Abel ‘Shanghai’ Pierce a Texas pioneer cattleman

Abel Head Pierce’s life-sized statue atop his tombstone at Hawley Cemetery.

   Abel Head “Shanghai” Pierce was born in Little Compton, Rhode Island, on June 29, 1834. 
      He was Johnathan and Hannah Pierce’s third son and their sixth child. 
   He left Rhode Island when he was sixteen, spent several years working in Virginia, and eventually arrived in Indianola, Texas, in December of 1853. 
   Shanghai Pierce, Shanghai being his widely used and well-known nickname, went to work for W.B Grimes as a cowboy. 
   He served in the Confederate Army, and after the war set out on his own. 
   He trailed cattle from the Gulf Coast first to New Orleans, then to the Kansas railheads: Wichita, Ellsworth and Dodge City. 
   He saw the end of the open range, so he used his earnings to purchase land. 
   He also saw the advantage of Bos Indicus blood in the Gulf Coast cattle, so laid the groundwork for the importation of cattle from India which finally arrived in America in 1906. 


Thomas Marshall Duke active in early Texas, Matagorda

   Thomas Marshall Duke, the first constitutional alcalde of Austin’s colony and one of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred colonists, the son of Dr. Basil and Charlotte (Marshall) Duke, was born at Lexington, Kentucky, in 1795. 
   His mother was a niece of Chief Justice John Marshall. 
   Duke served in the War of 1812 under Gen. William Henry Harrison and was in the battle of the Thames, October 5, 1813. 
   In 1818 he married Eliza J. Taylor of Newport, Kentucky. 
   She died about six months after the marriage, and by 1819 Duke was in Natchitoches, Louisiana. 
   In 1821 or 1822 he sailed to Texas on the schooner Lively to join Austin’s colony. 
   The 1823 census of the Colorado District listed him. 
   On July 24, 1824, he received a sitio of land on Caney Creek in what is now Matagorda County. 


Simpsonville rapidly declined after railroad closed, highway bypass

   Simpsonville is near the junction of Farm roads 1095 and 521, five miles northeast of Collegeport and 20 miles southwest of Bay City in southern Matagorda County.   
   The community was established about 1910 on the Buckeye to Collegeport railroad; the town had a railroad station house, an artesian well, a cotton gin, and several houses and barns.   
   Also in 1910, G.W. Mann secured a post office in his general store.   
   By 1914 a blacksmith shop was in operation at the community.   
   The post office closed in 1917, when the population had dwindled to ten.   
   Thereafter mail was routed through Palacios.   
   In 1928 the cotton gin closed, and by the 1930s the county road had been moved and the railroad had closed.   
   In 1930 and 1940 the population was reported as forty, but the 1946 county highway map showed no businesses at the site.   


Tin Top began in 1929 to provides services once provided by Simpsonville

Simpsonville, lower left, is shown on this 1920 Texas highway map.

  Tintop (originally Tin Top) is a tiny country-store community at the intersection of Farm roads 1095 and 521, 14 miles southwest of Bay City in southwestern Matagorda County.  
   It was named after the roofing material of its buildings.  
   Tin Top, which originally consisted of a cotton gin and a country store, was founded around 1929 to provide services to area farmers after the end of similar services in Simpsonville, a mile to the east, which had been bypassed by the county road. 

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Wylie Kuykendall made his mark as traildriver

A portrait photograph of Wylie M. Kuyendall.

   Wylie Martin Kuykendall, pioneer traildriver, was born in Fort Bend County, Texas, on October 22, 1839, to Robert H. (Gill) and Electra (Shannon) Kuykendall. 
   He was the grandson of Robert H. Kuykendall, Sr., one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred.  
   He was named after a family friend and prominent colonist, Wyly Martin.  
   His mother died shortly thereafter, and in 1846 his father was presumed killed by Indians.  
   In 1849 Kuykendall left his home in Fort Bend County, riding on a mule behind his black servant, Lark, who eventually left him in Matagorda, where he lived for a while with his grandmother, Susan K. Tone.  
   He got a job punching cattle at the age of 10, and at 12 he was trailing cattle to Missouri for Bill Hurnden, who paid him $25 a month.  

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Matagorda group honors former slave Hannah Carr

Bay City Sentinel photo/Mike Reddell
The Matagorda Historical Society (MHS) dedicated a plaque for the grave of former slave Hannah Carr at Matagorda Cemetery during ceremonies Saturday.

   A ceremony dedicating a plaque for a former slave who became a beloved member of Matagorda drew about 30 people to the Matagorda Cemetery Saturday morning. 
   Hannah Carr, who was born between 1834 and 1839, died in 1917, “was a highly respected lady in this town,” reads the plaque that was installed on her grave in the cemetery under the direction of Matagorda Historical Society. 
   Wilma Holt was a speaker at the MHS ceremony. Her grandmother was a good friend of Hannah Carr. 
   “She is a very special person to our family,” Holt said. 
   “Being a black woman in Matagorda” yet holding the respect of the community “were things unheard of in her age,” Holt told those attending. 

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Andy Hawkins’ life filled with achievements

Andy Hawkins

   EDITOR’S NOTE: I chose to do a Black History Month feature on Anthony “Andy” Hawkins mainly because I believed he was an outstanding native son who excelled in many sports - beyond his impressive professioonal football career - and made a lasting mark on the people he worked with at Celanese and the people he served in so many civic activities.
   Hawkins died last October at the age of 57.

   When Andy Hawkins first ran for Bay City council in the spring of 1998, he told a reporter asking about his campaign that he wanted openess in city government.
   Hawkins also noted a fundamental campaign point was asking why - often if need be - to get at a problem.
   A cousin of the Hawkins family, Vera Petteway-Nyormoi noted the long roots Andy’s family has in Matagorda County.
   “The Hawkins family are cousins. Fred Hawkins and my father, Otis Petteway, were first cousins...the children of Petteway siblings,” Petteway-Nyormoi said.


Historical plaque to honor remarkable ‘Aunt Hannah’

Hannah Carr’s grave marker at Matagorda Cemetery.

      "Aunt Hannah" is highly esteemed by old and young, and few there are who do not know her personally, for she has lived here about three-quarters of a century, in fact has been a member of the Methodist Church here nearly that long.
      These words of respect written in 1912 were used to describe a beloved resident of Matagorda.
   The actual date of Hannah Carr’s birth was unknown. It is possible that she herself did not know when she was born. 
   At her death, her Matagorda friends were sure she was at least 100, but census records indicate she was probably closer to 90.

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‘Beauty and the Feast’

The Matagorda County Aggie Moms' Club recently drew the winner of their Third Annual "Beauty and The Feast" spring scholarship fundraiser. The appropriately named raffle awarded the winner, Amy Ging, a hair cut and style along with a MorrocanOil product donated by Nicasio's Salon and Spa, a floral arrangement donated by Celeste Cash at Bay City Floral and "delicious meal for six" prepared and delivered by the Aggie Moms' Club. A big thank you to all who purchased tickets and for the generous prize donations. All proceeds benefit scholarships.Pictured: Aggie Mom treasurer Cindy Tomek, president Susan Salidivar, secretary Tami Campbell and prize donor Nicasio Perez.
Contributed Photo


Mount Pilgram Missionary: On Caney, before recorded history

Mount Pilgram MIssionary Baptist Church

    The story of the Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church membership began prior to the earliest recorded history – on the bank of Caney Creek, during a journey through slavery. 
   During the earliest period slaves who could, gathered to worship in their quarters or under trees. In addition, homecomers have contended that prior to 1885, a log cabin was used for church.  
   The founding fathers of Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church had a zest for living. The Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church’s founding fathers or their ancestors were residence of the plantations along Lower Caney.  
   Slaves came from far and near, to include from the Hudgins Settlement through the Lynville Community, the Buckner’s Prairie area and the Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church area. 
   December 3, 1885, Annie Warren Rugeley and her husband Edward Rugeley sold the one-tract to Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church.  


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