Galveston: A History of the Island

Galveston: A History of the Island

Galveston: A History of the Island

Galveston: A History of the Island

Synopsis

Traces the history & people of the Texas island from its settlement by the Karankawa Indians through the battles of the Civil War to the civic reform & architectural restoration of today.

Excerpt

I never go back to the Island without sensing the ghosts. I can’t think of a place where they run thicker. the cannibalistic Karankawa Indians occupied the Island at least as far back as 1400. Cabeza de Vaca, La Salle, and Jean Lafitte all visited it before Texas was a republic. the Battle of Galveston wasn’t the greatest sea battle of the Civil War, but it was one of the most poignant. Galveston has about 550 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and many more that could be. When I visited the Island in the late spring of 1990, I had just about completed this book, but I wanted one more look at the Island—Galvestonians always use a capital I—one more frolic with the spirits, just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything or dreamed all this up.

Coming down the coastal prairie from Houston on Interstate 45, you can smell the ghosts before you see or hear them. They smell sweet and moldy, like the unfocused memory of some lost sensation jarred unexpectedly to mind. It’s the scent of tangled gardens of jasmine, honeysuckle, and magnolia, maybe. Or the smell of decaying timbers of shipwrecks half-buried in sand, or the weathered, salt-caked planking of abandoned cotton warehouses stretching between the highway and the wharves. Encoded in the smells are secrets so ephemeral that just thinking about them causes them to vanish.

Off to the left like the bleached bones of some hideously deformed . . .

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