Keelboat ‘David Crockett’ first large craft to navigate Colorado

A common design of a keelboat in the 1800s.

   In 1838, the keelboat David Crockett, reportedly the first large craft to navigate the Colorado River, arrived at the head of “the raft on the Colorado.”  
   Early in the 19th century, the river’s slow current caused a logjam, or “raft,” which by the late 1830s blocked the river 10 miles above its mouth at Matagorda.  
   The Crockett, which had averaged more than 60 miles a day, stopped at the head of the raft, where its cargo of cotton was unloaded and carried by wagon to Matagorda.  
   Removing the log jam in the 1920s caused the development of an enormous delta that reached across Matagorda Bay to Matagorda Peninsula.  
   In 1936 engineers dug a channel through the delta. 


Kate Ward river’s first steamboat

   The Kate Ward was the first steamboat to operate on the Colorado River.  
   In June 1844 the La Grange Intelligencer announced that a local merchant, Samuel Ward, was to build a steamboat for use on the Colorado.  
   The engine and other equipment had already been bought in Pittsburg and were to be shipped to Matagorda by July 15.  
   The boat would be assembled at the head of the raft, which obstructed navigation on the lower part of the river, and was to be in operation by Nov. 1.  
   The article praised Ward for his part in selling the stock of the Colorado Navigation Company, which had been rechartered in January 1844 for the purpose of clearing the raft. 

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Colorado raft once stretched from Matagorda past Bay City

The caption under this early 1900s newspaper photo of the Colorado River and “a section of the old raft about 12 miles below Bay City. The caption also noted that “alternately wert and dry portions of drift have here rotted and been washed out This picture was made at a time of extreme low water and shows drift that is normally submerged.”

   Before 1900, the Colorado River used to flow into Matagorda Bay, which was not separated into an east and west bay as it is today. 
   Early in the 19th century, the river’s slow current caused the formation of a raft, or log jam, which gradually grew upstream so that the river was navigable in 1839 for only 10 miles above its mouth. 
   By 1858 the situation in Matagorda and Wharton counties had become so bad that the state appropriated funds for the construction of a new channel around the raft. 
   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the channel, when the log jam was but seven miles upriver from Matagorda, but since it was not maintained the raft filled it up and at its peak was more than 40 miles in length.   
   The logjam was so thick that trees grew on it.  

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Colorado House place to stay in Matagorda

This is a view of Matagorda's main street, Fisher Street, as depicted in a lithograph created in the 1850s by Helmuth Holtz, a German artist who visited Matagorda. After returning to Germany, he created the lithograph from memory. Galen Hodges decided to use the lithograph as stationery for the Colorado House even though it is labeled as the "Colonado" House in the lithograph. The Hodges home was next door to the hotel and it appears from viewing the photo below that the Colorado House was actually the building on the corner and the home was labeled as the hotel. The Matagorda Post Office now stands on the corner depicted in the lithograph.

 Walking down the streets of Matagorda today, it is hard for one to imagine that this small town was once a thriving seaport and summer resort area.  
   Stanley’s grocery store now stands on the block where a hotel, the “Fashionable” Colorado House, once stood. 
   This hotel was located on the main street in the middle of town. 
    The owner and proprietor of the hotel, Galen Hodges, had acquired the block on which the hotel stood; and on this block he also owned a private home, a mercantile store, and a drug store. 
   Slave quarters were located in the back of the block. 
   Hodges was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on Sept. 18, 1812, where he taught high school as a young man.  
   He then moved to Georgia in 1834 and on to Alabama, Florida and New Orleans.  
   In New Orleans he learned of Texas’ struggle for independence and how men were being recruited for the Texas army.  


Luther Hotel has deep roots in Palacios history

An early photo of the Luther Hotel, called the Palacios Hotel then courtesy of Bobbi Gaspard.

   The Luther Hotel is a Palacios institution that has its roots in the town’s early development. 
   With the arrival of the railroad, the first decade of the 20th century was a time of new settlements across Matagorda County. 
   Between 1901 and 1905, the small towns of Blessing, Buckeye, Markham, Van Vleck, Big Hill, Midfield, Cortes and Palacios sprang up on the prairie.
   The Texas Rice Development Company reserved Block C, between Cary and Duson Avenues, on East Trespalacios Bay for a hotel. 
   The Palacios Townsite Company, a subsidiary of the TRDC, commissioned Victoria architect Jules Leffland to design the hotel, and D.D. Rittenhouse was the contractor/builder. 
   Building materials were shipped from Louisiana via the Southern Pacific Railroad that came to Palacios in 1903. 


Deadly outlaw captured at Markham

   EDITOR’S NOTE: It was big news in Texas in 1903 when Jim Moody was captured by a host of lawmen near Markham.
   The following article from the Houston Post details the pursuit of the man who lead the Black Jack Gang and once was a member of the Dalton Gang.
   Our thanks to local historian Carol Sue Gibbs who researched this story and brought it to our attention.


John Logan: Cowboy, cattleman, adventurer

With the Logan Building featured prominently,this photo was taken during a buggy race in 1913 down Blessing’s main street.

  EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an obituary of John L. Logan that ran at the time of his death in 1928.
   Rather than change it up to become more biographical, it was left in the obituary form to show the style of writing the final words on someone back in the day.
   John L. Logan, 92 years and nine months of age, a pioneer stockman of this county and within two years of being a native Texan, died at the home of his son-in-law, T.J. Poole, Jr., last night, and was laid to rest in Cedarvale cemetery this afternoon, under the auspices of the Masonic lodge of which he was at the time of his death, perhaps, the oldest South Texas member.
Six children, two sons and four daughters, survive him. 
   They are James H., of Blessing; Mrs. Kate Wheeler of Beaumont; Mrs. Louise Dixon of Brownsville; Mrs. T. J. Poole, Jr., of this city and John Logan of Houston. 
   There are also, 25 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.


LeTulle’s legacy long-remembered in Bay City

Victor Lawrence LeTulle was buried in 1944 at Cedarvale Cemetery. His marker, below, at Cedarvale.

   Victor Lawrence LeTulle, Bay City businessman, farmer, rancher and philanthropist, was born in Columbus, Texas, on July 5, 1864. 
   His surname was derived from the family’s place of origin, Tulle, France.
   He was the son of Victor D. LeTulle (November 25, 1832 - November 5, 1914), who was born in Guyandotte, Cabell County, West Virginia, and was buried in Cedarvale Cemetery in Bay City, and his first wife, Helen Maria Webb (February 28, 1832 - September 3, 1970), daughter of Henry L. Webb and granddaughter of Samuel Blanchley Webb of Revolutionary War fame. 
   She was born in Caledonia, Illinois, and died in Oakland, Texas.
   Victor Lawrence “V. L.” LeTulle was educated in the public schools of Colorado County and was engaged in farming there until 1890, when he came to Matagorda County. 
   Here he acquired land and began his farming and ranching activities. 


Collinsworth-lead attack surprised Mexican garrison at Goliad

   EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article about George Morse Collinsworth victory at the first battle of Goliad in October 1835, was from a website recognizing the role of Irish, or Celt, Texians in the Texas Revolution.
   While the Texans who gathered in Gonzales were heading toward San Antonio, another group, from the Matagorda area of the lower Colorado, Lavaca, and Navidad Rivers, elected George Morse Collinsworth to be their leader. 
   Collinsworth was a Celt and one of the founders of Richmond. 
   Acting under a plan said to be devised by West Point trained Colonel James W. Fannin. 
   These men set out to attack the fort at Goliad. The plan was to cut the Mexican line of supply from Copano to Cós at Béxar, and to deny Cós the use of the supplies and men at Goliad. 
   During the night, as they made their way to the old settlement at La Bahía, now called Goliad, Collinsworth stopped to allow the stragglers to catch up.  


Collinsworth lead victory at 1st battle at Goliad

Texas Historical Marker for George Morse Collinsworth at Matagorda Cemetery.

   George Morse Collinsworth (Collingsworth), soldier, planter, and civil servant, was born in Mississippi in 1810. 
   He was living in Brazoria, in 1832, when he participated in the battle of Velasco.  
   In July of that year he was serving as secretary of the Brazoria Committee of Vigilance. 
   In early October 1835 he raised a company of infantry from among the planters around the lower Colorado for service in the Texas army.  
   With Benjamin Rush Milam, who had just returned to Texas after escaping from prison in Mexico, these men, numbering about fifty, captured the Mexican garrison at Goliad on October 9, 1835. 
   Their victory cut off communication between San Antonio, then in possession of Mexican forces, and the Gulf of Mexico and secured valuable arms and supplies. 


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