The Luther continues to improve in 21st century

The newly renovated Luther Hotel and auto court in the early 1940s in Palacios.

Matagorda County History Website


Rev. Caleb Ives developed Matagorda Academy, Christ Church

Matagorda County TXGenWeb
In 1839, the Rev. Caleb S. Ives organized what became Christ Church in Matagorda and he and his wife took charge of Matagorda Academy.

   Educational opportunities during the days of the Republic of Texas were few. 
   Children were often taught at home by their mothers, or families in some communities joined together to hire a teacher for their children. 
   The local minister, usually the most educated person in the community, supplemented his religious duties with educational duties.
   The settlement of the town of Matagorda began in the late 1820s after the arrival of the Little Zoe with new residents to join the few already living there.
   The schooling of Matagorda children during the late 1830s through the Civil War was carried out by private academies.
   In May, 1838, Henry M. Shaw posted a notice in the Matagorda Bulletin stating his intention of opening the Matagorda Academy in a building belonging to Colonel J.W.E. Wallace on Cedar Street. 
   Tuition for reading, spelling, and writing $15; higher branches of English $20; Latin and Greek $25.


‘Shanghai’ Pierce: From stowaway to Texas trailblazer

Young image of A.H. “Shanghai” Pierce

From the Matagorda County History & Genealogy page, Handbook of Texas Online


Shanghai once a rail spur

   Shanghai was a mile from Wharton on the west side of the Colorado River in central Wharton County.  
   It was established on a rail spur from the Southern Pacific Railroad, formerly the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway, in 1899. 
   Abel H. “Shanghai” Pierce decided to farm his land on the west bank of the Colorado River and built a convict settlement. 
   Pierce contracted in 1897 with the state of Texas for convicts to cut off the timber and burn the canebrake.  
   The spur was built to bring in supplies and men and later as a shipping route for the gin that was built. 
   After the fashion set for naming stops along the rail line between Richmond and Victoria, Pierce named this one after himself, by giving it his colorful nickname.  
   The spur was retired in September 1940. 
   All that remains is the quarters that housed the convicts, now used as a barn by the Pierce Ranch.    
   The windows are still barred.


Colorado House place to stay in Matagorda

Matagorda County History Website


Young Virginia bride lost in Matagorda Bay shipwreck

Eliza ‘Pink’ Dunn

   EDITOR’S NOTE: In our March 28 History Page on Matagorda Peninsula Bar Pilot George Morgan, the story told how Morgan was among the rescuers of the steamship Independence that broke apart attempting to enter Matagorda Bay at Pass Cavallo March 20, 1852. 
   In preparing that article, we came across the story of a young Virginia bride and her husband, a U.S. Army officer bound for West Texas, who were aboard the Independence when it founded in the waves at Pass Cavallo.
   She perished in the shipwreck, but he lived and never remarried.
   The following comes from:
Pioneer Families of Washington County, Virginia
   Eliza Margaret "Pink" Dunn was born on 3 May 1834 in Washington County, Virginia.


Cafe owner Gillette a popular Bay City citizen

Matagorda County TXGenWeb


"A&M gets an Orsak family classic" by: Mike Reddell

Contributed photo
County Agent Emeritus James Engbrock, left, and Thomas Orsak stand in front of a 1958 single row cotton harvester that the George W. Orsak Estate is donating to Texas A&M AgriLife for use in cotton research.

  The George W. Orsak Estate of Matagorda County has given Texas A&M what could be considered almost an heirloom gift of a 60-year-plus cotton harvester that the university will put to immediate use on fields throughout Texas. 
   The 1958 single-row cotton harvester has to be considered an agriculture classic. 
   That’s because the machine represented a giant leap from hand picking cotton to the automation of plucking the boll from the plant and sending it to the basket or sack atop the harvester, said former County Agent Emeritus James Engbrock. 
   The single-row harvester has been in the the George Orsak family all of these years, including longtime Matagorda County cotton farmer Thomas Orsak, his son Carey, and Thomas’ four sisters, Mrs. Heresa Hluza of West Columbia, and Mrs. Marilyn Hollas, Mrs. Barbara Manna and Ms. Jane LaCroix, all of Bay City. 


Multiple investigations made on Caney Creek ship wreck

This is a model of the Black Cloud, which was investigated in 1980 by students from the Nautical Archaeology Program at Texas A & M University. It illustrates construction techniques used later in western steamboat design. Several of the Black Cloud’s dimensions can be compared to the Caney Creek wreck. The Black Cloud was built in Orange, Texas, in 1864.

   Caney Creek, in Southeast Texas, was an important thoroughfare for steam navigation in the 19th century. 
   This creek provided communication between the wealthy upstream plantations, and the ports of Matagorda, Indianola, and abroad. In the 1800’s, Caney Creek, also known as “Cane Brake Creek,” or “Old Caney” emptied into the Gulf of Mexico just east of Matagorda Bay. 
   During the period of rising sea levels, a wide estuary occupied the present Caney Creek area. This estuary gradually filled with fluvial deposits of the Holocene Brazos-Colorado Delta. 
   The main eroding stream, presently the main channel of the Colorado River, split away from the older (Caney Creek) channel and diverted flow to the west. The massive log jam trapped sediments in the Colorado and prevented the river from creating a delta into Matagorda Bay until it was removed in 1929. 


"George Morgan: Matagorda Peninsula Bar Pilot" By Russell Huebner Matagorda County TXGenWeb

   Life on Matagorda Peninsula has never been easy. Historically, it was a place of dreams that never came true by dreamers enticed to the island by its own subtle beauty among other reasons.
   In the late 1600s, a French explorer, Rene Robert Cavalier Sieur de La Salle arrived near there. Twelve of his party of settlers ended upon the peninsula for a while and only six of them left a few weeks later.
   Karankawa Indians were responsible for the deaths of some of the six, leaving rattlesnakes, disease, and hunger to take care of the rest.
   This is borne out by documents from the resurrection of La Salle's ship La Belle in Matagorda Bay. Discoveries from La Belle enabled historians and archeologists to sort out LaSalle's almost every movement.
   But La Salle's men were just a part of the peninsula's history.


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