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.

Hawley early meeting place for local settlers

The Tres Palacios Baptist Church was established in 1850 and was by the Deming’s Bridge Cemetery. This log structure was built in the 1850s.

   Hawley, known earlier as Deming’s Bridge, was on the Tres Palacios River a mile east of what is now Texas 71 and three miles northeast of Blessing in western Matagorda County..
   At one time the Tres Palacios may have been navigable as far north as Deming’s Bridge.
   The area, used as a meeting place by local settlers as early as 1850, had a log church by 1852.
   Sometime after land was deeded for a cemetery and church in 1854, a frame building for the Tres Palacios Baptist Church was established.
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Blessing's roots sink deep in county's history

More early scenes of Blessing: the Logan Building housed several businesses in its long life.

   The inception of the town of Blessing took place in the mind of Jonathan E. Pierce, owner of "Rancho Grande" on the east side of the Tres Palacios River near Deming's Bridge.
   Pierce owned cattle and land along the Tres Palacios as did other pioneer families. 
   Surnames of some of the early settlers from about 1835 to 1900 were Keller, Wheeler, Rowles, Poole, Pybus, Lacey, Partain, McSparran, Yeamans, Downer, and Duffy.
   These families were served by the early communities of Deming's Bridge and Tres Palacios, each with a general store and post office. 
   West of the Tres Palacios River was the Carancahua River. 
   Some names of families living along this stream were: Rhodes, Logan, Fleury, Harris, Jordan, and Bolling.
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Clemville always tied to oil, gas industry

Courtesy Matagorda County Museum
Clemville, when it was known as Hardy in the oil town’s early day. Hardy became Clemville in 1911..

   There are several modern, bustling oil- and gas-related outfits on view when anyone drives through the Clemville area - roughly where FM 1468 crosses the Tres Palacios River about five miles northwest of Markham.
   There’s a town sign marking the area as Clemville, but little on the residential or retail side indicate anything but a typical oil patch industrial site.
   But Clemville began in the early 20th Century as an early version of what the area became today.
   It was founded because of oil.
   The difference between then and now is there once was a fledgling Texas town with churches, schools, a general store and machine shops.
   Henry Parker, an early colonist, received a league in the Clemville area April 5, 1833. The league was comprised of 4,428 acres.

Pass Cavallo key to America, Texas history

Matagorda County genweb: www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txmatago/
This 1895 atlas of Matagorda County shows shows how the county line crosses through Pass Cavallo, which divides Matagorda Peninsula and Matagorda Island.

   Pass Cavallo lies between Matagorda Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and separates Matagorda Island from Matagorda Peninsula.  
   The Spanish name means ‘’Pass of the Horse.”  
   This pass into Matagorda Bay was used by the early explorers and was the site of many shipwrecks in the 1800s.  
   In 1847 Port Cavallo was listed as having a post office. The post office papers show William E. Hanson as postmaster from July 28, 1847, to April 28, 1848, and listed the post office as being in Matagorda County.  

Jack Glenn's bracelet returns to Bay City in 2015

Matagorda County Museum photo/Jennifer Rodgers
It took 71 years, but Jack Glenn’s bracelet found its way from where it was found in World War II near Klein Quenstedt, Germany, to the Matagorda County Museum in Bay City Jan. 13, 2015.

   When Bernerd Harding, 90, began a personal mission in 2009 to return to Germany to search for his pilot’s wings, little did he know what awaited him.
   Mr. Harding was a 25-year-old B-24 pilot with the 8th Air Force’s 492nd Bomb Group when the 492nd was sent to Bernburgh, Germany on July 7, 1944 to bomb an aircraft manufacturing plant.
   After they dropped their bomb load, German fighters fired on the “Georgette,” their plane, and Mr. Harding and his crew of 11 others had to bail out when the plane caught on fire. 
   They landed in a wheat field and three farmers captured them, holding them until German army officers took charge.
   While being held captive in a dirt-floored basement of a local house, Mr. Harding buried his wings in the dirt floor.
   He feared he would be killed if the Germans discovered he was an American pilot.


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