The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973 Page: 162
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and her profits, when she hit a snag at "Coxe's point," ten miles below
Richmond. The vessel managed, however, to limp into Quintana the
next day and deliver her cargo.'
Only eight days after the Brazos's misfortune the Houston Tele-
graph reported that a snag on the Trinity above Liberty had caused
the sinking of a Captain Bodman's steamer Brownsville. Posing a seri-
ous loss to "the whole valley of the Trinity," she lost her cargo of
"about 7oo barrels of freight for the Government ... frontier stations"
and 2,3oo barrels destined elsewhere. This lower part of the Trinity,
however dangerous, was still the most navigable section of the entire
stream. It carried a heavy steamer traffic as agricultural produce from
the counties above Liberty was hauled by wagon to that town and
there loaded onto Galveston-bound vessels. Probably a typical ship-
ping contract of the day was that negotiated in 1851 between a Gen-
eral Harrison, master of the steamer Elite (which lately had sailed
and traded on the Brazos) and the people of Liberty. The latter agreed
that the Elite would schedule one round-trip, requiring twenty-four
hours, per week between Galveston and Liberty to handle cargo gath-
ered at the latter town and bound for the bay. The contract was for
two years beginning July 1, 1851. The importance of this steamer
trade was that it funneled most freight from the interior to Galveston,
not Houston. The Island City's advantage, however, was not decisive in
her battle for trade with her competitor on the banks of inland Buf-
falo Bayou. Houston received the vital commerce of overland ox-
wagons from a wide area of the hinterland that delivered to the port,
in season, perhaps 25o bales of cotton daily.'
Trying to clear snags from the Trinity matched in tedium the raft-
2Andrew Forest Muir, "The Destiny of Buffalo Bayou," Southwestern Historical Quar-
terly, XLVII (October, 1943), 1o4; Democratic Telegraph and Texas Register (Houston),
January 17, February 14, 185o; Austin Texas State Gazette, April 13, 1850. Snag damage
to the Brazos consisted of a ten-foot slash below the water line, which the crew patched
"with blankets" after removing the snag. Ibid. The quotes about freight and prices are
from the Houston Telegraph of February 14; those about the Brazos are from the Texas
The name of the Houston Telegraph varied confusingly during this period. Prior to
1850 the journal had been known as the Democratic Telegraph and Texas Register (or
even earlier as the Telegraph and Texas Register). From 1850 until 1855 it was a semi-
weekly, the Houston Telegraph. From 1855 until early 1864 it was the Tri-Weekly Tele-
graph and came out, supposedly, three times a week. However, extra editions, published
as the news warranted, were called simply the Houston Telegraph. During the period
covered by this study the publisher also brought out a Houston Weekly Telegraph (which
sometimes went under the masthead of Weekly Houston Telegraph). All citations in this
study hereafter will refer to the journal as the Houston Telegraph.
'Houston Telegraph, March 28, 1850; Galveston Weekly News, July 15, 1851, December
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973, periodical, 1973; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101202/m1/192/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.