who tried the virgin soil
and demonstrated its wealth. He never lost faith in Corpus
Christi and in his latter years proved his faith by invest-
ing in real estate. The Bluntzer family are of our solid
citizenry of today.
104 The Story of Corpus Christi
The Life of Colonel Kinney.
Colonel Kinney was killed in Matamoros in 1865. The
shot which ended the life of this great man was a stray
ball. A skirmish was in progress between two factions of
Mexicans. A friend of Colonel Kinney's, in a nearby house,
called to him to come to his place as being safer than the
place Kinney then occupied. He started across the yard
and reached the door of his friend when he received the
ball in the heart, dying instantly.
He had been practically under fire for years. A story
is told of him and a few settlers going out to meet a band
of marauding Indians, who had grown so bold that they
visited the pond in the arroyo to water their horses. The
Colonel and his friends found the red men out about where
the standpipe now is. The party began to circle the whites,
who hastily fired to a man, only to see the red men catch
the load on their buffalo head shields, and, raising the war
whoop, they charged the settlers who now had empty guns.
A grand Gilpin race was organized right there without any
preliminaries. Over the bluff came the white men, to the
brow came the foe, but for some strange reason they did
not follow up victory, but turned and fled back to cover.
Colonel Kinney had been on a filibustering trip to
South America and from this grew much misery, as shortly
after his death a claim, known as the Jones claim, was
placed against his estate. To give justice to all parties, the
people were offered a fair settlement, but having paid for
their property, they refused the terms. Later a U. S.
Marshal and detachment of troops dispossessed many of
the people, and for years the trouble was on. As the writer
understood the case, the claimant, Levi Jones, had advanced
money for the expedition, taking a mortgage on Kinney's
land. Kinney later sold out lots to settlers and they knew
nothing of the mortgage until the claim was filed.
In the late seventies the writer saw some hard cases
The Story of Corpus Christi 105
of evictions, which must have reminded our Irish friends
of the old sod, under British rule. One woman went to
market one morning, and on her returning home found her
children and belongings in the street. She was never again
to enter the little home w'hich she had mostly built with her
own hands, even wading out into the bay to gather shell
to make lime for its walls. But the worst sufferers were
the orphans, of whom there were many, as the result of the
last yellow fever epidemic, they having no one to fight their
claims or find the money to pay them. But it is all settled
now, and if you asked the business man of today about
the Jones claim, he would likely ask who Jones was, or
what about him, though many sore hearts studied the ques-
tion in the old days.
But we began to chirk up, the agents began to visit
our quarter of Texas, the parlor-organ man got in, we
bought largely, we had the change in those days, and soon
the silence of eventide w-as rent to tatters by its wailing.
Next came the piano man, and again w'e invested. The
price of many a good Texas steer, horns, hoofs and hide,
went to cater to the musical taste of our populace. The
next fad was a light phaeton or buggy. W'e enjoyed them
immensely, as a gentle pony could be had for any price
ranging from $5.00 to $20.00.
The Ropes boom brought the electric lights and street
cars. True the cars were motored by various methods,
from an engine which threw soot and water all over the
passengers, to a perfectly harmless mule. Though what-
ever the power, the patrons usually walked back. It was
never a success, and fifteen years elapsed before we had a
street railway, the old one being torn up and moved on
to some other boom town. We fell back on the original,
and boated and picnicked. Who of the old guard does not
remember the two Anderson boats, and the Anderson broth-
ers, their Captains? What gay times we had on the old
"Flour Bluff" or the "Two Brothers." True, they were
sailboats, and slow compared with the motor boat of today,
but the time passed so pleasantly that we were willing to
travel at a leisurely gait.
106 The Story of Corpus Christi
Haverty vs. McClane.
In looking over the files of old papers, we find a most
remarkable case which we give as a sample of justice of
reconstruction days, interesting from the number of peo-
ple mentioned, ranging from the humblest officers of this
(Nueces) County, to those of Judicial District 14, to Gov-
ernor, landsmen, sailors, soldiers, U. S. officers, from
Captain to Brigadier up the line to the apex. President
U. S. Grant. While the proceedings cover pages and pages
of foolscap, and the New Orleans Picayune, of May 30,
1869, gives four pages to correspondence on the case, and
the Chicago Tribune and other papers of the day gave
considerable space to various dates, we will give the pro-
ceedings of various courts as briefly as possible, and write,
or rather copy, from the New Orleans papers as a curiosity.
First, we find that under date of August 19, 1865, at
office of Post Quartermaster Corpus Christi. Texas, re-
ceived of Lieutenant J. W. Barnett, A. A. O. Master, U. S.
Army, on board the U. S. schooner Lilly, following pack-
ages of sixty-one bales of wool, averaging 369 pounds to
the bale, 420 averaging 79 pounds each, 40 pounds old cop-
per, one barrel tobacco. This shipment is made by order
of Brigadier General Rupell, with permission for owner
or consignee to accompany same. G. W. Barrett, Lieu-
tenant Fifteenth Regiment, U. S. C. Infantry. Post Quarter
Master. Consigned to D. Haverty, New Orleans. I have
affirmed this bill of lading. B. W. Gravitt, Master U. S.
Corpus Christi, Texas, October 28, 1865.
Received from W. B. Wrather eighty bales of wool
belonging to John McClane, weighing in the aggregate
52,685 pounds. (Signed) Haverty & Hill.
Thus begins the famous suit. Haverty, who was a
sutler in a negro regiment, can get transportation on a
Government vessel which he does for Mr. McClane's four
The Story of Corpus Christi 107
years' clip of wool, which he purchases for 20 cents per
pound, but fails to make returns. He, Haverty, goes to
Chicago, where in the latter days of '67 he takes benefit
of the bankrupt act.
McClane, a rigidly honest man, is appointed Sheriff
of Nueces County. Getting requisition papers from Gov-
ernor Pease of Texas, and acting under advice of his at-
torney, the afterward notorious E. J. Davis, he, with the
Texas agent, A. McLaughlin, goes to Chicago in January,
1868. Getting a couple of Pinkerton detectives there to aid
them, they arrest Haverty, rush him to the depot and en-
train for Texas. McClane does not figure in the arrest,
but meets them at the depot in Chicago, wearing, as Haverty
afterward testified, a Bowie knife in his belt, and carrying
a six-shooter in his hand.
They brought the prisoner back to Corpus Christi, and
on January 20 placed him in Nueces County jail under
commitment signed by John Dix, County Judge, and also
bureau agent. He offers bond, not considered good by
Judge Scott of the Fourteenth District, is held, according
to his later testimony, in an iron cage nine feet square,
and much is said of this terrible cage, though we l)clieve
that every jail in Texas is equipped with them today. Judge
Scott was not a citizen of the Fourteenth District, and was
finally removed, though General J. J. Reynolds, then com-
manding this military district, acting at instigation of Pease
and E. J. Davis, endeavored to retain him.
The New Orleans Picayune, of May, 1868, speaks of
E. J. Davis as that malevolent spirit who has been a stirrer
of strife on the border for the past fifteen years. But the
Carpetbagger Scott was removed. Lieutenant Colonel Wil-
son, U. S. A., was sent by General Hancock to Corpus
Christi to look into the case. He reports that he had irons
taken off the prisoner. He reports on the iron cage again.
The case is getting to be celebrated by now, and General
McCook, acting under orders of General Buchannan, and
General Buchannan acting under orders of General Grant,
removes Scott and appoints Judge Carpenter. Appointment
by McCook affirmed by Buchannan, but General Hancock
is ordered to ^\"ashington, and Reynolds, being in command.
108 The Story of Corpus Christi
sustains action of Governor Pease and Attorney Davis.
Five months pass before Haverty finally gets a hearing.
At this trial Pryor Lea, of Goliad, appears. The New Or-
leans paper says he (Lea) formerly of Mississippi, is a
man whose personal and professional character lifts him
far above the plane occupied by Davis.
In June, 1868, a military board convened in Corpus
Christi, presided over by Brigadier General A. D. McCook.
Mr. McClane asks, by letter sent to John Dix to General
McCook, for certified copy of Haverty's testimony. An
answer dated following day, at King's Ranch, curtly re-
fuses request by order of General commanding signed G.
H. Lincoln, First Lieutenant Twenty-Sixth Infantry, Act-
ing Assistant Adjutant General. Next a military order de-
clares the office of Sheriff of Nueces County vacant (July,
'68), and an order to that effect is served from Judge J.
B. Carpenter, by Captain Green, and the Sheriff is notified
that any resistance to the order will be looked upon in
military circles as contrary to military law, and get the
Sheriff into trouble, for military law is paramount in those
days in Texas. A military commission is ordered to con-
vene in Brownsville on August 6, '68, and we suppose that
as Mr. Haverty was a military man, sutler in a negro regi-
ment, he was whitewashed. Anyway he got out of the
little iron cage and returned to Chicago.
In September of '68, our ex-Sheriff, seeing the utter
futility of engaging in a controversy with the United States
Army on the Texas border, realizing that though he was
a native of Pennsylvania, and a Union man, that he could
expect no favors from the powers in command, went to
Chicago to dispute the case of Haverty in bankruptcy. Now
Haverty comes in for his inning. He files an affidavit
against McClane for kidnaping him, and for eight months
he is held in the Cook County jail, only securing his re-
lease by acting upon the advice of his lawyers and agree-
ing to drop all claims against Haverty. He came back
to Corpus Christi, was elected, or appointed, Sheriff again,
when he was defeated by Thomas Beynon, late of the Con-
federate States Army. Mr. McClane was a scrupulously
honest man, A funny story is told of him by his friend,
The Story of Corpus Christi 109
Pat Whelan, Esq. It seems that during his occu[)ancy of
Sheriff's office, an order was issued creating the office of
Assessor, formerly held by the Sheriff.
On examination by committee of the books, McClanc
was found to be short in accounts $13,000. The shock of
this disclosure sent McClane to bed sick. Mr. Whelan
called to see him and offered his services. He was asked
to carry a letter to Captain King, at Santa Gertrudis, who
was on Sheriff's bond. He did so, and presenting his let-
ter and news, Captain King laughed, saying: "Is he sick
over it ; he must have a poor opinion of his bondsmen. Tell
him to go to work and I will come in and fix it up in a
few days. I know he never misused a cent of the County's
money." A few days later the Captain did come in, and,
hiring an expert accountant, the late Charles Lege, had the
books examined and found them correct to a penny. Mr.
McClane lived to an old age, dying from a paralytic stroke
in March, 191 1.
Captain Bcynon, after several terms, resigned as
Sheriff and Pat Whelan, former City Marshal, filled the
office for nine terms. The country was passing from the
lawlessness of reconstruction days to modern methods dur-
ing his first terms. Pat Whelan had many hard proposi-
tions to confront. Indian and Mexican raids, frequent visits
of bad men traveling toward the border, avowed political
enemies who made many threats, and a succession of elab-
orate bluffs. But he holds the unique record of having en-
forced the law to the letter, of having got his man when he
went after him, landing him safe in jail, many times single-
handed, and in that long and strenuous time he never killed
or maimed his man. A wonderful record for the time and
place. Mr. Whelan at the present time is Justice of the
Peace of Precinct Number One, being City Precinct, an
office of considerable importance, a courtly old gentleman
of a class which is rapidly passing. He, with his brotiiers,
prosperous farmers west of the city, came to this County
about 1866, and have been identified with its every progress
since that date.
In closing this little effort at authorship, we come
forcibly to the present day. A\'ith all our advantages of
110 The Story of Corpus Christi
free schools, telegraphic and telephone communication and
twentieth century civilization, we have discounted our
fathers and forefathers in politics, and reached a state of
civic disorganization which would cause the Carpetbagger,
Freedmen's Bureau, Ku Klux Klan, Union Leaguer, Scala-
wag, or any other old-fashioned politician to go to the ex-
treme rear end of things and sit down hard.
Our first Mayor under commission form of govern-
ment was Hon. Dan Reid, who died in December follow-
ing. An election was ordered for unexpired term. H. R.
Sutherland, a Commissioner and a native, offered as can-
didate, as did Clark Pease, the lately defeated candidate for
office. Later Mr. Sutherland withdrew and Mr. Pease got
the office. At the end of his term, April, 191 1, Mr. Pease
was opposed by Mr. Sutherland as leader of the People's
Ticket. The election was an exciting affair, and Mr. Pease
claimed and got the office, though contested by Mr. Suther-
land. The case being decided against Mr. Sutherland in
the District Court, was reversed by Court of Appeals, again
tried in the District Court before Judge W. B. Hopkins,
and Mr. Sutherland declared elected. Again appealed by
Mr. Pease and the decision for Mr. Sutherland again af-
firmed. While there was much feeling in the matter, and
the feeling is still with us we congratulate our people on
the fact that no lawlessness grew out of the case. We are
as ever a law abiding people and willing to await decision
of court. Though our sister cities of San Diego and
Brownsville have had serious trouble over city elections, in
which six-shooter played deadly tunes, also San Antonio
has had her. troubles, but we have stuck to our time-hon-
ored custom of abiding by Texas law.
The Story of Corpus Christi 111
Civil War Battles at Corpus Christi.
From an old paper, told by eyewitness, there were two
engagements between the North and South on Corpus
Beach during the Civil \\'ar. On August 7, 1862, Captain
Kitteridge sent a small party ashore to demand surrender
of the city, giving sixteen hours in which to remove non-
combatants. The famous Twin Sisters cannon, which had
figured at San Jacinto in 1836, were mounted on the bluff,
near the site occupied by the colored Congregational Church.
Captain Billy Mann, in command of guns, took advantage
of the sixteen hours to move and mask his guns at about
the foot of Hughes Street. At the expiration of the time
named, the fleet opened fire on the city, August 7, 1863.
Captain Mann returned the fire from his Twin Sisters,
sending a shot through the Commander's ship at the water
line, forcing the enemy to withdraw to Mustang Island for
repairs. After ten days' absence the enemy again ap-
proached the city, August 17. Kitteridge's flag ship was
a steam gunboat. He also had three large schooners and
a sloop loaded with a large force, well-armed and equipped
for a determined attack. The Rebel force numbered one
hundred and twenty men, but they stood them off until
dark, though this small force was poorly armed and equip-
ped, one small detachment of cavalry and small force of
artillery, aided by a few infantrymen.
The Yankees landed nerir the old Moore House, yet
standing, the Rebs resorting to rifles when the enemy got
in range, but at dark retired to the ravine (now Arroyo)
back of the bluff, where their devoted friends slipped
through the darkness to carry food and water to them.
Being August, water was only to be had from cisterns, or
seep wells on the beach. This was risky for the Rebel
sympathizers as there was estimated ten Unionists to one
Reb in the city, and down to the darkness of the grave
112 The Story of Corpus Christi
many of the people of that time carried the hate born of
that day. The Yankees held the beach part of the city
from this time, came and went at will, but the Rebs held
the camp in Ravine and adjacent country, coming to the
brow of the bluff and "smoking 'em up" occasionally when
ammunition was plentiful, finally capturing the doughty
Kitteridge and exhibiting him on the streets of Corpus
Christi. Yankees were off the streets that day. It is sup-
posed he went to prison, as he disappears from this date.
As the Yankee fleet approached the city for the second at-
tack. Captain Jack Sands' boat, loaded with stores, also ap-
proached. A lively race ensued, but Jack beached his boat
in front of Confederate position, fired her and fled. This
was a serious loss, as the Confederates were in dire need.
The Confederate forces at this date were under command
of Colonel Hobby, infantry commanded by then Captain,
afterwards Colonel John Ireland, later Governor of Texas;
artillery Captain Neal ; cavalry by Captain James W^are.
He captured Kitteridge and did scout duty in vicinity dur-
ing the entire War. Captain Ware died in the Soldiers'
Home in Austin a few years since. Lieutenant Conklin, a
gallant young officer, mentioned in Confederate Military
History, was in \A''are's company, and led a charge of
cavalry against landing force, the fleet working in the beach
and protecting landing force by its guns made the evacua-
tion of Confederates necessary. He also made the beach
part of the city safe to the enemy, while the force in the
arroyo held in check their tastes for foraging on surround-
Noted among the defenders of the wild borders of
that day was Captain John Rabb, who commanded a com-
pany of cavalry, and lived in the field. Captain Rabb's
home at that time was in Banquete, and his family were
exposed to all the hardships of the frontier. In this com-
pany served Private John Fitch, who was with others of
this command honorably discharged from the Confederate
Army by company officers at the close of the War. Also
living at Banquete at this time was Si EUiff and family.
Those three men, Rabb, Fitch and Elliff, went into the cat-
tle and sheep business and were for years prominent men
The Story of Corpus Christi 113
in this line, and did much to encourage the honest settler
in getting a start in this new country, and in upholding the
law and discouraging the presence of bad men in this law-
In the latter days of 1910 a Confederate Camp was
organized in Corpus Christi. The meeting was held in the
office of Hugh R. Sutherland. The camp was named for
the late Captain H. R. Sutherland, Company A, Ninth Regi-
ment, Alabama Volunteers, Army of Northern Virginia.
G. \Y. Shannon, Commander.
Joseph Black, Lieutenant Commander.
H. R. Sutherland, Honorary Member, Adjutant. (Son
H. G. Webster, Chaplain.
G. H. Harvey, Treasurer.
J. \\'. Wilkie, Color Bearer.
Mrs. Shannon, Honorary Member.
Mary A. Sutherland, \\'idow of Captain Sutherland,
Honorary Member and Historian.
Lee Rogers, First Texas Cavalry; J. G. Price, Rattan's
Company, Simms' Battalion ; Charles GoUihar, Thirty-third
Texas Cavalry; J. E. W'elborn. Company H, Fourth Ten-
nessee Cavalry; W. McGregor, First Texas Regiment;
Clay Roberts, Fifty-fourth Alabama; R. G. Penn, Nine-
teenth Texas Cavalry; J. N. Caruther, Third Arkansas; J.
H. Estes, Company C. Thirteenth Mississippi ; A. Webster,
McManus' Battalion, Louisiana; G. \\'. Shannon, Company
C, Eleventh Mississippi; S. F. Ray, Company G, Twenty-
seventh Infantr}^ ; J. R. \\'ilkie. Company H, Waddell's
Battalion ; J. A. Black, Company B. Thirty-fifth Mississippi ;
R. B. Casey, Company F, Lewis' Regiment, Mississippi In-
fantry; J. E. Stephens. Company F, Bushnell's Texas Regi-
ment; G. H. Harvey, Company F, Ninth Alabama; H.
Burgoon, First Texas ; James Field, First Texas ; Ed Atkin-
son. Thirty-third Texas Cavalry; P. Pulliam. First Bat-
talion, Missouri Infantry; Jacob Miller. First Missouri Cav-
alry; J. M. Bailey, Company B, Sixteenth Arkansas In-
114 The Story of Corpus Christi
fantry; M. P. Craig, Ninth Kentucky Cavalry; W. A. Fick-
lin, Wells' Legion; A. D. Floyd, Company B, Gregg's Ten-
nessee Regiment; A. J. O'Neal, Company C, Third Ten-
nessee Infantry. Later the names of Captain Thomas
Beynon and Captain J. B. Thompson were added, both gal-
lant Texas Cavalrymen in their youth. The members of
this camp are all representative citizens of this community,
whose labor and integrity haye built a new South, and made
the name of Southerner a proud distinction at home and
In 1891 or 1892 a Confederate Camp was organized
in Corpus Christi, with Captain H. R. Sutherland as first
Post Commander. Captain Sutherland, appointed Lieuten-
ant Colonel too late in the War to get commission. Com-
pany A, Ninth Regiment Alabama Volunteers, was suc-
ceeded by Mark Downey, of Hays' Louisiana Brigade. The
Camp was named Joseph E. Johnston. Many members are
now removed or passed over to rest under the shade of
the trees. A committee of ladies erected a small monu-
ment in old Bayview Cemetery to the memory of Con-
federate dead, the first monument ever erected in Corpus
Christi. It was placed in 1906, August 6. Committee, Mrs.
Wm. Biggio, Mrs. H. R. Sutherland. Executive committee,
Mrs. W. B. Wrather, Vice President; Mrs. T. B. South-
gate, Corresponding Secretary. June, i86t.
After half a century, June, 191 1, the family of Captain
H. R. Sutherland applied for Cross of Honor, given by U.
D. C. As it was necessary to find witness who knew
Captain Sutherland in the Army, a letter was addressed to
Captain A. L. Scott, formerly of the Ninth Alabama Regi-
ment, later a citizen of San Antonio, and one time Post
Commander of Confederate Veterans of that city. The fol-
lowing is testimony received in Captain Scott's own words :
"Captain Sutherland's standing as a gallant and de-
voted soldier and officer was recognized as being unsur-
passed by that of anyone in the Regiment. Captain Suther-
land was in command of the Regiment at Second Cold
Harbor and Reams Station. In the thick of one of those
battles (Second Cold Harbor and Reams Station) Captain
Sutherland was giving some very emphatic orders on that
The Story of Corpus Christi 115
part of the line. The incident is particularly impressed on
my mind by the display of temper on his part at something
that was not being done to suit him, and his conspicuous
gallantry at a critical juncture of desperate battle."
Captain Sutherland's family remembers the story of
Reams Station, how the Captain led his Regiment, how with
every field officer dead or in prison the command came to
him, how at his order to advance only his own Company
A obeyed the order, the Regiment not knowing him as Com-
mander, how under a galling fire he ran back and begged,
implored, ordered, fought with the flat of his sword, and
won. The old Ninth, a skeleton regiment, lived right up
to its reputation, and under that fire and on that field Cap-
tain Sutherland won the undying respect of his command.
This day, of all the days of a long life, was the proudest
of Captain Sutherland's life. He possessed a powerful
memory, and in old age often mentioned every man in his
company by name, and where he died, for all but a cor-
poral's guard died in battle. The Captain was desperately
wounded at Salem Church, and again while defending
the Crater, after the mine explosion at Petersburg. He died
in Corpus Christi July 4, 1906.
116 The Story of Corpus Christi
Stories of Early Days.
After General Taylor left Corpus Christi on his way
to Mexico, the few inhabitants had a long, lonely wait for
company. An occasional hunter or little wagon train from
the interior was the only break in the monotony. But hope
springs eternal in the human breast, and the winter even-
ings around the mesquite fire, or the neighborly meetings
on porches under the brilliant moon, were passed with
stories of the prosperity soon to come ; for Corpus Christi
was ever loyal. A favorite tale was the conquest of South
and Central America. A great depot of stores and base of
supplies was to be established here, at this nearest point
to the land of promise. Here the expedition would form
and make a quick dash for this land of gold. Fabulous
stories wxre told of tht wealth to be garnered there, and
at this date it seems strange that any converts could be
found. But such was the case, and as shrewd a man as
Captain Kinney undoubtedly was, he was lured by the tale,
and the story goes that it was to get money to fit out an
expedition to Honduras, that he made the mortgage to Levi
Jones which worked such hardship on our people in later
Apparently the citizens of that day had not read the
conquest of Mexico by Cortez, or Peru by Pizarro, or they
would have known that there were no gleanings in the wake
of the Spaniard. The few years intervening between Mexi-
can and Civil W^ar saw gradual growth by emigration.
The first white child was born in Corpus Christi, Andrew
Baldeschwiller, and then came the armed force again, not
to conquer territory, but to defend home institutions. No
great depot of supplies, or war equipment in evidence, a
small force of determined men, armed with their own guns,
and under a banner fashioned from women's silk dresses,
the waters of the bay and the game on the prairies fur-
The Story of Corpus Christi 117
nishing the commissary, the fight for food being more
strenuous than the skirmishes with the boys in blue.
Some time in the '50's, on the 17th of March, St. Pat-
rick's Day, the bay froze over near the shore, and the whole
population was treated to unlimited fish, the men going up
the reef in carts, and picking up all that they cared to haul
home, the fish being torpid from the unusual cold. This
is the only record we have of a late spring, March being
a spring month with us. Just how cold it was we are not
able to say, as this was before establishment of Weather
Bureau. This reef, dividing Corpus Christi Bay from the
Bay of Nueces, cut quite a figure in the early days, being
then about three miles north of the city, but now the town
has gradually expanded until it has become a suburb.
The San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad has a
bridge there now, three miles long. The old wagon road,
with its many twists and turns, following the apex of the
reef of oyster shells, making distance to be traveled more
than twice that distance as used many years. This road
at one time was our only outlet northward, and was care-
fully staked to mark the safe path, as the road was under
water, and if the traveler deviated from it. he was sure to
get into trouble and deep mud at one and the same time,
with an excellent chance of drowning his team. To pas-
sengers on outgoing or incoming trains, these road stakes
looked like a puzzle, but to the traveler of early times they
were carefully studied, and learned to a turn. This same
reef was a great fishing ground for big fish.
Here history began, with landing of General Taylor's
Army, here the Indian must be looked ovit for as he laid
in wait for the unwary traveler, here one night a dead sea
cow floated up and created a little ripple of excitement as
the first of its kind to be found in these waters, and here
the deadly rattler made his last stand, disputing territory
with the small boy of that day, who pastured his milch
cows on the rich salt grass of its meadows. One boy of
that day, a gray haired man now, told me of an ad\'enture
of his. in early days while following the cows home. He
was barefoot, and to avoid the plentiful grass burrs, was
leaping to bare spots of sand. Mistaking a coiled rattler
118 The Story of Corpus Christi
for a foothold, he landed fair. The snake struck and fas-
tened his fangs in the boy's clothing, then ensued a race
such as was never equaled on the nearby track of later
years. The boy fled to the beach and on into the water,
never halting until the walking got bad and swimming neces-
sary, when he discovered that he had parted company with
his enemy, nor did he ever again go to the pasture for cows
In an early day a man named Zeigler planted salt cedars
on a spot near the reef, built a house and opened a beer
garden — an institution dear to the heart of the German. But
the venture was a failure and only the grove of those strange
trees remain to mark the site of our first (and glad to sa)^)
and only beer garden. The body of land north of the bayou
remained a pasture for butchers of the city for years, but
our growing city demanded room and now the new Beach
Hotel and many beautiful homes are built in the old pas-
ture. A street car line runs through its heart, and the
old gives place to the new. Other spots dear to the heart
of the small boy of the old days was Salt Lake and Three
Mile Point. Salt Lake, a mile west of the old town, was
a great place to catch crabs, and hunt wood rats, while the
young sportsman got his first chance at wild ducks and
geese from its banks. Sometimes the fowls were of the
tame variety, property of nearby farmers, but what differ-
ence if he could hit and get away with them?
Three Mile Point was the boundary of the small boys'
world to south of the city. Here he could find the eggs of
the sea bird, perhaps an armadillo, and often see a herd of
deer, or a drove of javelinas which he did not care to med-
dle with. But alas, Salt Lake is dry, and the magnificent
Alta Vista Hotel stands upon Three Mile Point, while the
city steadily crowds up to and beyond them, and the small
boy of today must go further afield for his sport. But like
the Indian and the buffalo, the boy of his kind has gone
forever. And perhaps as well. The world must progress
and he of the present day must fit himself for the new order
of things, a much easier life than that of his father, but if
left to the vote of the same boy, we believe he would prefer
the old life with its freedom and dash of danger, dear to
The Story of Corpus Christi 119
the heart of the American youth, more particularly to the
youth of South Texas, to whom the change from the free
life of the prairies, the round-up and the cattle drive, have
come so rapidly that he can hardly realize that it has passed
120 The Story of Corpus Christi
Our Mexican Citizens.
The following story comes to the writer from a Nueces
County Ranch, and illustrates our Mexican servant as he is.
Two horses were missing from the corral and Pedro
had orders to find them. He spent the day in search, and
returned empty handed at nightfall. Another day was spent
with like results (afterward learned that Pedro had spent
the two days at a fiesta nearby, and had taken a prominent
part in the festivities, chicken fights, running the rooster,
and other sports dear to the heart of the Aztec). On his
return to the ranch at the close of the second day he found
the ranchman mad. Calling Pedro up he proceeded to give
emphatic orders, Pedro should go out in the morning and
get the horses, get them quick or not return. And poor
Pedro retired to his cabin almost broken in spirit. Long
after the lights were out in the ranch house the kind-hearted
mistress of the house heard him repeating his prayers. Poor
fellow, he w'as born on the place and knew no other home.
Next morning at an early hour the ranch lady saw him pre-
paring to start again on his search. He was intently work-
ing on something on the fence. Going near, she saw that
he had dressed a forked twig up in gay colored rags and
was tying it on the top rail. "What is this?" she asked.
"Esta es Cristo," said he. Then he spoke to the figure in
plain terms. If he did not find the horses he would rend
it limb from lim.b, pour boiling oil over its head, place
its feet in living coals, and then the lady fled. Two hours
later a very proud Pedro turned the missing stock into the
corral, and, going over to the fence, reverently taking off
his hat, carefully removed the figure from the fence, tak-
ing off the rags, and returning the twig to the brush heap.
And to this day he and his family know that the Cristo
guided him to the missing horses on that day. Nor has it
ever occurred to him that he might have got them on his
first search if he had looked for them and eschew^ed the
The Story of Corpus Christi 121
fiesta. As a race, he is superstitious, so much so that his
employer knows it is useless to try to combat his ignorance.
He believes in the evil eye, and ghosts are common, old men
and women sitting on the sunny side of the jacal and tell-
ing hair-raising stories all forenoon without a thought as
to where the midday meal is to come from. One favorite
story is of the belated wanderer who sees a great white
•cross rise up out of the ground in front of him. turning
him back from sure death. Another is a story from some
nearby town of a woman who is so bad that she seats her-
self on the ground and cannot arise. Her friends cannot
raise her, even though they pull her arms off and she sure-
ly disappears before their eyes. In Corpus Christi this is
a popular story from Brownsville, occasionally mo^•ing to
Rio Grande City or San Antonio.
The common run of the Mexican population do not
know who is President of our Country, or Governor of our
State, the Justice of the precinct being the only officer
which they have dealings with, believing him to correspond
with their Alcalde, they bring all their troubles to him. It
was truly told of one Justice of an early day that he set
up a satisfactory divorce court. The parties appeared be-
fore him, and upon a payment of a fee of five dollars, he
stood them up back to back, and at the word they set out
in different directions, and were thereafter free. He dis-
trusts the white man (perhaps for cause), but in all great
matters of note he must come to him for advice, not hesi-
tating a moment in feeing a lawyer, if he can find the price.
To strangers he looks very much alike, and it is a little
hard to distinguish Jesus from Pancho. A story comes
from Brownsville of a famous trial in which the jury were
partly ]\Iexicans, as were the court officials. During the
stir of getting reseated after a recess, the prisoner reached
over and got his hat and coolly walked out of the door.
Not until business was resumed did anybody notice his ab-
sence, at which time he was crawling out of the Rio Grande
on the safe side.
Some years ago our town had a real sensation which
set us all to talking. As near as I can remember the story,
this woman shot a man at fiesta on the Mexican side of
122 The Story of Corpus Christi
the river, at Matamoros. She was placed in jail there, and,
being an American, received no favors. One wild night,
aided by friends, she escaped to this side. An old gentle-
man. Dr. Head I think was his name, got a mount for her,
and guided her through the wild country over cow trails,
fearing pursuit and recapture. The poor woman broke her
ankle in escaping, and arrived in town lame to helplessness,
and with but the clothes she escaped in. The doctor car-
ried her to the county jail for safety. The news went abroad
and the good women of the town rallied to her aid, fur-
nishing every comfort. A few days later the Mexican Gov-
ernment demanded her extradition. Then it was the men's
turn to rally, and they did not fail in their duty. It be-
coming apparent that only by for.ce could she be removed,
the case was dropped and she went free. I do not know
the rights of the case, but I do know that the poor woman
cast herself upon our mercy, and am proud to say that she
came to the right place.
The Story of Corpus Christi 123
STORY OF RAIDS BY MEXICAN BANDITS
GOOD FRIDAY, MARCH, 1875
By Mrs. Sam Rankin
Good Friday in March, 1875, is still remembered with
lively interest by many of the present citizens of Corpus
Christi. It was on that day that the citizenship of the city
was thrown into a state of wild consternation by a law-
less band of about thirty armed and mounted JMexicans,
supposed to be the followers of famous Mexican bandit,
Cortinez. The murders, robberies and other lawless deeds
and outrages of this noted outlaw and his gang made man's
inalienable right to the enjoyment of life, liberty and prop-
erty an unknown quantity on either side of the lower Rio
Grande, in years embraced within the decade covering the
'70's. On the day named this band of armed outlaws made
their appearance at Frank's store on the river road, ten
miles distant from Corpus Christi. Here they not only
robbed the store, but also captured, robbed and held as
prisoners, all citizens wdio chanced to be traveling on that
road, and passing Frank's store during their unwelcome
stay. A boy, unobserved by the Mexicans, saw what they
were doing and carried the news to Corpus Christi. One
old gentleman who lived in Nueces County at the time
says that a number of the citizens, men, women and chil-
dren, believing that Corpus Christi was hopelessly doomed
to be captured by these bandits, became panic stricken and
sought safety on a vessel that w^as anchored at the wharf,
and that one of the men who regarded prudence as the bet-
ter part of valor, with his "pepper box" drawn, cocked and
finger on trigger, led the retreating column to the boat. Oth-
ers, however, with more composure and better judgment.
armed themselves, went to meet the enemy on land and com-
bat his entrance into the city. They preferred a land fight
rather than a naval retreat.
But touching the daring raid of these lawless Mexi-
124 The Story of Corpus Christi
cans, we will quote in substance from two old citizens, who
are now and were then living in Corpus Christi. Here is
w'hat they respectively say:
R. R. Savage^'T was at my ranch, called Rancho
Seco, twenty-five miles from Corpus Christi, on the day
that the Mexicans made that raid into Nueces County, on
Good Friday, in March, 1875. My w^fe and her mother,
Mrs. E. D. Sidbury, were en route to my ranch. They were
captured, robbed and held as prisoners as long as the bandits
remained at Frank's store. When the robbers left Frank's
store they released the women, but carried with them all
the men, whom they held as prisoners. They carried away
the driver and horses, and left Mrs. Sidbury and Mrs.
Savage there afoot. They, with Miss Laura Allen, now
Mrs. Benavides of Laredo, thinking they might possibly
take a near cut through brush and beat the gang to Moakes
store, only three miles distant, and give the news and arouse
the country to action, took steps in that direction, but be-
fore reaching there they heard shots and saw smoke rising,
and knew that Noakes store had been set afire. Naturally
they became nervous, thinking that every noise they heard
near them w^as a Mexican bandit. They lost their course
and wandered around in the brush until Sunday morning
without food or water. They reached the river, but the
bluff was so precipitous they could not get to the water.
Finally they found the house of an American family, where
they were provided with food and shelter. Tt was Sunday
morning before news of what had happened reached me.
"At Frank's store the bandits made the prisoners get
in a ring, and guarded them. A Mexican among the prison-
ers remarked, 'Well, I know you,' and instantly he w^as shot
to death by his captors. At this place they had about
twenty-five or thirty prisoners, including men and women,
but took the men and horses with them, marching them
three miles to Tom Noakes' store, on the river, at Nueces-
town. The men were made to walk, and the conduct of
the Mexicans toward them w'as quite brutal. They would
run their horses over and otherwise abuse the prisoners.
Judge Gilpin, who was a prisoner and quite old and feeble,
gave out, and they knocked him down a time or two, and
The Story of Corpus Christi 125
exacted of him a task which he did not ha\c the physical
strength to perform. They refused to release liim, and
two of his fellow prisoners let him get between them and
lock arms with them, and in that way they helped him along.
"\\ hen they arrived at his store, Noakes saw that they
were robbers and shot the first man that entered it, in-
flicting upon him a severe if not fatal wound. To avenge
the wound of their comrade in crime, they set fire to and
burned the store, but they failed to get Noakes, he having
made his escape through a subterranean channel which led
from the store to the river. The store stood upon the bluff
a short distance from the ri\er. He, knowing the lawless-
ness that pervaded the country in those years, iTad provided
this means of escape in case the emergency for using it
should ever arise. Before applying the torch they took
from the store all the goods they needed or that they could
take with them. When the Mexican was shot by Noakes,
a man named Smith ran out of the store and he was shot
and struck in the chest with five balls discharged from
their Winchester rifles. He recovered from these wounds,
notwithstanding that the doctors thought that there was no
chance at all for him to live. When Mrs. Noakes saw that
they were going to burn the store, she told tliem if money
was what they were after she would gi\e it to them if they
would not burn the store. They told her then she had
better get it quickly. She did so, giving them $500. They
took the money and made her and her children get out of
the store and applied the torch, thus burning Mr. Noakes
out of house and home, leaving him and his family without
a change of clothing. His loss was estimated at ^20,000.
"All day .Saturday and up to Sunday morning 100 or
more men had diligently searched the country for Mrs.
Sidbury, who is now dead, and Mrs. Savage and Miss Al-
len. They had about concluded that these ladies had been
recaptured and carried away as prisoners when the news
came that they had found their way to and were in the
house of the American family as has been stated.
"While this search was going on for the women, judge
Sidney Gail Borden of San Patricio County, who lived just
across the rixer from Nuecestown and who had been cap-
126 The Story of Corpus Christi
tured by this band of outlaws who stole from him a horse
worth $250.00, hastily got together a company of about
thirty men and pursued them to the Rio Grande, reaching
that border just six hours after the enemy had crossed it
and passed into Mexico. The release or escape of Judge
Borden and the other prisoners was effected when the small
party of eight or ten brave and daring men went out from
Corpus Christi and attacked the Mexican raiders."
On this point we will quote from Judge Whelan, who
is now Justice of the Peace in Corpus Christi, and who was
one of the attacking party. In substance he says : "I was
one of the party that attacked the Mexican bandits. P. F.
Dunn, who is now representing this district in the Legisla-
ture ; Washington Mussett, John Dunn, James Dunn,
George Dunn, Bass Burrass, George W. Swank and Clem
Vetters, who was then a small boy, were the others. We
overtook the Mexicans at 12 mile mott, that being the dis-
tance from Corpus Christi. Noakes' store was burning
when we reached there, but the Mexicans had withdrawn
to the brush, taking with them two wagons and the prison-
ers whom they had captured. We were told that they had
taken Mrs. Sidbury, Mrs. Savage and Miss Allen with them
as prisoners. As soon as we heard this we were determined
that we would not wait for reinforcements, but would
charge them in their stronghold. We had not proceeded
more than a mile when from their protection under a cover
of brush they received us with a volley from their Win-
chesters. There were about three hundred shots exchanged.
Swank fell on the first round. We pressed them back into
thicker timber. We recaptured the prisoners and wagons,
but by this time it had become too dark to continue the
fight. We then fell back to Banquete for reinforcements,
but before morning the Mexicans had scattered and we
never came upon them any more. While one of our men,
Mr. Swank, was killed, I am satisfied the Mexicans lost
several. I saw one fall, and I afterward learned that three
or four others who received mortal wounds died before they
reached the Rio Grande. James and George Dunn and Bass
Burrass, who were with us in this fight, have since died."
From Mr. Savage it was learned that the Mexican who
The Story of Corpus Christi 127
had been wounded by Mr. Noakes was caught the day after
he had been shot by some of the men who were hunting
for the lost women. He had been too badly hurt to bear
the hard riding necessary to escape being captured before
he could get back to the Mexicans, and his comrades had
left him with some Mexicans who were asked to take care
of him. They were taking him to town in a wagon when
his captors discovered him and took charge of him. He
was identified by some of those whom he had ill-treated
when they were held prisoners by him and his band. He
had proven himself to be the most brutal one of tbe band,
and it is needless to say that his case was speedily disposed
of without the intervention of judge or jury.
This raid was perhaps the most daring ever made as
far into the interior of our country by an armed band of
foreign bandits, it being over one hundred miles from
Frank's store to the Mexican border. Rut whatever may
be said or thought of this raid it should be remembered
that at that time the sparsely settled country, coupled with
other conditions favorable to raiding squads and bands of
outlaws, explains in a great measure why these marauders
were not overtaken, captured or annihilated before they
could return to the south side of the Rio Grande. Large
stretches of country in the Rio Grande Valley covered with
dense thickets of cactus, chaparral and other growths made
it almost impossible to overhaul them after they had gotten
a start of six or twelve hours ahead of their pursuers.
Judge Gilpin believed himself to be the first American
to visit our coast. He landed on the site of the present city
in the winter of 1829, the only occupant of a small schooner
that sailed from New Orleans. There was no evidence of
human habitation and as the Judge did not know that the
wrecked sailor, Whelan, had landed in 1824, he believed
himself to be the first white man to view our bluff and
two bays. He went from here to Mexico, returning in 1848.
He became a pioneer merchant, as a garrison had been
established and settlers had come during his absence. He
sold goods in the Belden Building, at the corner of Cbap-
arral and AMlliams streets ; his partners were Mr. Belden,
Jake Owens and William IMann. No doubt they did a good
128 The Story of Corpus Christi
business, as they had all the Rio Grande country and part
of Mexico as customers.
After the Army had moved homeward, a small detach-
ment of Rangers under Captain Sutton was stationed here.
Later they were ordered to Austin. They were out but one
day when trouble broke loose in Corpus village. Captain
Kinney had enlisted a company of one hundred and thirty
men with whose aid he intended to found a new republic
on the Rio Grande. The expedition had failed, as the Cap-
tain covild not finance accoutrements and supplies. The
shipload from New Orleans, which arrived, being held for
cash, and returned with load to the parties who had sent
her. This disheartened the lawless men who were waiting
to march and as soon as the troops were gone they or-
ganized a reign of terror. A courier w'as dispatched after
the Rangers, who made a forced march back, and quelled
the disturbance, and another dream of conquest south of
the Rio Grande failed.
judge Gilpin later became a leading light in the South-
w'est, having held office of Chief Justice for a number of
years, and served three terms in the Legislature, he knew all
the old people, and many thrilling stories of the frontier.
The death of Captain Kinney, the wounding of Captain
Berry and Captain Cook by Indian arrows. He was cap-
tured by Mexican raiders of 1875. Later he went into the
ranching business, having purchased a place about forty
miles west of Corpus Christi. Though he lived in stirring
times and had many close calls he died peacefully in his
bed at an advanced age, mourned by all who knew him.
A Christian of Episcopal faith, a Mason of high standing,
carrying with him to the rough frontier the rigid honesty
of his youthful training. He was a native of Newport,
Rhode Island. He sleeps in the old Military Cemetery.
With the exception of a monument raised by relatives and
friends, we have never heard that our people have honored
his memory by naming even a street or an alley for him.
I agree that he was our first American pioneer, as likely
Mr. \A'l'ielan (no relative of the Judge of that name) was
a son of Auld Erin.
The Story of Corpus Christi 129
CORPUS CHRISTI POSTMASTERS
Office established May 30, 1846, \\'illiam P. Aubry,
postmaster; likely established for Taylor's troops.
September 21, 1847 — H. D. Norton.
November 30, 1848 — D. W. Brewster.
January 21, 1852 — C. Cahill.
May 27, 1854 — H. W. Berry.
December 5, 1855 — \\'illiam I. Moore.
November 22, 1856 — Charles E. Bryant.
June I, 1857 — George Robertson.
August 24, 1865 — Henry Taylor.
September 4, 1865— Jane L. Marsh.
September 2, 1867 — Hannah Taylor.
December 22, 1869 — John Dix.
April 24, 1870 — John McClane.
April 6, 1875— I. W. Ward.
December i, 1880 — John M. Swisher.
May I, 1884— J. H. C. \\hite.
June I, 1888 — Thomas B. Southgate.
May 10, 1890 — L. D. Camp.
May 9, 1894 — James T. Rankin.
May 16, 1898 — Julius Henry.
June 2^, 1904 — T. D. Ward.
March 24, 191 1 — E. G. Crabbe.
May II, 1915 — Mrs. Georgia Welch.
130 The Story of Corpus Christi
BEGINNING AND ENDING OF
THE CIVIL WAR
This bit of history was told the writer by Mr. J. W.
Golledge, an old-time printer of Corpus Christi. Mr. Goll-
edge worked on our one newspaper, the Nueces Valley, in
1856, and was present at the taking of the Government
Station at Point Isabel by the Texas troops. He says on
the 1 8th day of February, 1861, we sailed from Galveston
for the mouth of the Rio Grande, we were commanded by
General McLeod, and had the following companies on
board : Lone Star Rifles, Galveston Rifles, Galveston Ar-
tillery and Davis Guard. These four companies belonging
to Galveston, Fort Bend Rifles, of Fort Bend County, and
Gentry Guards of Houston. Arriving at our destination, we
received surrender of station, hauling down the old flag
and hoisting our flag in its place (supposedly flag of Texas,
as we had not yet adopted Stars and Bars). We got a
large amount of ammunition and stores. The commander
of the fort surrendered without a fight and expressed sym-
pathy in our cause. (Unfortunately Mr. Golledge did not
remember the name of this officer.) Our command then
returned to Galveston about the first of March, 1861. We
were more than a month in advance of South Carolina in
declaring our intentions to defend our State rights, but alas
we were six weeks from a telegraph station and in the ex-
citement of the times we never received credit for opening
the War, and right here four years later our banner would
wave over a victorious little army, and for the last time
the Rebel yell would resound over a victorious field. Mr.
Golledge was present at the fight, on the staff of Colonel
Rip Ford. He says we captured about thirty prisoners, and
a wagon train loaded with supplies. We chased them to
the vicinity of their fort and fleet, and night ended the
The Story of Corpus Christi 131
rout. Next morning Colonel Ford was arranging to parole
his prisoners when news arrived that peace was declared.
The Yankee officer bearing the news was quite chummy,
and he and his escort joined the Colonel and other Rebel
officers in celebrating the event by drinking to each other
of good whiskey, captured among hospital stores on the
wagon train, even the privates were called up and given a
treat. Ford said, "The war is over and my prisoners go
free, but it was not over yesterday when 1 captured this
wagon train, and I will keep it," and he did. Whether
Uncle Sam ever got his train again I do not know, but I
think from something I read in an old Chronicle that the
horses and mules were taken as mounts by the soldiers, and
the wagon and goods abandoned on the Brownsville road,
south of this city.
132 The Story of Corpus Christi
SOME EARLY SETTLERS
J. H. KEEPERS
Mr. Keepers is a veteran and in the winter of life, but
despite his years, he has kept youth in his heart and he and
his good wife are true Southerners, of the class of which
we are proud, in this summer of 191 5. They are progres-
sive citizens and in touch with all passing events, holding
the memory of the old South sacred, and have aided in build-
ing the new.
Mr. Keepers says : 'T belonged to an independent
cavalry company, commanded by one of the best men I ever
knew, Captain Dan Grady. Our company was raised in
Bastrop Covmty, and our first recognition as a company in
the service was an order to march to the coast. This was
in '62. We came by way of Beeville, then a small town,
of which I have but little recollection. Leaving there we
headed for Corpus Christi, crossing the Nueces River near
its mouth, where we camped that night, near some few
houses, supposedly the Motts, or Nuecestown, and the next
morning we rode into Corpus Christi. My recollection of
the place is vivid. To me it looked like a place of con-
siderable importance ; on the streets I saw many Mexican
carts, with their Mexican teams and drivers ; to me they
were interesting, as they were the first I ever saw, and I
began to feel as if the fortunes of war had carried us to
a different country. There were several stores and saloons
open, and business seemed good. Returning after many
years, the place seemed turned around. The only spot I
could place was the old vSt. James corner. I don't know if
it is the same building, but I am sure of the corner, as it
was the center of the business district at that time. We
tarried in town a few hours, then left for the Rio Grande,
via King's Ranch, where we camped that night. On reach-
The Story of Corpus Christi 133
iiig the ranch our Captain inquired for Captain King, but
for some reason the ranchero did not appear. \\'e repeated
our request several times, and he did not appear, and our
boys were getting anxious, for upon a deal for beef de-
pended our supper. Finally the Captain came out, being
satisfied. 1 suppose, that our company were Rebels and
friends. We got the beef and spent the night here. The place
impressed me as did the owner, as an oasis in a savage wil-
derness, where a man must be assured of the intentions of
his visitors before he would meet them. Two cannon mounted
in the top of the house also impressed me and strengthened
my feeling that 1 had got out from under our Lone Star
flag. The next morning we rode away to Ringgold Bar-
racks. Years after I returned to Corpus Christi, but as
I stated, the place had turned and changed beyond recog-
nition. The bluff was still here, also the bay and St. James
corner, otherwise I was lost. But the worst is yet to come.
I have been regularly visiting the city for the last several
years, and find that Corpus keeps changing between trips,
and that I have to keep locating former known spots.
Picturesque ox carts and drivers are gone. The adobe
houses and muddy streets have given way to reinforced
concrete and Bitulithic, and if Captain Dan Brady and his
brave band of youthful Texans should come back over the
bluff today, upon the present city, they, like myself, would
look in surprise on this modern city which we knew as a
village when the world was young.
Bi) E. T. Merriman
\\ illiam Rogers, a native of Cowago County, Alabama,
with his mother's family, came to Corpus Christi at the be-
ginning of the Mexican \\'ar. Mr. Rogers was connected
with the Second United States Dragoons, and with them
was ordered to Matamoros. in April, 1846. He left Corpus
Christi with a band of fifteen men and two women, but
when about one hundred miles out of Corpus Christi, the
party was captured by a l)and of Mexican guerillas, and
134 The Story of Corpus Christi
promptly murdered by having their throats cut, after be-
ing tied, and their bodies thrown into the waters of the
Arroyo Colorado, the women meeting the same fate, but
William Rogers was not to die with his family, his terrible
wound was not fatal, and after four days of indescribable
suffering, he reached Fort Brown, where he received first
aid from military surgeons, who removed numbers of screw
worms from his wound, the marks of which he carried to
the grave, a clean scar from ear to ear. At the end of four
months he was out again, and it is said that for the next
few years he followed and dealt with Mexican guerillas.
Old stories have it that one man of the forty that attacked
that peaceful party on the Arroyo Colorado escaped his
aim. We say peaceful, as we have been told that this was
one of the sutler's wagons (most of the men being un-
armed), belonging to the Second Dragoons, consequently
a rich prize for the bandits, and illustrating our perfect ig-
norance of our dusky foe; no unarmed party would think
of convoying goods to Rio Grande even now.
Mr. Rogers returned to Corpus Christi in 1854, hav-
ing previously purchased the Palo Alto R.anch and bought
fifty head of cattle from Elder Barden, and for a time
traded in stock, though he repeatedly suffered depredations
from Mexican cattle thieves. In 1868 his holdings con-
sisted of thirteen hundred head of horse stock and twenty-
eight hundred head of cattle. These he traded off for cash
and bought the St. James Hotel, then in course of erection,
paying thirteen thousand for this noted old corner, five thou-
sand dollars more was spent in finishing and furnishing it,
and it became Corpus Christi's one and only hotel, where
many noted men have rested in their day. Mr. Rogers had
faith in improved stock, and during our Civil AVar imported
direct from Spain ten rams of the best breed, for which
he paid thirty dollars each in gold. He believed these ani-
mals to be the best ever brought to Texas. Later we find
him buying land north of San Diego. He owns the Maria
Ranch of nineteen thousand acres, the Chusa Ranch in Mc-
MuUen County, twenty-seven thousand acres, one thousand
of which are under fence, and one hundred in cultivation.
Three thousand goats and twenty thousand sheep, value
The Story of Corpus Christi 135
two to eight dollars per head, land valued at one dollar to
one dollar and a half an acre. A residence in Corpus
Christi of the value of five thousand dollars, two large
warehouses and the St. James Hotel from which he derives
a rental of twenty-four hundred dollars per year. Last
spring his wool clip brought between six and seven thousand
dollars. (This article published in a local paper sometime
in the seventies, is to stimulate others to go into siieep and
cattle raising, then considered the only crop for this sec-
tion.) Under the head of "Another Good Man Gone," our
local paper. Corpus Christi Free Press, under tiic date
of December 17, 1877, chronicles the funeral of Hon. Wil-
liam Rogers, at that time a member of Legislature from
this district. At the age of fifty-six he died, surrounded
by family and friends, and mourned by good people through-
out Southwest Texas. We copy verbatim the notice of pro-
cession which escorted the body to its last resting place :
".Star Rifles, escort. Fire Department. Music (pro-
vided by Masons). Hearse. Family. Citizens on horse-
back. Citizens in carriages."
This good man rests in the old Bay View (or properly,
Military) Cemetery, among the friends of his strenuous
youth, the beautiful resting place of our pioneer dead. This
sacred spot belongs to our city and our people are to unite
in beautifying this cemetery and caring for the ashes of
men who made history in early days. Old landmarks are
gone, only this old cemetery with its weather-stained tomb-
stones remains, a link between then and now. (The paper
from which this article was taken was loaned by Mr. E. T.
Merriman, for years the editor of our own reliable paper,
and always a true son of Corpus Christi.)
Mark Downey was an Irishman and proud of it, al-
though he was born in the city of London. He kept a
stove and tin shop in Corpus Christi just after the W'ar.
Hugh R. Sutherland was a Scotchman, born in
Toronto, Canada, coming to Corpus Christi in seventy-six,
he worked as a builder. Going into Downey's shop one day
136 The Story of Corpus Christi
shortly after his arrival, the talk turned to the late War.
"I was in Northern Virginia," said Mark. "Hays' Louis-
iana Brigade." "You were," said Hugh; "I was in Wil-
cox Alabama Brigade." Questions and answers flew thick
and fast. "Were you in railroad cut when the Louisianians
fought and held the enemy at bay with rocks?" (Fact.)
"My regiment, the Ninth Alabama, brought ammunition and
helped rout the Yanks." By this time Mark was over the
counter and they were in each other's arms, these men who
had met for the first time in Southwest Texas to talk over
the glorious deeds of their army, of the officers both had
followed, and of the comrades who were left on the battle-
field. From that meeting grew a friendship which ended
only with life, what the Indians call "blood brothers," were
those two men. They shared their troubles and pleasures,
and were such earnest Southerners that their good wives
were continually afraid that they would start a little war
of their own. Kindly, honest men, with a word of cheer
or a little help for every less fortunate comrade who came
to them, often imposed upon but never discouraged. Their
children were taught to love the South with its traditions,
and their one son each, declared that their catechism gave
us as the greatest man, Jeff Davis ; general, Robert E. Lee ;
strategist, Stonewall Jackson ; cavalry commander, Jeb
Stuart. Then after a Sunday school lesson with their moth-
ers they got all mixed up and were not able to separate
Goliath, Lazarus and Ananias from their fathers' teach-
ings. Those two boys inherited the same sunny, fun-loving
dispositions of their fathers, and we are disposed to think
that they sometimes imitated the last named Bible character.
This little story goes to prove that there was some-
thing lovable about our people of the old South. These
men, born under a foreign flag, fought four years side by
side, where glory was the only rew'ard. No pay and scant
rations, and at the end elected to come with our broken
people and help build a new South on the ashes of the old,
dying in the belief that they w^ere right, peace to their ashes.
May they rest with their old commander, under the shade
of the trees, which he saw in his last moments. Our own
The Story of Corpus Christi 137
DR. E. T. MERRIiMAN
Dr. Eli T, Merriman was among the prominent citi-
zens of Corpus Christi fifty years ago, moving here from
Banquete, Nueces County, at the close of the Civil War.
Born in Bristol, Connecticut, February i, 1815, under the
shadow of the Charter Oak, he graduated at Yale March
4, 1833, and subsequently obtained diplomas as an M. D.
at the University of Pennsylvania and Bermont Academy
of Medicine. In 1838 he moved to Texas, first settling at
Bastrop. Removing thence to San Marcos, and afterwards
to Edinburgh, Hidalgo County, thence to Banquete, in the
early fifties, moving to Corpus Christi in 18O5. He prac-
ticed his profession constantly for thirty-three years, serv-
ing the Lone Star Republic as a private soldier and as a
surgeon. When she changed into a State he became a
Representative in her Legislature. W'ith a large majority
of his friends and neighbors he embraced the Southern
Confederacy, and as a surgeon gave the benefit of his skill
and experience. In 1867 he fell a victim to yellow fever
which visited the Texas coast during that year. As a citi-
zen he was enterprising and liberal ; as a practicioner he
was efficient and obliging, full of kindness. A true friend
and a kind husband and father. His death was regarded as
a public calamity. His widow, Mrs. Elizabeth INTerriman,
opened a private boarding house, which she kept for thirty-
three years, the Merriman House being one of the favorite
boarding places of Southwest Texas, from 1867 to 1900,
when Mrs. Merriman retired, making her home with her
eldest son, E. T. Merriman, until her death in July, 191 1.
Dr. Merriman kept a hospital open during the War,
where Confederate soldiers were cared for; also a hospital
for contagious cases out at Banquete, giving freely of his
time and means to the cause he had adopted. His kind-
ness and charity endeared him to the men under his care,
and through this he did his greatest work. When the war
was over and chaos reigned, his influence with all classes
averted more than one lawless act, and saved his citv from
^ 138 The Story of Corpus Christi
a reign of terror. A better man, a better citizen, a better
Southerner never came to West Texas than Dr. E. T. Merri-
DR. GEORGE ROBERTSON
Among Corpus Christi's early and most highly esteemed
citizens and professional men was Dr. George Robertson,
who immigrated with his wife and family to Corpus Christi
in 1854 from Aberdeen, Scotland, establishing a drug busi-
ness here which he conducted up to the time of his demise,
August 10, 1867, when he was stricken with yellow fever,
living only a few days after being attacked by that dreadful
disease. Dr. Robertson held the position of Postmaster un-
der the United States Government for six years, and re-
mained in office during the Civil War, under the Con-
federate States. He also held many municipal positions,
was Mayor of the city, and a general favorite in the com-
munity. He was highly respected by all who knew him,
and his loss was keenly felt. He left a devoted wife and
four children, as well as a host of friends to mourn the
loss of a dear husband, father and friend.
MRS. MARY A. SUTHERLAND
By E. T. Merriman
There is no woman in Corpus Christi better and more
favorably known that is Mrs. Mary A. Sutherland, mother
of H. R. Sutherland, one of the city's prominent attorneys.
A Southerner by birth, a native of the State of Ala-
bama, she has been and is today a champion of Southern
rights, and though in sympathy with the "lost cause" and
a lover of the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy, she
is patriotic and a staunch friend of the Red, A\ hite and
Blue, and ever ready to raise her voice in defense of Old
Glory, and the Land of Sweet Liberty.
Mrs. Sutherland came to Corpus Christi in 1876 with
her husband, H. R. Sutherland, Sr., now passed to the
The Story of Corpus Christi 139
"Great Beyond," and their two children, H. R., Jr., and
Gussie, afterwards Mrs. Cronkey, now deceased.
Her residence of nearly forty years entitles her to be-
ing classed as an old settler of the Bluff City, to which she
is so much attached.
No woman has taken more interest in the city's prog-
ress and development than has Mrs. Sutherland, she hav-
ing been among the leaders in numbers of things for the
good of the town, such as assisting in the beautification of
the bluff, cemetery work, pavilion work and other improve-
ments. Being a woman of great executive ability, sound
reasoning and perseverance, Mrs. Sutherland has accom-
plished much for the city's good in all her undertakings,
as well as securing for herself and her children some valu-
able property. She, like others, has had her trials and
burdens to bear, but with it all she is still engaged in good
work, ready to assist her people in all the interests of the
A staunch member of the Methodist Church, a good
Christian woman, ever willing to assist those in distress and
Mrs. Sutherland is a pleasing talker, and is always glad
to greet her friends at her home on Starr Street, where she
resides with her two accomplished granddaughters. Misses
Annie and Hugh Cronkey.
140 The Story of Corpus Christi
THE DAUGHTERS OF THE
By Mrs. W. B. Hopkins
Daughters of the Confederacy ! What nobler title
could a woman wear, what prouder heritage could be
handed down than this name first bestowed upon the fair
young girl, Winnie Davis, and now claimed by more than
one hundred thousand women. Pledging themselves to
keep alive the memory of those immortal heroes, whose
deeds of valor for their beloved land stand out as the most
brilliant in the pages of history ; to teach their children and
their children's children loyalty to the hallowed traditions
of the Southland ; to cherish its history and to love and
honor its brave defenders, the women of the South, in 1894,
banded themselves together in an organization known as the
United Daughters of the Confederacy.
From its inception, the avowed purpose of this organi-
zation has been, not to foster sectional hate, but to bring
about a better understanding of those sacred principles for
which the men of the South gave their lives, to "set a watch
lest the old traditions fail."
The women of Corpus Christi, not a few of whom were
born in the stormy days of war, and rocked in the cradle
of the Confederacy, formed in 1912 the Corpus Christi
Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Present at the temporary organization, and lending much
aid and inspiration, was Mrs. Mabel Mussey Bates, and to
her the Chapter shall ever feel very grateful. At a later
meeting a permanent organization was effected, and the
following officers elected :
President, Mrs. H. H. Craig.
First Vice President, Mrs. D. McNeil Turner.
Second Vice President, Mrs. Bettie T. Robertson.
Third Vice President, Mrs. Clay Roberts.
The Story of Corpus Christi 141
Fourth Vice President, Mrs. George I'Vench.
Treasurer, Mrs. R. L. Garrett.
Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. Gordon Boone.
Recording Secretary, Mrs. O. M. Suttle.
Historian, Mrs. Mary Sutherland.
Registrar, Miss Mary Woods.
The charter contained the names of twenty-two mem-
bers : Mrs. Mary Sutherland, Mrs. Cieorge French, Mrs.
H. H. Craig, Mrs. D. McNeil Turner, Mrs. A. C. I'^owler,
Miss Mary Woods, Miss Ella Thomas, Mrs. G. F. Martin,
Miss Mary Carroll, Mrs. E. A. Born, Mrs. H. R. Sutli£r-
land, Mrs. W. B. Hopkins, Mrs. S. J. Sorrell, Mrs. W. A.
Connor, Mrs. C. H. Steele, Miss Annie S. Cronkey, Miss
Hugh S. Cronkey, Mrs. Mayfield Wilkinson, Mrs. Charles
Carroll, Mrs. Clay Roberts, Mrs. Ciordon Boone, Miss Mary
From the date of its organization, the Corpus Christi
Chapter has never failed to hold the interest of its members.
To keep alive the memories of the old South, the programs
have featured songs and poems that brought back thoughts
of days before the War. By observing, with open meetings,
special days of historic import, by the rendition of splendid
literary, musical and patriotic programs, a deep interest has
But by no means have other than social features been
neglected, for the bcneficencies of the Chapter have been
generous and widespread.
Deploring the fact that .Southwest Texas had done so
little in the way of erecting monuments to the heroes of
the "lost cause," the women of the Corpus Christi Chapter
determined that some day the\- would rear a fitting me-
morial to the noble Texans who gave their lives for the
South. The consummation of this idea was the crowning
feature of Mrs. IT. H. Craig's tenure of office, ^\'ith a
memliership of only fifty women, the undertaking seemed
a stupendous one, l)Ut what was lacking in numbers, they
made up in zeal and loyalty. That this memorial should
take the form of a public drinking fountain was the unani-
mous decision of the Chapter and Pompeo Coppini, noted
142 The Story of Corpus Christi
sculptor of San Antonio, was called to consult with them.
Inspired during his visit here by the natural beauties of
Corpus Christi, the result was a conception radically dif-
ferent from the stereotyped memorial. Corpus Christi
should be represented as a beautiful maiden, and on either
side of her were Father Neptune and Mother Earth plac-
ing a crown upon her head, while at her feet were trophies
of sea and land, and in the background figures symbolical
of the riches and resources of our land. These figures,
heroic in size, were to stand in high relief against a semi-
circular background. On- his return to San Antonio Mr.
Coppini embodied his ideas in clay and a committee con-
sisting of Mesdames D. McNeil Turner and E. A. Born
was sent to San Antonio, there to be assisted by Mr. Atlee
Ayers in passing judgment upon the design. They were
delighted and accepted the model at once. Mr. Coppini's
proposition was that he would make the Chapter a gift of
his labor, charging only for the materials used and for the
workmen who cast the model and for the expense of setting
it up, and for this one thousand dollars must be paid.
Aided by a very forceful trio of women as finance
committee, Mesdames H. D. McDonald, Sam Rankin and
S. A. Early, the work of raising the necessary funds was
accomplished in a very short time, despite the stringency in
the money market, occasioned by the outbreak of the
European War. Every means of turning an honest penny
was employed, rummage sales yielded their quota, moving
pictures were staged, waffle suppers enticed the dollars
from unwilling pockets, and the women even acted as clerks
on a special sales day of a furniture store in return for
a percentage of the profits. The Corpus Christi Daily
Caller generously placed at the disposal of the Chapter its
entire outfit and working force in getting out a U. D. C.
Special, and the results surpassed the most sanguine ex-
pectations. Generous contributions from members of the
Chapter, the Rotary Club, the various banks and the citi-
zens at large swelled the sum to still larger proportions,
and what had loomed as a stupendous undertaking was soon
an accomplished fact.
The courteous and progressive Mayor of Corpus
The Story of Corpus Christi 143
Christi, Hon. Roy Miller, in consulting with a committee
from the Chapter regarding the placing of the fountain,
found that by slightly altering the plans for bluff beautifi-
cation, just about to be carried out, the fountain could be
given a conspicuous place at the convergence of the two
great granite steps on the side of the bluff back of the City
Hall. The location serves to show to greater advantage the
beauty of the sculptured figures and makes the Confederate
memorial observed of all observers.
With the completion of the fountain, Mrs. Craig, whose
health and personal bereavement had made the position of
President an onerous one, resigned and the following corps
of new officers were chosen. May, 1915:
President, Mrs. H. D. McDonald.
First Vice President, Mrs. Sam Rankin.
Second Vice President, Mrs. Charles Carroll.
Third Vice President, Miss Mary Lee Thompson.
Fourth Vice President, Mrs. Gordon Boone.
Treasurer, Mrs. S. A. Early.
Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. B. T. Robertson.
Recording Secretary, Mrs. W. B. Hopkins.
Registrar, Miss Mary Woods.
Historian, Mrs. Mary Sutherland.
With characteristic energy, the newly elected President
has launched an undertaking that promises to bring honors
as well as financial gains to the Chapter. Mrs. Mary
Sutherland, widow of a Confederate veteran, and herself
an almost life-long resident of this city, a woman noted for
her intense loyalty and devotion to the "lost cause," has
for years been collecting data for a history of Corpus
Christi. a collection of unique information from a mind well
stored with facts that have long l)cen forgotten by the ma-
jority of Corpus Christians. With no thought of self-ag-
grandizement, and desiring only that her beloved Chapter
might be the beneficiary, Mrs. Sutherland has given this
work in its entirety to the Corpus Christi Chapter. The
President, recognizing in it a work of rare interest to all
who have ever lived in this beautiful city, at once pushed
forward the publication of the book, and the Corpus Christi
144 The Story of Corpus Christi
Chapter is proud to give it to the pubHc, and proud of the
grand woman whose life work it has been.
This brief history of the Corpus Christi Chapter would
be incomplete without a passing mention of the two mem-
bers claimed by death, and whose loss has been so keenly
felt, Mrs. Mary Chatfield Watts and Mrs. Annie Pope Con-
nor. In the death of Captain J. B. Thompson, Mr. H. H.
Craig and Mr. M. T. Gaffney, the Chapter has sustained
the loss of true and loyal friends.
Taken all in all, the Corpus Christi Chapter has every
right to feel proud of its achievements, and using the past
as an augury of the future, enters into a new year with
serene and hopeful hearts.
The Story of Corpus Christi 145
THE CORPUS CHRISTI
In closing The Story of Corpus Christi, the Corpus
Christi of today, will be very briefly reviewed, the growth
of the city during the past ten years going forward by such
leaps and bounds until today, with the single exception of
Galveston, it is the largest city on the Texas Coast and is
growing more rapidly than any other in South Texas.
In proportion to population more improvements that
make for successful city building have been secured within
the past ten years than in any city in the Southland, and the
increase in population and business and property values
has kept pace with the improvements.
The present population is eighteen thousand, based on a
most conservative estimate. The Federal census in 1910
was for less than ten thousand.
Ten miles of streets have been paved with bitulithic
pavement during the past three years. A causeway span-
ning Nueces Bay. connecting the mainlands of Nueces and
San Patricio County, has been completed at the expense of
Nueces County, opening up for Corpus Christi a vast retail
trade from San Patricio, Bee, Aransas and other nearby
A beautiful fi\e-story Court House, costing a quarter
million dollars, has been erected. A portion of the blufif
has been improved with every prospect that 19 16 will wit-
ness a completion of the work.
A municipal wharf, costing fifty thousand dollars, has
been constructed. Buildings erected in the city during 191 5
146 The Story of Corpus Christi
cost one-half million dollars. The Government is now build-
ing, at a cost of one hundred and thirty thousand dollars, a
magnificent three-story Federal Building at the corner of
Lower North Broadway and Starr Streets.
Two beautiful and modern hotels have been erected
within the past few years. The Nueces and The Corpus
Beach, the first a six-story structure with two hundred and
twenty guest rooms, and the latter a four-story building with
one hundred and thirty guest rooms. Both are fireproof and
are modern in every respect. In addition Corpus Christi
has many other first-class hotels, including The State, a four-
story building, and The Seaside and Home, both having
been established for many years and having an enviable rec-
ord with the traveling public.
Corpus Christi recently has secured a modern city water
supply, having voted three hundred thousand dollars in
bonds, that was sufficient to so improve the municipal plant
that it will provide sufficient water for a city twice as large
as the Corpus Christi of today.
In many other ways the progress of the city has de-
veloped within the past few years, during 1914 and 1915
alone six hundred private dwellings being erected within the
city limits and adjoining additions.
Men, women and children of the city have a most opti-
mistic faith in the future of Corpus Christi and work untir-
ingly for the progress of the city so that the day may not be
far distant when Corpus Christi is not only the largest city
in South Texas but also the best place in which to live
throughout all the Southland.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
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