16 The Early History of Galveston.
December 10, 1836, Congress granted Menard the east end of Galveston
Island. Menard having previously secured J. N. Seguin's grant from Alcalde
Woods at Liberty in 1834. Fifteen acres were reserved in the east end for
government purposes, and one block on Strand, between Twenty-third and
Twenty-fourth for a custom house.
/ * * *
The year 1836 opened sadly for Galveston. Everywhere evidences of the
great storm of September, 1835, were scattered. There was likewise the
shadow of approaching invasion darkening the hopes of the people, for
Mexico was mobilizing its army and navy. Scores of men, busily at work,
were erecting tents, shelters, sheds and houses in that part of the east end
of the island known as Saccarap; others were engaged in going over the
wreckage of vessels along the gulf and beach shores, separating and assorting
old sails, tarpaulins, planks, cabins, copper sheathing and such other
materials useful in erecting places for occupancy. 'It had previously been
a source for wonder to historians that an island which offered such a safe
and excellent anchorage should have been overlooked by the astute Spaniards.
The Spaniards on several previous dates had established a custom
house, but failed to colonize, or provide a quartel or garrison for the following
(1) Fear of Indian attack. (2) Fear of storms. (3). The prevalence
of snakes. (4) The absence of water and building materials. That the
fear of Indians was well grounded was explained by the history of the
coastal tribe of Indians, the Carancahuas, whose cruel and warlike habits
made the existence of early colonists on the rivers and bays of the gulf
miserable. They undoubtedly were cannibals. They devoured the flesh of
their prisoners in the belief that they and their children would remain strong
and brave as a result. Certain African tribes to this day eat the meat of
lions from the same motive. The last feast of the barbecued human flesh
took place on Galveston Island after the great stbrm of 1810, when some
shipwrecked sailors wounded several unarmed Indians. The Indians returned
in force, and after a fight captured the castaways (who were Mexicans or
Negroes) on the beach. They were tortured and killed and their flesh
roasted on frames over a fire. A young girl was likewise captured. She
became a member of the tribe and was seen by the first white settlers on
the Trinity at a later period.
* * *
The Indians' accounts of early storms are very accurate. The storm of
1810 caught members of the tribe encamped on a shell ridge down the
island. They were swept away and drowned. The Indians said the waters
rose to the height of four men. The shell ridge was about 12 feet high.
The wind was so strong that not a man could stand against it. The river
water of the Trinity at their camp thirty miles from the bay had become
salty. Storms were very frequent in the first quarter of the nineteenth
century. An old number of DeBow's Journal published a long list of gulf
storms that swept Louisiaia, Texas and Mexico.
* * *
Snakes were so numerous on the islands that the Indians beat the path
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 March 17, 2014.