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William N. Nye was born in Maine in 1805, and died in 1844, when his ship was lost in Matagorda Bay. He emigrated to the county in January of 1835, and received land certificate #146 for one league and labor of land.

He married Elizabeth Duncan on October 18, 1837, at Matagorda. She was the daughter of James Duncan, who came from Pennsylvania in 1835. Elizabeth was born on August 1, 1813, and died December 4, 1844. Her funeral services were held in Christ Church at Matagorda.

William and Elizabeth had two sons: William Maynard, born October 13, 1841, and Thomas Carter, born May 17, 1844. William M. died at Refugio in June of 1890, and Thomas at Laredo. On July 22, 1866, Thomas married Frances Elizabeth Schultz, daughter of Ferdinand and Sarah E. Schultz. Frances was born February 9, 1848, and died in 1912. She was baptized in Christ Church, Matagorda. Her parents were from Prussia and had two other daughters and two sons: Mary Ann, born 1850; Alice L., born 1853; Albert, born 1854; and Henry, born 1857.

After William and Elizabeth died, their two sons were baptized in Christ Church, and Elizabeth Harvey, a native of Russia petitioned the court to allow her to raise Thomas Carter. Elizabeth died on May 6, 1882, and was buried at Matagorda, where she lived with Thomas and his family.


During the Civil War, both William and Thomas served in Company D, Sixth Texas Regiment of the Matagorda Coast Guards, which had been formed in 1861 to patrol the coast around Matagorda.

Thomas and Frances had seven children: Walter H., born October 5, 1867, died July 14, 1874; Thomas Nye, born January 20, 1870, died January 21, 1870; Frank William, born January 8, 1871; Henry, born October 31, 1872, died January 8, 1881; Annie Elizabeth, born July 19, 1873; Abel Pierce, born April 11, 1878; and Florence Elizabeth, born August 27, 1880, died April 2, 1882.

Matagorda County Tribune
, February 27, 1914
Reprinted in the Matagorda County Genealogical Society Quarterly, Oak Leaves, August 1977

Photographs provided by Randall LaGrange / F. R. Nye Jr. Family

From Left Side: Frank William Nye with Ollie Callum Nye From Right Side: Thomas Carter Nye, wife Fannie Schultz
Easter Sunday 1912



Experience in Army, on Range, as Farmer,

by Former Orphan Boy of Old Matagorda.


(S. M. Lesesne in Galveston News.) 

Laredo, Texas, Feb. 23.--Colonel T. C. Nye, the "father of the onion industry" around Laredo, was born in Matagorda, Texas, in 1844, while Texas as a republic was flying the flag of the "Lone Star." He was reared an orphan in that county, both his father and mother having died during the year of his birth. Miss Elizabeth Forrester, an elderly English lady, reared him to maturity. There were no public schools there during his boyhood. Miss Forrester was highly educated and it is to her that he is indebted for all the "book education" that he received.


When the Civil War developed Colonel Nye went from the cattle ranges on the coastal plains into the army of the Confederate States. He joined the Sixth Texas Infantry, under the command of Colonel Garland. He with his regiment was captured at Arkansas Post, but was soon exchanged. He was again captured at Missionary Ridge carried to Rock Island, Ill. and held as a prisoner there until after the surrender at Appomattox. In the Rock Island prison his rations were scanty, and he suffered much from the extremely cold weather.


Here the daily rations of the prisoners were cut to one-half. The Federals stated this cut was made in retaliation for the treatment which they said their captured soldiers were receiving in the Libby and Andersonville prisons.


Returning home after the cessation of hostilities, Colonel Nye again engaged in the live stock industry, not knowing, as he stated, anything else that he could do. He continued this vocation until 1898, when he gave it up to engage in farming.

Speaking of antebellum days, Colonel Nye said:


"People then lived as friends and neighbors. The people were sociable and hospitable, and every house was open to the stranger and the traveler. Food and entertainment were gladly given in country homes for company."


In the years gone by Colonel Nye says, he has seen the streets of Indianola lined for a mile with Mexican mule teams that were hauling hides, wool and ores from, and goods, implements, etc., back to Mexico. In those palmy days times were lively in the ill-fated old town. Everybody had money and want was unknown.


After the Civil War and previous to the days of wire fences and enclosed pastures, he remarked that an unbranded calf, if not following its mother, was regarded as common property by most men, and some of them would brand it, even if it was following its mother.

"My best luck," said Colonel Nye, "Was when I caught a girl, and my worst luck came when she died in 1912, after we had lived together 46 years."


In speaking of the onion industry he said: "The onion statistics show that it takes an average of two acres to make one carload. The industry has not been a bonanza because growers have not followed proper methods. I have never made a failure. I have done much 'book farming.' I take many agricultural journals and when I see a good idea or suggestion I follow it. I use my mind to sift the good from the bad. In all of my farming I have never plowed a furrow.


"In 1913 I and my youngest son, C. W. Nye, from thirty-two acres secured a yield of thirty-eight carloads, or 16,880 bushel crates. Eight of the thirty-two acres did not belong to us, so what we made came from twenty-four acres, and he and I realized a net profit of $6,780, which we divided between us. One of my son's boys made $1,340 from four acres. But we planted, worked and handled our crops right. I have a Negro on my place who has been with me twenty-four years. I do not pay him any salary, but I give four acres and water for irrigation gratis, and he pays me in work, and he works as if he was being paid cash for his services. From his four acres he made 2,440 crates, but I do not know how much money he made."


"To make a success in the onion industry is no easy matter. It is necessary to understand thoroughly the planting, the cultivation, the harvesting and the marketing of the crop. Out of fifteen crops I have sold all of them by contracting them before their maturity, and some of them before the onions were planted. In the spring before the onions ripen I become so anxious about them that I forget to shave and when you see me shaved you may know that the crop has been harvested and sold."


In speaking of his worldly success, he stated that he has never got rich but that he is well satisfied; that he has been able to start his four boys and one daughter in business, and does not owe any man anything save good will. "What more," he remarked, "should I want?"


He has a well improved farm four miles from town, with a comfortable dwelling supplied and equipped with all necessary comforts and conveniences. He has his own pumping plant, and on his well kept place are fig trees, dates, a beautiful grove of bearing olive trees, and splendid crops of growing cabbage and onions. He has in his possession a chart of Matagorda Bay that was made by his father.


Incidentally he remarked that he had been reared under the "Never leave home after night" rule, and he thought it was still a good one to follow.


Editor's Note: [Carey Smith]

The editor of The Tribune happens to know of a very interesting story of the Forrester family. A sister of this Miss Forrester married Thomas M. Harvey of England. Some years after they came to the old town of Matagorda, he was elected county clerk of this county and amassed considerable property. In England, the landed estates descended to the oldest son. The male line of the Forrester family became extinct, and its estate was left to Thomas Harvey on condition that he change his name to Forrester. He procured an act of the second Texas legislature in 1848 changing his name from Thomas M. Harvey to Thomas Harvey Forrester, and lived here under that name for many years. Finally he returned to England; and having business across the channel in Paris, he was caught there in the siege of that city by the Germans in 1871, and a letter he wrote to friends here stated that food was so scarce he, with many others, were subsisting on rats.
He died before the city capitulated.

Historic Matagorda County, Volume I, page 81

Reprinted in the Matagorda County Genealogical Society Quarterly, Oak Leaves, August 1977

Death of Mrs. T. C. Nye

The many friends in Matagorda of the Nye family were grieved on last Saturday to learn of the death of Mrs. Fannie Shoultz Nye, wife of Mr. T. C. Nye which occurred at the Nye home near Laredo, October 25.

Mr. T. C. Nye and Miss Fannie Shoultz were married in Matagorda July 12, 1866, and during their happy married life of eighteen years here, five children were born to them. But Mrs. Nye becoming a sufferer from lung trouble, Mr. Nye disposed of his large cattle interests here and moved west hoping to benefit her health. Her life was prolonged for 28 years but the end came peacefully last Friday, surrounded by the devoted family. The deceased was 64 years of age, and is survived by husband and four sons, A. P., Frank W., Grover C. and Chester W., who live in and near Laredo, and Mrs. Frances E. Collins of San Antonio, and one brother, A. Shoultz of Bay City, and other relatives. Deceased was a devoted member of the Episcopal church.

In compliance with the request of the deceased, her remains were brought to Matagorda for interment besides the graves of her father and mother. The funeral service at the Episcopal Church was conducted by the rector, Rev. John Sloan, and the remains followed to the cemetery by a large concourse of sorrowing friends.

The remains were accompanied from Laredo, by the sorrowing husband and sons, A. P. and Frank W. and wife. From Bay City were Messrs. A. Shoultz and wife, Roy Shoultz and wife and Chas. Cookenboo.

Matagorda News, November 1, 1912                    

Father of Onion Industry Passed Away This Morning
Thomas Carter Nye, Native Texan, Aged 73 Years
Came to Laredo Nineteen Years Ago and Subsequently Made Laredo Bermuda Onion a Famous Edible

Thomas Carter Nye, aged 73 years and a native of Matagorda county, Texas, the pioneer onion grower of the North Laredo section and who was the man who nineteen years ago made the Laredo country famous for its abundant crops of Bermuda onions by planting the first extensive acreage of the bulbs and creating a market that today makes the onion growing industry one of the most extensive and profitable grown in Texas, died at his home in North Laredo this morning at 4:40 o'clock after an illness of several weeks which gradually enfeebled him and made his dear ones despair of his recovery.

The deceased, a native Texan, was reared in his home county of Matagorda and was one of the old-time residents of fair Indianola, the most important city on the Texas coast long long ago, but which swept by the fury of destructive storms was practically deleted from the map. Leaving his home county he moved to the Cotulla section and there remained a number of years being engaged in the cattle raising husbandry and being a successful stockman. Nineteen years ago last February the subject of this tabloid sketch, accompanied by his wife and five children moved to Laredo from Cotulla and Mr. Nye purchased the old Taylor farm in North Laredo, which had been used for the extensive growing of grapes and was a cultivated vineyard. He planted Bermuda onions, as he was satisfied that the odorous bulbs would grow here and prove profitable if a market was created for them. For two years or more he devoted his efforts to making the onion industry a recognized asset of this section, and the result of his work was the popularizing of "Laredo onions" throughout the country to that extent where a great demand was created for them and today Laredo onions are popular everywhere. Thus Mr. Nye not only was the first farmer of this section to plant Bermuda onions on an extensive scale, but it was he who created a market demand for the great crop which now brings in gross receipts of practically $2,000,000 to the farmers of this section --in fact, that was the extent of the business last spring. Mr. Nye continued in the onion business throughout the following years and was often referred to in the newspapers as "the father of the onion industry in Laredo," for while he was not the first to plant onions, he was the first to let the outside world know that the savor of the Bermuda onions grown here surpassed those of other sections.

During the past nine months Mr. Nye, in a feeble condition primarily due to the encroachments of old age, had been in failing health, but only during the past six weeks has his decline been such that his family realized his condition was critical. This morning just before the dawn of a new day was ushered in, and while his family stood vigil at his bedside, he closed his eyes in that long slumber which is never disturbed and which comes as a surcease from earthly labors and brings repose to the tired souls of this early sphere.

Deceased was preceded to the grave by his beloved wife five years ago, and when he left this transitory vale to join his life companion on the silent shores of eternity, he left behind four sons, Frank W., Pierce, Grover and Chester Nye, besides one daughter, Mrs. R. A. Collins of Uvalde, and several grandchildren, all of whom have the sympathy of their many friends in their bereavement. The funeral takes place at 4 o'clock tomorrow afternoon from the home of Frank W. Nye, with interment in the Odd Fellows plot in the city cemetery.

Laredo Times, September 2, 1917

Funeral of T. C. Nye
Large Concourse of Sorrowing Friends Followed Remains to Last Resting Place in City Cemetery

The funeral of the late Thomas Carter Nye, the pioneer onion grower of the Laredo section who died at his home in North Laredo on Wednesday morning, took place from the home of his son, Frank W. Nye, yesterday afternoon at 4 o'clock, the obsequies being conducted by Chaplain Vincent of the Thirty-seventh Infantry and a large concourse of sorrowing relatives and friends following the remains from the house of sorrow to the place of interment in the Odd Fellows plot in the city cemetery.

During the day many beautiful floral tributes were sent to the Nye home and many friends called to gaze upon the features that lay still in death and to pay their last respects to the dead. Mr. Nye, during his residence of nearly twenty years in the Laredo section, had made numerous friends who recognized in him a man of keen business acumen, an agriculturist of ability and a personality that made friends whenever they encountered him. As a valuable asset he left to Laredo the profitable onion industry he had brought out from the experimental stage to that status where today it is one of the most extensive and profitable in the state, and which is the source of income for hundreds of thrifty farmers.

The funeral yesterday afternoon, attended as it was by citizens of prominence of Laredo, attested the high esteem in which the deceased was held in this community. The following acted as the active pallbearers; Mr. Ryman, Ed Denkike, S. V. Edwards, T. A. Austin, F. M. Ramsay and Fritz Werner.

Laredo Times, September 2, 1917

A Card of Thanks

We take this method of returning our sincere thanks and appreciation to the many friends who came to our assistance in the hours of sorrow caused by the death of our father, T. C. Nye, and also those who sent floral tributes and assisted at the funeral. Words are inadequate to express our thanks to all.


Laredo Times, September 2, 1917

Nye, Texas

Nye was two miles north of Laredo in southwestern Webb County. It was named for Thomas C. Nye, who introduced the Bermuda onion culture into the area in 1898. In 1906 500 carloads of onions were shipped from Nye Spur on the International-Great Northern Railroad. A school began operating about 1900, and during the 190708 school year it had an enrollment of forty-two. The area has been gradually absorbed by neighboring Laredo, and in the early 1990s only a few older dwellings still marked the site of the former settlement.

Christopher Long - Handbook of Texas


NYE (Webb)
Delbridge, Thos. E., 4 May 1905
Davis, John H., 13 July 1906
Discontinued 15 Nov 1906; mail to Laredo

Broke the Record

Mr. T. C. Nye, now of Laredo, but formerly of Cotulla, broke the record several years ago by selling out his ranch interest, moving to Laredo and going into the truck business exclusively. Mr. Nye made over $150 an acre last year on four acres of onions, and this year he has in fifteen acres, besides other truck.--Truck Farmer

Laredo Times, April 7, 1900

Who would have ever even dreamed ten years ago when T. C. Nye experimented on his irrigated grape farm at North Laredo by planting a small crop of Bermuda onions, that old Webb county today would have risen to be one of the banner agricultural counties of the state.

Laredo Times, May 26, 1909

Matagorda County Court Minutes, Monday, October 20th, 1845, p. 59

Called meeting for purpose to authorize County Clerk to make advertisement in three public places of the County, for purpose of procuring some person to take charge of and support and comfortably clothe the orphan child of the late W. N. Nye and the person taking charge will receive payment from county. The child is to be boarded out at public auction to the lowest bidder per month.

A. Wadsworth, Chief Justice
Wm. J. Maynard
Seth Ingram

Matagorda County Court Minutes, October 21, 1845, p. 59

There being no person at the auction of the 20th inst. willing to take charge of the orphan child, Thos. Nye, we the undersigned commissioners entered into an agreement this day with Elizabeth Harvey to take good charge of [to?] clothe and feed the said orphan at the rate of Twelve Dollars per calendar month to be paid out of the first money collected by the County Treasurer.

A. Wadsworth, Chief Justice
Wm. J. Maynard & Seth Ingram, County Commissioners

Matagorda County Court Minutes, January 6, 1846, p. 62

On Motion, Resolved that the account of Elizabeth Harvey for the sum of $58 be audited and allowed for the charge of the orphan child, Thomas Nye, and that the County Treasurer pay the sum when in funds.



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