The early history of Galveston, by Dr. J. O. Dyer

The Early History of Galveston. 17
before them with long sticks. The shell ridge was free from snakes, as
snakes do not like to crawl over rough ,ubstances. The Indians and early
settlers would fire the grass in a circle around their camping place, claiming
that the snakes would not cross over fresthly-scorched vegetation. Hair
ropes were likewise used for the same purpose. The sand hills and
wreckage on the beach front formed the winter quarters for the snakes.
In summer they dwelt in the marshes and undergrowth, swimming on the
bayous a:nd ponds in their search for food, such as
small fish, toads, frogs
end mosquitoes. The snakes could foretell coming storms, and hundreds
could be seen crawling toward the high sand dunes for shelter. The Indians
were very much afraid of the snakes, not alone on account of their fatal'
bite, but because they believed that evil spirits inhabited their bodies. The
snakes ila'sing no human enemies propagated rapidly, and but for the seagulls
and buzzards that carried off the young would have been still more
numerous. Fresh water on the island formed in ponds and lakes. There
were a large number. A large pond on Twenty-fifth and Avenue N was
still in existence in 1866. Clear Lake, down the island, and the bayous held
fresh water, between storm periods; after storms all the ponds became
salty. Two springs were running back of the sand hills running east and
west. These springs were in existence during the war, but the writer has
failed to locate them. There were no springs on the island during the year
1836 or during Lafitte's occupancy.
* * *
Outside of logs, driftwood and wreckage, cast up by the sea, there was
no material for man to build with. There was no clay, timber or stone.
In later years brick were made from some clay found down the island, but
whilst they were used, they were so soft as to break easily. The old county
jail was built from this brick, and the prisoners dug through the wall with
their tableware.
* * *
, The old settlers having to contend with snakes, storms, lack of drinkable
water, likewise lived in dread of invasion, first by Indians, and later by
Mexicans.
For these reasons Galveston island had but few permanent settlers
after General Long left the island. A number of emigrants landed in 1823;
a few remained, and these were wiped out by the storm of 1829.
*I--
* * *
Custom houses were established on the island by Mexico in 1825; and
again in 1830, when a small colony of traders and squatters, also many
fugitives from justice in the States, lived in that section of the city known
later as Saccarap. In September, 1835, Saccarap district, situated between
Thirteenth and Seventh Streets, and between Strand and Avenue J, contained
the bulk of the population of the island; perhaps three hundred
people in all. There were a number of stores or rather sheds on pilings
which carried merchandise of all kinds. The various bay and river communities
had increased in size, and quite a brisk trade was established by
the six or seven merchants located here. There were three two-story
buildings at that time. One was a boarding house, the two others were
combination saloons, billiard rooms and gambling houses. One was owned

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 October 25, 2014.