Galveston: A History and a Guide

By David G. McComb | Go to book overview

1.
THE PORT CITY

THE TOWN BEGAN ON APRIL 20, 1838, with the first sale of city lots by the Galveston City Company. Michel B. Menard (1805-1856), a French Canadian who had worked at the Indian trade and for Texas independence, and a group of nine other associates purchased 4,605 acres at the eastern end of Galveston Island from the newly formed Republic of Texas. It was a deal in which no money exchanged hands and was based upon the future sale of the lots.1 It was this group who firmly used the name “Galveston” for the city and island, although the name refers to Count Bernardo de Galvez, the viceroy of Mexico who ordered a mapping of the coastline in 1785. The purchase took over the best natural harbor along the Texas coast, reputedly the best sailor’s shelter between New Orleans and Veracruz. Water currents in Galveston Bay had scooped out the sand to form the harbor on the leeward, or mainland, side of Galveston Island. It was deep enough to allow the sailing vessels of the time to anchor close to land and provide some protection from the periodic storms of the Gulf.

Galveston Island was a part of a curving chain of sand barrier islands some two miles off the Texas coast. They were shaped by soil washed down the rivers, carried by littoral currents, and deposited by wave action. Galveston Island, typical of the group, varied in width from one and a half miles to three miles and

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Galveston: A History and a Guide
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Port City 5
  • 2 - The Sin City 25
  • 3 - The Tourist City 41
  • Notes 53
  • Index 57
  • About the Author 59
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