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Family of
Wheeler Piercy Phillips

Iuka House

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

Wheeler Piercy Phillips
January 13, 1870 Edina, Knox County, Missouri
August 22, 1936 Santa Ana, Orange County, California
Buried Westminster Memorial Park, Midway City, Orange County, California

Wheeler Phillips was the third of nine children born to Piercy W. Phillips (1839-1928) and Sarah Anna Wheeler Phillips (1843-1925).

His siblings were:
Morton William Phillips (1865-1957)
Cortes Hunter Phillips (1867-1953)
Charles Elston Phillips M. D. (1877-1939)
_____ Phillips (1880-1895)
Anna Emma May Phillips (1881-1968)
Glendora Mary Phillips (1884-____)
Sarah Caroline Phillips (1887-1971)
John James Phillips (1888-1929)

On August 23, 1903, in Iuka, Pratt County, Kansas, Wheeler married

Martha "Mattie" Elizabeth Brown Phillips Lynch
July 29, 1886 Berry, Harrison County, Kentucky
December 28, 1955 Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon
Buried River View Cemetery, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon

Mattie was the third of six children born to Josephus Brown (1828-1898) and Martha Jane Garnett Brown (1832-1922).

Her siblings were:
Mary Brown (1878-1880)
Rosa R. Brown (1884-1969)
Louisa H. Brown (189601977)
_____ Brown (1900-1900)
Perry Brown (1904-____)

Wheeler and Mattie had four known children, the first two being born in Iuka, Pratt County, Kansas. Their third child, Elsie, was born in Palacios, Matagorda County, Texas. Nothing is known of the fourth children.

James Wheeler Phillips (1904-1994)
Eula "Blanche" Phillips (1906-1980)
Elsie Louise Phillips (1909-1957)

Old time friends of Mr. Wheeler Phillips will be sorry to hear of his death at this home near Santa Ana, Calif., Aug. 22.--Palacios Beacon, September 10, 1936

Mrs. Martha B. Lynch Dies in Portland, Ore.

Word has been received here of the death of Mrs. Martha B. Lynch, the former Mrs. Wheeler (Mattie) Phillips, on December 29, 1955 at the home of her daughter, Mrs. M. L. Smiley in Portland, Oregon.

Mrs. Lynch was born July 29, 1886. For several years she ran the Iuka House here.

A year ago she was in Del Mar, Calif. with her son, Jim Phillips, and while there suffered a heart attack. She recovered enough to be able to return to Portland where her daughters and many of her friends lived.

She is survived by her two daughters, Mrs. Elsie Smiley and Mrs. Blanche Fouts and one son, Jim Phillips of Del Mar., Calif.

Palacios Beacon, January 12, 1956

James Wheeler Phillips
June 17, 1904 Pratt County, Kansas
January 7, 1994 Houston, Harris County, Texas
Buried Houston National Cemetery, Houston, Harris County, Texas

Eula "Blanche" Phillips Fouts
July 29, 1906 Iuka, Pratt County, Kansas
January 21, 1980 Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon
Buried River View Cemetery, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon

Blanche Fouts

FOUTS--Blanche, 73; sister of James Phillips; 3 grandchildren, nieces and nephews include M. Jeanne Brucken, Louella Elkanan. Funeral services Thursday, 11 am, Fuiten Mortuary, Beaverton.

Oregonian, (Portland, Oregon) January 23, 1980

Elsie Louise Phillips Smiley
February 26, 1909 Palacios, Matagorda County, Texas
July 18, 1957 Multnomah County, Oregon
Buried River View Cemetery, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon

Elsie L. Smiley

Funeral for Mrs. Elsie L. Smiley will be Monday at 11 a. m. at the Little Chapel of the Chimes, 430 North Killingsworth Street. Mrs. Smiley died Thursday after an extended illness. She was 43. She was born in Palacios, Tex., February 26, 1909, and had lived in Portland for the past 31 years. She was a member of Alberta Church of Christ, Portland. She is survived by her husband, Merrill L. Smiley, two daughters, Mrs. Marilyn J. Quirk and Mrs. Shirley A. Pfeiffer, and two grandchildren, all of Portland, and a brother, James W. Phillips of San Diego.

Oregonian, (Portland, Oregon) July 20, 1957

[Residence: 3325 NE Prescott, Portland, Oregon]


Old Days in Palacios Recalled
By HenryWolff Jr.


Folks used to call him "Red" in his younger days, but now he's mostly just known as Jim

J. W. Phillips of Port Lavaca, we're talking about.

Phillips says somehow his hair got bleached, which could have to do with his 81 years, but there's still a touch of red there and you wouldn't know his age if he didn't mention it, because he's still something of a live wire.

I went by to talk to him a little about when he was a boy at Palacios, but he also told me some about how he used to raise orchids in California, for about 15 years at Del Mar, and also how he served as a medal smith with Torpedo Squadron Eight which made such a name for itself at the Battle of Midway and elsewhere in the Pacific during World War II. Phillips was in the Navy from 1926 to 1947.

He was something of a salt even before that, however and was sailing Tres Palacios Bay back before he was big enough to hoist the sails himself, but once he could get someone to do it for him the bay was all his. That was when his parents had the Iuka House at Palacios, where you could get suites of two rooms for $15 per month with electric lights, bath and toilet and a free boat to roomers for fishing and hunting. Phillips has an old postcard showing the family gathered on the porch of The Iuka and also a picture of their sailboat, named "Jim Phillips" after him.

There are also pictures of a fancy horse trough that his father built on the grounds with some Campfire Girls from Caldwell gathered around it, and one of what he says is the first parade in Palacios, also there's a good snapshot of him looking like Huck Finn.

Phillips was born in Kansas, at the old town of Iuka for which his folks, Wheeler and Mattie Phillips, named the rooming house in Palacios, but when they moved to Texas in 1908 their first stop was Port Lavaca where they stayed for a short time at the old Lavaca Hotel. He remembers that one time when his dad went down to the dock to eat some oysters and asked a man to keep an eye on him.

"I bought a wagon load of watermelons for a dollar," he recalls, "and sold them for a nickel apiece. Made me a dollar."

The picture of Phillips as a barefoot boy looking like Huck Finn, with a fishing pole and a tin can to hold his bait, was taken when he was maybe 10 or 11 years old.

"I never wore a pair of shoes out until I was 15 years old," he recalls.

Phillips can remember when they'd be out in the bay and stop by the old Half Moon Reef Light Station, which is the small lighthouse that's now sitting near the Chamber of Commerce office in Port Lavaca. It was in Matagorda Bay between Palacios and Port O'Connor, and he says the tenders would come to Palacios about once a month and load their kerosene and pick up supplies and fresh water, since otherwise they only drinking water they had was what they could catch off the roof. There was usually a man and wife at the lighthouse, and they had a sailboat which they kept tied to a big concrete block in the water.

"I know, my dad made it," Phillips says.

There was no communications, but if there was a problem at the lighthouse the tenders would fly Old Glory upside down, to get the attention of passing boats.

Phillips tells a story about once when they were fishing in the surf off Matagorda Peninsula.

"Something kept throwing a fin up about half the size of a door," he recalls "I had the feeling it was after me, whatever it was."

He said they were in a seine boat and decided to move down the beach a mile or so, but that the big fish followed them. They had dropped the net to see what they could catch and when they pulled it in they had a 11-foot-10-inch manta ray to contend with, or devil's fish as some call it.

"We had never seen anything like it," he says. "It took four men to hold that side of the net."

It wasn't until they stopped at the lighthouse that they knew what they'd caught, and he said later on at Palacios they took a picture of the son of the boat's owner standing in the mouth of the big fish which almost had the boy swallowed in the picture.

I enjoyed visiting with Phillips and his wife, Elaine, who is originally from Eastern Washington. They were married in 1936 in San Diego.

Phillips says his family moved from Palacios when he was still a boy, about 1920, after his father had traded the rooming house for 500 acres of wheat land at Panhandle, in Carson County.

"You know that deer in the center of the street at White Deer," he says. "We put that in, my father and I, made it out of concrete."

Would have been about the time he was wearing his first pair of shoes out.

Victoria Advocate, January 26, 1986


Phillips Family in the News

Mrs. Chas. Hoffman and daughter, Miss Bessie, and Miss Louise Brown, Lacon , Kan. , arrived last Saturday, and will remain during the winter. Miss Brown is a sister of Mrs. Wheeler Phillips, of the Iuka House, where the visitors are stopping.--Collegeport Chronicle, November 11 1911

Mr. S. H. Beran, wife and son, Albert of Ft. Worth, came in Monday and are stopping at the Iuka House. Mr. Wheeler Phillips, proprietor, took these people and others stopping at his place out to the Gulf Tuesday in his sail boat for a fishing trip.--Palacios Beacon, August 22, 1913

Wheeler Phillips left Wednesday morning for Pratt, Kans., to attend the Golden wedding anniversary of his parents. This will be large gathering of kinfolk as there are eight children and twenty grandchildren and not a death has occurred in the family. Mr. Phillips will be gone about three weeks and will visit in other Kansas points and Colorado before returning to Palacios.--Palacios Beacon, November 14, 1913

Big Picnic Party to Cotton Bayou

A large party of visitors picnicked at Cotton Bayou two days last week, making the trip on the launch Alamo and sailing vessel Jim Phillips, with Wheeler Phillips in command as commodores of the fleet. The party left Tuesday morning of last week, returning Thursday evening, and had the time of their lives, the picnickers being visitors from the interior, guests at the Iuka House. Those making up the picnic party were: Mr. Isaac Hawver and three children, from Decatur, ills.; Mr. and Mrs. S. W. Haines and G. A. Haines, wife and son, from Ansley, Neb.; Mr. and Mrs. W. Thomas and two daughters from Broken Bow, Neb.; Mr. and Mrs. Nealy Ratliffe, from Indiana; Mr. and Mrs. Perkins and niece from Kansas City; Mrs. F. S. Bishop and two daughters, of Palacios; Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Minich and daughter, of Blessing; Mrs. McCune, of Blessing, and Wheeler Phillips, owner of the sail boat.--Palacios Beacon, February 13, 1913

Notice to Y. P. B.

Considering the fact that the school term is nearing a close and that the young people are trying to "cram for exams," the officers of the Y. P. B. have decided to postpone further meetings of our class until school has closed and the pupils have relaxed from their labor. Therefore, we will ask the Y. P. B. to watch the Beacon for further notice. We realize that the young people just now are taxing themselves to the very limit and we also know all or nearly all of their future depends upon the education they are gaining now.

Mrs. Wheeler Phillips, Supt.

Palacios Beacon, May 15, 1914

Y. P. B. Announcement

Now that the school rush is over our minds begin to form plans for our Y. P. B. to again take up the work of temperance. Let all who are interested lend a helping hand.

We, realizing we are deficient at officers, yet we are trying to do our little to help along the cause.

Our next meeting will be at the home of Warren Tinkham, June 11 at 8:00 P. M. Members are urged to be present. Visitors are cordially invited and new members will be most welcome. Our subject is "Tobacco." Those who have year books please bring them.

Mrs. Wheeler Phillips, Supt. Y. P. B.

Palacios Beacon, June 5, 1914

A party consisting of Messrs. A. J. Tatum, M. K. Feather, John Clay and Wheeler Phillips made a several days duck-hunt last week to Cotton Bayou, returning with lots of game.--Palacios Beacon, January 15, 1915

Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler Phillips went to Bay City Monday, Mr. Phillips to remain a week on court duty, and Mrs. Phillips returning Monday evening.--Palacios Beacon, January 15, 1915

Wheeler Phillips returned home last Friday from a week's business stay at Bay City.--Palacios Beacon, January 22, 1915

Council Proceedings

At the request of Mr. Wheeler Phillips, the city secretary was directed to write to the Custom House officials at Galveston in regard to establishing a harbor line at Palacios.

Palacios Beacon, June 25, 1915

The following claims against the city, having been examined by the finance committee and found to be correct, are hereby approved, and it is ordered that warrants issue on the city treasurer for the amounts due each of them respectfully.

Wheeler Phillips - labor - $60.00

Palacios Beacon, October 8, 1915

The mother of Mrs. Wheeler Phillips, whose husband died recently, arrived from Kansas yesterday evening for a visit with her daughter and family.--Palacios Beacon, December 17, 1915

The following claims, having been examined by the finance committee, and found to be correct, are hereby approved, and it is ordered that warrants issue on the city treasurer in favor of the respective parties for the amounts due them to-wit:

Wheeler Phillips - cement work - $15.00

Palacios Beacon, March 10, 1916

Mrs. J. H. Brown who spent the winter with her daughter, Mrs. Wheeler Phillips, started for her home in Garden City, Kansas, Monday morning.--Palacios Beacon, May 12, 1916

Mrs. Merck and daughters of Collegeport spent Sunday in Palacios the guests of Mrs. Wheeler Phillips. Misses Bessie, Jessie and Theora are staying with Mrs. Phillips and attending normal.--Palacios Beacon, June 9, 1916

Mrs. Wheeler Phillips and Miss Edna Baird spent Sunday in Blessing visiting the Minich family and joined Mr. and Mrs. S. M. Baird who were returning from their visit at Manitou Springs, Colorado.--Palacios Beacon, September 15, 1916|

E. L. Shaw and wife, of Pratt, Kansas came in Friday to finish the winter here, and are the guests of Wheeler Phillips and wife at the Iuka.--Palacios Beacon, February 2, 1917

Mr. J. L. Parker and Wheeler Phillips and son Jimmy left Monday morning in Mr. Parker's car for Houston, where they will be joined by Mr. A. F. Craymer who left Sunday with his car, together they will make a trip to Kansas where Mr. Phillips and son will visit. Mr. Parker and Mr. Craymer going on to Parker, Colo., and other points in that state, expecting to be gone for about two months.--Palacios Beacon, May 11, 1917

Here is a piece of good news for Palacios people, at the State Fair in Dallas. Mr. W. M. Teal and Mr. Wheeler Phillips carried off all the first and second prizes on citrus fruits. Come to Palacios and enjoy citrus fruits, wonderful climate and the best people on earth.--Palacios Beacon, November 2, 1917

Mrs. J. H. Barker, of Iuka, Kansas, arrived Monday and will spend the winter with her friends, Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler Phillips, at the Iuka apartment house.--Palacios Beacon, December 21, 1917

Mr. and Mrs. P. W. Phillips, of Pratt, Kans., who have been spending the past three months in Corpus Christi, came in last Friday evening for a short visit with their son, Wheeler Phillips, and family before returning to their northern home.--Palacios Beacon, March 22, 1918

Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Tatum are the proud parents of a baby boy born Monday, May 6th. With the birth of this child makes five generations living bearing the Tatum name.--Palacios Beacon, May 10, 1918

The following verses were written by Wheeler Phillips and dedicated to Lofton Landrum Tatum:

In the city of Palacios,
Of one family we boast,
With five generations
In this town on the coast.

In years gone by
This family begun
With Landrum, now hale and hearty
At ninety and one.

Twenty five years after
This family begun,
Clinton came to this world
In the year fifty one.

Twenty one years later
Following these two,
Andrew came with them
In seventy two.

Twenty four years later
Came Raymond, you see,
Who is new proud father
And his age twenty three.

Now Lofton Landrum Tatum
A bright baby boy
Says 'grandpa' to the others
And brings them great joy.

Now this baby Tatum
He differs from others,
With five grandfathers
And four grandmothers.

Now to this family of Tatums,
As we tell you goodbye
All that keeps them from Heaven
Is, they never do die.

Palacios Beacon, May, 17, 1918

Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler Phillips and family, Miss Edna Baird, Mr. and Mrs. Cave, Mr. and Mrs. Mills and Bill Johnson left Wednesday by auto for an extended trip thru Kansas. There were three cars and each had trailers and we know Palacios will be well advertised as each trailer had painted in bold letters on its sides "Palacios, Texas, City-by-the-sea." These good people expect to spend the summer sojourneying in Kansas and will return to Palacios early in September.--Palacios Beacon, May 17, 1918

We are in receipt of a letter from Wheeler Phillips in Pratt, Kans., stating that they had arrived safely after a two-weeks' trip in which they had encountered rain, mud, rocks, hills, dust and a bit of everything except ice and snow, along with long stretches of delightful roads. He said crop conditions were fine and that a 12-inch rain had preceded them in Oklahoma, washing out culverts and making deep chuck holes, but in all the trip they were aided only once and only found it necessary to use chains and curtains one time. He expresses himself as entirely satisfied with the Ford route and says they enjoyed the whole trip.--Palacios Beacon, June 7, 1918

Mrs. Wheeler Phillips and children came in on the jitney Wednesday morning leaving Mr. Phillips and the car up the line waiting for better roads. The Phillips family spent the past six months in Kansas.--Palacios Beacon, November 29, 1918

Birthday Party

Mrs. Wheeler Phillips entertained a party of young folks at her home Tuesday afternoon in honor of her daughter, Miss Blanche, and friend, Miss Elizabeth Evans, who had reached the first period of the teen age on this day. Miss Montgomery, to the delight of all, had charge of the games, which were enjoyed by all until the time for cutting the birthday cake arrived. Jack Sisson was the lucky finder of the ring, Jack Price, the dime and Celia Young found the thimble and Bruce Burton the button. Ice cream cones were also served and the occasion was one long to be remembered by guests as well as the happy and delighted young ladies in whose honor it was given.

D. D. Rittenhouse, of near town, and Mrs. Phillips also celebrated their birthdays on this day and it is said neither of them felt they had past the teen age.--Palacios Beacon, August 1, 1919

The next meeting of the W. C. T. U. will meet at home of Mrs. Wheeler Phillips, Wednesday, Feb. 11th. All members are urged to be present as new officers re to be elected and dues...--Palacios Beacon, February 6, 1920

Mrs. Wheeler Phillips was very pleasantly surprised Tuesday by the arrival of her mother, Mrs. M. Brown, of Twin Falls, Idaho, who will pay her daughter an extended visit.--Palacios Beacon, February 27, 1920

15 Years Ago - 1936

Mrs. Mattie Wheeler Phillips was doing the local work on the Beacon.--Palacios Beacon, February 20, 1936

Word has been received by Wheeler Phillips that his father P. W. Phillips of Pratt, Kansas, is sick at Corpus Christi, Texas.
Wheeler Phillips left Thursday night for Corpus Christi.--Palacios Beacon, February 25, 1921

Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Phillips visited a few days with their son, Wheeler Phillips and family, this week.--Palacios Beacon, March 18, 1921

O. G. Crockett, William Crockett, Frank Walker and Wheeler Phillips left Monday morning for Panhandle, Texas.--Palacios Beacon, April 8, 1921

Mrs. Wheeler Phillips writes friends that they are nicely located on their farm at the town line of Panhandle. They grow cherries there and the Phillips family expects to raise lots of fruit and vegetables.--Palacios Beacon, July 21, 1922

A Letter

The Beacon received a letter this week from Martha E. Lynch, formerly Mrs. Wheeler Phillips, a resident of Palacios some twenty years ago and who at one time worked as local reporter for the Beacon. Mrs. Lynch informs us her two daughters, Blanch and Elsie, are planning an extensive trip this summer with a short stop in Palacios and would like to know dates for this year's Encampment. The many friends of this family will be glad to know they are still remembered and will be looking forward to seeing these young ladies this summer during the Baptist Encampment which will be held July 1 to...--Palacios Beacon, February 20, 1941


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Oct. 22, 2007
Jun. 6, 2016