The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Galveston

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GALVESTON. I. A S. E. county of Texas, including the island of the same name; area, 680 sq. m., of which 274 sq. m. are water; pop. in 1870, 15,290, of whom 3,236 were colored. The main portion of the county occupies the W. shore of Galveston bay, and is separated from the island, lying in the gulf of Mexico, by West bay. N. E. of the island, and separated from it by a channel 1 or 2 m. wide, is Bolivar peninsula, forming a part of the county, and lying between the gulf and East bay, an arm of Galveston bay. The surface is generally level and the soil sandy. The chief productions in 1870 were 2,905 bushels of Indian corn, 16,205 of sweet potatoes, and 213 tons of hay. There were 390 horses, 717 milch cows, 6,140 other cattle, 586 sheep, and 719 swine on farms. The number of manufacturing establishments was 91, employing 533 hands; capital invested, $710,950; value of products, $1,214,814. II. A port of entry, seat of justice of the above county, and the chief city of Texas in point of population and commerce, situated at the N. E. extremity of Galveston island, at the mouth of the bay of the same name, the entrance to which is through the channel between the city and the S. W. point of the peninsula of Bolivar, where a lighthouse has been erected, 180 m. E. S. E. of Austin, and 290 m. W. by S. of New Orleans; lat. 29° 19′ N., lon. 94° 46′ W.; pop. in 1850, 4,177; in 1860, 7,307; in 1870, 13,818, of whom 3,007 were colored and 3,614 foreigners. The population at the beginning of 1874 was estimated by the local authorities at from 25,000 to 30,000. The city is laid out with wide and straight streets, bordered by numerous flower gardens. Besides the churches, the public buildings include the custom house, post office, United States court house, county court house, city and county prison, city hall, opera house, 2 theatres, 3 concert halls, 4 other public halls, 13 hotels, and 3 market houses. Oleander park occupies 80 acres, and the city park 25 acres. There are 6 public squares, an esplanade 2 m. long, and 3 public gardens. Magnolia Grove cemetery comprises 100 acres, and the city cemetery 10 acres. There are 9 m. of street railroad in operation. The island is about 28 m. long and from 1½ to 3½ m. wide, intersected by many small bayous, diversified by several fresh-water ponds, and bordered through its whole length by a smooth hard beach, which forms a pleasant drive and promenade. The bay is an irregular indentation, branching out into various arms, and receiving Trinity and San Jacinto rivers and Buffalo bayou. It extends 35 m. N. from the city to the mouth of Trinity river, and has a breadth of from 12 to 18 m. The harbor is the best in the state, and has 13 ft. of water over the bar at low tide. The city is provided with good wharves, and large storehouses adjoining them. The chief business is the shipping of cotton. The southern cotton press company owns 14 brick warehouses, each occupying 2½ acres, and the Texas cotton press company 3 more brick warehouses covering 7½ acres. The receipts and shipments in bales since 1868, for each year ending Sept. 1, have been as follows:

 YEARS.   Receipts.   Shipments. 

1868  98,682 101,749
1869 133,466 133,430
1870 229,808 225,215
1871 204,718 289,023
1872 186,073 191,869
1873 328,613 328,613

In 1873 170,711 bales were shipped to Great Britain, 6,100 to France, 32,584 to other European countries, 18,630 to New Orleans, 67,038 to New York, 18,756 to Boston, and 14,794 to other coastwise ports. The receipts of hides were 460,854; shipments, 459,582; receipts of wool, 3,873 bags; shipments, 3,760 bags. The value of pine lumber received was $624,000; cypress, $480,000; total, $1,104,000; head of cattle shipped, 50,699. The total value of shipments was $35,333,747, including cotton to the value of $32,423,806; of receipts, $29,811,831. The number of immigrants during the year was 44,614. The value of imports from and exports to foreign countries since 1870, with the amount of duties collected, for each year ending July 31, is shown in the following table:

 YEARS.  Imports. Exports. Duties.

1870   $515,234  $15,474,629   $277,750 
1871  1,358,203   14,275,621   633,218
1872  1,936,522   11,065,631   671,582
1873  2,460,610    17,820,208   492,429

Of the exports in 1873, $17,549,096 were the value of cotton. The entrances and clearances for the year ending June 30, 1873, were as follows:


Vessels. Tons. Vessels. Tons.

Entered:   34 American 
113 foreign
Cleared:  61 American
113 foreign
 16,421   446 steamers   511,511
 57,594  187 sailing   55,431
 31,349  253 steamers  279,994
 58,409  169 sailing   44,624

The number of vessels belonging to the port was 257, with an aggregate tonnage of 23,462, including 198 sailing vessels of 13,813 tons, 35 steamers of 6,709 tons, and 24 barges of 2,940 tons; built during the year, 10 sailing vessels of 165 tons, and 1 barge of 57 tons. There is a daily line of steamers to New Orleans and another to Indianola and Corpus Christi; a weekly line to Havana, and another to New York; and a semi-monthly line to Liverpool. The Galveston, Houston, and Henderson railroad connects the city with Houston and the diverging railroads, crossing West bay on a bridge nearly 2 m. long. The depot and warehouses cover 20 acres. The Galveston Wharf railroad enables the company to load its cars directly from the vessels. A canal, 10 m. long, opens an avenue for commerce to the Brazos river. The chief manufactories are two iron founderies, six machine shops, and the gas works. The New York and Texas beef-preserving company kill and can 48 cattle per day. There are two national banks, with an aggregate capital of $800,000; a savings bank, with $175,000 capital; two banking and insurance companies, and four insurance companies, including a life insurance company. The whole number of joint-stock companies is 23, having an aggregate capital of $12,211,000. The city is divided into four wards, and is governed by a mayor and a board of 12 aldermen. Water works are in process of construction, and there is an efficient health department. Of streets 17 m. have been shelled, and 26 m. filled and graded. The assessed value of property for the year ending Feb. 28, 1873, was $16,500,000; bonded debt, $380,700; estimated receipts for the year ending Feb. 28, 1874, $282,986; estimated expenditures, $273,763. The principal charitable institutions are the house of refuge, having grounds 33 acres in extent, an orphan asylum, and three hospitals, one of which is supported by the city. The Roman Catholic university of St. Mary was founded in 1854, and in 1872 had 8 professors and 35 collegiate and 115 preparatory students. The Galveston medical college, founded in 1864, has six professors. The Ursuline convent, containing 25 nuns, has a female academy connected with it, and 120 pupils. There are two other female seminaries, with about 350 pupils. The six public schools in 1872 had 16 teachers and 700 pupils. The whole number of pupils in public and private schools, &c., is about 3,500. The mercantile library contains about 9,000 volumes, and has a reading room. There are 15 churches, and 5 daily (1 German), 2 triweekly, 1 semi-weekly, and 6 weekly (1 German) newspapers.—The island of Galveston was occupied by the pirate Lafitte in 1817, and continued to be his headquarters until his settlement was broken up in 1821. The growth of the city dates from 1837. During the civil war it was occupied by the federal forces, Oct. 8, 1862, but was retaken by the confederates, Jan. 1, 1863.