94 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
on top of each other until they reached up to the hurricane deck.
Of course the danger of fire was very great, but, while one or
two boats actually burned, probably none of the fires was ever
traced to cotton becoming ignited.
There were several serious tragedies on the bayou, for one
or two boats blew up with disastrous effect. There were some
narrow escapes from storms in Galveston Bay, too. History
is not certain about the name of the boat, but it was the Palmer
or Farmer, that blew up and caught on fire in the bay in about
1853. If one could get into the old Episcopal Cemetery at the
foot of Dallas Avenue, this could be ascertained, for in the lot
of Dr. Evans, in that graveyard, is a small monument erected
to the memory of a negro man whose remains lie buried there
with those of the members of the doctor's family.
This.negro lost his life when the steamboat was wrecked,
while, after having saved some lives, he was making heroic
efforts to save others. The writer went out to the cemetery
the other day for the express purpose of looking for that monument,
but found it in such a disgraceful condition, overrun with
weeds, and, as one of the park employes said, with snakes, too,
that the search was abandoned.
After the war two or three magnificent boats were bought by
Captain Sterret in Cincinnati, brought down the river and over
the gulf to Galveston and put in the bayou trade. That gulf
trip was a ticklish affair for the least rough weather would have
swamped the boats. The trips were made immediately after
a norther, when the gulf was as quiet as a mill pond. One of
those boats was especially fine and was named the "T. M.
Bagby," after T. M. Bagby, one of the most prominent citizens
of Houston. This boat had a calliope, but it was very seldom
used, possibly because no one knew how to play on it.
Two of the fine boats that were brought here about the breaking
out of the war deserve more than passing mention because
distinguished service they rendered the Confederate
forces at the battle of Galveston, These were the Neptune and
Bayou City. They were fitted out as gunboats, having breastworks
of cotton bales. Each carried a big gun and a number
of armed men. They made the attack on the Federal fleet while
the land forces attacked on the land side.
Both boats headed for the Harriet Lane, the largest of the vessels.
The Neptune was sunk by a shell from one of the Federal
gunboats but the Bayou City rammed and disabled the Harriet
Lane and finally captured her. It was a most desperate undertaking,
and though it was successful, simply because of its audacity,
it would have failed a thousand times had it been tried
over. How either of the frail boats escaped utter annihilation
is a mystery.
Those good old steamboat days have gone, and gone forever,
for now the bayou has been widened and deepened and ocean-
Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young.. Galveston, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/. Accessed December 19, 2013.