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Family of
Wheeler Phillips

Wheeler Phillips Family

The Wheeler Phillips family came to Palacios soon after moving to Port Lavaca in 1908, and rented a small home on the corner of First Street and South Bay Boulevard. Soon after, Wheeler Phillips bought property at First Street and Duson. The lots were low and sloping down to a "gulley" which extended almost across First Street. The basement of the house that was later known as "The Iuka House" was dug, and the dirt used to level part of the gulley and ditch that extended into First Street. Mr. Phillips liked to work with concrete. He built a cement fish pond on the grounds and made statues of concrete. Most of these had disappeared, but the concrete posts with vines winding up the posts were still seen in 1984. The Iuka House was used many times to house people who were unable to find a room at the Baptist Encampment. Among those were the Girl Reserves.


Water came to the Iuka House by way of Duson Street by a two-inch galvanized pipe on stilts, two or three feet above the surface. Later the pipe was replaced by a six-inch cast iron pipe with lead and open joints. The pipe was not painted but was dipped, which gave the water a taste. The first water tank was of wood, and water flowed from an artesian well to the wooden tank. When a new water storage tank was built, water was pumped from the old wooden tank to the new, large tank. There was speculation about how to get the old tank down, but one night it fell down between the posts.


The town had no sewer system at that time, so every house had an "outhouse." A wagon came around every month and shoveled out the solids and took it to the mud flats west of town. Twenty-five cents an outhouse was charged for this service.


Wheeler Phillips put in a septic tank and dug a five foot sand well as a drain. He put in flush toilets, and the health department arrested him and tried him before the court. Mr. Gray, the city attorney, had the case thrown out of court after about twenty witnesses came forward.


Cattle ran free through the town, and on one occasion Mrs. Phillips pinned a new skirt on the clothes line and a cow ran into it and wore the skirt through the town. When an animal pound law was passed, everyone wondered what the ranchers would do with their cattle which were roaming free. The City of Palacios penned two hundred cattle in a corral and sent word to the owner that it would cost him one dollar per head to get them out. He paid his fine, and gave the town marshal twenty-five dollars a month to drive his cattle out of town. Another man did not believe the law, and traveled by train to Bay City to hire a lawyer who would sue the city. The lawyer asked five hundred dollars to handle the case, so the rancher came home and paid his two dollars in fines to get his cows from the pound.


The Palacios school was located on East Bay and stood on seven-foot concrete pilings. Professor Gray was the principal of the school. There were several rooms on the north side of the lot. They were built of strips of 1 x 12 boards. Wood stoves were used in the school and the wood used for fuel was also used for stepping blocks when it rained. The drinking fountain was a pipe which came from the ground with a row of pipes sticking up about six or eight inches.


Interview: Mr. and Mrs. Jim Phillips; Story by Mr. Phillips

Historic Matagorda County, Volume 1, pages 401-402



Copyright 2007 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Oct. 22, 2007
Oct. 22, 2007