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Family of
John B. Phillips



Sketch of Jno. B. Phillips, Father and Son

The Two Great Storms at Matagorda

John B. Phillips, Sr., was one of the early pioneers, and one who had a varied and perilous experience. Born and reared near Dublin, Ireland, where he married about 1835, he moved to South Africa, where his first child, John B., Jr., was born at Cape Town, Dec. 9, 1837. In 1849 Mr. Phillips moved to Mexico, locating at Pueblo, where his son, Edward H., who died at Caney in 1912 was born about February, 1813, while the Mier prisoners were making their escape, or attempt to escape (most all were recaptured), Mr. Phillips aided some of them, and for that he was arrested and thrown into prison and was about to be shot when the British consul interfered and secured his release. Mr. Phillips then concluded he would seek a more healthy country, and came to Texas in 1845, settling at Matagorda. Here and on the peninsula he engaged in stock-raising and farming until 1872 when he fell from his boat, between two boats and was drowned. His wife died about 1890. Surviving them there were J. B., W. J., Edw. H. and Margaret, who married Wm. Layton.

John B. Phillips, Jr., the subject of this sketch, was about seven years old when his father came to Matagorda. He grew up on the ranch, getting such educational advantages as were afforded at that early date. On December 6, 1869, he married Miss Lucy Swartz, at Indianola and made his home on the peninsula opposite Matagorda, from 1855 to 1875, continued farm and stock business. The family were in the disastrous storm of August 8, 1875, when they lost all their stock and possessions except about 118 head of sheep. It was about daylight when the wind attained its greatest velocity and the water came over the peninsula in one great tidal wave four to six feet high. The salt cedars around the home proved a great protection to them, and, due to their breaking the force of the wave, no doubt, the family suffered no loss of life. In fact, there was no loss of life in that immediate locality, but there was further up the peninsula, 15 to 30 miles. The water remained on the peninsula about an hour.

While living in Matagorda, says Mr. Phillips, when he was about 15 years old, in 1854, the worst storm which has ever visited Matagorda came upon the town and destroyed most of the buildings. The hurricane came first from the northeast leveling about two-thirds of the houses, and damaging many others. But four homes in the town escaped damage; they were the present home of Judge A. C. Burkhart, the dwelling southeast of where Mr. Philips now lives, one near the present depot, and the summer home of Col. R. H. Williams, a Caney planter, and first alcalde for this county, and the present A. C. Bruce dwelling. Only four or five people were killed; the only one whose name he recalls being Mrs.____ Duffy, grandmother of Amos. The wind veered around to the west and blew the water of the bay over the town to the depth of a few inches, a boat 30 feet long being carried to the center of town and against the fallen home of Wm. Layton. The Episcopal Church also escaped.


Mr. Jno. B. Phillips has only one son living, Jack whose home is with him. One son, Thomas, lost his life by drowning in January, 1900, while he was farming on the peninsular. His horses hitched to a wagon ran away with him into the gulf, when Thomas fell of the wagon, his clothing catching on a bolt so that he was dragged through the water, and when the team finally turned and went ashore the young man was dead. His four daughters are Mrs. Susan (J. D.) Moore of Bay City, Mrs. Lucy Inglehart of Matagorda, Mrs. Chas. (Daisy) Williams of Matagorda, and Mrs. Lizzie Pennington of Gonzales.


Mr. Phillips enlisted in the first company entering the civil war from this section of Texas, the one organized by Dr. Pearson, and captained by Capt. Selkirk throughout the war. He served through the Arkansas campaign and was captured with the entire company at Arkansas Post.


The News-Farmer published a sketch and muster roll of the Selkirk company two weeks ago.

The Matagorda County News and Midcoast Farmer, April 7, 1916



Copyright 2011 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
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Sep. 18, 2011
Sep. 18, 2011