Heritage, 2011, Volume 4 Page: 11
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n 1866, a young University of Virginia-trained lawyer
and Confederate war hero W.L. Moody brought his
family to Galveston, and since that time he and his
descendants have played a major role in the island's color-
ful past. William Lewis Moody, or "the Colonel," would be
one of many 19th-century adventurers to land on Galveston
Island and contend with its considerable bare-knuckle chal-
lenges; however, he, his son W. L. Moody, Jr., and descendant
Robert L. Moody would, nevertheless, become among the
coastal community's most prosperous inhabitants.
The Moodys may not have been met by the fierce and can-
nibalistic Karankawa Indians, as was Spanish explorer Ca-
beza de Vaca in 1528, but many rough-and-tumble decades
lay ahead for them. This 27-mile long sandbar once called
Isla Malhaldo, the Island of Misfortune, had been christened
Galveston in honor of Don Bernardo de Gilvez, a Spanish
hero of the American Revolutionary War. Years later, Galves-
ton would be occupied by infamous pirates, like Jean Lafitte,
who were attracted to this natural deepwater port and its
unique geography. Galveston Island would briefly become
the capitol of Texas in 1836, as well as the location of an
important Civil War battle in 1863. By the late 1800s, the
island would be one of the largest cities in Texas and would be
known as "The Wall Street of the Southwest," with more mil-
lionaires per capita than all cities in the United States at that
time except Newport, Rhode Island. Colonel W. L. Moody
would be at the forefront of this period of immense prosperity
in early Texas, a boom era that survived the rigors of radical
reconstruction, killer fires, hurricanes, and yellow fever epi-
W.L. Moody was 24 years old when he left his family's 113-
acre farm in Virginia to come to Texas in 1851. The farm
had made enough money to send William to law school and
his brother David to medical school. With the considerable
sum of $100 in his pocket, William took a steamboat to
New Orleans where he met a fellow University of Virginia
Law School graduate, and together they booked passage on
a steamship to Galveston. After finding themselves in a rug-
Volume 4 2011 ITEXASHERITAGE 11
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2011, Volume 4, periodical, 2011; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254223/m1/11/: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.