The Early History of Galveston. 27
Galveston continued to grow, however, until October 9, 1837, when the
hurricane and flood made almost a clean sweep. The navy yard was
damaged, the Toby foundered, the Flash foundered and the men at the fort
saved themselves on vessels. Several lives were lost.
In 1836 the site of Lafitte's fort was distinguishable by the moat or
ditch which surrounded it. A trip to the sand hills through the "Bush"
qcessitated the use of a ship chain, which had to be clanged to clear the
way of snakes. Late in 1836 a number of stores sprang up at Saccarap
Ridge; these were on pilings. Solomon Parr, J. De Cordova and Mussina
are recalled as some of the early storekeepers. John Hughes brought water
in barrels from the Trinity. One of Colonel Hall's negroes on the island
spoke French fluently. He acted as interpreter for Santa Anna when
Captain Almonte, who spoke English, was not available.
This same negro, in constructing a hut for some refugee women near
the bayou, unearthed several skeletons. He fled and could not be induced
to continue the work at that location, so a new hut was built further east.
The skeletons of men who died in Lafitte's time were buried in the sand
hills of the gulf.
* * *
The Mexican prisoners became very ill with dysentery. The flies also
were very troublesome, the sanitation being defective. Colonel Morgan
used the prisoners to dig deep ditches connecting with the salt water to
receive the sewerage of the camp.
* * *
Colonel Hall presented Colonel Dyer with a pair of pistols captured at
San Jacinto. They had long single barrels, ivory grips, silver mounted.
They were loaded at the muzzle and fired by a flint-lock which communicated
with a pan on which a little loose powder was placed. The flintlock
pistols were used by old-timers to kindle their fires, saving many sore
knuckles and much time.
Pistols were mostly used for duelling. As it took as long to load a
pistol as a rifle, they did not figure much in warfare.
* * *
J. Morgan furnished beef. A well, said to have been built by Lafitte
in the east end, had filled up, and the springs back of the sand hills later
were not then in existence. There were no ants in Galveston in 1836. They
came later in cargoes of coffee. The first milk obtained in the settlement
was from goats that practically ran wild.
* * *
Ovens were built in 1836 and 1837 in the following manner. Oyster
shells were finely pounded, mixed with a little mortar and made into bricks.
These were baked in hot ashes in a pit and then when hard the oven was
constructed from these bricks. The first stove reached Galveston in 1839.
* * *
The beach in the early days had many green turtles that laid their
eggs in the sand. Alligators were numerous in the ponds, and the snakes
were a menace. The early settlers slept in hammocks suspended from the
ceilings for fear of the snakes. Many deer swam over to the island attracted
by the rich grasses. In 1836 a few half-breed Indians had a camp at
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 10, 2015.