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Public Documents of Galveston, Texas | University of Houston Libraries

Name: Public Documents of Galveston, Texas

Historical Note:

José de Evia, who charted the Texas coast in 1785, named Galveston Bay in honor of Bernardo de Gálvez, the viceroy of Mexico. Later mapmakers applied the name Galveston to the island. Between 1816 and 1821 Galveston was occupied by Jean Laffite, who had set up a pirate camp called Campeachy to dispose of contraband and provide supplies for the freebooters. In 1821, however, the United States forced Laffite to evacuate. Mexico designated Galveston a port of entry in 1825 and established a small customs house in 1830. During the Texas Revolution the harbor served as the port for the Texas Navy and the last point of retreat of the Texas government. Following the war Michel B. Menard and a group of investors obtained ownership of 4,605 acres at the harbor to found a town. After platting the land in gridiron fashion and adopting the name Galveston, Menard and his associates began selling town lots on April 20, 1838. The following year the Texas legislature granted incorporation to the city of Galveston with the power to elect town officers.

At a time when Houston, Beaumont, and Port Arthur reaped benefits from the oil discoveries of the early twentieth century, Galveston had to put its energy into a recovery from the nation's worst natural disaster, the Galveston hurricane of 1900.qv The island lay in the pathway of hurricanes coursing across the Gulf of Mexico and suffered at least eleven times in the nineteenth century. The Galveston hurricane of 1900, with wind gusts of 120 miles per hour, flooded the city, battered homes and buildings with floating debris, and killed an estimated 6,000 people in the city.


"GALVESTON, TX." The Handbook of Texas Online.


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