Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989 Page: 16
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By David Moore
Indianola, the once-mighty port of the
Texas Gulf Coast, is regarded by many as
the state's best known ghost town. At its
peak, the town was awash with activity and
people. Now, only a cemetery and foundation
stones from the old courthouse remain
to mark its site. While Indianola's rise and
fall have long fascinated students of the
past, few have realized that Cuero, county
seat of DeWitt County and situated about
60 miles inland, provides a tangible link to
the abandoned port, and historical research
has "rediscovered" the IndianolaCuero
Indianola's beginnings date to 1844
when Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels,
leader of the Society for the Protection of
German Immigrants in Texas, decided to
establish a temporary way station for newly
arrived colonists. Such a settlement was
necessary to enable immigrants to prepare
for a westward journey to the Texas Hill
Country. He selected a site on Matagorda
Bay in present-day Calhoun County and a
small village subsequently developed.
Originally named Carlshaven and later
called Indian Point, the town eventually
came to be known as Indianola. Its deep
harbor was considered one of, if not, the
best on all the Gulf Coast. Such a natural
advantage was conducive to shipping, and
a New York-based shipping company
headed by Charles Morgan began regular
service in 1849.
During the 1850s the village of Indianola
blossomed into a bustling city, as numerous
residences and stores were erected.
The city's selection as the Army's primary
supply and shipping port for military forts
in Texas contributed to this growth. Other
factors included the continued influx of
German colonists and the many overland
tradelines that radiated outward from the
city. Such conditions created seemingly
limitless financial opportunities, and many
businesses were established such as J. M.
16 HERITAGE * SPRING 1989
Reuss and Son Drugs and R. C. Warn
Hardware. While some of these commercial
endeavors catered to local residents,
others such as H. Runge and Co. attempted
to tap the economic potential of nearby
hinterlands and, more importantly, the
sprawling and as yet largely unsettled regions
of West Texas. H. Runge and Co. was
engaged primarily in the transportation of
groceries and other supplies to inland
markets but eventually established a bank,
one of the state's first such institutions.
Several of the city's enterprising and
forward-thinking businessmen obtained a
Edward Mugge House, c. 1890. Courtesy of Mark
Mugge. The house stands in Cuero today, and
appears to have been built there and not transported
from Indianola after the storms of 1875 and 1886.
charter to build the Indianola Railroad in
1858. It operated with marginal success
until the Civil War when Confederate
troops dismantled its tracks to prevent it
from falling into the hands of Union forces.
Rekindled interest in the railroad after the
war resulted in new construction efforts,
but financial support was limited. Charles
Morgan, owner of the steamship line that
serviced Indianola, eventually gained
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989, periodical, Spring 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45432/m1/16/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.