22 The Early History of Galveston.
Sarah Carter, or Captain Lee (Lee being the captain). She brought Colonel
Dyer of New Orleans, his friend Colonel Graham, of New Orleans, and
thirty militiamen of the State of Louisiana. As most of this narrative is
derived from the writer's father, his description of the island and events
c[ 1836 may prove interesting.
* * *
Early in 1835, Colonel Dyer left Baltimore to establish the Southern
branch at New Orleans of the first packing house in the United States,
the firm of J. M. Dyer and Son. In New Orleans, Governor White prevailed
on Leon Dyer to accept the quartermaster office for the militia with the
rank of colonel. Col. Leon Dyer fitted out the companies of Greys which
assisted in the capture of the Alamo. Colonel Dyer intended to accompany
these troops, but luckily for him at that time business matters intervened.
Leon Dyer had met Sam Houston. In March, 1836, Sam Houston wrote
Dyer asking him to help the Texas patriots. Dyer interested his friend,
Thos. Jefferson Green, and they started to mobilize a regiment. Receiving
a still more urgent appeal from Houston, Dyer immediately equipped a
small company at his own expense. He 'selected thirty men from the
Louisiana militia-picked men, unlike the rabble that Green brought out
later on the Ocean. On April the 10th he placed these men on the Lee.
The sloop was old and small and only a coasting vessel, but the only
available one at that time. As it was, the men were so crowded that they
took turns in turning-in to sleep. A few volunteers were given free passage
by Col. Leon Dyer, who had chartered the sloop. Arriving near Galveston
a norther blew them into the gulf out of their course. On April 19 the
sloop tried to enter the West Pass, but the water was too shallow. On
the 20th, in the afternoon, they anchored in Galveston Bay.
* * *
In 1836 the appearance of the island from the gulf was not imposing.
It looked like a sand bank, excepting the large sand dunes which protected
the island from the inroads of the tides. An oak tree, which grew in the
center of what had been the smaller island, enabled mariners to steer
for the entrance into the harbor. The pass through which Lafitte had
entered the harbor and whi#h separated the islands had filled-in from the
hay side and now was a deep lagoon over one-fourth mile extending east
of First Street half way across the island. Outside of high marsh grass, a
few wild poinsettas (called then fire-plants), a few mesquite bushes and
a large number of small salt cedar brakes, as well as brakes of wild blackberry,
there was no other vegetation. The settlement extended from about
Eighteenth Street east, the habitations being on two small ridges. The
first ridge ran along Strand and Mechanic, east of Fourteenth Street, and
was occupied by a few sheds made of lumber and raised on piles, which
were used as stores and sales rooms. A small, two-story house, built by
Monroe Edwards, the gambler-slaver, had a bar, billiard hall, gambling
and dance hall below, and rooms above. This was the only boarding house.
A number of huts extended east to the low ground. The second ridge
commenced at a bayou which extended from Eighteenth Street westward
and southward. The ridge ran on what is nowJBroadway and extended to
about Third Street. On this ridge the camps and tents of the refugee
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 December 22, 2013.