Bailey Hardeman: Matagorda’s Republic of Texas statesman

Bailey Hardeman

   Bailey Hardeman, War of 1812 soldier, Santa Fe trader, mountain man, a founder and officer of the Republic of Texas, thirteenth or fourteenth child of Thomas and Mary (Perkins) Hardeman, was born at the Thomas Hardeman station or stockade, near Nashville, on February 26, 1795. 
   His father was a prominent frontiersman who served in the North Carolina convention that considered ratifying the United States Constitution at Hillsboro, North Carolina, and in the Tennessee state constitutional convention of 1796.  
   Bailey spent his early years in Davidson and Williamson counties, Tennessee. 
   He was a store proprietor, deputy sheriff of Williamson County, and lawyer in Tennessee. 
   At eighteen he served as an artillery officer in the War of 1812 under his father’s friend Andrew Jackson in Louisiana. 


Misfortunes plagued LaSalle expedition

Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle.
From Texas Beyond History

 EDITOR’S NOTE: The story of the LaSalle odyssey is an important part of Matagorda County and Texas history.
   It’s the reason that the French flag is one of the six flags of Texas.
   And, perhaps more importantly, the LaSalle expedition alarmed the Spanish, who reacted by establishing missions throughout Texas.
   The Texas Beyond History website is a thoroughfare examination of this ill-fated journey and we thought this telling of the story would interest Sentinel readers.


John Duncan left lasting mark on county

A 1936 granite state historical marker stands at the former John Duncan homesite on Caney Creek in north Matagorda County. Below, a cistern is among the few reminders of the once great Duncan plantation.

   In many ways, Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred” colonists can be likened in Texas history to the Pilgrims in the history of the United States. 
   John Duncan was one of these historic settlers. 
   Born in Pennsylvania in 1788, he first moved to Alabama and lived there until he was 45 years old. 
   He married Julia Coan of Gilford, Connecticut, born Dec. 7, 1807. 
   They were the parents of five children. 
   For some unknown reason, John Duncan, who operated a successful line of steamships on the Alabama River between Catawbe, Mobile and Selma, abandoned his business, his plantation, and his family, and immigrated to Texas. 
   He left Alabama in 1835 and upon arriving in Matagorda, enlisted in the Matagorda and Bay Prairie Company of Volunteers participating in the Oct. 9, 1835, capture of Goliad under Captain George M. Collinsworth. 


Vanished Podo townsite named for Duncan Kaffir slave

   Podo was a shipping pen switch on the Southern Pacific Railroad which ran through the John Duncan Plantation situated in the northern part of Matagorda County. 
   The switch was named for the colorful Kaffir slave, “Podo,” who worked for John Duncan prior to the Civil War. 
   He came from Africa and was a leader of his people and “slave boss” for many years. 
   The Duncan home was in the vicinity of the switch, and when the railway came through in the early 1920s, the Pierce family named it “Podo.” 
   In 1917 the population of Podo was between 50 and 100. 
   All that remains today are two crepe myrtle trees and several brick cisterns in the vicinity of the former slave quarters. 

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Confederate defenses at mouth of Caney Creek

   The specific actions at the mouth of Caney Creek occurred in January and February of 1864.  
   A Confederate force of 4000 to 6000 men occupied a fortification and camp consisting of a main sand fortress, rifle pits, trench works and several redoubts. Union gunboats of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron intermittently bombarded the fortification several times during the two months.  
   The Confederate force was positioned to oppose a Federal move up the coast toward Galveston. The Confederate force was withdrawn after it was determined that the expected Union advance was being abandoned in favor of an attempt to invade Texas from the Mansfield, Louisiana Area (the Red River Campaign). 
   The construction and manning of the fortification system was a part of an overall defense plan by Confederate Major General John Bankhead Magruder, Commander of the District of Texas.  


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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