Matagorda County sent flotilla of boats to 1913 canal celebration

rranging for Celebration Of Completion of Intercoastal Canal―Will Be a Great Event―Commodores Meet


Hortense Ward led women’s rights movement

Hortense Sparks Ward

   EDITOR’S NOTE: While Hortense Sparks Ward’s main link with Matagorda County is her birth here, we wanted to profile someone with a remarkable career who left an indelible mark on Texas.
   Hortense Ward, champion of women’s rights, suffrage leader, admitted to the Texas bar, the daughter of Frederick and Marie Louise (LaBauve) Sparks, was born in Matagorda County on July 21, 1872. 
   Ward lived in Edna as a child, and later attended Nazareth Academy, a Catholic convent school in Victoria. 
   She returned to Edna in 1890 to teach school, and on January 5, 1891, married Albert Malsch, with whom she had three daughters.  
   Ward moved to Houston in 1903, and, while working as a stenographer and court reporter, became interested in studying law.  
   She and Malsch were divorced in 1906, and on August 12, 1909, she married Houston attorney William Henry Ward, later a county judge. 


J.P. Pierce home ‘A Palatial Palacios Residence’

Matagorda County TXGenWeb
Taken during a 2007 restoration.

Matagorda County TXGenWeb


Selkirk Island’s roots deep in Matagorda County history

Matagorda County TXGenWeb
The Selkirk Island real estate sign that J. Pabst put up.

By Mrs. E.T. Pabst
Historic Matagorda County, Volume I, pp. 398-399, 1986
Matagorda County TXGenWeb 


Fred Selzer: Lutheran circuit rider often walked to visit area churches

Fred Selzer

   Most people have heard of circuit riding preachers who rode their horses along a circuit preaching the gospel. Circuit riders were often thought of in relation to the Methodist church, but many denominations used circuit riders to minister to small churches who could not afford a full-time minister.  
   The Tres Palacios Baptist Church at Deming’s Bridge was part of a circuit and in 1853 was a quarter-time church with a visit from the preacher once a month. 
   Lesser known would be a circuit riding preacher who rode the railroad in the early 1900s. 
   The Lutherans found circuit riders an effective way to reach small pockets of their members in the Matagorda-Jackson County area who were primarily German. 
   P. Klenk, a missionary for the German Lutheran Church had as his area the stops along the Brownsville railroad. In May of 1911, he was visiting the area hoping to establish a church as soon as a few more Germans arrived.  


"SRT stresses importance of Texas history" by: Mike Reddell

Sentinel photo/Mike Reddell
There were two cannons firing from the Matagorda County Courthouse terrace Saturday afternoon to mark the 25th anniversary of the Sons of the Texas Republic headquarters in Bay City.

   The two cannon volleys at Matagorda County Courthouse Saturday provided an appropriate touch to the Sons of the Republic of Texas gathering here and the group’s mission to stress the importance of telling the state’s history.
   The main focus was recognizing the 25th anniversary of SRT’s headquarters in Bay City.
   The 19th century-period replica Rolling Thunder and Big Foot Wallace cannons fired throughout Saturday afternoon, June 9, from the courthouse terrace.
   Each firing was accompanied by cannon crews attired in the respective era of each cannon and the ritual the 1800s’ crews followed.
   In each firing, the commander of both crews raised his sabre and ordered the mock bombardment to begin. 
   Several Matagorda County men belong to SRT, with membership requiring documented proof of ancestors who lived in Texas before Feb. 19, 1846.


Collegeport: Grand Opening in 1909 promised bright future

Hotel Collegeport

  EDITOR’S NOTE: Collegeport’s 110th year was marked by its homecoming May 26, and it was a record turnout!
   We wanted to share the following article was written by Dorothy Franzen Merck and is included in Historic Matagorda County, published in 1986.  
   Mrs. Merck and her husband, Dean E. Merck both came to Collegeport with their families as young children in 1909; they married in 1932 and remained active in the community the rest of their lives, experiencing much of this history first-hand, or learning it from those who did.  
   Current information and/or wording for clarity is noted within [brackets].

    Collegeport is located in southwest Matagorda County on Tres Palacios Bay. 
   The townsite was planned by the Burton D. Hurd Land Company as a promotion scheme in selling the J.E. and A.B. Pierce lands. 
   The company also established the Gulf Coast University of Industrial Arts. 



Photo courtesy of Jim Wright
Photo of Capt. William Burnell's dog tag.

   Where does a man in Belgium look to find information on a WWII soldier from Bay City, Texas?  
   The answer this day and time is, of course, the internet. Who does the man contact next if everything he needs isn’t on the internet?  
   The Bay City Public Library is the logical place to begin.  
   In January 2018, Samantha Denbow, director of the Bay City Public Library, received such a request from Arthur Coppée. 
   Arthur is the grandson of Evence Coppée who was once the owner of the Château de Roumont near the Belgian town of Libin. 
    Arthur was researching the role the château played in World War II as it was occupied by several U.S. hospitals during 1944-1945. 
   On July 10, 2016, Arthur and a friend, Olivier Gillard, who owns a museum in the Belgium town of Saint-Hubert, were excavating a pit on the château property.  
   They found a damaged dog tag which had been in a fire. It was the fourth of five dog tags found.  


Final installment of Isaac Zepeda in World War II

   EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the secoond installment of a Bay City man’s account of being captured by the Germans in World War II.
Zepeda  was chosen as an Army scout to go behind enemy lines in Normandy after the D-Day Invasion.
   Born and reared in Bay City, Zepeda was captured by the Germans.
   His incredible story of survival as a POW, followed by a harrowing story about moving around in a devastated Germany at war’s end to find American forces.
   Not only is his story noteworthy because he’s from Matagorda County, Zepeda’s story - as told in his own words - is at once grim, but fascinating.
   We’ll be carrying his story in installments. A longtime employee of Rice Belt Co-op in Markham, Zepeda died in Bay City in 2014.
   Picking up from last week...


"May Historic Preservation Month focus on Landmark Building" by: Donnye Stone

Contributed photo
The theme for May’s National Preservation Month is “This Place Matters.” Historic Commission members recently gathered at the Landmark Building with signs showing This Place Matters. People in the photo are Michael George, Freda Daniels, Donnye Stone, Kaye Orr and Judith Allen.

   Seventy-three years of continuous service in Bay City is the story of the Bay City Bank & Trust Company. Originally organized in 1898 by Frank Hawkins (President) and Henry Rugeley (Treasurer) and was called the Bay City Bank. 
   This bank changed names three times, occupied every corner of the square and had seven presidents in these 73 years. 
   These are important sidelights, but more important are those events, which surrounded the dedicated men working with this bank who had vision, courage and perseverance as they served the community through depression and prosperity and through periods of war and of peace. 
   In 1903, the Bay City Bank moved one block west from its first quarters on the northeast corner of Avenue G and Seventh Street to its impressive new building on the corner of Avenue F and Seventh Street. 


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