The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle: the roar of the crowd on the one side, and the voice of your conscience on the other…Douglas MacArthur

Town of Guiuan, Island of Samar, February 28, 1945 from left to right Olsen, Bennett, Creekmore, Leach

Halfway up the eastern Visayas, above Mindanao but below Luzon, is the Island of Samar, part of the archipelago that makes up the Philippines. Made up of equal parts of mountains and swamps – all covered by a nearly impenetrable jungle – it was first colonized by Ruy López de Villalobos, who came to the island in 1543 and named it Las Islas Filipinas. At the southern tip of the eastern side of the island is the town of Guiuan where, in 1944, the American Forces landed on the island of Suluan where they fought their first battle in the Philippine territory three days before Gen. Mac Arthur fulfilled his promise to return on the beaches of Leyte.

HQ on Samar

The first sign of liberation from the Japanese, who had occupied the island since 1943, came on the 17th of October 1944 when the Sixth Ranger Battalion landed on Samar to clear the way for Mac Arthur’s landing at Leyte. By the 27th of November a Navy submarine chaser steamed the harbor to make sure it was clear of mines. On the 1st of December 1944 the fleet of arrived in Guiuan Bay to unload machines that allowed more than 50,000 Americans working day and night to complete Navy 3149 Base in less than 1 month. Not only did they transform Guiuan into one of the biggest Naval Bases in the Far East but the airstrip they built served the Enola Gay, the B-29 Bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb on August 7, 1945 in Hiroshima, helping to end the war in the Pacific.

There was resistance left in the mountains as this dead Japanese soldier attests. He was killed in the mountains by Filipino guerillas at Santa Margarita 27 miles north of Guiuan

This small island, not quite twice the size of Long Island, is where William Leach began his combat service in the Second World War. He left only a few photographs and no written record of his time in the Pacific. Like his friends who served with him it was not a topic for conversation – it was a duty they had discharged and those of us who first respected and only later appreciated the nature of that duty honored their wishes and hope that the entire nation will honor them once again this November 11th.

There was danger from the air as well as evidenced by this Japanese plane downed while strafing the harbor. The only souvenir William Leach brought home from the war were two pieces of the wing – each about four inches by six inches – polished and engraved with a peaceful scene of the island.

The only stories he shared about the war were about the children and people of Samar whom he greatly admired and remembered with fondness. Our Texas parish was regularly visited by a Filipino priest who advanced from a humble padre to a bishop over the years. I soon caught on to the fact that every visit was the result of a church, school, hospital or orphanage having burnt down. While I irreverently inquired one day, “What burned down this year?”,  dad always dug a little deeper in his wallet to help his old friends.



Hakkō ichiu, the Japanese belief that their emperor should bring all the world under one roof – his – was the Japanese political slogan that justified aggression from the Second Sino-Japanese War through World War II. It left a trail of destruction from Indochina through the islands of the Pacific – not sparing Japan – to the southernmost reaches of Siberia. The net costs can be seen in this 1945 picture of Manilla and in one of their soldiers left behind. In Miyazaki the Japanese built the Tower of the Emperor with Prince Chichibu‘s calligraphy of Hakkō ichiu carved on its front side. It is still there only it has been renamed the Heiwadai or Peace tower. Some things do not change.


Fleet Problems II, III and IV – 1924

History has some onion like properties in that as soon as you peel away one layer there is another waiting for you. The experience of William J. Leach at Fort Hancock was something that he talked about and used to show the pictures of from time to time. Reviewing them we discovered that they were taken during his third year when he was a RED man. What had happened during the other years? Probably three out of his four years were served at the coastal forts around New York city but his first year was very different and we will tell that story here.

The CMTC always operated in best tradition of the citizen soldier with the heavy emphasis on “citizen” as seen here when General Pershing presented medals to outstanding CMTC trainees. The John J. Pershing Medal for distinguished attainment in military education was presented to the outstanding trainees of the Citizens’ Military Training Camps by General Pershing at the War Department…Library of Congress photo

Popular history tells the story that the Japanese performed a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and totally surprised the United States of America starting World War II out of a clear blue sky on December 7, 1941. Although the Japanese achieved a great tactical victory and would spend the next two years – as they had spent the previous ten years – increasing their stranglehold on the Pacific the United States was not quite so surprised as watcher’s of the history channel and public television documentaries might suspect.

From 1923 until 1940, as the culmination of the Navy’s annual training maneuvers, U.S. naval forces would engage in mock battles in which one or more of the forces would play the part of a European or Asian navy. Interestingly enough the first fleet problem, in 1923, used battleships to represent aircraft carriers and tested the defenses of the Panama Canal. A single plane launched from Oklahoma — representing a carrier air group — dropped 10 miniature bombs and theoretically “destroyed” the spillway of the Gatun Dam effectively shutting down the canal. The  first World War had proved that aircraft would be decisive in future conflicts and the Navy was learning just how important they would be.

The USS Arkansas while transiting the Panama Canal as part of Fleet Problem III…from the William Leach archive

The three fleet problems for 1924 were:

  • Fleet Problem II simulated the first leg of a westward advance across the Pacific.
  • Fleet Problem III focused on a defense of the Panama Canal from the Caribbean side. The Blue force was defending the canal from an attack from the Caribbean by the Black force, operating from an advance base in the Azores. It was to practice amphibious landing techniques and the rapidity of transiting a fleet through the canal from the Pacific side. In the exercise, a Black force special operations action resulted in the “sinking” of Blue force battleship New York in the Culebra Cut which would have blocked the canal.
  • Fleet Problem IV simulated the movement from a main base in the western Pacific to the Japanese home islands — represented  by islands, cities, and countries surrounding the Caribbean.

They were a dress rehearsal for World War II in the Pacific – twenty years before the fact.

For the creation of Panama and the realization of the Panama Canal – which reduced the oceanic distance from New York to San Francisco from over 13,000 miles to just over 5,000 miles –  the United States is forever indebted to Theodore Roosevelt. In ways that people today are unable to understand it propelled the United States to the center stage of world affairs and led to our preeminent voice in them. From the landing of the Marines in 1903 to ensure US control of the railroad connecting the Atlantic and Pacific across the isthmus, to the appointment of Army Lieutenant Colonel George W. Goethals as chief engineer of the Isthmian Canal Commission by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 which changed the construction changed from a civilian to a military project, to the relieving of the Marines – to go fight Pancho Villa in Mexico – with the arrival of the first company of coastal artillery in 1914 the Panama Canal – which had been proceeding by fits and starts since 1881 – might never have been completed.

A sergeant of the Coast Artillery Corps stands beside the muzzle of a sixteen inch howitzer…Library of Congress photo

Concurrent with the Canal construction a number of defensive locations were developed to protect it, both with coastal defense guns, as well as military bases to defend against a direct infantry assault. Fort Sherman was the primary Atlantic-side infantry base and construction began in January 1912 on a tract of 23,100 acres of land, about half of which was covered by jungle. The developed areas included housing and barracks for 300 and would add a small airstrip  and become the site of the US’s first operationally deployed early warning radar when an SCR-270 was installed there in 1941. In 1924 however the firepower included 7 batteries with the following armament:

  •     Baird 4 – 12 inch mortars
  •     Howard 4 – 12 inch mortars
  •     Stanley 1 – 14 – inch Disappearing gun
  •     Mower 1 – 14  inch Disappearing gun
  •     Kilpatrick  2 – 6 inch Disappearing gun
  •     Sedgwick Pratt 2 – 12 inch M1895 Barbette
  •     Alexander Mackenzie  2 – 12 inch Barbette

The Pacific side was covered by a series of forts built on the islands off of Balboa that hosted equally impressive firepower but William J. Leach served his training period at Fort Sherman after answering the enticements to live on rum and coca cola and meet pretty girls who loved the Yankee dollar. Considering that the Army was responsible, along with the Navy’s Blue group,  for defending the canal from the Black group Fleet Problems I through IV certainly showed the need for more work. [Fleet problem V was an attack by aircraft carriers on Hawaii!]

DD-289, USS Flusser part of the scouting fleet off of Colon, C.Z….William Leach archive photo

A large portion of the scouting fleet was made up destroyers designed for use in the first World War that were called four stackers because of their distinctive configuration of four smoke stacks but with a flush deck configuration and capable of a speed of 35 knots these ships were greyhounds used for escort and scouting duties. Their speed would almost be their undoing when, in September 1923, seven were lost in a twenty-knot run  south from San Francisco that included a night passage through the Santa Barbara Channel in a heavy fog. Relying on early RDF gear before the invention, let alone the deployment, of radar and traveling in a column they fell victim to the Navy’s greatest navigational tragedy.

Another view of USS Flusser (DD-289) Steaming at high-speed. Her after three smokestacks are painted a dark black indicating that she was part of the BLACK [enemy] force. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Of the three classes of four stackers 273 destroyers were built. No new ones were built after the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty where we joined a bankrupt Europe in burying our heads in the sand and a large number were sold for scrap after the 1930 London Naval Treaty allowed us to unilaterally disarm since there would never be another war.

A submarine chaser [note the depth charges on the fantail] serving with the BLACK fleet…William Leach archive

While the United States was short in the aircraft carrier department – we had exactly ONE, two more would be built in the 1920’s, three more in the 1930’s and two more in the 1940’s prior to the commencement of the Pacific war [five of the eight would be lost in the war] – there were still a large number of ships in the fleet including the SC [submarine chaser] classes. These ranged all the way from 110 foot ships armed with depth charges and machine guns that operated as minesweepers as well up to 190 foot patrol craft that would see service all the way through World War II answering the U-boat threat in the Gulf and along the East Coast.

Laying down a smoke screen…the William Leach archive

While these exercises were meant to try and test the latest tactics and so many of the shore batteries and ships both reflected the best of the available technology of the day it is surprising how limited the forces were. In this photograph we have a series of destroyers and patrol boats laying down a smoke screen. The simple method that was used by these ships was to restrict the supply of air to the boiler. This resulted in incomplete combustion of the coal or oil, which produced a thick black smoke. Because the smoke was black, it absorbed heat from the sun and tended to rise above the water. This is no longer done – intentionally – and if you have ever been on board a ship that did it because some third assistant had forgotten everything he ever learned you will have endured a choking, gasping, coughing fit made all the richer by the high sulfur content of the fuel oil and you will wonder at the thought that allowed it as a tactic outside of desperate circumstances.  While the enemy may not have been able to see you neither could you see them and manuevers had to be carried out with split second precision to avoid catastrophe.

DD-218, USS Parrott…the William Leach archive

The USS Parrott was a Clemson class destroyer  that displaced  1,190 tons, was 315 feet long by 31 feet wide and drew close to 14 feet of water at deep draft. She was commissioned in 1920 having been named for George Fountain Parrott who had won the Navy Cross after perishing in the World War. She had one of the longest careers of any of the four stackers and we will close this post be giving some of the details of her service.

In 1922 she served with the U.S. Naval Detachment in Turkish Waters at Constantinople to assist American Relief Agencies in aiding political refugees and protecting American lives and interests. From time to time, Parrott served as communications and station ship in the Black Sea, Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. From the 13th of September to the 25th of October, she evacuated refugees following the Smyrna fire, and escorted ships sent by other nations to help persons who had asked for protection.

From the 6th of July to the 24th of August in 1923, Parrott made courtesy calls to Greece, Turkey, Roumania, Bulgaria and Russia showing the flag. During the following year (1924) she made similar visits to Bizerte, Tunis, Leghorn, Genoa, Patmos, Villefranche, Cagliari and Sardinia, returning to New York in July in time to participate in that year’s exercises and Fleet Problems.

Reassigned to the Asiatic Fleet, Parrott departed Philadelphia on the 3rd of January 1925 for Pearl Harbor via the Canal Zone and San Diego. She made a training stop at Pearl Harbor on the 27th of April and proceeded on the 29th of May, via Midway, to join the Fleet at Chefoo, China on the 14th of June. Because of unsettled conditions in China Parrott, with other units, sailed to Shanghai and put ashore a landing force. Parrott remained in the area until the 31st of July, and returned on the 10th of September to Shanghai for duty with the Yangtze River Patrol until the 16th of October when she departed for the Philippines.

After operations out of Manila from the 19th of October to the 15th of March 1926 she reported to the Commander South China Patrol at Swatow remaining until the 14th of June. At this time revolution in China caused intense naval activity resulting in practically the entire Asiatic Fleet assembling in Chinese waters. Parrott carried out a rigorous schedule in again aiding and protecting the interest of Americans and other neutrals. She was relieved on the 25th of October 1927 and sailed south via Hong Kong, Bangkok and Saigon to Manila, arriving on the 18th of November.

During 1928, Parrott made many calls to Philippine ports least frequented by American ships. From 1928 into 1934 she remained on Asiatic Patrol operating from Manila. In 1935 she was ordered to French Indochina to collect hydrographic data in and around Saigon. She resumed neutrality patrol in 1936 and by 1940 had served successively as station ship at Amoy and Swatow, China. From the 7th of July to the 4th of October, Parrott cruised China waters based at Tsingtao and then made calls to other northern Chinese ports, returning to Manila on the 11th of October.

The Navy established the Cavite Navy Yard in Manila Bay shortly after acquiring the Philippines in the Spanish-American War. Cavite became one if the Asiatic Fleet’s major operating bases and repair facilities in the decades following World War I but was destroyed by Japanese air attacks in the first week after Pearl Harbor. This aerial view was taken in the 1930s.

In Cavite Navy Yard, Parrott spent the first two months of 1941 having anti-mine and sound detection gear installed, after which, she trained with destroyers and submarines. She assumed duties as off-shore sound patrol picket at the entrance to Manila Bay on the 6th of October, and late in November joined Task Force 5 at Tarakan, Borneo. The Task Force was still operating in this area when Japanese hostilities began. When the Philippines fell to the Japanese, the Asiatic Fleet moved south and operated from a base at Surabaya, Java.

After dark, on the 23rd of January 1942, Parrott with John D. Ford (DD–228), Pope (DD–225) and Paul Jones (DD–230) entered Balikpapan Bay where, lying at anchor, were 16 Japanese transports and three 750-ton torpedo boats, guarded by a Japanese Destroyer Squadron. The foursome fired several patterns of torpedoes and had the satisfaction of seeing four enemy transports and one torpedo boat sink as the Japanese destroyers searched aimlessly in the strait for non-existent submarines. Parrott returned to Surabaya on the 25th of January and sailed five days later as part of the escort for two Dutch ships as far as Lombok Strait. She then swept through the South China Sea with the combined naval force, fighting off three Japanese aerial attacks on the 15th of February, as the Allies attempted to intercept and prevent a landing on the east coast of Sumatra. She came into Surabaya for fuel on the 19th February opening fire on enemy planes there before departing with other destroyers for a night attack on Japanese forces off Bali. Contact was made with two Japanese destroyers and a transport just past midnight on the 19th-20th February, and in the ensuing fight, which left the Dutch destroyer Piet Hein at the bottom of the sea and the Japanese destroyer Michishio dead in the water, Parrott struck ground in the treacherous shoal water off Bali but was able to churn herself free and retire with the rest of the force to Surabaya. Parrott was delegated the task of escorting SS Seawitch into Tjilatjap the 28th of February and then proceed to Fremantle as her brave consorts made a last gallant stand against Japanese invasion forces in the Battle of the Java Sea.

A “jeep” carrier the USS Croatan. There was nothing pretty about them. Their hulls may have been designed to be cargo ships but when the United States need aircraft carriers they were cobbled together the get planes where they were needed.

Parrott returned to the States for repairs, left the yard in July and commenced the first of eight convoy escort voyages between San Francisco and Pearl Harbor. On the 21st of May 1943 she sailed for New York arriving on the 12th of June and reported for transatlantic convoy duty. She completed one convoy passage before joining Paul Jones and Belknap (AVD–8) in a “HunterKiller” group with Croatan (CVE–25). She operated with this group until the 15th of October when she transferred to another Hunter-Killer Group formed around Block Island (CVE–106). Parrott participated in sinking U–220 on the 28th of October, but by March 1944 Parrott reported back for convoy assignment. As escort for Convoy UGS–35, she reached Casablanca on the 26th of March, then bombarded the coast of Spanish Morocco, south of Cape Spartel, on the 27th of March before escorting convoy GUS–34 back to Boston, arriving on the 15th of April. While getting underway for Norfolk on the 2nd of May, Parrott was rammed by SS John Morton, and was so severely damaged she had to be beached, towed to Norfolk Naval Shipyard, she decommissioned on the 14th of June 1944 and struck from the Navy List.









Battery “C”, C.M.T.C., Fort Hancock, New Jersey

Ever since David Adams came from New Orleans to Galveston in 1861 to enlist in the Texas Artillery that played a decisive role in the victory of January 1, 1863 that maintained the freedom of the port city until after the end of the war – the city of Galveston was the last Southern place to surrender during the war of northern aggression – the artillery business has been something of the family trade when it comes to military service. John W. Young, Margaret Edythe’s brother, was a captain in the coastal artillery during the first World War who would rise to the rank of colonel and become one of the founders of the American Legion after the war. William J. Leach long before he met and married Margaret Edythe Young’s daughter, Laureene, trained in the coastal artillery and this entry is a photographic record of that experience.

Battery “D”, Tent 8, Left to Right, Faul [Blue], Wood [Red], Chatfield [Red], Leach [Red], McBrian [White], Hegeman [Red]

The CMTC wasn’t really the regular army for the trainees. The acronym translates to Citizens’ Military Training Campwhich was an alternative to universal military training,  rejected by the National Defense Act of 1920,  and was essentially an ROTC program for men who may not have otherwise had one available either because they did not go to college or their college did not offer such a program.  The program established that participants could receive a reserve commission as a second lieutenant by completing four successive summer courses (titled Basic, White, Red, and Blue) and while only 5,000 such commissions were awarded it is estimated that at least 400,000 men received at least one summer of military training through the program.

Fort Hancock sits in the shadow of the Sandy Hook lighthouse and is the first fort in a series guarding New York and it was originally designed, at the start of the civil war,  to have 170 gun positions that could cover the outer harbor and threaten enemy warships trying to stay out of the range of the main guns of Forts Richmond, Tompkins, Lafayette and Hamilton which guarded the Narrows.

The biggest guns ever mounted at Fort Hancock were the 12 inch “disappearing” guns. The type of disappearing gun at Battery Potter at Fort Hancock was built in 1892 and instead of using recoil from the gun to lower the weapon, two 12-inch carriages were placed on individual hydraulic elevators that would raise the 110-ton carriage and gun 14 feet to enable it fire over a parapet wall. After firing, the gun was lowered for reloading using hydraulic ramrods and a shell hoist. While the operation of the battery was slow, taking 3 minutes per shot, its design allowed an unlimited field of fire.

Battery Potter required a huge amount of machinery to operate the gun lifts, including boilers, steam pressure pumps and two accumulators. Due to the inability to generate steam quickly, Potter’s boilers were run nonstop during its 14 year life, creating a significant operating cost.  These guns had been taken out of service long before William Leach arrived there – they were decommissioned about 1906 [the year he was born] – but they were still in place and intact and were certainly interesting enough to photograph.

The M1900 Rifle [pictured above] at Fort Totten, which was all the other way at the end of New York harbor at Willet’s Point guarding the East River from its entrance at Long Island Sound, was a 12 inch bore that was 40 feet long and whose barrel weighed 132,380 pounds. Eight of these guns would be installed at Fort Mills, Corregidor, Philippine Islands and would not account for a single Japanese warship in 1941 although using smaller caliber weapons the garrison held out against an invasion force 75,000 strong for five months.

The guns on which the CMTC men trained were six-inch guns and they  were medium range (15 miles) guns used for coastal defense against light cruisers, destroyers, and other light craft. These guns were mounted on disappearing carriages or shielded barbette mounts. The M1900 carriage only provided a frontal shield, but later carriages included a wrap-around style shield that protected the gun and crew from three sides and from above. These guns had a rate of fire of 4 round per minute, and were called “Rapid Fire” guns. A 75mm gun could be mounted on the main gun tube for training purposes to allow gun crews to practice firing drills without using expensive ammunition. The 75 mm T16 guns (for the M1903A3), or the 75mm T17 guns (for the M1905A2) were used for this purpose.

Various type of carriages were utilized to mount these guns. All carriages required prepared concrete emplacements. These guns utilized either an electric or friction primer that was inserted into the obturator spindle at the rear of the breechblock and retained by the firing lock. This primer was either electrically fired or initiated by pulling a lanyard to ignite the small powder charge located within the primer.

The breeches of these guns were equipped with a “DeBange Obturator”. This device was used to seal the breech to prevent the damaging escape of hot propellant gases during firing. These guns used a powder charge contained in cloth bags instead of a one-piece brass cartridge. The nitrocellulose powder charges were contained in cloth bags that were made from a special raw silk known as “cartridge cloth”. This cloth burns without leaving any smouldering residue in the barrel which would present a safety hazard when loading the subsequent round. These powder charges were stored in separate magazines from the shells for safety reasons. A 32 pound power charge was used with the HE shell, and a 37 pound charge with the heavier AP shell.

Two basic types of projectiles were manufactured for these guns. Armor Piercing (AP) shells containing 4.5 pounds of Explosive D and weighing 108 pounds, and High Explosive (HE) shells filled with 14 pounds of TNT and weighing 90.5 pounds (unfuzed). The AP shell used a M47 Point Detonating Fuze, had a thicker shell, and used less explosive filler. The caliber of these guns were usually about 50. The term “caliber” in this case, refers to the ratio of the length of the barrel to the diameter of the bore. A 50 caliber gun with a 6 inch bore will have a barrel length of 300 inches or 25 feet. (6″ x 50cal = 300 inches/12 inches per ft = 25′)

A manual crank handle was used to aim these guns in azimuth. Later carriages were equipped with the M7 automatic data transmission system that allowed the crew to simply match the gun position to the pointer. The pointer was remotely set by the plotting room after the correct values were plotted and corrected. The gun was elevated using a manual hand wheel, or on later model guns, an electric-hydraulic elevation motor system was installed. Maximum elevation was 47.5 degrees, maximum depression was -5 degrees. The M2 carriage was equipped with the Atlantic Elevator Company Electric Elevation Drive, which automatically pointed the gun in elevation. A safety interlock prevented the gun from moving while the breech was open. Hand ramming was used to load the gun. No power rammers were required or installed. The M1903 and M1905 guns used a loading elevation of 10 degrees.

When the firing lock hammer was tripped by a lanyard or by the application of an electric current, the small primer cap within the primer ignited the black powder in the primer, which fired a jet of flame through the vent in the breech block, which in turn ignited the igniter charge of black powder located on the back of the powder bag. This ignited the main charge in the powder bag, which continued to burn while the projectile was forced out of the barrel. The soft copper rotating band on the projectile engaged the lands of the rifling in the barrel and forced the projectile to rotate. This rotation stabilized the projectile in flight and provided for accuracy. Once the projectile cleared the muzzle, any unburned powder continued to burn, but did not increase the velocity of the projectile since the expanding gases in the barrel could no longer exert any force on the rear of the projectile. An air scavenging system was installed on later model guns (A2 versions) to clear the breech of any burning residue with compressed air after the gun was fired. This protected the crew from the potential hazard of residual burning embers igniting the new powder charge while the breech was open for loading. These guns required cleaning after firing to protect the barrel from corrosion. Long rammers with burlap tips were dipped in a solution of soap and water to clean the barrel. All parts were cleaned and oiled to prevent the salt air from corroding the steel parts.

“Artillery succeeded where, otherwise, we would have failed.” General Charles P. Summerall

Other than death and taxes there is nothing that a civilian can be certain of. Both of these certainties hold true for the serviceman as well but he has a third certainty – INSPECTION! Here the camp is being inspected by the then Chief of Staff of the Army General Charles Pelot Summerall – a man who was uniquely qualified to do so.

Born in Blount’s Ferry, Florida in 1867, Charles Pelot Summerall attended the Porter Military Academy in South Carolina from 1882 to 1885. After graduation, he worked as a school teacher for three years. In 1888 he enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated in June 1892. He was first assigned to the 1st Infantry but transferred to the 5th Artillery in March of 1893.

Charles Summerall fought in the Spanish-American war in 1898. From 1899 to 1900 he fought in the Philippine Insurrection as an Engineer Officer and promoted to 1st Lieutenant. In 1900-1901 he was promoted to Captain and assigned to the 106th Field Artillery while participating in the attack on Peking during the China Relief Expedition at the time of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion.

From 1905 to 1911, Charles Summerall was the Senior Instructor of Artillery Tactics at West Point. He was promoted to Major in 1911 and put in charge of purchasing land for artillery training on behalf of the U.S. Army. In 1915 he was assigned to investigating the manufacture of munitions to be purchased by the U.S. Army.

Charles Summerall was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1916, and ‘full bird’ Colonel in 1917. In August of 1917 he was promoted to Brigadier-General. Serving on the front line in France during World War One, Major-General Charles Summerall was Commander of the First Division and later became Commander of the Fifth Corps. November 21st, 1926 Major-General Summerall became Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. He was promoted to full (four-star) General in 1929. In November 1930 after 38 years of service, he retired from the U.S. Army.

Captain Denis, B.A.C. Commander “D” Battery, Ft. Hancock, NJ, August 1927

Even though the service is about many things it was, for William J. Leach,  ultimately about the people he  served with and so we will end this entry with pictures of men that he still remembered and spoke highly of fifty years after the fact.

Lieutenant Selby – Battery “A”

Corporal O’Connor

Lee and “Huck” Salzman

for I intend to go in harm’s way… Part III

After the Spanish-American War, the first Texas continued her western Atlantic operations and was flagship of the Coast Squadron in 1902-05. In 1908, she became the station ship at Charleston, South Carolina. Finally, renamed San Marcos in February 1911, struck from the Navy List the following October, she was sunk in gunnery tests in Chesapeake Bay. It might seem like an ignominious end to a gallant career of keeping the peace and winning the war but before her stripped hulk settled into the sand the new battleship Texas was being built at Newport News, Virginia and she would be bigger, faster and pack a punch that would be heard throughout the Atlantic and Pacific.

USS Texas (BB-35) Making 15.151 knots during the 9th run of her standardization trials on the 23rd of October 1913. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

U.S. Navy battleship construction began with the keel laying of the sister ship of the first battleship Texas, the Maine,  in 1888 and ended  in 1947. During this  era, 59 battleships of 23 different basic designs were completed for the Navy. Though the building rate averaged almost one per year, it was not a steady process, but was done in the first case as a deterrent force, corresponding to the rise of the United States to first-class naval power begun in 1888. This era  came to an abrupt halt with the signing of the Naval Limitations Treaty in 1922 during the age of Wilsonian diplomacy. This  in turn gave way to the to the second era from 1937 to 1943 when ships were being built as fast as possible to save us from the bitter fruits of these treaties.

Taking up where her predecessor had left off the U.S.S. Texas entering Havana Harbour from Malecon Photograph taken from Castillo de La Punta, Castillo del Morro visible on other side of channel. Crowd of people on site, automobiles on Malecon Drive… Library of Congress photo

These warships can be conveniently divided into four main groups:

  •    Two experimental second-class battleships, of about 6000 tons, begun in the late 1880s (Maine and Texas);
  •     Twenty-five battleships with mixed main batteries of large and medium caliber guns, ranging in size from about 10,000  to 16,000 tons, begun from 1891 to 1905;
  •     Twenty-nine battleships with “all-big-gun” main batteries, begun between 1906 and 1919 and ranging from 16,000 tons to over 42,000 tons
  •     Seventeen faster big-gun 35,000-60,500 ton battleships begun in 1937-41

USS Texas (BB-35)Firing her 14″/45 main battery guns, during long-range battle practice, February 1928. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Gun caliber, as well as ship size, grew steadily, from ten inches on the first Texas to sixteen inches on the last ships. The second Texas [BB-35], displaced 27,000 tons, was nearly 600 feet long and had a 95+ foot beam – the widest allowable by the Panama Canal. Her armor plating was 12 inches thick at the belt, 9 inches thick above the belt and 3 inches thick on the deck with watertight bulkheads 10 inches thick. She mounted ten 14 inch main guns arranged in five turrets of two, twenty smaller guns and four torpedo tubes. Effective gunnery range also increased, from a few thousand yards to about twenty miles.

USS Texas (BB-35)In the Gatun Locks, while transiting the Panama Canal en route to the U.S. east coast on the 21st of June 1937. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

With a draft of nearly 30 feet and able to achieve 21 knots with a 35,000 horsepower plant she carried nearly 3,000 tons of coal to carry her guns and her crew of over 1,000 to where ever they were needed. Texas was as heavily armored as it was armed and was intended primarily to steam in formation with other battleships and slug it out with similar opponents, using its powerful guns to settle the matter. In its day it was one the “Queens of the Sea”, the foundation of national strategic offense and defense. That “day” ended with the arrival, effectively just before the start of World War II, of aircraft that could not only out-range the big guns, but also deliver blows of equal or greater power however as they proved, with adequate air support – or in conditions where aircraft might not be effective – these floating gun platforms could be instrumental in support of troop landings.

USS Texas (BB-35)Dressed with flags for Navy Day, 27 October 1940. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Navy Day was established on October 27, 1922 by the Navy League of the United States as a tool to educate civilians about the Navy and increase their awareness of the Navy. Although it was not a national holiday, Navy Day received special attention from the President and in 1923 over 50 major cities participated, and the United States Navy sent a number of its ships to various port cities for the occasion. The 1945 Navy Day was an especially large celebration, with President Harry S. Truman reviewing the fleet in New York Harbor.

USS Texas (BB-35)Silhouetted against the sunset, while participating in North Atlantic convoy operations, circa summer 1941. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Starting in 1939 – even before war was declared – the United States was supplying material to the British for their war against Germany. After the invasion of Poland and the opening of hostilities there would be hundreds of vessels crossing the North Atlantic and prior to overt American participation in the war the US was actively engaged in convoys with the British in the North Atlantic Ocean, primarily supporting British activities in Iceland. Since battleships were effective deterrents to surface raiders due to the larger size and longer range of the American guns the Texas found herself escorting HX [Halifax to Liverpool] convoys including 9-knot convoys for ships of sustained speeds less than 15 knots which had to be long and tedious duty – but it was duty and having a two ocean navy meant that we had battleships ready to fill the line even after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Bombardment of Cherbourg, June 1944 A heavy German coast artillery shell falls between USS Texas (BB-35) and USS Arkansas (BB-33), while the two battleships were engaging Battery Hamburg during the bombardment of Cherbourg, France,on the 25th of June 1944. Photographed from Arkansas. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Although she had been built for service in the first World War the Texas would find her moments of glory in World War II. The Bombardment of Cherbourg was undertaken by ships of the United States Navy on June 25, 1944 to support United States Army units engaged in the Battle of Cherbourg. The Allied force attacked the German fortifications near and in the city and engaged in repeated duels with coastal batteries while providing close infantry support. Twenty-two of twenty-four assigned Navy targets were neutralized and German batteries were eliminated as a threat to the infantry assaulting them. Rapid infantry containment ensured the guns could not be reactivated and, as a testimony to the big gun ships effectiveness, when the city fell the neutralized casemated guns, which could have turned from the ships towards troops advancing on land, were still pointed out to sea.  Shore-bombardment, in which the fire of heavy guns was precisely directed against enemy facilities ashore, to pave the way for invasion or to simply destroy war-making potential justified the retention of the big-gun ships in the post-war era and brought them back to active duty on three different occasions and we may need them again.

USS Texas (BB-35)At sea in the Hawaii area, while preparing for Pacific combat operations on the 6th of January 1945. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

More than half way to Hell in the Pacific was the tiny island of Iwo Jima. Too small for army staging and unfit as a naval anchorage it was needed as a strategic point in delivering the atomic bombs that would end the war – although no one engaged in the battle knew that. The commander had requested ten days of heavy ship bombardment before landing troops and had been given three. Texas was part of the bombardment force but given the abundance of well-concealed strong points and deeply buried underground facilities, this was not nearly enough. Thus, when the Marines landed, they confronted intense opposing fire from the landing area and from flanking positions on Mount Suribachi in the south and the rugged terrain of northern Iwo Jima.

Iwo Jima Operation, 1945 USS Texas (BB-35) recovers a Vought OS2U “Kingfisher” floatplane in a light rain at 1700 Hrs. on the 16th of February 1945, the first day of the Iwo Jima pre-invasion bombardment. The OS2U’s radioman is riding the wing after hooking the plane to the recovery crane. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

For the U.S. Marines, Iwo Jima was the most difficult of World War II’s many tough fights. It remains an enduring demonstration of the essential role of infantry when ground must be captured, even when seemingly overwhelming air and sea power is present. The abundant heroism of the attackers was recognized by the award of 27 U.S. military personnel with the Medal of Honor for …conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States…, 13 of them posthumously. Of the 27 medals awarded for the actions at Iwo Jima, 22 were presented to Marines and five were presented to United States Navy sailors; this was 28% of the 82 Medals of Honor awarded to Marines in the entirety of World War II.

Secretary of the Navy Charles Francis Adams Inspects the crew of USS Texas (BB-35), March 1931. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

The Texas, like all ships, is just so much hull and paint without a crew, and reviewing them here is Charles Francis Adams – descendent of John Adams etc. – who served as Herbert Hoover’s Secretary of the Navy from 1929 until 1933. A successful lawyer, business man, outstanding civic leader, and well-known yachtsman and ocean racer, he  vigorously promoted public understanding of the Navy’s indispensable role in international affairs, and worked strenuously to maintain naval strength and efficiency during a period of severe economic depression. He served at the London Naval Conference in 1930 where he successfully maintained the principle of United States naval parity with Great Britain.

USS Texas (BB-35)Boxing match held on board during Battle Fleet maneuvers off Panama in 1923. View looks aft toward the rear of Turret # 4, which bears a banner reading “U.S.S. Texas … Come On Texas”. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

From the time ship was christened on May 18, 1912 and a motion-picture camera took what was thought to be the first motion pictures of a United States Navy ship-launching through its service as a flagship, on convoy duty and support of the European and Pacific landings through 1945 until its retirement by the Navy in 1946 served the nation well for over a third of a century – all for an original price tag of $1,166,000.00.

Saved from the scrap yard on December 6, 1946, Texas governor Coke R. Stevenson accepted the USS Texas from the United States Navy to be used as a state shrine. In 1948, after more than thirty-four years of naval service, the USS Texas became the nation’s first memorial battleship and a national historic landmark. The ship was permanently moored at the San Jacinto Monument off the Houston Ship Channel.

The business end of the forward batteries as they appear today trained on the Mexican positions at San Jacinto and ready to support some new Houston.


for I intend to go in harm’s way… Part II

Crewmen pose with mascot dog and cat at the muzzle of one of the ship’s 12″/35 guns. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

The turn of the 20th century is sometimes referred to as the age of jingoism after little ditties like; We don’t want to fight, but by jingo if we do, We’ve got the men, We’ve got the ships and, We’ve got the money too! In many ways the Promethean herald of the age was Theodore Roosevelt who was fond of quoting the African proverb,  Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far. One of our big sticks was the first USS Texas.

The USS Texas loading coal in Bolivar Roads off Galveston, Texas. The coal lighter is positioned aft and the ship’s launch is just forward of the funnel.

The first battleship named USS Texas was a 6315-ton second-class battleship that was originally designated as an armored cruiser, was built at the Norfolk Navy Yard. Commissioned in August 1895, her initial service was spent along the U.S. east and Gulf coasts. Texas was distinguished from a light cruiser by its belt armor plating on  the hull to protect the ship from shellfire from enemy guns. With armored upper and middle decks and a side belt both above and below the waterline to protect against torpedoes. Further protection came from lateral coal bunkers and the machinery was arranged in the protected spaces above the double-bottom in an effort to make the ship as safe as possible.

U.S.S. Texas, Capt. Charles D. Sigsbee – the fellow with four bars at the end of his sleeve in the front row  – and the ship’s officers.

The USS Texas was the sister ship of the USS Maine and in the photograph above Captain Charles D. Sigsbee is serving as master of the Texas in this picture.   He was a long serving officer having been appointed acting midshipman on the 16th July 1862 and he served aboard Monongahela, Wyoming, and Shenandoah from 1863 to 1869 when he was assigned to duty at the Naval Academy and, in 1871, to the Hydrographic Office. He was in command of various ships from 1873 to 1891 and served as a hydrographer in the Bureau of Navigation from 1893 to 1897. Sigsbee commanded St. Paul in 1898 then Texas and finally Maine. Sigsbee would be the Captain of the USS Maine when she was blown up in Havana harbor effectively starting the Spanish-American war.

U.S.S. Texas in dry dock

The war had been a long time coming. During the Civil War Cuba had been sometimes a haven for blockade runners and just as often a trap for them and the attitudes of the Anglo Americans were almost genetically in opposition to the Spaniards. The more proximate cause of tension between Spain and the United States came from attempts by Cubans to liberate their island. The first Cuban insurrection was unsuccessful and lasted between 1868 and 1878 and American sympathies were with the revolutionaries, and war with Spain nearly erupted when the filibuster ship Virginius was captured and most of the crew (including many American citizens) were executed. The Cuban revolutionaries continued to plan and raise support in the United States and even with limited autonomy being promised late in 1897  the U.S. government was mistrustful and the revolutionaries refused to accept anything short of total independence.

Chiefs run the Navy – U.S.S. Texas, chief petty officers

The Maine arrived in Havana on the 25th of January 1898. Spanish authorities in Havana were wary of American intentions, but afforded Captain Sigsbee and his officers every courtesy. In order to avoid the possibility of trouble, Sigsbee cancelled all leave and did not allow enlisted men to go on shore. Sigsbee and the consul at Havana, Fitzhugh Lee, reported that the Navy’s presence appeared to have a calming effect on the situation, and both recommended that the Navy send another battleship to Havana when it came time to relieve Maine.

U.S.S. Texas, ammunition for main batteries

At 9:40 on the evening of the 15th of February, a terrible explosion  shattered the stillness in Havana Harbor. Later investigations revealed that more than five tons of powder charges for the vessel’s six and ten-inch guns ignited, virtually obliterating the forward third of the ship. The remaining wreckage rapidly settled to the bottom of the harbor. Most of Maine’s crew were sleeping or resting in the enlisted quarters in the forward part of the ship when the explosion occurred. Two hundred and sixty-six men lost their lives as a result of the disaster: 260 died in the explosion or shortly thereafter, and six more died later from injuries. Captain Sigsbee and most of the officers survived because their quarters were in the aft portion of the ship.

Spanish officials and the crew of the civilian steamer City of Washington acted quickly in rescuing survivors and caring for the wounded. The attitude and actions of the former allayed initial suspicions that hostile action caused the explosion, and led Sigsbee to include at the bottom of his initial telegram: Public opinion should be suspended until further report. A true warrior he did everything he could for peace.

U.S.S. Texas, Spanish mine taken up in Guantanamo Bay

The  Navy immediately formed a board of inquiry to determine the reason for Maine’s destruction and they concluded that a mine had detonated under the ship.  When the Navy’s verdict was announced, the American public given the choice between righteousness and peace, chose righteousness. Although he continued to press for a diplomatic settlement to the Cuban problem, President McKinley accelerated military preparations begun in January 1898 when an impasse appeared likely. The Spanish position on Cuban independence hardened, and McKinley asked Congress on the 11th of April for permission to intervene. On the 21st of April, the President ordered the Navy to begin a blockade of Cuba which Spain followed with a declaration of war on the 23rd of April and the American Congress responded with a formal declaration of war on the 25th of April. As with a later war there would be all sorts of second guessing however the wmd pictured on the deck of the Texas should, but hasn’t yet, quieted the second guessers.

U.S.S. Texas, tompion of 12-inch gun made of metal from Vizcaya, recording engagements of Texas in Spanish War

The Spanish-American war and the battle of Santiago would be the moments of Glory for the Texas. On the 29th of April Admiral Cervera’s fleet composed of the armored cruisers and  torpedo gunboats sailed from the Cape de Verde Islands. On May 19th the Flying Squadron, composed of the Brooklyn, Texas, Massachusetts, and Scorpion, sailed from Key West with instructions to establish a blockade.

U.S.S. Texas, Capt. Philip on bridge during Battle of Santiago

Early on the morning of the 29th of May a Spanish man-of-war, the Cristobal Colon, was seen lying at anchor inside the Santiago harbor entrance, and later a second man-of-war and two smaller vessels. On June 1st Admiral Sampson arrived off Santiago and found Commodore Schley’s squadron and upon the concentration of these two forces at Santiago a close and efficient blockade was established. The harbor was closely guarded day and night by our ships in a semicircle. Powerful search-lights were thrown upon its entrance during the dark. A plan of attack, by which our vessels were to close in at once upon any of the enemy’s coming out, was provided for in standing orders.

U.S.S. Texas, quarter-deck after Battle of Santiago, whitened by salt peter from guns

On June 10 the first battalion of marines was landed there and went into camp. For three days and nights these men, supported by the Marblehead and Dolphin, fought almost constantly. The position which they defended was a most important one for the fleet, as it was necessary to have near at hand a harbor in which ships could be coaled and repaired in safety. On June 15 the fort on Cayo del Toro in Guantanamo Bay was destroyed by the Texas, Marblehead, and Suwanee.

U.S.S. Texas, forward superstructure showing damage from Spanish 9-inch shell, Battle of Santiago

On the morning of July 3 at 9:30 a.m. The vessels of the blockading squadron were in  position, making a semicircle about the harbor entrance Indiana, Oregon, Iowa, Texas, and Brooklyn. The Gloucester and Vixen lay to the eastward and westward of the harbor entrance, close to the land. Admiral Cervera’s squadron came out of the harbor. The New York turned and steamed for the escaping fleet, flying the signal to close in toward the harbor entrance and attack vessels, but our ships had already, in accordance with standing orders, at once engaged the Spanish ships and in the course of a running fight, which continued until 1:20 p.m., the latter were completely destroyed and sunk and the famous victory was won.  On July 4, at night, the Spanish cruiser Reina Mercedes, which had not left Santiago with Cervera’s squadron, was seen steaming out of the harbor. She was sunk just before reaching the narrow part of the entrance channel, presumably by the fire of the Massachusetts and Texas.  Among the trophies contributed to by the Texas were:

  • Vizcaya, a 6890-ton armored cruiser of the Infanta Maria Teresa class, was launched at Bilbao, Spain, in July 1891. During the Spanish-American War, she was part of the squadron under Admiral Cervera that was sent to the West Indies. Vizcaya was lost in the Battle of Santiago, Cuba, on 3 July 1898.
  • Infanta Maria Teresa, a 6890-ton armored cruiser, was launched at Bilbao, Spain, in August 1890. During the Spanish-American War she was flagship of Admiral Cervera’s squadron, and was beached and burned in the Battle of Santiago, Cuba, on 3 July 1898.
  • Reina Mercedes, a 3042-ton Alfonso XII class cruiser, was launched at Cartagena, Spain, in September 1887. By 1898 she was stationed in Cuban waters. During the Spanish-American War, she acted as guard ship at Santiago. Partially disarmed to provide guns for coast-defense batteries, she was scuttled to block the Santiago harbor entrance following the great naval battle of 3 July 1898.
  • Cristobal Colon, a 6800-ton armored cruiser of the Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi class, was built in Italy. Purchased by Spain while under construction, she was launched in 1896 and delivered in 1897. Although her main battery of two ten-inch guns was never fitted, she was part of Admiral Cervera’s squadron that was sent to the West Indies during the Spanish-American War. Cristobal Colon was run ashore and scuttled in the Battle of Santiago, Cuba, on 3 July 1898.
  • Almirante Oquendo, a 6890-ton Infanta Maria Teresa class armored cruiser, was launched at Bilbao, Spain, in October 1891. A unit of Admiral Cervera’s Spanish-American War squadron, she was wrecked by gunfire in the Battle of Santiago, Cuba, on 3 July 1898.
  • Pluton, a 400-ton Audaz class torpedo boat destroyer, was built in Scotland in 1897. During the Spanish-American War, she was part of Admiral Cervera’s squadron, and was lost in the Battle of Santiago, Cuba, on 3 July 1898.
  • Furor, a 370-ton torpedo boat destroyer, was built in Scotland in 1896. During the Spanish-American War, she was part of Admiral Cervera’s squadron, and was lost in the Battle of Santiago, Cuba, on 3 July 1898.

U.S.S. Texas, Admiral Philip

Immediately to the left of Capt. Charles D. Sigsbee in the picture of the ship’s officers earlier in this posting is seated his executive officer, John W. Philip, who served as the captain of the Texas throughout the Spanish-American war.  He to was a lifer, appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in September 1856,  graduated in June 1861 and spending the next years on Civil War service in the Gulf of Mexico. After he became Commanding Officer of the battleship Texas, in which he participated in the capture of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the Battle of Santiago during the Spanish-American War, his distinguished war service produced advancement to Commodore in August 1898, and he then was given command of one unit of the North Atlantic Squadron.

U.S.S. Texas, ship’s company

By having the leadership [Theodore Roosevelt was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy who dispatched the fleet to Cuban waters] and the men like Sigsbee and Philip in command of the officers, chief’s and crew members of ships like the Texas made Pax-Americana possible. Roosevelt would go on to be the only great president of that name and would win a deserved Nobel Peace Prize and leave the presidency as the most respected man in the world because – as he put it – I am an American; free-born and free bred, where I acknowledge no man as my superior, except for his own worth, or as my inferior, except for his own demerit.

Theodore Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897

I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way… John Paul Jones

The most recent littoral [close to shore] combat ship to join the U. S. Navy, the USS Fort Worth [LC3] was commissioned at Galveston on September 22, 2012 and being capable of in excess of 40 knots she is fast beyond the wildest dreams of John Paul Jones. She is by no means the first Navy ship named for Texas, a Texan or a city in Texas and ever since the Republic of Texas navy, under sail, defeated the Mexican navy – which was steam driven – Texans have crossed the bar from Galveston in fast ships looking for harm’s way. This entry is going to return us to the days of the Great White Fleet and the World War – which is what they called it before they started numbering them – and will tell tales of ships and sailors and Galveston, of how great the ocean is and how small the world is.

In Manila Bay, Philippine Islands, 12 July 1908. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

In the days when Alfred Thayer Mahan’s theories were being implemented to protect the United States we produced protected  cruisers [so known because its armored deck offered protection for vital machine spaces from shrapnel caused by exploding shells above. Protected cruisers were an alternative to the armored cruisers, which also had a belt of armour along the sides], of which more than two-dozen were built or acquired between the mid-1880s and the early 1900s. Twenty-two of these warships received “cruiser numbers”, which were abbreviated “C-1″ through “C-22″. In 1920-21 the surviving members of the group received new designations and numbers in the Armored Cruiser (CA), Light Cruiser (CL) and Gunboat (PG) series.

The USS Galveston during a courtesy call at Galveston, Texas with one of John Young’s tugs on the stern.

USS Galveston, a 3200-ton protected cruiser was built at Richmond, Virginia and commissioned in February 1905. During the next eight months she visited Galveston, Texas, crossed the Atlantic to France to participate in the return of the remains of John Paul Jones to the United States, helped host the Russo-Japanese peace conference, and carried State Department representatives to the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Print shows John Paul Jones, half-length portrait, facing slightly right, standing, wearing uniform, holding telescope cradled in right arm, left hand on anchor, with naval battle scene in the background. Library of Congress
The future naval officers, who live within these walls, will find in the career of the man whose life we this day celebrate, not merely a subject for admiration and respect, but an object lesson to be taken into their innermost hearts. . . . Every officer . . . should feel in each fiber of his being an eager desire to emulate the energy, the professional capacity, the indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death which marked John Paul Jones above all his fellows. President Theodore Roosevelt, in an address to The US Naval Academy, Annapolis on the 24th of April 1906

In late December 1905 the cruiser left the U.S. for service in the Mediterranean and the Far East, where she remained until February 1910. After operating off the U.S. West Coast and in Alaskan waters during 1912-1913, Galveston was back on the Asiatic Station from November 1913 to late 1917.

Galveston next performed World War I convoy escort and training duties in the Atlantic, taking part in an engagement with the German Submarine U-152 while en route to the Azores on the 30th of  September 1918.

U-152 (German Submarine, 1917) Officers, crewmen and a former prisoner of war on the submarine’s foredeck, while she was passing through the Kiel Canal on the way to Harwich, England to be surrendered on the 28th of November 1918. Two U.S. Navy officers, captured when the U-152 sank USS Ticonderoga on the 30th of September 1918, were on board the submarine. One is seen in this photograph, standing third from right, wearing his uniform and a civilian cap. He is Lieutenant Frank L. Muller, USNRF, Ticonderoga’s Executive Officer. The other was Lieutenant (JG) Junius H. Fulcher, USNRF.U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

U-152, a 1512-ton  cruiser-type submarine built at Hamburg as part of Germany’s World War I shipbuilding effort, was commissioned in October 1917. Initially intended as a submersible merchantman for transporting critical war materials through the British blockade, she was converted to a combat ship while under construction. U-152 was actively employed in the Atlantic during the last year of the conflict. Among her victims were two American schooners, Julia Frances (sunk on the 27th of  January 1918) and A.E. Whyland (sunk on 13th of March 1918), the Norwegian bark Stifinder (sunk on 13th of October 1918), and USS Ticonderoga. The latter was sunk, with heavy casualties among her crew and passengers, on 30 September 1918. The submarine also fought a gun battle with USS George G. Henry on 29 September. After returning to Germany in November 1918, at the end of her final wartime cruise, U-152 went to Harwich, England, where she was surrendered to the British. She sank in 1921, while on her way to be scrapped.

U-152 (German Submarine, 1917) Comes alongside its prize, the Norwegian bark Stifinder, on 13 October 1918. The bark was sunk after being captured in the western mid-Atlantic. She appears to be flying a Spanish flag. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

USS Ticonderoga, a 5130 gross ton cargo ship and animal transport, was built at Bremerhaven, Germany in 1914 as the German flag merchant steamer Kamilla Rickmers. Seized by the U.S. Government in 1917, she was renamed Ticonderoga later in that year, turned over to the Navy under charter and placed in commission in early January 1918. Later in that month she loaded cargo and, during February and March, made her initial voyage to France and back. Two more such round-trips followed in May-June and July-September 1918. On the 27th of August, while homeward-bound, she was unsuccessfully attacked by German submarine gunfire.

Captain Nikolaus Dohna-Schlieden of the Kamilla Rickmers when she had called at Galveston for the North German Lloyd line and had been consigned to Young & Company, Stevedores. He had been the guest of the Young family during an extended port stay and presented them with this picture as a memento of his visit. He would go on to command the Moewe, which had been the banana-carrying ship Pungo for Bluefield Bananas, and was one of the most successful German raiders of the World War.

Ticonderoga left New York for her fourth trip to France on the 22nd of September 1918, but experienced machinery problems that caused her to drop behind her convoy during the night of 29-30 September. At about 5:45 in the morning of the 30th, a submarine was spotted ahead. As the ship’s gun crews prepared for action, her Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander James J. Madison, tried to ram the enemy, but narrowly missed. The German, the large and heavily-armed cruiser submarine U-152, opened fire and hit Ticonderoga hard, setting her ablaze, killing several men, temporarily disabling her helm and knocking out her forward gun. With her radio wrecked, she was unable to call for help and had to continue the contest unsupported. Though badly wounded, LCdr. Madison regained his position on the bridge, got the ship under control and turned so her aft 6 inch gun , could bear on the enemy. U-152 submerged, then returned to the surface and resumed the battle. Once Ticonderoga’s aft gun was put out of commission, she was relentlessly pounded by exploding shells from the submarine’s two 15cm (5.9-inch) deck guns.

S.S. Ticonderoga (German-American Freighter, 1914) At Boston, Massachusetts, on the 27th of November 1917. Built in 1914 as the German flag merchant steamer Kamilla Rickmers, and seized when the United States entered World War I, this ship was renamed Ticonderoga in August 1917. She was placed in commission as USS Ticonderoga (ID # 1958) on the 5th of January 1918, and sunk, with the loss of 213 lives, by the German submarine U-152 on the 30th of September 1918. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Casualties among Ticonderoga’s crew and passengers were very heavy. Unable to steer and incapable of fighting back, she was now helpless. U-152 took position off the American ship’s starboard beam and fired a torpedo that hit just aft of her engine room. Ticonderoga began to sink. Most of her lifeboats were full of holes and others swamped on launching, leaving only one boat and a raft for her survivors. As the ship was being abandoned under a white flag, the submarine continued to fire, killing and wounding even more men. After Ticonderoga had sunk, U-152 approached in search of officers, finally capturing her Executive Officer, Lieutenant Frank Muller, and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Junius Fulcher. The remaining men, among them the gravely injured Lieutenant Commander Madison, were left adrift. After four days, the British freighter Moorish Prince came upon them, rescuing the twenty-two still alive. Those, plus the two officers taken by U-152, were the only survivors of the 237 on board Ticonderoga when the battle began. The dead included 112 U.S. Sailors and 101 Soldiers. This was the greatest combat loss of life on any U.S. Navy ship during the First World War. Only the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa, sunk a few days earlier, had more Naval personnel killed by hostile action. The 309 lost with the collier Cyclops, which disappeared in March 1918, were probably the victims of an accident.

Commander James J. Madison, USNRF Portrait photograph, taken circa 1919, showing him wearing the Medal of Honor (Tiffany Cross. He received the medal for “exceptionally heroic service in a position of great responsibility” while serving as Commanding Officer of USS Ticonderoga on the 30th of September 1918, when she was sunk in combat with the German submarine U-152.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Medal of Honor citation of Lieutenant Commander James J. Madison, USNRF (as printed in the official publication “Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy”)
“For exceptionally heroic service in a position of great responsibility as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Ticonderoga, when, on 4 October 1918 (sic: actually 30 September 1918), that vessel was attacked by an enemy submarine and was sunk after a prolonged and gallant resistance. The submarine opened fire at a range of 500 yards, the first shots taking effect on the bridge and forecastle, one of the two forward guns of the Ticonderoga being disabled by the second shot. The fire was returned and the fight continued for nearly 2 hours. Lieutenant Commander Madison was severely wounded early in the fight, but caused himself to be placed in a chair on the bridge and continued to direct the fire and to maneuver the ship. When the order was finally given to abandon the sinking ship, he became unconscious from loss of blood, but was lowered into a lifeboat and was saved, with 31 others, out of a total number of 236 on board.”

George G. Henry, a 6936 gross ton (10,500 tons displacement) tanker, was built at San Francisco, California, in 1917. In August 1918 Her owner, the Los Angeles Petroleum Transportation Company, chartered her to the U.S. Navy, which placed her in commission at that time as USS George G. Henry  Late in that month she began her first trans-Atlantic voyage as a Navy ship, taking aviation gasoline and other cargo to France. While returning to the U.S. on 29 September 1918 she engaged in a running gun battle with the German submarine U-152. The tanker was able to escape, although she was hit by one enemy shell and near-missed by others, which set her afire and wounded several crewmen. Later in that trip, on 3 October, George G. Henry collided with and sank USS Herman Frasch . Following repairs, she made four more voyages from the U.S. to France before being decommissioned and returned to her owner in May 1919.

S.S. George G. Henry (American Tanker, 1917)On the morning of her trial trip, on the 3rd of June 1917. Built by the Union Iron Works of San Francisco, California, and owned by the Los Angeles Petroleum Transportation Company, this tanker taken over by the U.S. Navy for World War service and placed in commission on the 23rd of August 1918 as USS George G. Henry. She was returned to her owner on the 21st of May 1919. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Employed commercially under the American flag for the next twenty years, George G. Henry was transferred to Panamanian registry in July 1940 and, in mid-1941, steamed to the western Pacific where she transported fuel between the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, the Philippines, China, and Hong Kong. She was at Manila when Japanese attacks started the Pacific phase of World War II on 8 December 1941 (local date), but was able to escape to Borneo in mid-December. During the next two months, as Japanese forces advanced into the East Indies, she mainly operated in northern and eastern Australian waters, providing fuel oil to Allied warships as they fought fruitlessly against the enemy onslaught.

James Mistrot Young – John Young’s grandson – who would serve on the SS George C. Henry between the wars and would continue his service when she became the USS Victoria  during the Second World War.

In mid-April 1942, after a voyage to Melbourne, George G. Henry was taken over by the U.S. Navy. Soon renamed Victoria (AO-46), she entered active Naval service in November 1942. She served along the Australian east coast until late August 1943, then shifted to New Guinea, where she supported U.S. and Australian operations in that island’s northeastern waters until November. Late in the year Victoria returned to New Guinea and resumed her service there and, on-and-off beginning in April 1944, in the Admiralty Islands. On 2 September 1945, the day of Japan’s formal surrender, the old ship steamed into Manila Bay to begin furnishing fuel to U.S. ships in the Philippines. Following brief air-sea rescue service in mid-October, Victoria went home to the United States, arriving at Mobile, Alabama, in late November. She was decommissioned in December 1945, turned over to the Maritime Commission and, in January 1946, stricken from the list of Navy ships. Recovering the name George G. Henry, she was delivered to the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey in March 1946 and, in April 1948, sold to Panamanian interests.

Rear Admiral Newton A. McCully, USN (center)on board USS Galveston at Novorossisk, Russia, in March 1920. Note caissons for 3-inch landing force guns in the foreground. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

After that lengthy digression we return once again to the USS Galveston. Although Woodrow Wilson may have had the heart and soul of a Bolshevik the United States Senate had not yet been co-opted into the cause of world socialism. While having no affection for Tsarist Russia it had been a brief 20 years since an anarchist had assassinated William McKinley who was one of the most popular presidents of his time. Bolshevik or anarchist was not a distinction made in America in 1919 and we supported  both the White Generals and Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky in an effort to ameliorate the worst effects of the Russian Revolution.  In March 1919 USS Galveston began service in European waters, initially carrying troops to northern Russia. From July 1919 until July 1920 she was station ship at Constantinople. Among her functions there was the transportation of refugees, Red Cross officials and senior officers in the troubled Black Sea region.

USS Galveston (CL-19) Probably at Corinto, Nicaragua, in December 1926 — February 1927, during the Nicaraguan revolution. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Reclassified as a gunboat in July 1920, with the hull number PG-31, Galveston became a light cruiser (CL-19) in August 1921. She operated with the Special Service Squadron in the Caribbean and off Central America for nearly all of the 1920s, landing forces in Nicaragua during that Nation’s revolution in 1926.

View on deck, looking forward from near the stern, probably while she was operating in Central American waters, circa 1924-1927. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Not all of a Naval vessel’s life is spent on diplomatic missions, fighting naval battles or showing the flag and helping allies suppress revolutions. A ship is a community where hundreds of crew members live in close proximity and while they fight shoulder to shoulder when they have to they enjoy the small pleasures of life side by side when they can. One of the time honored traditions of life on board a ship is the ceremonies that accompany the crossing of the equator and generally include some good natured hazing of the crew members who are making their first crossing.

Well-soiled “Polliwogs” showing off, during an Equator crossing ceremony on board Galveston on the 11th of June 1926, while she was en route to Arica, Chile. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

King Neptune’s “Royal Police” with another member of the King’s Court, during an Equator crossing ceremony on board Galveston on the 11th of June 1926, while she was en route to Arica, Chile. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona had not become states when she was launched. In a career that began before there was a Panama Canal and included service with both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets this proud vessel did just about everything that a naval vessel could do. She had to be a source of considerable pride to Galvestonians and Texans as well as the nation and she was intergal to the maritime tradition that includes a merchant marine that serves with the fleet in time of war.

At anchor. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

USS Galveston concluded her two and a half decades of service in early September 1930, when she was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Stricken from the Navy list a few months later, she was sold for scrapping in September 1933. The measure of the ship is the affection her crew has for her and this last picture shows them headed for liberty ashore but they still want the photographer and all who view his picture to know what ship they hail from.

Members of the ship’s crew with one of her motor launches U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Morrison & Fourmy’s General Directory – Part 4 – 1892

There are three cities that predominate what the Confederacy identified as the Department of the Trans-Mississippi. San Antonio with its sphere stretching south to Corpus Christi and west to El Paso – and even older roots that go throughout the ancient Spanish empire in the Americas – is forever the witness and the gateway to a large part of our Spanish Heritage. New Orleans whose sphere predominates as far east as Mobile and as far north as Natchez joins us near the Calcasieu and gives us our French connections. Both are very old for North American cities founded by Europeans. Much older than Galveston – which may have been cursorily grazed by the Spanish and slightly less cursorily exploited by Lafitte and Menard representing French culture if not the French crown – these great cities continue as cultural centers.

Between these two centers is Galveston – no less influential historically than either of them – it is the root from which not only Houston but also Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin grew and in spite of being a gateway through which Europe flowed into the Southwest as well as one of the great cities of nineteenth century America it was, and is, the quintessential Southern city. The largest single factor that made the South different from every other part of the country was cotton. A crop that was a vital as it was unique – although Cyrus McCormick would invent his mechanical reaper for grain in 1831 there was no equivalently successful cotton combine before 1942 – it was labor intensive from plowing to planting to picking as well as from ginning to baling to shipping and Galveston was a town built on shipping and especially on shipping cotton.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writing in his journal in 1855 said, “I trust a good deal to common fame, as we all must. If a man has good corn, or wood, or boards, or pigs to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.” With the American genius for hyperbole – to say nothing of marketing – by 1890, with the sage dead for nearly a decade, the quotation had metamorphosed into, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door,” and the 1890’s offered the proof as well as the pudding – which was probably tinned for the first time.

America at the end of the 19th century – and Galveston with it – were embarking on a new stage of their long love affair with the labor-saving device that may have had its origins in Jefferson’s use of Charles Willson Peale’s polygraph machine to produce multiple copies of a letter simultaneously and has not ended yet. In tandem with invention was the exponential increase in the amount of power that was being made available for the first time. The electrification of the cities was the largest and newest improvement in civil engineering since the introduction of public sewers in ancient Rome. And not only was it available to the city it was available to the city dwellers. America had not only caught up with Europe but the new world had leapfrogged the old and had truly become the New World.

Try not to snicker at how dated some of these machines appear and be humbled by the fact that your great grandparents saw more progress in a decade than you have seen in a lifetime. Enjoy the genius of the age.

If you drew a line on a map of Texas from Orange [Beaumont for non-Texans] to Del Rio almost everything south of that line would have been rich agricultural land in the 19th century and in many cases that would have meant cotton. Galveston was the leading cotton port – and cotton was the leading cargo – in the western Gulf of Mexico.  It was also the leading commercial center for the machinery of the trade being a natural point of import for machinery from the U. S. East Coast as well as from abroad. One of the most remarkable pieces of equipment in the history of American invention is the cotton gin.

Technology has a very nasty history of biting back. No one could have foreseen that the application of mass production techniques on simple interchangeable musket parts during the American Revolution would someday lead to the AK-47. In the same way all of the compromises of the founders designed to allow slavery, which was losing all economic viability in the late 18th century, to wither and disappear as an institution were set to naught when Eli Whitney produced his cotton gin. Suddenly the separation of cotton fibers from their seeds ceased to be time and labor intensive and the fiber could be inexpensively separated and marketed. The seeds were available for the next planting and cottonseed oil could be used as everything from fuel to a cure for arthritis. Massive amounts of unskilled labor were still required for planting, plowing and pickings but the gin remained the machine that made large-scale cotton production commercially viable – and still does.

While Galveston may have been a center for the importation, marketing and financing the gins most of the plants themselves were operated as farmer’s cooperatives in the growing country itself. The Brown Gin advertised here was manufactured in Georgia and was the direct – if vastly improved – successor to Whitney’s original machine, the original company having been acquired by Franklin Hadley Lummus who had turned the New York Cotton Gin Co. into the Lummus Corporation which is still in business today.

While cotton gins may have been located in the farming communities cotton compresses were commonplace in Galveston and the Moody Compress is still visible on the north side of Broadway as you arrive on the island. After his arrival from the Azores, Manuel Francisco Bettencourt – Margaret Edythe Young’s future father-in-law –  found work in one of the compresses when he arrived from the Azores with his sons and eventually would become supervisor of the yard.

Ironically it was the cotton compress – which reduced the cubic of a bale of cotton by up to 50% – that largely reduced the need for screwmen and put an end to John Young’s first job on the Galveston waterfront while at the same time greatly increasing the tonnage available for shipping from interior points by rail to the port. Loading the cotton for export by water was the making of his second career as a stevedore.

The Texas Railroad Commission [which would serve as the model for OPEC] was created in 1891 to regulate the shipping of cotton by rail and was instrumental in encouraging the manufacture of cotton compresses throughout Texas.  The commission supplanted the old cotton factor system that had dominated the industry since before the War and gave rise to the exchange system where it was traded as a commodity. John Young and William Moody were only two of the people who were able to adapt and prosper as machines changed the times.

While cotton may have been the number one crop in terms of both volume and dollar value it was by no means the only crop – or cargo – that was important to the Port of Galveston.

Today filibuster is used as a verb to describe a procedural technique used to delay legislative action. In the late eighteenth century the term originated from the French flibustier,  which was first applied to pirates who pillaged the Spanish colonies in the West Indies and in the mid-nineteenth century the Spanish filibustero,  denoted adventurers who incited revolution in Latin America. Galveston had served as a base for both the flibustier and the filibustero both when it was a sparsely populated anchorage in Spanish Texas and when it was the principal port of the growing Republic of Texas. While these actions may have officially ended with the treaty of annexation in 1845 the island still served as a financial center, supply point and finally a trading partner for the fruits – literally – of the filibustero.

Bluefields Banana Company took its name from Bluefields, Nicaragua which – appropriately enough – took its name from the flibustier, the seventeenth century Dutch pirate, Abraham Blauvelt, who had used the bay there as a refuge while plundering the Spanish galleons. The area would go from Spanish to English to a joint English and American protectorate under the indigenous Miskito monarchy until it was finally ceded to Nicaragua in 1894. Who the titular owners were made very little real difference since the land was operated by English and American interests as banana and tree plantations.

The strategy behind the Bluefields operation was an effort to continue trade when droughts, floods, or political upheavals were disrupting one or another of the harvesting lands. From the late nineteenth until well into the twentieth century, the company operated principally in Nicaragua, and Panama, though shipments also came from Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras. The governments of these Central and South American countries were eager to develop but were unable to finance the construction of railroads and ports but for American companies who were able to buy inexpensive land and do the building themselves, the situation offered unimaginable potential. Although the Galvestonians faced some competition, mainly from New Orleans, for all practical purposes, Bluefields became the Texas company and guided not only the economic but also the political developments in the countries it had invested in.

There would not be a dedicated refrigerated cargo vessel until 1903 so in these early days of the trade the cargoes had to be small, the ships fast and loading and discharge went on 24 hours a day, rain or shine, no Saturdays, Sundays or holidays excluded. Limited ice production may have been available in Bluefields but the ice plants in Galveston worked around the clock so that these cargoes could be iced and shipped out on fast trains to the interior and one of the first jobs that Toni Luis Bettencourt had – Margaret Edythe Young’s husband [after his name had been Americanized to Anthony Lewis  Bettencourt] – was as a cashier for a wholesale ice company. Although Bluefields has become part of Chiquita and Freeport has taken much of the trade there are still Del Monte vessels calling at Galveston even if there are not quite so many wholesale fruitiers.

Back in the dark ages when this author was apprenticed to a steamship company we typed bills of lading on mimeograph stencils, produced multiple originals all of which might be negotiable and more copies for a distribution list that seemed endless – and one ship on one voyage could have from one to hundreds of bills of lading. In addition to this there was the paperwork to get the ship entered and cleared through customs and immigration as well as satisfying the coast guard that all of the documentation was in order. Then there was the port log – a record of the vessel’s time in port – as well as the stevedoring time sheets, laytime calculations, demurrage calculations if allowable laytime was exceeded and an endless string of reports to owners and charterers reporting on everything from the weather to the expectations for the next vessel call. We were all told that the short cut to a captaincy was being able to type 60 words a minute and while that may have been apocryphal we were all aware of a certain captain who had lost his command because he insisted that the ship should sail and the paperwork should follow.

As much as ships sailed on a sea of paper fifty years ago we at least had typewriters – quite often of the manual variety since NO shipping company ever spent money unnecessarily. In the late nineteenth century almost all of the paperwork was done in pen and ink much the way that scriveners had done it since time immemorial. The increasing demands for documentation and the prompt transmittal of information gave rise to a huge increase in the demand for clerical help that was trained in the specific needs of the shipping company, or the railroad, or the customs house broker or any of a dozen other institutions all of whom had their own forms and procedures.

The Conyngton Business College was one of the many franchised for profit schools that would take students who could read and write and teach them to become clerks. The tuition was often not inexpensive but the rewards were considerable – a white-collar job that would provide an income that would support a family and put their foot on the first rung of the ladder of middle class respectability. Both John D. Rockefeller and Thomas Alva Edison were graduates of this type of college and while the select few that were lucky enough to graduate from an institution like Ball High School in Galveston – like Anthony Lewis Bettencourt  – were ready and able to move directly into clerical positions – he started out as a cashier for an ice merchant and wound up as a bank auditor – many others found their positions through these schools.

These were not the hopeless, hapless, subsidized degree mills that today are just one more means of cheating the poor. Nor were they that state supported secondary and post secondary extended child care services that produce clerks who are still functionally illiterate and innumerate but are entitled to put a BA behind their names. These were make it or break it schools whose graduates were known to possess a skill set that was in demand AND had been taught to express themselves in an intelligent manner through a course that taught grace with grammar and punctiliousness with punctuation.

Galveston was never a dry county in any sense of the term but in this particular case we refer to the availability of the convivial, cool, refreshing beverages that wash away the dust of the compress, the sweat of the cargo hold or the cramp of the pencil held too long. Those factors and the need to lubricate the cogs of business and politics in conjunction with being a port where the best of everything arrived first supplied the bon vivant, the epicurean and the just plain thirsty with supplies for their favorite watering holes and their homes.

Mary Anne Adams – Margaret Edythe Young’s grandmother – had remarried after David Adams had been lost for the Cause. Her second husband had owned at least one saloon and when he was taken by the fever outbreak that followed the War she inherited the place. Her third husband – Maurice Coffey – had started out as a bartender there and had introduced his immigrant friend, John Young, to the landlady’s daughter, Mary Ann, and they became the parents of Margaret Edythe Young and her siblings. Maurice Coffey would be a saloon keeper, labor contractor and political activist – and for the Irish these were complementary professions – all of his life and John Young himself would be the proprietor of the family saloon for two years while Maurice was “away”.

The Beach Hotel was a gingerbread and lattice playground for wealthy northerners to escape winters and a year round fun house for the locals to enjoy their prosperity and summer entertainment including fireworks, high-wire walkers, bands and just about every celebrity to visit the island. Nicholas J. Clayton was the architect of this four and a half story marvel crowned by an octagonal roof that housed the fresh water tanks – baths were of the health giving salt water type! – and with its paint job that included large red and white stripes, and eaves trimmed in a golden green it must have looked like an Italian dessert at the edge of the water.

The hotel was built at the direction of William H. Sinclair who also owned the Galveston Streetcar Company – which may have been why electric trolleys passed it every five minutes – and who was anxious to increase Galveston’s appeal as a tourist destination. The hotel had all of the features that would allow it to compete with any resort including fine dining and a “grand staircase” where the grand could be seen coming or going or it could serve as a tableau for the most impressive of social occasions that could be provided.

The one thing the hotel did not have was regular service from a sewage contractor and when a city inspector discovered that the hotel had been flushing its cesspits into the Gulf of Mexico via a pipeline the hotel was shuttered until acceptable arrangements could be made. Sinclair had been a union colonel and then head of the Texas Freedman’s Bureau after the war. Before the “absolutely disgusting and disgraceful”, to use the health official’s language, sewage issue could be resolved the hotel was destroyed by a mysterious fire in which the fire trucks could not reach the hotel because of the beach’s sand. The cause of the fire was never determined and we hear no further from Col. Sinclair.

The Tremont Hotel was the great business hotel of Galveston. The third building – the first had opened in 1839 with a great ball to celebrate the victory at San Jacinto while Texas was still a republic and the second had burned at the end of the War for Southern Independence – wound up as a collaboration between Nicholas J. Clayton who had been sent to Galveston to build the Presbyterian Church and the hotel and Fred S. Stewart who took over after the original company went broke during construction and who was responsible for the top floor and the mansard roof.

The original plans – on which the illustration is based – had called for an even grander building with five storeys while the actual hotel has only four. That did not stop it from hosting United States Presidents Rutherford Hayes, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, James Garfield, and Chester Arthur. Nor did it prevent hundreds of people from taking refuge there during the 1900 storm and Clara Barton of the American Red Cross stayed there when she came to Galveston after the storm to help with the recovery.

If the Beach Hotel was the playground the Tremont was the establishment address where Sam Houston warned that “fire and rivers of blood” would result from the South’s efforts to secede from the Union. The year following Governor Francis R. Lubbock advocated laying waste to Galveston, except for fortifications, so that when the “vandal hordes” arrived they would find neither potable water nor shelter. Although the results of the War of Northern Aggression were more horrific than either speaker could have imagined there is still a Tremont Hotel and it is still in business.

If you live in Galveston and have a gas stove, grill or heater the probability is that you turn a dial or a switch and an electronic ignition system ignites natural gas that has come from a salt dome one hundred miles away or more and in an instant you or your food is warming. You may have gas lights in your front yard or on your patio but these are largely ornamental affectations that require no more work than your gas appliances. This is really a development of the last half century – gas in Galveston in the 1890’s was manufactured and while it was not thought of as any less marvelous that natural gas is thought of today it was very different.

The first gas light in the United States occurred in 1796 when fireworks makers made experiments with gas illumination at Philadelphia. Later, illuminating gas was exhibited in a sideshow in 1802 by Benjamin Healy at the Haymarket Gardens in Richmond, Virginia and David Melvile, of Newport, Rhode Island, experimented with as lights at his home in 1806 and at light houses around 1810. All of this gas began with coal and even though the beginnings of commercial coal production were starting in Texas just before 1890 most of the coal used to light Galveston came in by water from  England on ships that took cotton on the homeward passage.

Making gas out of coal was a simple process but one that was produced huge amounts of environmentally hazardous wastes and could be incredibly dangerous.  Coal in a closed tube called a retort was heated in a furnace. The gasses given off  passed through a water trap (“hydraulic main”) and were then cooled in a condenser, where tar and  other liquids were removed. The gas then passed through a purifier to remove sulphur compounds and other impurities before being used or stored in a gas holder. Late  in the 19th century, steam-driven exhausters were introduced to pump the gas through the gas works and into the mains system which is what made civic gas lighting possible.

To manufacture enough gas to light a city took a huge plant and getting connected to the mains and using gas domestically was a very expensive proposition. Set the costs against demand and in every case the market will find a solution. In this case the solution was to manufacture your own gas. Most of the family homes had an outbuilding that housed the wood burning stove which was probably in constant use to boil water for domestic use as well as cooking. These stoves were housed in an outbuilding both to keep heat out of the house during a summer that runs from April until October and to lessen the fire hazard that was all too real where hundreds of frame houses were built so closely together.

Having the wood burning stove in constant use was half the battle to manufacturing your own gas and kits were available to do just that. John Young had one at his house at the corner of Winnie and 35th Streets. They were incredibly dangerous. In 1898 a maid and a stable hand were loading a cylinder with gas to bring into the house for use with the new gas range and it caught fire and set their clothes on fire. They rushed into the house and Edythe’s older sister, Annie, got the stable hand outside and then went back in to the now burning house to look for the maid – neither servant survived and Annie died from smoke inhalation two days later. There is furniture in this house from that house. It has blisters where the varnish was melted by the heat and over a century of cleaning has not removed them yet.

Brush Electric was Galveston’s first light company. The gas works remained although their share of energy provided would continue to shrink as the consequences of the pollution that the manufacturing process created became more apparent. This pollution was responsible for the passage of the Federal Refuse Act of 1899 which empowered the Army Corps of Engineers to defend the nation’s navigable waterways from discharge of industrial wastes. Electricity used coal as well but it used it to heat water to create steam which drove first the motors and later the turbines that supplied the power – all of the waste went into the atmosphere and became tomorrow’s problem. Because it was less volatile than gas and provided better light at lower temperatures and costs it became the energy for the nation. Rural Texas would not be completely electrified until after the Second World War but starting in the 1890’s almost every part of Galveston was well lighted and on its way to being connected.

Magnolia Willis Sealy, wife of George Seal, was an avid garden who helped initiate the idea of Galveston as “The Oleander City.” It would be another 40 years before  their son, George Sealy II, would truly turn Galveston into the Oleander City breeding some 60 varieties on the grounds behind his cotton compress. But plants were not new to the island which was tropical in both climate and foliage. German immigrants had organized the Galveston Garten Verein as early as 1876 and the eternal battle of every immigrant to get the plants, shrubs and trees as well as the flowers and fruits of his homeland take root in foreign soil began in earnest.

North of the sea breezes in Alvin, Wright’s Floral Garden and Nursery was producing home-grown reliable stock so that the homeowners could begin adorning their new homes with evergreens, ornamentals and flowering shrubs and no home, social event or public function would ever again be bereft of green.

In 1824 John Dickinson  paid twenty pesos for a strip of land a mile wide between League City and Galveston Bay and in April 1825 he and John Sarver bought a league [One league = 5,000 varas square = 13,889 feet square = 4,428.4 acres per the Texas Land Bank] on the south side of Clear Creek from John K. Williams. He was a cotton factor and wholesale and retail merchant in Houston who accumulated a fortune and whose widow toured England and Europe with  her children after the Civil War, gave them French and dancing lessons, and visited her husband’s relatives in Scotland, though she had to dip “into the principal” of her estate to do so. And so began the town of Dickinson.

Enter Ebenezer B. Nichols prominent citizen of Galveston, partner in the Galveston Wharf Company and a director of the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad, which was built right through Dickinson. Acquiring property from the widow he built a summer estate on Dickinson Bayou and was followed by other prominent Galvestonians who built rural retreats there and established the Oleander Country Club.

In the 1890’s his son and his partners organized the Nicholstone City Company to market more of the land whose great draw was the local soil’s proven suitability for growing. Their advertisement stated that strawberries would yield up to $700 an acre and the Texas Agricultural Extension Service tells us that the current number is between $1,800 and $2,500 per acre which would have made them an incredibly valuable crop. Of the 100 acres set aside for public use 40 came from the Nichols summer home and the race track that was built there often saw offerings from Maurice Coffey’s stable pounding the turf.

By September 1868 the Southern Pacific had come under the control of Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, and Charles Crocker. Two existing Texas railroads, the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway running between Galveston and San Antonio and the Texas and New Orleans Railroad from Houston to Orange, fit into Huntington’s plans and although he had not acquired an interest in either company he and Thomas W. Peirce of the GH&SA had been working together since 1878 on plans to construct a line between San Antonio and El Paso.

When the Southern Pacific forces reached El Paso they continued building eastward under the GH&SA charter while the GH&SA resumed track laying westward from San Antonio. At this time the revitalized Texas and Pacific under Jay Gould was also building across West Texas toward El Paso but the race to occupy the best route through the mountains east of El Paso was won by the GH&SA. Huntington and Gould signed an agreement which granted the Texas and Pacific rights between Sierra Blanca and El Paso and in turn the Texas and Pacific agreed not to build west of El Paso and relinquished its survey across New Mexico and Arizona to the Southern Pacific.

Huntington had also acquired control of the Louisiana Western Railroad Company, and in early 1883 the Southern Pacific controlled a southern transcontinental line from California to Vermillionville, Louisiana. By mid-1883 the “Big Four” and Peirce had bought Morgan’s Louisiana and Texas Railroad and Steamship Company extending the railroad to New Orleans and completing the Sunset Route of the Southern Pacific.

Galvestonians had always had greater mobility than most thanks to being in a port city. They could and did frequently travel to the destinations across the Gulf, throughout the Caribbean and along the east coast and on to Europe on both business and pleasure. Until the late 1880’s it wash probably about a wash between taking a fast steamer to New York and taking the train. By the 1890’s the train had become faster by far. This advertisement shows 56 hours from Texas to New York – which was a very fast train considering that the train from Galveston to San Antonio could take 20 hours – and that was travelling in relative luxury with fine dining, sleeping accommodations and “conditioned air”. With the invention of the automobile and the airplane passenger trains would eventually become a novelty item but from the 1890’s until the 1950’s there was not a better way to go.


The Storm

The Texas Gulf Coast and Galveston are no strangers to storms. On the 4th of September 1766, a massive hurricane made landfall near Galveston and produced a storm surge of about 7 feet, flooding the coastline and destroying a Catholic mission on the lower Trinity River while it also also washed five treasure ships ashore. There had been previous storms in the Gulf of Mexico’s European colonial era, but because settlement was so sparse, it is impossible to know how many and where they hit. What records have been uncovered indicate that among the biggest was a November 1527 storm that destroyed a merchant fleet on Galveston Island and killed at least 162 people, then in November 1590, a hurricane in the Gulf killed thousands aboard ships and on the 21st of October 1631 a hurricane killed more than 300 people in the Gulf region.

Before Texas became a state Jean Lafitte had built a fine, two-story brick haven half home, half fort, with excellent living quarters for himself and rooms for his fellow gentlemen of adventure, as well as a barracks for his men. Cannon barrels protruded from its roof commanding the entrance to the Gulf and around it sprang warehouses, slave quarters, cattle pens, taverns and shacks to house his crews. On the 20th of September 1818 a hurricane struck the island killing hundreds of men, flattening the settlement, sinking the fleet and washing contraband to sea. It was a devastatingly financial setback and spoiled Laffite’s pirate encampment on Galveston Island forever.

The Racer’s Storm, named after the British ship HMS RACER, was first observed in the Western Caribbean near Jamaica on the 28th of September 1837. It moved to the west and hit the Yucatán Peninsula and then entered the Gulf of Mexico. It journeyed westward and hit extreme northeastern Mexico near Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on the 2nd of October, stalled, and then drifted northwestward towards Brownsville where it destroyed all of the ships in the Brazos Santiago harbor, as well as the entire town with  heavy winds and storm surge. It reemerged close to Matagorda Bay on the 4th. On the 5th of October the hurricane passed Galveston where it brought a 6 to 7 feet  storm surge that, in combination with the winds and rain, destroyed nearly every house on the island. The storm would continue wrecking havoc at New Orleans where Lake Ponchatrain rose 8 feet and the entire city was flooded before finally moving offshore near Charleston only to make a final landfall at Wilmington where the ss HOME was sunk by the storm with a loss of 90 people.

Five years later Galveston was hit twice – on the  17th of September and the 5th of October 1842 and while no lives were lost parts of the city were tossed about like “pieces of a toy town,” a ship in the harbor was sunk and livestock drowned. Another September storm struck Texas in 1854 between Galveston and Matagorda and Matagorda was leveled, Houston sustained major losses from wind and flooding and heavy damage was reported at Lynchburg, San Jacinto, Velasco, Quintana, Brazoria, Columbia, and Sabine Pass.

On a track closely resembling the Racer’s storm the entire Texas coast felt the hurricane of 1867, which entered the state south of Galveston on the 3rd of October. Bagdad and Clarksville, at the mouth of the Rio Grande, were flattened, while Galveston was flooded with the surge causing a loss in excess of $1 million. On the 16th of September 1875, a hurricane washed away three-fourths of the buildings in Indianola, Calhoun County, and killed 176 people. Five years later, on the 12th-13th of October 1880, a tropical storm nearly destroyed Brownsville with a heavy loss of life and Indianola was struck again on the 19th-20th of August 1886 by a storm that destroyed or damaged every structure and led to the town’s abandonment.

This week hurricane Isaac  surged ashore with tides and waves in the Mississippi Delta below New Orleans and wound its cyclonic way north dropping rain and spawning tornadoes and leaving devastation and misery in its wake. Although it will make no difference whatsoever to those who suffer in the wake of this storm we have, through satellites, been able to track it from the African coast as it developed as a wave,  then a depression, intensifying to a  storm and finally roaring towards us as a hurricane and will keep on tracking it until the last rain shower falls someplace over Appalachia. The ability to track these storms has saved innumerable lives but where, when and how severely they will strike is still not in our ability to control – and likely never will be.

One hundred and twelve years ago Isaac’s Storm came ashore on Galveston Island on the Saturday night  September 8, 1900 and was the worst natural catastrophe in American History and it arrived in its fury without any warning. Without any respect for persons or property it nearly scraped the people off their tenuously held sand bar and would change the island forever. The unexpected heroes – the mother superior at the Ursuline Academy who tolled the bell and guided 1,500 people to the safety of its walls, the nuns at the orphanage who tied ten children apiece to themselves and were swept out to sea when their frame buildings on the beach washed away and the monsignor, who was also an army chaplain, who took over the relief the morning after the storm hit and kept the island in order until help arrived are only three of the stories that we grew up on.

There are hundreds of other stories but the storm was of such magnitude and so profoundly affected people that it was  a singular catastrophe – and most who have been through such an event really don’t talk about it. It has either strengthened their faith to the point that they know it is not something to share with others or they know they have been tried and found wanting and are as afraid to talk about it as they were to experience it. Probably for most it is equal parts of both. This was before the time when every experience had to be transformed into a public emotional emetic when people were wise enough to know that a little secret knowledge of themselves was healthy for themselves and the people around them. We are not going to relate stories in this post. Instead we are going to share pictures that come from the Library of Congress collection and let them tell the stories. We warn the reader many of these are intense but by the time you get to the end of this post you will know there is no such thing as a small storm.

Horse-drawn carts for food delivery, protected by armed guards, outside the Commissary in Galveston, Texas.

Men carrying body on stretcher, surrounded by wreckage of the hurricane and flood, Galveston, Texas.

Lucas Terrace under which 51 people lie buried, remnants of multi-story building, bricks and lumber strewn in the wake of the 1900 hurricane and flood, Galveston, Texas.

A public school – school had started on Monday, September 3 – five days before the storm.

Large double-decked boat filled to capacity with people leaving Galveston, Texas following the hurricane of 1900.

For as many that left many stayed and began the process of rebuilding. The Galveston Daily News was publishing within the week and was advertising for workers. Nobody sat around counting their losses, moaning and waiting to be saved.

Eighteenth street and Avenue N

Galveston 1900 – gathering dead

Galveston 1900 – Tremont St. & Ave P

Wrecked rail yard

God’s gift to the young – resilience – boy, sitting on debris in the wake of the 1900 hurricane, Galveston, Texas.  He told the photographer, ” I’m glad I’m living.”

Men carrying body of victim of hurricane and flood for burning to large open fire, Galveston, Texas. Hundreds were buried at sea, hundreds more cremated. The very real fear of disease meant that the dead received the necessary benedictions but very little ceremony.

The dead left by the receding flood, 33 rd St. and Avenue M, Galveston, Texas  –   Two dead bodies lie in the debris following a violent hurricane which devastated most of Galveston and took more than 5,000 lives on the island and probably that many more in the coastal plain.

The interior of  St. Patrick’s church –  Three young men inside ruins of church – a Mass of Thanksgiving was offered outside the morning following the storm at the Young family parish.

Galveston disaster, merchants drying goods after flood -

Missed!–A deaf looter at Galveston escapes temporarily a deserved fate –  A “deaf” thief removing a ring from the hand of a dead victim of a hurricane and flood, Galveston, Texas.

Seeking valuables in the wreckage, Galveston, Texas Man, woman and children rummage through rubble of destroyed houses following a violent hurricane which devastated most of Galveston

Two  women search through rubble

An opened passageway in the debris, North on 19th Street, Galveston, Texas

Galveston disaster – Lucas Terrace where fifty lives were lost, looking west

Floating wreckage near Texas City – typical scene for miles along the water front – Galveston disaster

Tex. – Galveston – Sacred Heart Church, Broadway & 13th St. – full view after hurricane and flood damage, Sept. 1900

Looking toward the gulf, showing space swept clean by the tornado’s might, Galveston, Texas

Galveston, Texas, after the hurricane and flood of Sept. 8-9, 1900: Burning dead bodies.

Galveston disaster, relief party working at Ave. P and Tremont St.

Galveston Disaster, Texas: body in the ruins on wharf – storms are no respecter of persons or of age, of sex or of race.

The Galveston Catastrophe – removing a body from land under 20 feet of debris – Men using pitch forks to remove body.

Looking North from Ursuline Academy, showing wrecked Negro High School Building, Galveston, Texas

Galveston Disaster, Texas: beginning life anew after the storm – : 2 men and a woman in front of a partially constructed shack.

Galveston Disaster, Texas: house on Ave. N slightly moved with flood

Galveston Disaster, Texas: a slightly twisted house

The Waves’ Caprice – the only remaining house near the beach for miles – Galveston disaster, Texas

Dredge boat, driven eleven miles, and stranded three miles from the sea, one of John Young’s fleet for deepening the channel while gathering mud shell for the paving business. Young & Company would be devastated by the storm and the Young family would lose their new home. The firm was operating again by the 1st of November and their new home would be built on the foundations of their old one by the following September. Local banks made $10,000,000 available in grants and Galveston rebuilt – not for the first time and certainly not for the last time!

Morrison & Fourmy’s General Directory – Part 3 – 1888

In the late 1870’s Galveston was the largest port west of New Orleans and was the most highly populated place in Texas – always ahead of the muddy streets where dozing dogs were disturbed only by the occasional gunfight of Houston, Dallas and Austin – there were still gunfights between saloon keepers and their step sons [Maurice Coffey comes to mind] that caused the winner to take off for the Colorado silver strike until things cooled off and there were “incidents” unique to Galveston like encouraging a crew to desert their ship in hopes of working them in a stevedore gang and then shipping them out on another ship and collecting a profit as a crewing agent [again Maurice Coffey comes to mind].

Do not misunderstand me. Galveston was not some backwater of depravity and violence under the grasp of some Moriarty like villain named Coffey – it was just a rambunctious town, growing into a city and he was one of many entrepreneurs involved in the process – he may be more familiar than most to readers of this blog but that is only because he was Margaret Edythe Young’s step grand father.  By the late 1880’s Galveston was a city and would contend for the title of “first” city in the state for most of the next 40 years. Most of the entrepreneurs had more polished pedigrees than Maurice Coffey – they certainly had greater financial backing – and our entry today starts with one of the most famous of them all.

William Lewis Moody was born on May 19, 1828, in Essex County and was raised in Chesterfield County, Virginia.  He studied law at the University of Virginia and in 1852 he moved to Texas and settled at Fairfield in Freestone County. After three years of practicing law he was joined by his brothers and went into the cotton business as W. L. Moody and Brothers.

Clement Eaton in A History of the Old South probably gave the best definition of the services offered by men like Moody and his brothers, “The factor was a versatile man of business in an agrarian society who performed many different services for the planter in addition to selling his crops. He arranged for the hiring of workers or the placing of the planter’s children in distant schools, gave advice concerning the condition of the market or the advisability of selling or withholding his crop, and bought for his client a large proportion of the plantation supplies.” The Moody’s were not only factors for cotton but dealt in wool, hides and almost any commodity for which they could find a market.

With the coming of the Civil War Moody  organized Company G of the Seventh Texas Infantry serving as captain. His unit was captured at the fall of Fort Donelson and after months in prison camp, Moody was exchanged in September 1862 and then participated in the reorganization of the Seventh Texas Infantry, reaching the rank of colonel. He fought through the spring 1863 campaigns in Mississippi and on the 10th of July he was seriously wounded in fighting near Jackson. He was sent back to Texas to convalesce and spent the remainder of the Civil War in Austin although he retained the honorific of “colonel” throughout his life and was part of the aristocracy of the Lost Cause that ran the South for many years after the military occupation by the north ended in 1877.

Arriving in Galveston in 1866, he opened the firm of  W. L. Moody and Company in 1881. He participated in the founding of the Galveston Cotton Exchange and served as president, was involved in founding the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway and in the early 1880s Moody became chairman of the Galveston Deep Water Committee, which sought help from Congress in funding the development of Galveston as a deep-water port.

Moody’s business activities centered on his cotton and banking interests in Galveston under the auspices of his firm, W. L. Moody and Company. The firm handled a substantial portion of the cotton business in Texas and in that aristocracy that was the Galveston of his day his daughter, Mary Emily Moody, married Sealy Hutchings of Galveston. By 1888 the firm was headquartered in the largest commercial building in Galveston – the Moody Building – four stories of the best of everything designed and built by Nicholas Clayton. It was also the beginning of the Moody Bank [it would not become a "national" bank until his son had it chartered in 1907 and would not have a trust department until 1927 but to give some indication of size and proportion it now manages deposits in excess of one billion dollars while it manages trust assets in excess of fifteen billion dollars - the old order passeth but the old money continueth!].

While Nicholas Clayton is synonymous with Victorian architecture in Galveston – as well as many other fine building throughout Texas – he was not the only architect working in the city or the state. Alfred Muller, who was born in Prussia in 1855 and received his training at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin immigrated to the United States establishing his own practice in Galveston in 1887. Late that year Muller won a competition for his first major building – the Galveston City Hall which is pictured in his advertisement. He also designed the main building of the Sam Houston State University) at Huntsville, the Calcasieu National Bank Building in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and the Galveston Orphans Home all of which have been demolished. Still standing are the Letitia Rosenberg Woman’s Home and the Telephone Building – both in Galveston. He also designed many houses in Galveston, the two most prominent being the Trube house and the Herman Marwitz house which belonged to the ship chandler mentioned later in this entry.  As if to underscore the persistence and virulence of disease on the island Muller died of typhoid fever on the 29th of June 1896 and is buried at Lakeview Cemetery.

Although most of the dwindling number of us who remember the Ursuline Academy remember the Nicholas Clayton building the convent and school had existed for nearly half a century before it was built. The original convent building had been the former mansion of James Love, a Kentucky lawyer and legislator who had settled in Galveston in 1838 by way of Arkansas and New Orleans. He and  Mirabeau B. Lamar and David G. Burnet were bitter enemies of Sam Houston whom they considered to be a Jacksonian stooge, a land speculator and a swindler. Houston returned the contempt and said they should be executed as traitors while Love threatened to put Houston on a ship to the United States and “deport” him. Texas politics has always been a full contact sport!

Love was a member of the first board of directors of the Galveston City Company and was elected in 1845 to represent Galveston County at the annexation convention and when the state government was formed he was appointed judge of the first judicial district – which is how his house became available for the sisters. This was the house that was the first convent and housed the first “academy” of 25 students. It remained and other buildings that shared its architectural style were added over the years and in the 1880’s the convent and school looked very much like the illustration from their advertisement pictured above.

From the time Cabeza de Vaca sought a safe anchorage there in 1528 Galveston has been recognized as a port city. The first permanent European settlers in 1816 were pirates and although he was not related to the Captain Morgan of pirate fame,  Charles Morgan, whose ships arrived twenty years later, did not miss the mark by much. The first steamship line in Texas was originated by him and called the Morgan Line.  In 1837 Morgan opened the first scheduled steamship line between New Orleans and Galveston. From that axis he expanded his regular service to Matagorda Bay ports in 1848, Brazos de Santiago[Brownsville] in 1849, Vera Cruz in 1853, Key West in 1856, Rockport, Corpus Christi, and Havana in 1868, and New York in 1875.

While it was originally headquartered at Port Lavaca it relocated to escape excessive port charges and Indianola became the chief port of the line. By 1858 the Morgan Lines had three sailings a week from Galveston and two from New Orleans, and by 1860 the company had a monopoly of coastal shipping  and dominated Gulf trade through possession of the exclusive United States mail contract. While during the Civil War all of the vessels were placed in service by the Confederate States, or commandeered by the union navy, he profited from both running the blockade and supplying the blockaders and then resumed regular routes in 1866 – as a New Yorker he was exempted from the restrictions placed on Texas businessmen during the military occupation and colonial subjugation of the States of the Confederacy.

After the war the company took an active part in building railroads to feed the ship lines and by the 1870s pooling agreements were worked out among Morgan’s Louisiana and Texas Railroad and Steamship Company, the Louisiana Western Railroad Company, and the Texas and New Orleans Railroad. In the late 1870s Morgan worked with E. W. Cave to make Houston an inland port with better facilities for the line and in the 1877 he built, at his own expense, Houston’s first workable deep water ship channel to the Gulf.  By the early 1880s the Morgan Lines were sold to C. P. Huntington of the Southern Pacific Railroad but continued to operate as the Morgan Line and Charles Suderman – then of the firm Suderman & Dolson – operated the stevedores for the ships and would continue to do so after the firm became Suderman & Young.

For many years the foremost objective of Houston’s business men was to turn a malarial swamp into a deep water port. Galveston uniformly ridiculed the idea that a port, miles inland, could be profitable – with more than a little self-interest – and smugly dismissed the idea. When  Sampson Heidenheimer’s six barge loads of salt – loaded at Galveston – ran aground and were dissolved by a rain storm about where Houston’s turning basin is today, the Galveston Daily News smirked,  “Houston at last has a salt water port. God Almighty furnished the water; Heidenheimer furnished the salt!”

The Houston Direct Navigation Company was created to avoid wharfage charges at Galveston. Demonstrating their power in the Legislature, Galveston’s members saw to it that the charter specifically denied the new firm exclusive rights to navigate OR to improve the channel. The company shipped freight between Houston and New York and in 1869 it transported an estimated 11,554 passengers and  materials, including those used in the construction of the International-Great Northern Railroad.

The company operated four passenger steamers, eighteen barges, and three tugs by 1872 and by the time Charles Morgan of the Morgan Lines acquired the company in 1873, along with the Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Company and other channel interests, six steamers, forty barges, and five tugs were in operation. Morgan’s ship, the Captain Theissen, reached Clinton, seven miles below Houston, in 1876. Morgan was the big player at the table who could remove or circumvent the original charter restrictions and expand the port prospects for Houston.

While there was a public tension between Houston and Galveston many of those involved in that dispute openly were in fact attempting to expand the business possibilities of Houston as a port.  Just as John Sealy had moved his family and his bank to Houston during the war of northern aggression Houston was seen as a refuge of last resort and kept in reserve for possible future development.  Morgan was a prime example of this opportunism and between the late 1860’s and the 1880’s his company moved a nearly two million bales of cotton down the bayou to Galveston where it was loaded on ships for export.

As the volumes increased beyond the capacities of Galveston’s facilities more docks with deeper water and more rail lines were needed and Houston provided the rail hub without being subject to the tariffs of the Galveston Wharves – a private company that offered no bargains – or the control of the Galveston establishment [most of whom were shareholders in the Galveston Wharves]. Morgan may have been the first large player to put Houston in the game but starting in the 1880’s many Galveston firms would begin expanding northward.

Large businesses create small businesses and no where was this truer than in the shipping industry of Galveston.  Charles Morgan may not enjoy our unalloyed admiration but there is no doubt that his ships made businesses like Herman Marwitz’s ship chandlers not only necessary but profitable. Some of the items they offered were:

  • Bagnall & Loud [Boston] block and tackle for both controlling the sails and providing an efficient way of handling cargo
  • Revere Copper Co. [Boston] metal sheeting for hulls from the mill opened by Paul Revere in 1801
  • Valvoline which had been in the business of providing crude oil based machine lubricants since the Dr. John Ellis created the first motor oil and was awarded a design patent for petroleum, distilling and refining equipment in 1866
  • Edson’s diaphragm pumps invented by Jacob of Edson in Boston in 1859 and his 1880 pump which received a U.S. patent and was the first to use rubber diaphragms and valve seals.

Although Marwitz’s firm is no longer in business all of these companies that he represented still are. To give some measure of the prosperity created through his firm his house – “Marwitz Castle” was commissioned from Alfred Muller and although it is no longer standing the house at 1103 33rd Street that he purchased as a wedding gift for his daughter Ida still is.  This house was originally constructed in 1866 and served as the summer home of the former Texas governor Richard Coke, from 1870 to 1876.  In 1876 Horace Sloan and his wife Jane Austin Sloan, sister of Texas hero Stephen F. Austin, purchased the home. After his 1889 purchase Herman Marwitz  had Nicholas Clayton expand the  house to include a ballroom, a corner turret and two upstairs bedrooms.  Prosperity creates prosperity and government control created most of the Galveston you see today.

Stevedores were another growth industry for the island.  From 1875 to 1925 the port worked at near capacity year round. You needed a steady supply of workers which – in addition to the fact that Maurice Coffey was on the lam – was why John Young was managing the family’s New Wharf Saloon at the north end of 33rd Street (with his family living upstairs) at night and running stevedore gangs for Sweeney during the day.

Since not everything was done dockside having workers was only half the battle. You might use a ship’s block and tackle to move cargo but if it was a sail was the only power – and it often was – in order to move enough cargo quickly enough you needed either horse power [literally] or steam power from either a small boiler hauled dockside or a barge with a steam derrick to load or discharge ships anchored in Bolivar roads. Having access to that equipment was where the capital investment requirements entered the business.

Working cargo required a good deal of labor and a good deal of skill but cargoes were not containerized and could present a challenge to the most experienced stevedore. If a rope gave way or a sling failed and some valuable item wound up in the water this was not the age of paperwork. Divers were brought in and whatever had been lost was retrieved and salvaged. The clerks, the pettifoggers and the insurance adjusters could argue about what had been salvaged after the fact but the stevedores finished their jobs promptly.

If you look at a chart of Galveston you will find a spoil area noted as containing ballast. In the days before ships had dedicated tanks that allowed them to adjust their trim and depth they did this by putting rocks in their holds.  These rocks were unloaded to make room for cargo or were placed on board ships without cargo so that they would be stable while sailing to their next port. Without being conglomerates every shipping business sought to maximize profit with everything it did and brokering rocks – for which you may have paid nothing to start out with – was a business man’s dream.

Galveston had a growing population and not a supermarket or even a grocery store in sight. The citizens bought their meat from a neighborhood butcher, their bread from a baker, ice off of a wagon, milk – if they didn’t own their own milch cow – off of a wagon and any greens and herbs that they didn’t raise themselves from a greengrocer. Canned or tinned goods might come from any of the above just a soap, bleach or lye might be stocked or the latter items may have come from a hardware or feed and seed store. Most of the shopping was a neighborhood exercise where you bought what you needed from people you knew who probably came from where you came from, lived not far from you and attended your church. Community actually meant exactly that!

The first thing that struck us about this advertisement was the declaration that, “Iron safes and locks opened on short notice,” by a firm whose main business may have been firearms. Hunting and fishing were both part of the everyday life of many Galvestonians in part to put food on the table and in part as a leisure activity of the newly wealthy and the beginnings of the tourist trade. William Lewis Moody had a large hunting lodge, located on Lake Surprise in southwestern Chambers County, and boats for both bay and open water fishing were available for hire. This was an age when almost every household had a gun, not out of some supposed paranoid delusion, simply because it was part of the necessary hardware of life – just like a hammer, a saw or a fishing pole – and while there were murders committed out of passion, greed or sheer meanness the crime rate was noticeably lower and we haven’t come across any stories of massacres by people off their medication. Although they are not included in the advertisement we assume they also carried golf clubs since Galveston had the state’s first golf course – true to the Scottish model of links along a beach – and we assume that a large number of golfers attempted to teach their clubs to swim at various holes and needed a steady supply of replacements.

Real Estate in Galveston has always had a colorful history. In modern times it may start with the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company which was founded in 1830 to sell off parts of the 3,743,163 acres that had been given to Joseph Vehlein, David G. Burnet, and Lorenzo de Zavala under empresario grants from the Mexican government to attract colonists. Although the island itself was a site forbidden to non-Hispanic Texans without permission from the president of Mexico, Michael Menard entered into a land speculation that in 1834 allowed him to acquire title to a league and labor [4,605 acres] on the eastern end of then vacant Galveston Island. Menard was unable to develop his prospect prior to 1836, and his title was questioned by rival claimants during the First Congress of the Republic of Texas. He had to pay the republic $50,000 to clear the title and had to take in many other partners to form the Galveston City Company which was organized in April 1838 and began issuing deeds to investors and purchasers.  The rest, as they say, is history and prior to the construction of the seawall and the grade raising it was a history of speculators buying three blocks in from the water and selling when it became ocean front property, and the wealthy buying the wharves. By the late 1880’s Galveston had grown from a few wards perched on the eastern end of the island to seven wards and the owners of the railroads, cotton presses and shipping interests had begun building houses that could be sold to workers. Never a company town,  in the sense of  Pullman’s Lake Calumet or later Ford’s Dearborn, Galveston escaped the worst of their problems for many years.

Dining out was always part of life on the island. Some workers had only rooms provided by way of lodging and although most hotels had dining facilities attached their guests may not have chosen a plan that included meals or may have chosen to find their entertainment elsewhere. There were beer, whiskey and coffee saloons [take that Starbucks!] and these ranged from working man’s taverns to establishments like Henry’s Opera House Exchange the one constant being that there were no ladies present in any of them. Francois Giozza’s Epicurean Restaurant may have had a lot in common with Henry’s but it also offered private dining rooms for discreet rendezvous. Of course it also offered “commutation tickets” which allowed patrons to purchase twenty-one meals for $6.00!

As early as 1850 Melinda Rankin wrote in her tour guide entitled simply TEXAS that, “a traveler, passing through during the months of April and May, would not fail of pronouncing it to be the most charming spot on earth,” Forever after stagecoach, steamship, and riverboat lines made desperate bids for tourist traffic, offering excursion rates, and promoting the charms and comforts of Texas. Between 1873 and 1878 commercial buffalo hunts, promoted by railroads and ranchers, drew hunters who spread the state’s fame as a hunter’s haven. The guides to Texas written in the cow hand idiom by Charles A. Siringo and sold on west-bound trains are said to have outsold the Bible between 1885 and 1900.

Whether it was cotton or temperament the cities of Galveston and Dallas were always closely allied. Moody’s first Texas home was in Fairfield which is closer to Dallas than to Galveston and he remained a benefactor of that community. A. H. Belo published both the Galveston Daily News and the Dallas Morning News which he started as a satellite publication in 1885. The owner’s of the Tremont and Windsor hotels chose a unified add in the directory offering the same amenities to commercial travelers and discounts for theatrical companies.

One of the services provided for the traveling salesmen were sample rooms. Sample rooms were rooms which could be rented for the display of wares in an age before power point presentations. Located next to these rooms, or even adjoining them, were small guest rooms which the salesmen could occupy. They were much less expensive than renting a meeting room and far superior for displaying wares than a guest room. Tourism may have been on its way to dominating the lodging industry but in the 1880’s in Galveston the commercial traveler was still king.

Before looking specifically at this railroad it might be helpful to look at how railroads were financed in the 19th century and why they could be lucrative for their developers and bottomless pits for their operators and investors. The International and Great Northern – whose creation was made possible by the Houston Direct Navigation Company as its supply line – was supposed to be allowed to issue $10,000 in bonds for every mile of track laid AND receive 16 sections of land (10,240 acres). When the IGN applied for the bonds the then state comptroller, Albert A. Bledsoe,  refused to sign and register the bonds contending instead that the rail company had  paid  state legislators in exchange for their votes in favor of  legislation authorizing the transfer  – charges denied by both the railroad, which was found innocent of fraud, and the legislators who were never brought to trial. In a compromise settlement the railroad was granted its bonds and given 20 sections of land (12,800 acres) for every mile of track laid AND was exempted from state taxation for twenty-five years.  Bledsoe, a radical republican, was hastened from office and died at his Dallas home on the 8th of October 1882 at which time the railroad owned 6,432,000 acres of state land, eighty-eight locomotives, sixty-one passenger cars, 1,919 freight cars, and eighty company service cars. The land would be sold for $4,668,850 – about seventy-two cents an acre – all for the profit of robber baron Jay Gould and the railroad would undergo regular receivership and reorganizations until it was finally acquired by the Missouri Pacific.

While the IGN and Houston Direct Navigation Companies may have been efforts to put Houston on the map the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company was chartered to build a railroad from Galveston to the interior of Texas without passing through Houston. The projected route crossed the Brazos River near Columbia and ran through Caldwell, Cameron, and Belton on its way to the western boundary of Texas and its terminus at Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory. On the eastern route the train passed through Paris, Texas on its way to St. Louis.

Not all of these diversions were caused by spite or animosity. There was a very real desire to avoid wharfage fees user fees for rail cars going over other lines. The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe  went through towns that export large volumes through the port of Galveston and if costs could be reduced, well, that was business. The reason the line ran to Purcell, in the then Indian Territory, was to join up with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line out of Kansas City. The later was the dominant line which absorbed the smaller railroad through a merger although in order to meet the terms of Texas law that required all Texas railroads to be headquartered in the state – reaction against Jay Gould and the carpet baggers –  the GC&SF was operated as a subsidiary from its offices in Galveston.

Where there was a freight line there was often a passenger line and the Hot Wells health resort of San Antonio attracted visitors by the thousands through such imaginative devices as ostrich races. The resort was the result of an accident. The Southwestern Lunatic Asylum  had drilled a well to supply water to their facility on South Presa Street near the San Antonio River. Instead of sweet potable Edwards water the well instead produced 104 degree water with a strong sulfur odor that was unfit for domestic use at the Asylum. The volume of 180,000 gallons per day made the medicinal and recreational potential of the strong-flowing well  recognizable immediately.

Charles Scheuermeyer established a resort nearby and advertised benefits of taking the  waters. According to Scheuermeyer they were, “a certain cure for syphilitic and mercurial diseases peculiar to females, also rheumatism, whether it is inflammatory, sciatica, rheumatic gout or paralysis. For ulceration of the stomach, dyspepsia, indigestion, chronic diarrhea, malaria, biliousness, asthma, catarrh, sore or weak eyes, granulation and all inflammation of the eyelids, weak back, piles, tapeworms. Will positively cure scrofula, or King’s evil, all eruptions and skin diseases, such as eczema, erysipelas, blotches, boils, carbuncles, tetter, scaldhead, ringworm, herpes, chilblains, fallout of hair, itch, nettlerash, and old chronic sores that have resisted treatment.”

Of course San Antonio was not the only place with mineral springs and pretty soon anyplace that could put those who had gotten into hot water figuratively into hot water literally were cashing in. Boerne,  Kerrville were known for their “fresh” air for the tubercular as was Comfort which may have been the most German of the three with a tradition of secular funerals, the German turnverein movement and even a Bolshevik Hall – which may explain the Treue der Union monument.

Even though this might be considered the age of the iron horse the four-legged variety was just as important. The train stopped in Kerrville and Comfort but if you wanted to get to Fredericksburg or Junction City you took the connecting stage-coach. Getting around the island was much the same with carriages, single rigs and saddle horses in every day use and your house may have had an attached stable but there was no such thing as an attached garage!

As we come to the end of this entry we will come to the end – literally – of many Galvestonians. Going from monks being the lowly washers of the dead to the 17th century “Company of undertakers” in England the funereal practises have undergone profound changes over the years. Where once cabinet makers were the logical choice for coffin builders as the practises became more elaborate the requirements became greater. With the need for a public display of grief – and the sincerity of mourning in direct proportion to the level of ostentation – not to mention the need to bury the deceased at a healthy distance from the living stable owners became the logical choice of their day. They had the horses, wagons could be converted into hearses and they had the carriages to carry the mourners to the burial grounds and back – there were just too many people to fit everybody in a churchyard – and in a place like Galveston a water tight casket had to be a good seller.  Levy would eventually leave the stables behind and become a full-time undertaker but in 1888 he provided either or both – as the customer needed.

Morrison & Fourmy’s General Directory – Part 2 – 1884

While there are a preponderance of commercial advertisements in the directories there are also a number for schools and we are going to begin this entry with some of those and some information about the schools and the people who ran them.

Informal operations of the University of St. Mary, the first Catholic college in Texas, had started as early as 1852 but it was officially opened by Jean Marie Odin, bishop of Galveston, in 1855 and in 1856 the school was granted a charter as a university by the Texas legislature. Construction of the school building had begun in 1853 on a lot donated by the city – which was delighted to have a university – and the three-story structure was completed by November 1854. After having been run by the Oblates, the Franciscans, a lay faculty, the Christian Brothers, diocesan priests, the Congregation of the Holy Cross and the Sisters of Divine Providence – not to mention having been shelled and nearly destroyed in 1863 by the union navy during the war of northern aggression – the school declined [it had even closed during the yellow fever epidemic of 1867] and a deepening financial crisis threatened the survival of the university during the late 1870s and early 1880s.

In 1884 Bishop Nicholas Aloysius Gallagher assigned the east end of Galveston to the spiritual care of the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits – who were also placed in charge of the  University of St. Mary. The Jesuits established Sacred Heart Parish, used the college chapel as a temporary church, and set out to build a large church designed by Nicholas J. Clayton. The new church was dedicated in 1892 and the Jesuits brought stability and academic strength to the school. Father Antoine M. Truchard, who had been ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Galveston,  wrote of the school:

The Institution is in a most flourishing condition, and becomes daily more popular.  It is attended by pupils from all pats of Texas and Mexico. All branches of a Collegiate education are taught by a full faculty of competent professors. Military tactics form a part of the general instruction. Every facility is afforded the students to acquire the knowledge of modern languages, music, drawing and painting. The terms are exceedingly moderate – $200 cover all expenses of board, tuition, washing, bed and bedding during the whole session of ten months.

The Daughters of St. Angela Di Merci, more commonly known as the Ursuline Sisters, is an order founded in Italy in 1535 and was the first group of Catholic teachers to come to North America; they established schools in Quebec in 1639. The sisters, who had been in New Orleans since 1727, were the first order to volunteer for service in the new state of Texas. In January 1847 seven sisters, headed by Josephine Blin (Sister St. Arsene) , arrived in Galveston, and on the 8th of February were requested by  Bishop Jean M. Odin to open the Ursuline Academy as  a Catholic day and boarding school for girls – the first institution of its kind in Texas.  The group also  served as nurses during the Galveston yellow fever epidemics in 1848, 1853, and 1858, turned their newly built school into a hospital during the Civil War for casualties from both sides, worked during the disastrous hurricane of 1875 and assisted in the care of survivors of the Galveston fires of 1854 and 1882.

Margaret Edythe Young would be a graduate of the Ursuline Academy having come from St. Patrick’s. The cost was the same as the University of  St. Mary but allowances were made for families having two or more daughters enrolled – the Young family had four – and for payment in advance. Tuition covered lessons in English, French and German, stationery – which included how to design (including graphics), address and compose (by a very strict set of  rules) and write (penmanship) every type of correspondence, and plain and fancy needlework. In addition to her watercolors, portraits, charcoals and other art work we still have a number of pieces of hand painted china and calligraphy that are examples of talents acquired under the tutelage of the good sisters. Although attendance at a university was the exception rather than the rule for women of this time a graduate of the Academy would have had no difficulty finds a teaching position in any elementary school and would have been remarkably well prepared to understand and participate in any family business.

Another order of Catholic nuns, the Sisters of Divine Providence, arrived in Texas from Alsace-Lorraine in October 1866. Depending on the results of the latest war and treaty Alsace-Lorraine was either part of France or part of Germany in terms of the political map however culturally it was always predominantly German. Where the sympathies of the sisters – who conspired to attempt to educate this author – rested may be best determined by the fact that their mother-house in Castroville, Texas housed a military academy and their Galveston school was the German parish of the city. Two of the principles that they set forth in their advertisement are really common denominators of Catholic education in Texas. Our terms are within the reach of all was a very kind way of saying that students were not turned away if their families could not afford to pay – education was the vocation of these good women who actually lived the vow of poverty and thought less of money than of teaching. Pupils of all creeds admitted meant exactly what it said and, owing to the general excellence of the education provided, pupils of all creeds were to be found enrolled in these schools. In an age that has gone mad with political correctness it is difficult to imagine that this involved not deviating one iota from the teachings of the Church – this was neither an ecumenical nor a multicultural experiment – and oddly enough the pupils of other creeds often graduated with a greater respect for the Church than those who would graduate a century later and share the same ambivalence and ignorance of the Faith as those supposedly professing it.

In case you are beginning to suspect that Galveston was some sort of Catholic enclave we hasten to note that it was a city of many faiths and while its location and prominence may have made it the site of the first Catholic cathedral, as well as  the first Jewish synagogue, in the state the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists and Baptists were all represented by substantial houses of worship as well as a large number of smaller denominations, the requisite number of American agnostics and a fair sampling of pagans. It wasn’t quite like Montreal where you couldn’t spit without hitting a church but the days when the aggressively evangelistic,  whom Stephen F. Austin called “excited,” “imprudent,” “fanatic,” “violent,” and “noisy” –  and apparently it was the missionary Henry Stephenson who prompted Austin’s outburst that one preacher would cause more harm for his colony “than a dozen horse thieves” – were long gone and the churches occupied positions of authority without being authoritarian

By no means was all education in the hands of the Church. There was a public school system which would grow to include Ball High School which started out as an early “charter” school having been endowed by George Ball and operated for many years under the guidance of trustees rather than the school board. Private schools were also available but some of these, E. E. Scherrer’s Business College for one, attempted to trade heavily on their affiliation. Not only did Scherrer list himself as having being formerly of the University of St. Mary but displayed prominently at the top of his advertisement is AMDG which is the acronym for Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam which translates from Latin to English as  “to the greater glory of God” and is the motto of the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits who ran the University of St. Mary.

Claims of affiliation and motto stealing aside that is about where the similarities ended. Scherrer put himself forward as a regular graduate of the famous Bryant’s Business College which had been founded in 1854 and was best known for promoting the  Platt Rogers Spencer standardized style of writing which was useful in business transactions before the invention of the typewriter [1868]. The school concentrated on penmanship, commercial calculations, business correspondence and law, telegraphy and phonography. Those who want to claim that a liberal arts education is the most practical seem to be supported by the limits of what Scherrer offered although we do have one of his textbooks and seriously doubt that most liberal arts majors could complete the math and grammar tests successfully.

Long before  the Medical Branch was a landmark in Galveston the first Catholic hospital in Texas, was opened as a charity hospital and orphanage by Bishop Claude M. Dubuis and was a thirty-bed frame building. In April 1867 the staff of  sisters Blandine Mathelin, Joseph Roussin, and Ange Escudé [all founding members of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word] arrived from France and along with Dr. James Nagel began caring for the sick.  When a yellow fever epidemic that devastated the island from July until November 1867 filled the hospital they found themselves overwhelmed and among those who died was the young mother superior,  Sister Blandine. One of the main things to remember when thinking about the early days of St. Mary’s is that so much 19th century medicine was palliative and the main purpose of institutions like this was to have someplace to warehouse the sick in time of contagion to prevent diseases spreading or to have a place for recuperation for those who could not be cared for at home. If you could afford not to you probably never set foot in a hospital.

In July 1869, with help from Dr. C. H. Wilkinson (who was still the chief physician in 1884), the sisters contracted with the  government for the care of marine patients at the rate of a dollar a day each, and thereafter the hospital was able to contract for destitute city and county patients where the respective governments paid their per diem and hastened their departures as soon as possible. With the additional work more nuns  came from France to help and more frame buildings were added to accommodate additional patients and orphaned children. In 1874 the orphans were moved to a new location, St. Mary’s Orphanage, but the hospital continued to support them. In 1875 and 1879 two three-story hospital buildings designed by Nicholas J. Clayton were constructed. In its early years St. Mary’s Infirmary relied for support – especially for building construction – on Bishop Dubuis but in 1881 the bishop deeded the hospital to the sisters and although it was no longer a “charity” hospital the rates for private patients ranged from $1.50 to $2.00 per day. Charges were still governed by the circumstances of the patient which meant that the poor were not turned away but those desiring private rooms were charged according to the accommodations furnished.

Medical attention in the 19th century was a combination of phrenologists, Thomsonians, homeopathics, eclectics, and a variety of other practitioners who often simply put out a shingle and offered cures. The building of the University of Texas Medical Branch would not happen until 1891 and allopathic medicine – the treatment of disease with drugs supposed to have the opposite effects to the symptoms – would not gain a stranglehold on the profession until after 1925.

Homeopathy relied on the curative power of the “vital force” that required only the slightest assistance from the doctor and his minute dosages of medicines to restore the patient to health. Botanics as a category included everyone from the midwife who used herb poultices to eclectics and Thomsonians. While lay-persons enthusiastically pursued their own idiosyncratic practices with a mixture of plant derivatives and folk practices, it was not until eclecticism and Thomsonism emerged with energetic proponents in Wooster Beach and Samuel Thomson that a systematic and theoretical botanics based approach was pursued.

The “heroic” nature of allopathic medicine in  nineteenth-century America often made the patient dread the cure as much as he did the disease. Dosings of mercury, harsh purgatives, emetics, and bloodletting that were primary features of so-called regular medicine created a market for alternative therapeutic systems.  Samuel Thomson was the proponent of a method that deviated from regular medicine’s therapeutic regimens more in materials used than in method. Beginning his full-time practice with a Boston infirmary in 1805 he pursued a therapeutic course that sought to provoke the same physical responses in patients as the allopathic system but used “a regimen of kindly medicines” or botanicals rather than mercury and other harsh “minerals.” Thomson’s followers liked the energetic approach to therapy as well as Thomson’s willingness to sell the entire system to anyone with twenty dollars which released them from “dependence on the pretensions of a learned profession”

Later the system’s fatal flaw – the aversion to germ theory – would discredit almost everything that was valid about it for the best part of a century. Thomson’s original views on etiology were founded in vitalism and germ theory was, in essence, mechanical. Germs, like any other “microscopical animalcule ever found in the excretions of fluids of the body in a person diseased are the result of a disease and not the cause of it”, Thomson had proclaimed, and to deviate from that position would be to deviate from the most fundamental principle of both Thomsonism and physio. By the beginning of the twentieth century, science meant progress and physios were considered hopelessly old-fashioned. They also suffered from a complete inability to form a unique identity and institutional structure that would promote its principles and support its long-term existence. When Thomson published A New Guide to Health he, like many other Americans, celebrated the independent and self-reliant individual. In less than a century, however, Americans had more faith in the so-called credentialed professional and the failure of homeopaths and botanical practitioners  was more than the decline of minor participants in the antebellum medical competition, it was a fundamental shift in society.

Cleanliness may not have been next to Godliness and the medical profession sold everything from a chill and fever antidote to a combination of sarsaparilla and lodite of potash said to cure syphilis there was no doubt about the fear of yellow fever. Turning to the directory itself we find the following account under the heading GALVESTON AS A HEALTH AND SUMMER RESORT:

In this connection it is scarcely improper to allude to the acknowledged healthfulness of Galveston. Here there is little if any of the deadly malaria that lurks in the creek, bayou and river bottoms of the interior. A case of chills and fever very seldom originates here. As to yellow fever, which formerly ravaged this coast, neither Galveston nor Houston have suffered an epidemic for nearly 20 years, the last one having been in 1867. In late years the fever has prevailed at other points in communication with Galveston, but has been kept out by a rigid system of quarantine. In 1883 yellow fever prevailed in Vera Cruz, and one death occurred from the disease in the summer of that year on board a vessel from the port mentioned, and at the time lying in Bolivar Roads. But so strictly were the State quarantine regulations carried out by Dr. Blunt, acting under the State health officer Dr. Swearingen, that the city was kept entirely free and healthy. The discovery by Dr. Freire, a distinguished physician of Brazil, showing yellow fever to be due a microscopic living organism in the blood, which can exist in goods, in clothes, in ships, in the air of an epidemic, and which were found alive in the soil of a yellow fever grave, a year after burial – an organism as communicable as smallpox and as contagious and infectious – has confirmed the public belief in the efficacy of quarantine. I is probable that hereafter the quarantine at this port will amount to total non-intercourse and the city be kept healthy and salubrious.

The reason we quote the article out of the directory at such length and place the quote following the advertisement for the steam laundry is that the “discovery” of Dr. Freire seemed to dictate that everything possible be boiled or burned to safeguard against the fever. Thus a steam laundry would do great business in a city mindful of the needs of prophylactic measures. Unfortunately Dr. Freire was wrong. Yellow fever was caused by mosquito bites and the death of the sailor in Bolivar Roads did not result in more deaths and another epidemic siege more by the grace of God than any tonic administered or clothing sterilized by steam.

The water supply for Galveston has always been a problem. Both the Gulf and the Bay are salt water and not potable. There was always some well water and artesian springs played a large role in the supply but almost every building, and certainly every home that was more than a shack, had a cistern.

Using the roof as a rain collection surface, gutters and downspouts delivered water to the cistern – basically a big collection tank.  Most had an overflow outlet and some had a diverter on the inlet, to direct the water away from the building when the cistern became full. Although some were manufactured of iron, steel or made of wood, most were constructed of brick or stone and made watertight with an interior parge coat of hydraulic cement. The masonry cistern chamber could be shaped like a vault, bell, beehive, jug or flat-topped with a wooden platform for the cover.  Most were a  large rectangular box located under a porch, with the porch floor being the cover.

Even though the water wasn’t supposed to be used for drinking because of the undesirable debris, like leaves, dirt and bird droppings it was often boiled and consumed which explains many of the “tropical” diseases almost as much as the constant presence of standing water. The overflow would discharge some floating debris but the stuff that sank would need to be periodically cleaned out and anybody in the cistern business had steady employment.

At high tide, before the construction of the seawall, much of the island could have water in the streets. In addition the shapes of the neighborhoods as they grew nearer the beach and to the west could be altered and today’s waterfront view could be tomorrow’s island. Most of the houses on the island were frame. Many of the charming structures that grace the island today started out as kits build in Maine and brought to Galveston as part of a triangle trade that brought industrial tools into the northeast from Europe, finished timber to Galveston and sent cotton back to Europe. One of the glories of a block and beam foundation on a frame house is that you can lift it higher to keep your feet dry or even move it several blocks or several miles to a better site – it is a little odd to think of a two, or even three, story house as a mobile home but effectively that is exactly what they were.

Before you conclude that Galveston was a malarial swamp with a bunch of cheap frame houses you need to remember that it was the “First” city of Texas. Largest in terms of population, richest in terms of trade and a leader in almost every category by which cities were measured. It had all of the problems of every 19th century urban setting and a few that were unique to it but it was growing and confident and had an architect to match its glories – Nicholas J. Clayton.  By 1884 he had designed and built the Beach and the Tremont hotels, the Harmony and the Artillery halls, the Masonic temple, the W. L. Moody building, the Galveston Daily News building, the Eaton Memorial Chapel [Episcopal]and Catholic churches in Austin and Waco. All of this after he had cut his teeth on the George Sealy house on Broadway that was designed by renowned architect Sanford White but which he had worked as a supervising architect on – in fact it is correspondence with him that confirms White as the principal architect of the house.

Dressed to the nines [One theory has it that tailors used nine yards of material to make a suit or, according to some authors, a shirt. Therefore the more material you had the more kudos you accrued.] certainly seems apropos when describing  the clothes that came from a tailor who specialized in costumes for balls, theatricals, processions and tableaux. Galveston had a large European population and the social calendar was strewn with opportunities for fancy dress. It is amusing to note that the “clip art” used by this tailor was used by others as well all of whom were in debt to Hablot Knight Browne – Charles Dickens illustrator – for the original.

While water was often the principal mode of transportation the train was the airliner of its day and while you could get to Houston in several hours on a steamer you could get there is less than two on the train and make connections to anyplace from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon.  While the Santa Fe would headquarter in Galveston for many years the Texas Pacific had its principal Texas offices in Houston and Marshall.

The basic design of Pullman’s unique sleeping car eventually contained enough sleeping berths for all the car’s passengers. During the day, the berth could be folded up and hidden away. At nighttime, however, the bunk could be lowered over the two seats below it, which folded down. There were curtains for privacy and separate washrooms at each end for men and women.

Pullman Palace Cars also included fresh gourmet meals, which helped shorten trips because the train was no longer required to stop for meals. The dining cars were the picture of extravagance, with elaborate chandeliers, electric lighting, silk shades and leather seating. Heating and air conditioning, advanced for the time, made it increasingly desirable on long trips.

The causeway that ran from Virginia Point to the island was the means by which trains came and went and Union Station was so busy that it had tracks for seven trains to be in the station at the same time. The Galveston Railroad Museum is actually located in the 1932 Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe depot does a wonderful job of giving the casual observer a history of rail on the island.

Once you got to Houston you had to get around and there was neither Hertz nor Alamo to serve your needs. No problem. You could hire an omnibus or a carriage depending on the size of your group – you could even hire a horse if you were alone – and there was a baggage wagon that would take your baggage to any of the depots to forwarding. The most amazing thing about the City Stables run by Mr. Baldwin was that the transfer stable was at Congress and Milam [just south of the Southern Pacific station] and the livery stable was located on Fannin between Preston and Prairie which was more or less the center of the business district then.

Texas and Galveston have always occupied a unique position being the locus of western sensibility and southern charm. By 1884 many of the wilder aspects of the city when it was a frontier town with a deep water port had begun to fade. It was a business center, a trade and railroad hub, it had schools including a university and the churches were doing their job of civilizing the better angels of the population. Like America it was growing and optimistic and its best days were still to come.