Bay City: A settlement that arose from the prairie

Matagorda CountyTXGenWeb
A fire on the west side of the courthouse square in March 1908 destroyed all of the frame buildings there.

   EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 125th anniversary of Bay City’s founding in 1894.
   Since several events occurred in September that year, the Bay City Sentinel will feature the history of Bay City written the late Matagorda County historian Mary Belle Ingram throughout September.
   This is the second installment of Bay City’s history.
By Mary B. Ingram
From last week on History
   The first rice harvested was stored in the county clerk’s office, then transported six miles to Van Vleck to the only railway station in the county, and then shipped by train to mills. Thus that county clerk’s office became the first “rice warehouse.”
   The first man to break rice cultivation in Matagorda County was A.P. Borden of Pierce whose plows went to work three miles north of Bay City in November, 1899. The Matagorda County Rice and Irrigation Company began work the following month.
   In 1900 the Matagorda County Tribune took the place of the Bay City Breeze and became the principal newspaper of the county. Jacob Linn Ladd, a young lawyer and Bay City’s first teacher, became editor and owner of the Tribune. 
   Two banks had joined the town’s business establishments. One dentist, four medical doctors, six lawyers, and three teachers resided in the growing community. The population was now 1,000.
   In 1901 rice brokers were establishing themselves in the Bay City hotels, and the first rice carnival was organized. 
   It was also the celebration of the first railroad, the Cane Belt, which made its entrance into Bay City. 
   That same year a bond issue was passed to erect the first sizeable school, an eight-room, two-story building, at Cottonwood and Eighth Streets. 
   The construction had to wait for Ike Towell to harvest his strawberry field.
   Parents were concerned that the school would be “so far out in the country” and their children would have to cross the Cane Belt tracks; so a private school was begun under the auspices of the Episcopal church in Bay City.
   The Matagorda County Tribune, a weekly newspaper, began publishing a daily newspaper, the Daily Tribune, in 1904. 

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