Naval shelling of Lavaca

While the Bay City Sentinel history page normally concerns itself with Matagorda County history, a recent trip to Port Lavaca turned up something interesting.
The 10-foot Lavaca artillery battery silhouette, at the city’s Bayfront Peninsula Park, left, was commissioned by the Calhoun County Historical Commission with help from The Trull Foundation.
The silhouette, which was placed in Bayfront Peninsula Park in October 2014, depicts a Lavaca artillery battery defending the town with cannon fire Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 1862.
During those two days, two Union Navy ships bombarded Lavaca firing about 252 rounds into the town.
But Lavaca did not surrender, and the gunboats withdrew.
However, Lavaca and Indianola were occupied by Union forces - for the remainder of the war - in December 1863 as part of the Union’s push up the Texas coast, under the command of Maj. Gen. N.P. Banks..
That same push did involve Matagorda County in its two main Civil War encounters with the Union
First was the calamitous Matagorda Incident on New Year’s Eve 1863 when Confederates stationed at Matagorda took three boats to defend against against Union forces on Matagorda Bay.
But the mission met disaster when a powerful norther pounded the bay, sinking two of the Matagorda men’s boats and 22 soldiers perished.
Union forces continue to probe Matagorda Peninsula Confederate defenses and in January bombarded the sand fortress that about 4,000 Conferates defended at the mouth of Caney Creek, under the command of Maj. Gen. John McGruder.
Union forces bombarded the Caney earthworks in January and February 1863 and landed 2,500 soldiers but those troops moved away from the Caney fort.
The Union removed its forces from Matagorda Peninsula and redeployed them in Louisiana.
Bay City Sentinel/Mike Reddell


Sweet water spring on bay a big plus

NBC engineers await the "go ahead" from New York on the "Army Hour" broadcast Feb. 15, 1943. The show included a display of anti-aircraft fire from Well Point.

   Well Point, situated in southwest Matagorda County on Turtle Bay, received its name from the fresh water spring situated in this area.   
   Due to the erosion of the coastline, the spring is now in the bay.    
   This area was a favorite camping ground of the Karankawa (Carancahua) Indians.  
   Judge Silas Dinsmore, an early settler in the area, was friendly with the Karankawa Indians and did a lot of trading with them and one day, puzzled as to where these Indians were getting their water, he offered to trade a rifle to one of the Karankawas if they would disclose their source of fresh water.   
   That was supposedly the first rifle they had ever received.    
   Pleased with the trade they immediately took Mr. Dinsmore to a place in the Trespalacios bottoms.   
   On three sides were salt water and into the middle of that he waded out to where the Indian pointed, stooped down among the weeds and found the sweet water.   


Moore House built for a prominent leader

The D.P. and Louise Moore House at 2404 Ave. E, was built two years before Bay City was officially incorporated in 1894. This is the state historical marker for the house that was dedicated in 1993.

   The D.P. and Louise Moore home was built on block 60 in 1902 by builders Hatchett and Large. 
   The land was purchased from David Swickheimer on Nov. 20, 1894. 
   Lots 4 - 9 - 2404 Ave. E - were for the homesite, and the other half was used for pasture. 
   It is a late Victorian two-story, four-bay wood-frame residence, with columned and ballustraded front porch and gallery, projecting gable roofed section with bay, and small Palladian window in gable. 
   The house has two fireplaces, grill work inside the music and dining rooms, drop ceilings downstairs, front and back stairs, porches up and down. 
   Also, leaded glass windows in the living room, frosted and etched glass front door. 
   Downstairs are a bed, living music, dining and breakfast rooms, two kitchens, and a bath. 
   Upstairs are five bedrooms, parlor and a bath. 
   A closed stairway leads to the attic, with a ladder extending to the “widow’s walk.” 


Huebner cattle drive

The Huebner cattle drive, a tradition dating to 1919 came to life again Tuesday afternoon, when cowhands drove the herd of about 500 cattle across the Colorado River near its mouth at the LCRA Matagorda Bay Nature Park. It took some encouragement to move the herd off Matagorda Peninsula, where the animals spend winter grazing, across the river. One reluctant member of the herd, below, required some individualized cowboy handling to join the rest. The hands helping the drive didn’t swim their horses across and left the water herding to seveal boats.
Bay City Sentinel photo/Mike Reddell


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. 


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