Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987 Page: 19
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property (much of it in slaves) exceeded
$3 million. Four Victorians, among 263
individuals in the state, were credited
with an excess of $100,000.
As the North fought for continuity of
the Union and finally emancipation, and
as the South struggled for preservation of
separate institutions, Victoria participated
as fully as most Texas communities.
Sam Houston and other Unionists failed
to persuade Texans of the folly of secession;
and in February 1861, the Lone Star
State reversed its hard-won annexation of
1845. Confederate representatives demanded
and received a controversial surrender
of federal troops from General
David E. Twiggs at San Antonio. Colonel
Robert Edward Lee, recently promoted to
command his beloved Second United
States Cavalry, left his post and, traveling
through Victoria to Indianola and finally
Virginia, began a soul-searching consideration
of his future.
William J. Weisiger of DeWitt County
was one of the first to invite Victorians to
enlist in the Confederate service. Men of
the area argued whether five to one or ten
to one was the more accurate ratio for the
worth of Yankee to Texan in battle; meanwhile,
young ladies sewed secession rosettes.
Confederate flags made their first
appearance. Ultimately some 300 Southerners
in the Victoria area served in Confederate
Company C, Fourth Regiment, Texas
Mounted Volunteers, commanded by
Captain George James Hampton (county
sheriff), was the first organized unit; it
saw action in New Mexico and western
Louisiana. Company B, Sixth Texas Infantry,
commanded by Captain Jacob A.
Rupley, was the only unit to serve east of
Following Confederate surrenders in
Virginia and North Carolina, remnants
of the Trans-Mississippi Command capitulated
at Galveston; and Texas braced for
an occupation by federal forces which
generated feelings more bitter than those
of war. General David S. Stanley's Fourth
Corps, 10,000 strong, landed at Indianola,
and General George A. Custer entered
the state from Louisiana with cavalry
units bound for Austin. Stanley, with one
brigade, arrived in Victoria, commandeered
the home of Abraham Levi, and
established occupation headquarters during
the summer of 1865. Colonel H. W.
Barry's regiment of Negro troops camped
at the fairgrounds; the 77th Pennsyl
vania, commanded by Colonel I. T. Rose,
pitched tents across the river.
Colonel Rose's administration in Victoria,
conducted from the courthouse,
was recalled with bitterness as long as contemporaries
lived to tell or write about his
less than sympathetic rule. Rose and Judge
S. A. White, a Victoria planter, resorted
to the blade and bullet in a disagreement
concerning the governing of the town.
When Colonel Benjamin Hill, former
Adjutant General of Texas, killed a discharged
federal soldier in the Smile Saloon,
members of the Third Michigan
and 18th New York Cavalry broke into
the jail where Hill was detained for trial.
Hill was slain with an axe, his body left
on display outside the jail.
The ten years from 1860 to 1870 were
destructive of Victoria's earlier pattern of
growth. John M. Brownson opened a new
banking house; Abraham Levi resumed
his prewar occupation as merchant and
banker in 1867; long cattle drives to Kansas
stimulated a new source of money.
Still, the loss of life, loss of property in
slaves, and a serious decline in land values
Before the Civil War, steamers made
more or less regular calls on Victoria; but
the Guadalupe River was not dependable-obstructions,
market vagaries, and
competitive ports doomed the hopes of
river entrepreneurs. Kemper's Bluff, a
growing river town south of Victoria, disappeared
as these limitations became evident.
The value of water traffic was not
entirely overlooked, however. John J.
Welder, Harry E. Rathbone, and James A.
McFaddin remained convinced in their
association (the Guadalupe River Navigation
Company) of the desirability of generating
traffic and clearing the river.
Federal assistance was available by
1912 in the latter endeavor, but efforts
soon shifted to nearby intercoastal traffic.
In 1905 C.S.E. Holland and the Victoria
Business Men's Association conceived of a
New Orleans-Brownsville route with Victoria
as a benefitting contributor. In the
same year, a meeting of Mexican authorities,
John N. Gamer, J. M. Pickering,
R. L. Daniel, and Lloyd M. Stevens laid
the foundation of the Victoria County
Navigation District of 1947, which attracted
the area's first large out-of-state industry,
du Pont de Nemours, in 1950.
Railroad dreams were abundant and
more practical than river commerce.
Scores of charters were issued in Texas
All aboard! The Southern Pacific Depot was built
in 1888 and provided Victoria with passenger
service until 1953. Before modern-day
transportation, hacks lined up on Depot Street to
carry passengers to downtown hotels. When the
freight office at the depot closed in 1979, the
building fell into disrepair, caught fire, and
'X~ io a. her fit
4 :.js i
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August Miller operated stores at 201 South
Bridge Street, 903 South Bridge Street, and 506
East Goodwin Street. The store interiors depict
products and display methods that were common
for many decades.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987, periodical, Spring 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45438/m1/19/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.