Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989 Page: 17
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control of the fledgling company and renamed
it the Gulf, Western Texas and
In an era of intense and competitive
railroad building, Morgan promised to
reach San Antonio by 1873 and eventually
the Pacific Coast. Despite such grand
plans, he fell far short of his intended goal.
He did, however, extend the line as far as
Cuero, the newly established city in
DeWitt County, which served as the western
railhead. As a consequence, most goods
shipped to and from Indianola passed by
way of Cuero. Such a relationship proved
quite significant in later years when severe
storms struck the coastal city.
Indianola, throughout its history, overcame
numerous hardships including two
epidemics of cholera and five of yellow
fever. However, none of its inhabitants
ever experienced anything as deadly or
destructive as the hurricane that came
ashore in September 1875. Storms, strong
winds and flood waters were nothing new
but the severity and duration of the 1875
storm caught everyone by surprise. Many
residents were killed and much of the city
lay in ruins. Some survivors stayed and
rebuilt their town, always maintaining a
strong faith in the city's destiny.
Others feared the possibility of similar
storms in the future and moved inland.
Victoria, Port Lavaca and other communities
in the region received some of these
individuals, but Cuero was the preferred
destination because of its distance from the
coast and since it still served as the western
terminus of the railroad. In addition, several
Indianola-based businesses had already
opened branches in the DeWitt
County town which provided merchants
with an established market and clientele.
Among those who moved to Cuero at that
time were Edward Mugge and William
Frobese of H. Runge and Co., Dr. J. M.
Reuss, druggist David Heaton, and merchants
William Wagner and R. C. Warn.
Indianola's death came just eleven
years later when another hurricane of even
greater strength struck the city. As before,
many people died and few buildings remained
standing. One structure that did
survive was the Peter Clement House, and
a photograph taken immediately after the
storm shows the home in surprisingly good
condition amidst widespread destruction.
Although many residents had remained
after the 1875 hurricane, this time
the city was abandoned, marking the demise
of a community whose future once
held so much promise. Survivors followed
a pattern established after the 1875 storm
and moved to Cuero and other cities. Peter
Clement was among several who dismantled
their homes and rebuilt them in Cuero.
For others, building materials were salvaged
and reused in new homes that were
constructed. Dane Wittenbert, whose own
house was moved to Cuero, reportedly was
responsible for the relocation of most of
these structures. Approximately 30 extant
residences in the city are believed to have
been moved from Indianola.
The storms of 1875 and 1886 wrecked
Indianola in a physical sense, but the community
survived under a different name
and in a new location. Many of the people,
businesses and houses that were so important
to the old port city were transplanted
to Cuero. And within a relatively short
period of time, prosperity returned to many
of the individuals who experienced such
grief and hardship a few years earlier.
Of all the businesses that moved to
Cuero, none grew as fast or were as instrumental
in the economic development of
HERITAGE * SPRING 1989 17
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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/m1/17/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.