14 The Early History of Galveston.
captured the Correo in the harbor. Geo. V. Scott took the vessel and her
captain, Thompson, an Englishman, to New Orleans, claiming the vessel
was a pirate, having seized Americans and their goods. Scott later lived in
Galveston; he became a captain and fought at San Jacinto. Austin, who
was trying to get a grant of Galveston Island, had settled some families
down the island, so certain was he of obtaining the same. However, about
this time, he was turned down, and Seguin secured the grant.
In 1835 emigrants came pouring in despite the unsettled affairs with
Mexico. The land agents did an enormous business, selling worthless scrip.
The settlement had quite an importance. Captain Spillman, of the "Martha,"
had his headquarters here; the Bordens kept cattle down the island, and
the first preacher and doctor arrived, Rev. Aug. Engel, and Dr. Bostwick, of
Anahuac. WVm. B. Scates had erected a two-story building for Monroe
Edwards; and Alex Edgar, J. Milldin, Joe Thompson, and others, had come
The Swartwouts, belonging to the family of Samuel Swartwout of New
York, had opened an agency to ship lumber. Samuel had been in Texas
in 1806 connected with Burr's invasion. His son was collector of the port
at New York and the family had established a cotton plantation and sawmills
at Swartwout, on the Trinity River. They were great friends of Texas,
owned their own vessels, and provided funds for the first vessel of the navy,
the one hundred and twenty-five ton clipper Ivincible of Baltimore. The
Swartwouts were the first to ship lumber from Galveston, and provided
material for its first wharf, built by Amasa Turner. When they heard of
the victory at San Jacinto they entertained the Texas commissioners, Lewis
and Morton, with a big banquet at the New York hotel. General Mason
likewise at this time was in Galveston superintending the business of the
Texas Land and Galveston Bay Co., being the agent for some rich New
Yorkers. This prosperity came to a sudden end.
In September, 1835, a gale blew from the north, and turned to southeast
on the second day; Galveston was overflowed by salt water, the waves,
forced by the wind, washing away all houses and stores except the Mexican
custom house, a small, strong building on the high ridge at Saccarap on
Twelfth and Avenue A. The citizens, however, rebuilt their homes, most
of which were very cheap, either flimsy sheds or huts, there being but two
or three two-story houses.
War had now broken out with Mexico and the Texas navy was put in
commission. The Liberty was bought by General Mason. She was the old
schooner, Wm. Robbins, of sixty tons, and carried four small guns and was
commanded by William Brown. The Invincible carried two 18-pounders and
smaller guns, and was commanded by Capt. Jere Brown. The Independence,
Captain Hawkins, and the Brutus, Captain Hurd, were bought by McKinney
and Williams of Velasco.
The last Mexican troops on the island were Lieutenant Duran with nine
men, who carried fifty guns and 150 flint-locks for the garrison at Anahuac.
Soon after the colonists captured this place, the forerunner of the war to
come. In December, 1835, Galveston was declared a port of entry by the
Republic, the Declaration of Independence being signed on December
Dyer, Joseph O. The early history of Galveston, by Dr. J. O. Dyer. Galveston, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24651/. Accessed May 24, 2015.