Selkirk's career marked by many accomplishments

Photo by Bill Anderson
James Henry Selkirk’s gravemarker at Matagorda Cemetery.

James Henry Selkirk (March 29, 1815-October 31, 1862), the only son of William Selkirk, came from Selkirk, Albany County, New York, in 1836— after the Battle of San Jacinto— with a group of New York volunteers recruited to help the Texas colonists like Mexico for independence.   
   According to family records, James Henry was an apprentice in the establishment of James Gould, in Albany, New York.   
   This company manufactured post coaches and other vehicles. James Henry was in the painting department where he became and “ornamentor” and was most proficient.   
   After serving his time as an apprentice in becoming a skilled ornamentor, he received the highest fee been paid to coachmakers. he was active also in the establishment of a historic society and, while in Albany, was the leading actor in theatrical performances.

Kenner Prairie once farming community

   Kenner, also known as Kenner Prairie, was between Live Oak and Caney creeks 25 miles northeast of Matagorda and four miles southwest of Sargent in southeastern Matagorda County. 
   A post office opened at Kenner in 1859, and the next year the community had about seven families, most of them farmers. 
   During the Civil War Kenner was headquarters for the McNeel Coast Guard Mounted Rifles, a reserve company under the command of D.S. (or P.S.) McNeel. 
   The 1870 census enumerated around 20 families at Kenner Prairie, which was served at that time by the Caney post office, as its own post office had closed in 1866. 
   Kenner’s post office reopened in 1872 and closed permanently in 1887; mail was sent to Hawkinsville. 
   In 1884 the Kenner population was thirty; in 1899 a Kenner school reported 18 white students. 

Englishman 2st to settle on lower Caney

Aerial maps courtesy of Marcus Michna/Shelmark Engineering
This aerial map of lower Caney Creek at Sargent with the date and agency involved was: 1943, Agriculture and Soil Conservation Service;

   Sargent, on FM 457, five miles northwest of the Gulf of Mexico and 24 miles southeast of Bay City in the eastern corner of Matagorda County, was named for George Sargent, an Englishman who immigrated to Texas from Cornwall, England, in 1834. 
   Sargent purchased some bottomland near Caney Creek in 1844 and built a house three or four miles inland from the Gulf between Caney Creek and Cedar Lake. 
   In those days Caney Creek had deep water and was navigable. 
   During the Civil War, Sargent was able to ship his beef and cotton undetected from Caney Creek through the Union blockade. 
   After the war, the Sargents continued in the cattle business. 

Bowie Plantation: A study of determination

Matagorda County genweb: www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txmatago/
This 1895 atlast of Matagorda County shows shows that Bowieville remained one of the Caney Creek communities.

George J. Bowie Plantation
(Tone & Jamison League)
   George John Bowie and his wife, Frances Sophia Milhouse, were both born and raised in Dallas County, Alabama.
   They were married in 1843 and were parents of eight children; four of which were born in Alabama and four in Texas.
   George came to Texas in 1848 with his father-in-law, Philip Milhouse and brother-in-law, Ed Milhouse. 
   As a company, they wanted to buy land for a cotton plantation, and George planned to stay in Texas and manage it. 
   They found the place they wanted in eastern Matagorda County on the banks of Caney Creek. 
   It was in the Tone and Jamison League, and they bought the place from Sam Ward and his wife. 
   They rented the place for two years and then made a deal for the property, and during the 10 years 1851-1861 paid for it. 

2015 runion to mark 107 years for Collegeport

The grand opening of Collegeport was May 25, 1909, in Hotel Collegeport (above), a two-story hotel accommodating 100 guests on the north side of Central Street,facing Tres Palacios Bay and the Collegeport pavilion

   Collegeport Day - Matagorda County’s longest-standing annual celebration - will begin at noon Saturday, May 30, at the Mopac House.
   Former residents and friends are always welcome to the annual homecoming, the last Saturday in May when the founding of Collegeport on May 25, 1908, is under the direction of the Mopac House Foundation.
   If you’re interested in sharing old photographs or any information you’d like included in this year’s slideshow, they will be scanned by contacting G.W. Franzen at gfranzen@tisd.net.
   And, don’t forget to bring a side dish and desssert to complete the meal.

Collegeport keeps ties to a unique past

This was an early view of Collegeport from the bay.

   Collegeport is in southwest Matagorda County on Tres Palacios Bay. 
   The townsite was planned by the Burton D. Hurd Land Company as a promotion to sell the J.E. and A.B. Pierce lands.
      The company also established the Gulf Coast University of Industrial Arts. The combination of port and college town supplied the name "Collegeport."
   In August and September of 1907, Abel B. Pierce had the 320-acre townsite of Collegeport surveyed and it became known as the Hurd Subdivision of the A.B. Pierce Ranch.
   Documents recorded Oct. 2, 1908, in the Matagorda County Clerk's office show that Jan. 20, 1908, A.B. Pierce gave and granted to the Burton D. Hurd Land Company an option of purchase on the Ace of Club Ranch, comprising 9,000 acres of land. 
   The land company was to pay Pierce $50,000.

Getting Matagorda County out of mud

   “Get a Horse!” was the half-serious jest for residents of Matagorda County in the early 1920s, when the motor car was fast becoming the most sought-after means of transportation. 
   The stylish comfort and prestige of Henry Ford’s “Tin-Lizzy” was seriously challenged by the practical needs of transversing roads that were often sticky, rutted , black “gumbo.”
   The surface of Matagorda County is a level plain that rises from sea level on the coast to a maximum elevation of 70 feet at the north boundary. 
   The Colorado River, Caney, Live Oak, Carancahua, and Tres Palacios creeks cross the county, but adequate drainage has always been a problem. 

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Remembering when weather affected all

   Rainy weather turned dirt roads into quagmires which bogged down the new-fangled automobiles. 
   Residents often delayed planned trips around the county if there was even a threat of rain. After all, they had to be able to get home. 
   Farmers who had good crop results, couldn’t harvest them, much less get them to a market over the muddy, rutted roads. 
   Housewives washed their clothes in wringer washers, but had to have good weather to dry them on the line. Weather dictated most aspects of life.

Citrus Grover's oranges helped lure Midwest farmers

Photo courtesy of R. Linn Ready/www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txmatago/
Yeamans & Sons Drug Good Goceries & Furniture in Citrus Grove’s early years.

   In April, 1908, A.B. Pierce of Blessing contracted with the Burton D. Hurd Land Development Company to sell land in the Ace of Clubs Ranch situated in southern Matagorda County, bounded by the Colorado River on the east and Matagorda and Tres Palacios bays on the south and west.  
   A town was laid out in 1908 and named Satsuma as orange groves were used as a lure to entice farmers from Kansas, Nebraska, and other midwestern states.  
   The name, however, was changed to Citrus Grove since another post office was using the name Satsuma. 
   Land agents were employed in towns all over the target area, using the mild winters and rich soil, where anything would grow - especially citrus fruit - as enticements.  
   Large numbers of “landseekers” came on excursion trains that were met by surreys, hacks and wagons to take the buyers to see the land for sale. 

Siringo: Cowboy, private detective, novelist

Photo courtesy of Donald Harvey and Betty Rusk/www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txmatago/

Charles A. "Charlie" Siringo in front of the Hotel Palacios on his 1913 trip to Matagorda County. The horses were Rowdy and Pat and the Irish Wolfhound, Eat 'Em up Jake.

   A native son who brought recognition to Matagorda County through his adventures and writings was well-known cowboy-detective, Charles Angelo Siringo.  
   He was born Feb. 7, 1855, on the Matagorda Peninsula to Antonio and Bridget White Siringo, who had married in Matagorda on Oct. 12, 1852. 
   At the age of 12 he was “drafted” into the life of a cowboy when he got a job working for Mr. Faldien near Boggy. 
   His father, a native of Sicily, had died when he was a year old, and on August 15, 1867, his mother married William Carrier in Matagorda.  
   The family sold their property in Matagorda to go north where Mr. Carrier was supposed to have property.  
   After spending all of the family’s money, Mr. Carrier deserted them.


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