Aransas County, Texas

HISTORICAL MARKERS

Aransas County is rich in history and has been awarded the following historical markers.

Aransas Pass Light Station
On Harbor Island, 2 mi. NE of east end of island, private and accessible only by boat
Port Aransas

Year Marker Erected: 1973
Location: About 2 miles NE of E end of Port Aransas (on island), private and only accessible by boat

Marker Text:
Construction of 67-foot tower was started in 1855. The French lens was lighted in 1856, to mark natural Gulf pass to Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays by way of Lydia Ann Channel -- named for the daughter of the first keeper. During Civil War, Confederates (in 1863) buried lens for safety before damaging tower to avert use of light by Federal forces. The auxiliary structures were rebuilt after 1919 hurricane. One of original Texas stations of U.S. Lighthouse Service (merged into the Coast Guard in 1939), this light was decommissioned in 1952 after pass shifted southward. (1973) INCISE ON BASE: Lighthouse not open to public. INCISE ON BACK OF MARKER: Restored in 1972 by Charles C. Butt


Aransas County
301 N. Live Oak (courthouse grounds)
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1990
Location: 301 N. Live Oak, Courthouse Grounds, Rockport

Marker Text:
Created out of the coastal portion of Refugio County in 1871, Aransas County is the second smallest county in Texas. Within its boundaries are three bays of the Gulf of Mexico: Copano, St. Charles, and Aransas. The area was the site of early Indian inhabitation and Spanish exploration, as well as Anglo colonization efforts of the 1830s and 1840s. Aransas County communities are supported by such industries as fishing, agriculture, off-shore oil production, bird watching, and tourism. The county is home to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, created in 1937. (1990)


Aransas County
On SH 35, northern city limits
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1936
Location: Northern city limits, Business 35, Rockport

Marker Text:
Created September 18, 1871 from Refugio County, organized in 1871 with Rockport as the county seat. Named for the river Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu. (1936)


Aransas Hotel Site
Austin and Main St.
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1996
Location: Austin and Main Street, Rockport

Marker Text:
Built in 1889 by civic leader and politician John H. Traylor, the Aransas Hotel covered this city block. The three-story structure, a major tourist attraction in Rockport, had about 100 rooms and a massive open dining room with a 200 person capacity. Guests were entertained by orchestras, plays, a mounted bird display, and beach facilities. They could also cruise in Traylor's yacht, or tour in surreys from the livery stable. Remodeled and named the Del Mar in the mid-1890s, it was sold in 1910. Deteriorated by 1906 and unused during World War I, the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1919. (1996)


Baylor-Norvell House
617 S. Water Street
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1991

Marker Text:
Located on the waterfront in a community that has survived many hurricanes, this house was built about 1868 by Dr. John W. Baylor. In addition to his medical practice Dr. Baylor owned a local meat packing business, ranched, and worked to bring a railroad to the county. Schoolteachers Elisha (1857-1933) and Irene (1865-1944) Norvell moved to Rockport from Goliad in 1888 and rented the house before buying it in 1890. Elisha also worked as an agent for the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad and was a realtor. Irene, a musician, sold the house in 1935. (1991)



Cementerio San Antonio de Padua
Aransas Pass

Year Marker Erected: 1998
Location: 0.9 mi. N of Aransas Pass on Bus. SH 35

Marker Text:
According to local lore, George Lewis (1859-1895) donated one-half acre of land at this site to the Hispanic citizens of the area for use as a cemetery, provided that he be buried in the center of the land. Handmade stones indicate burials dating from the 19th century; the first recorded deed was signed in 1933. Years of wind and rain have rendered many stones illegible. A number of children who died in an influenza epidemic in 1940 and many veterans of U.S. and international conflicts are interred here. A statue of San Antonio holding a child, crafted in Mexico, was brought across the border by the local priest for placement in an open chapel on the cemetery grounds. It is revered by the families of those interred here. (1998)



First Baptist Church of Rockport
902 Main Street
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1991

Marker Text:
Organized in 1873, the First Baptist Church of Rockport originally was located on S. Church Street. L. D. Young served as the first pastor. The hurricane of 1919 destroyed the first church building, but the members built a new structure at the corner of Live Oak and Main Streets the following year. They joined with Rockport's Methodist and Episcopal congregations to form an ecumenical Sunday School. Throughout its history, the First Baptist Church of Rockport has served the community with a variety of worship, educational, and outreach programs. (1991)


First Methodist Church of Rockport
801 E. Main Street
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1991

Marker Text:
The Methodist Church has been in existence in Rockport since about 1870. The Rev. H. G. Horton was assigned as pastor of the Rockport church in 1872. The original Methodist church building, erected at the corner of Live Oak and Bay Streets, was used by a number of other congregations until their own facilities were completed. The Methodists relocated to this site in 1914 and later built new structures to meet the needs of the growing membership. With an emphasis on educational programs, this church continues to be an integral part of the community. (1991)


First National Bank of Rockport
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1990
Location: Corner of Austin and Liberty Streets, Rockport

Marker Text:
Chartered on October 8, 1890, the First National Bank of Aransas Pass (now Rockport) was organized by a group of businessmen led by John H. Traylor, James M. Hoopes, George W. Fulton, Jr., James C. Fulton, and Richard H. Wood. Located at Main and Water streets, the bank played a vital role in Rockport's growth and development. Its name was changed to First National Bank of Rockport in 1903. After surviving both the 1919 storm and the Great Depression, the bank moved to new quarters across the street from its first location in 1958, and to this site in 1974. (1990)


First Presbyterian Church of Rockport
514 N. Live Oak Street
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1991
Location: 514 N. Live Oak Street, Rockport

Marker Text:
This congregation traces its history to 1869. Although deactivated in 1879, it was reorganized with twenty charter members in 1889. The members met in facilities provided by other churches until their first house of worship was completed at Market and S. Magnolia streets about 1906-07. After surviving several hurricanes, the church moved to this site in 1949. An integral part of local history for over a century, First Presbyterian Church counts among its members many community leaders and descendants of its founding families. (1991)


Frandolig Island
1797 Bayshore Dr.
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1999
Location: 1797 Bayshore Dr., Rockport

Marker Text:
Dubbed "Nine Mile Point" by early settlers, this island was first used commercially by the Cushman Meat Packing Company in the late 1860s. Austrian Franz Joseph Frandolig, a horseman who had delivered cattle to Cushman & Co., homesteaded property at this site when the company vacated the land in 1878. Frandolig and his family established a large fig orchard. They sold the fruits and vegetables in Rockport and Fulton. Frandolig also kept a vineyard, where he produced and sold wine by the barrel, and built a salt works. The Frandolig family sold the property between 1901 and 1903. The severe hurricane of 1919 returned the island to its natural and uninhabited state. In 1958 the local navigation district began to offer it for development. (1999)


Fulton-Bruhl House
409 N. Broadway
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1988
Designations: Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Location: 409 N. Broadway, Rockport.

Marker Text:
Built about 1868, this vernacular early Texas home was purchased in 1872 by James C. Fulton, a noted early business and civic leader. Fulton sold the home in 1907 to his son-in-law, Albert L. Bruhl, a pharmacist and civic leader who served three terms as mayor of Rockport. The home exhibits Greek Revival elements and features Italianate porch supports, a five-bay entrance, and oversized dormers. It has remained in the Bruhl family for over eight decades. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1988


Fulton Cemetery
3 blocks east of SH 35 at 5th and Myrtle Sts.
Fulton

Year Marker Erected: 1989
Location: 3 blocks east of SH 35, at 5th and Myrtle Streets, Fulton.

Marker Text:
Land for this community graveyard was set aside when the town of Fulton was platted by George Ware Fulton in 1868. The earliest documented burial is that of a child, Louis L. I. Greenough (1868-1869). The large number of children's graves attests to the often harsh conditions of pioneer life. Also interred here are European immigrant settlers, prominent local citizens, and veterans of the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. A brush fire in 1947 destroyed many of the early wooden markers, leaving some unmarked graves. (1989)


Fulton Mansion
Corner of Henderson and Fulton Beach Road
Fulton

Year Marker Erected: 1964
Designations: Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Location: Corner of Henderson and Fulton Beach Road, Fulton

Marker Text:
Built between 1874 and 1877 by George Ware Fulton (1810-1893) and his wife, Harriet Smith Fulton (1823-1910), this imposing residence was named "Oakhurst." The three-story French Second Empire style home is of plank wall construction, with a shell aggregate concrete basement and characteristic mansard roof. The house featured modern heating, ventilation, and plumbing systems and gas lighting. The Fulton family lived here until 1895. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1964


Fulton, George W. Home
Corner of Henderson and Fulton Beach Road
Fulton

Year Marker Erected: 1936
Location: Corner of Henderson and Fulton Beach Road, Fulton.

Marker Text:
Born at Philadelphia, June 8, 1810; served in the Texan Army in 1836. A pioneer resident of Refugio County. After an engineering career of distinction elsewhere he returned to Texas and became a cattle baron. Died October 31, 1893. The town of Fulton bears his name.



Hagar, Connie
East of SH 35/Broadway St. "Y", facing Connie Hagar Wildlife Sanctuary
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1990
Location: E. of SH 35/Broadway Street "Y"; city waterfront property facing Connie Hagar Wildlife Sanctuary, Rockport.

Marker Text:
(June 14, 1886 - November 29, 1973) Born Conger Neblett in Corsicana, and married to Jack Hagar in 1926, Connie Hagar received early training as a musician. She and her sister became interested in birds and worked as volunteers with the U.S. Biological Survey. The Hagars moved to Rockport in 1935, shortly after Connie made her first visit here. She became a self-taught authority on Texas birds, and her expertise was sought by professionals and amateur ornithologists from around the world. In 1945 the Texas Legislature designated this waterfront property as the Connie Hagar Wildlife Sanctuary. (1990)


Heldenfels Shipyard
1800 S. Church Street (SH 70)
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1996
Location: 1800 S. Church Street (SH 70), Rockport.

Marker Text:
Shipping industries flourished on the Rockport waterfront by the 1880s. Heldenfels Shipyard was established here on 12.9 acres in October 1917. Four 281-foot wooden cargo vessels were to be built for military use in World War I; the "Baychester" was launched on July 31, 1919, and the "Zuniga" on September 9, 1919. At the height of construction, over 900 men were employed at the shipyard. The need for ships fell as the war ended. Despite hurricane damage to the shipyard on September 14, 1919, the "Jasper" and the "Manchester" were completed as barges in 1920, ending this vital war contract. (1996)


Hoopes-Smith House
417 N. Broadway
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1989
Designations: Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Location: 417 N. Broadway, Rockport.

Marker Text:
Prominent local businessman and land developer James M. Hoopes (1839-1931) had this home built between 1890 and 1892. The home later served as a hotel and boardinghouse between 1894 and 1930. It was sold in 1934 to T. Noah Smith, Sr. (1881-1955), a prominent oilman and shipbuilder. Features of the Late Victorian Queen Anne home include milled woodwork, roof cresting, a turret, and stained glass windows. It is regarded as a local landmark. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1989



John Fagan
Old Lamar Cemetery, 7 mi. N on SH 35 to Goose Island State Park, follow P-13 east, then northeast 2.5 miles
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1962
Location: Located in Lamar Cemetery. From Rockport, take Highway 35 north about 7 miles to Goose Island State Park (just north of causeway). Follow P-13 E then NE about 2.5 miles to cemetery, Lamar.

Marker Text:
Soldier in the Texas War for Independence at Goliad, 1835-1836. Erected by the State of Texas, 1962.


Lamar Cemetery
7 mi. N on SH 35 to Goose Island State Park, then east and northeast on P-13 2.5 mi. to cemetery
Lamar

Year Marker Erected: 1981
Location: From Rockport take SH 35 north about 7 miles to Goose Island State Park. Go east then NE about 2.5 miles to cemetery, Lamar.

Marker Text:
This burial ground originally served pioneer settlers of the Lamar community. Founded by James W. Byrne (d. 1865), a native of Ireland and a veteran of the Texas Revolution, it was named for his friend Mirabeau B. Lamar, former president of the Republic of Texas. The earliest grave is that of Patrick O'Connor (1822-54), a bookkeeper for Byrne's business operations in New Orleans. The town of Lamar ceased to exist by 1915 and the cemetery was neglected until the 1940s when it was restored through efforts by the family of John Henry Kroeger, Jr. (d. 1944). (1981) Incise in base: Donated by the Lamar Woman's Club


Lamar Town Site
10 mi. N on SH 35, 1/8 mi. N of causeway
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1936
Location: 10 miles north of Rockport on SH 35, 1/8 mile north of causeway, (1/8 mile south of P 13)

Marker Text:
Named for Mirabeau B. Lamar 1798-1859, President of the Republic of Texas 1838-1841. Established in 1838; made a port of entry in 1839. Sacked by Union troops Feb. 11, 1864. Survived until 1914 but never flourished.



Marion Packing Company Site
Fulton Beach Rd. and Chaparral St.
Fulton

Year Marker Erected: 1976
Location: Fulton Beach Road and Chaparral Street, Fulton.

Marker Text:
The ruins of this rendering vat mark the location of the Marion Packing Co. (spelled "Meriam" in some records), one of the dozen or more meat packing plants built in the Rockport-Fulton area in the 1860s and 1870s to process the huge herds of range cattle that roamed Texas after the Civil War. Here beef was dried, salted, or pickled before shipping. The by-products such as tallow, hides, horns, and bones were sent to eastern factories. Like most of the coastal plants, Marion Packing Co. flourished until about 1880, when shipping cattle to northern markets proved more profitable. (1976)


Mathis House
621 S. Church Street
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1989
Designations: Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Location: 621 S. Church Street, Rockport.

Marker Text:
John M. Mathis (1831-1922) had this home built for his family in 1868-69. Instrumental in platting the town of Rockport, he served as its first mayor in 1870. In 1880 he deeded the house to his cousin, Thomas H. Mathis (1834-1899), a leading rancher, shipper, and banker. Exhibiting Italianate, Classical, and Greek Revival details, the raised cottage features a center passage plan, arcaded basement, and entry portico with paired fluted columns. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1989


Port Bay Hunting and Fishing Club
4 mi. SW on FM 881 right-of-way at Port Bay Rd.
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1991
Location: From Rockport, take FM 881 4 miles southwest to intersection with Port Bay Road.

Marker Text:
Danish native Andrew Sorenson (1864-1941), established a reputation as a hunting and fishing guide in this area in the early 20th century. He bought 240 acres of land (.5 mi. W) in 1909 and in 1912 incorporated the private Port Bay Hunting and Fishing Club. Charter members included prominent citizens from Texas and the U.S. Adjacent waters teem with ducks and geese in season. Despite hurricane damage to club structures over the years and a reduction in size to 46 acres of land, the club continues to attract members who embrace the traditions of conservation and sportsmanship. (1991)


Power, James Home Site
4 mi. N on SH 35, c. 1/8 mi. S of causeway
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1936
Location: From Rockport, take SH 35 north about 4 miles, about 1/8 mile south of causeway.

Marker Text:
Born in Ireland, 1789; Died in Live Oak Point, Texas, 1852. With James Hewetson, he was granted authority January 11, 1828 to settle 200 families in Texas. Served Texas under three flags as empresario, soldier, statesman. Signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Ever a loyal son of his adopted country; Honored and loved by his people.


Rockport
On Orleans St., between N and S lanes of SH 35
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1988
Location: Orleans Street and SH 35, Center Island, Rockport.

Marker Text:
The town of Rockport was founded by cattlemen J. M. and T. H. Mathis in 1867. Originally a part of Refugio County, it became county seat of newly formed Aransas County in 1871. Shipping and fishing provided the primary economic base of the town in its early years. The railroad arrived in 1888 and with it came a decline in the shipping industry, although shipyards were in operation during World War I and World War II. Rockport has been a popular recreation center over the years, and tourism continues to be important to the local economy. (1988)


Rockport Cemetery
On Tule Park Rd., 1.25 mi. E of SH 35
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1988
Location: On Tule Park Road, 1 1/4 mile E of SH 35, Rockport.

Marker Text:
This cemetery has served the citizens of Rockport and Fulton for over a century. The oldest marked grave is that of Emma Fulton (d. 1876), granddaughter of George Ware Fulton, who was instrumental in the development of the area and was interred in the cemetery in 1893. A large number of burials took place here in 1918, the year of a devastating influenza epidemic. The cemetery contains the graves of veterans of the Texas Revolution, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The Rockport Cemetery Association maintains the historic graveyard. (1988)


The Rockport Pilot
1002 Wharf Street
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1990
Location: 1002 Wharf Street, Rockport.

Marker Text:
The earliest newspaper in this area was "The Vaquero," published by Charles F. Bailey and Geraldo A. Beeman in St. Mary's in 1868. In 1869 Bailey moved to Rockport and founded "The Transcript," which continued in operation until 1886. Two years later "The Rockport Enterprise" began, and in 1916 it merged with the new "Rockport Pilot." Other local newspapers existed for short periods, but since its beginning "The Pilot" has been the area's primary news source, focusing on Aransas County issues and events. (1990)


Sacred Heart Catholic Church
704 Cornwall Street at Church St.
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1991
Location: 704 Cornwall Street, Rockport (corner of Church Street and Cornwall).

Marker Text:
Roman Catholic priests visited the Rockport area as early as 1838. The first Mass in the town of Rockport was celebrated in the home of County Judge John Hynes in 1860, and services continued there for a number of years. Although property was deeded to the church in 1871, the first church building was not erected until 1889. It was destroyed in a storm that same year and was replaced by another structure which served the congregation until 1954. In addition to its parochial school, Sacred Heart Church has served the community with many outreach programs. (1991)


San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad in Rockport, The
105 S. Magnolia Street
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1994
Location: 105 S. Magnolia, Rockport.

Marker Text:
During its early years Rockport relied on Gulf shipping for goods and services. After the arrival of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad in 1888, however, the town's economic focus changed to include rail shipping and a burgeoning tourism industry. The town's population grew from 600 in 1888 to 2,500 by 1890. Businesses and hotels were built to serve the new tourism trade, and four trains arrived at the Rockport Depot daily. By the 1940s passenger rail service to Rockport ended. Freight service continued until 1985, when highway trucking replaced railroad service. (1994)



Stella Maris Chapel
7 mi. N on SH 35 to Goose Island State Park, then follow P13 east, then NE to Lamar Cemetery
Lamar

Year Marker Erected: 1986
Location: From Rockport, take SH 35 north about 7 miles to Goose Island State Park (just north of causeway). Then follow P13 east then NE to Lamar Cemetery

Marker Text:
Irish immigrant James W. Byrne (1787-1865), a veteran of the Texas Revolution, was an early settler of this area. He established the town of Lamar and, with his wife Harriet, sold land on Aransas Bay to the Catholic church for a chapel site. Byrne engaged a French architect to design the structure, which was completed in 1858. Called Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) Chapel, it was built of shellcrete, a shell-aggregate masonry. An important link with the area's early Roman Catholic heritage, the chapel was moved to this site in 1986. (1986)



St. Peter's Episcopal Church
412 N. Live Oak Street
Rockport

Year Marker Erected: 1991
Location: 412 N. Live Oak Street, Rockport.

Marker Text:
The Rt. Rev. Alexander Gregg, Bishop of the Diocese of Texas, officiated at the dedication of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Rockport on November 30, 1871. Led by lay ministers for much of its early history, St. Peter's first was located at the corner of Live Oak and Wharf Streets near the railroad depot, where services often were halted due to the noise of arriving and departing trains. Relocated to this site in 1954, St. Peter's became a self-sustaining parish ten years later. It continues to serve the community with a variety of programs. (1991)




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