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Portsmouth Information

Picture courtesy of Matagorda County Museum.

Beach at Portsmouth

Hotel at Portsmouth owned by Mr. and Mrs. James O'Neal
( O'Neill, O'Neil, O'Neille)

Photos above & below courtesy of Matagorda County Museum.


By Mary L. Griffin

About 1902 Burton D. Hurd laid out another town on the Palacios Point site.  He named this town Portsmouth, and the area is still called by that name.  A family named O誰eal operated a hotel for several years and were hosts to hunters and fishermen, but the town never grew.  The point of land on which the hotel was built is still called Palacios Point.

Historic Matagorda County, Volume 1

Typed by Faye Cunningham

James M. & Ida L. Fountain O'Neil
Photo courtesy of Bobbie Gaspard, Joan Gaspard & Patrick Porter


Memories of Old Hotel at Portsmouth

by Abel B. Pierce


In the opinion of Lee M. (Tick) Pierce and Abel B. (John Henry) Pierce, Jr. of Blessing, the subject photo (above and upper right) depicts the old hotel at Portsmouth or Palacios Point, south of Collegeport. It was operated by Mr. and Mrs. O'Neal (or O'Neille per Ruth Harrison Pierce). (In I.E. Robertson Survey, Ab. 85).


The Pierce family spend many happy weekends having traveled there by boat from Palacios or by auto from Blessing by Collegeport over dirt roads and deep sand (when Oyster Lake was dry enough to allow crossing. This was before the Intracoastal Canal came to be.)


We swam in Matagorda Bay, dodged "cabbageheads" and consumed quantities of shrimp, "lassoed" by our dad (Abel B. Pierce, Sr.) with a castnet.


Special memories:

1)  Sleeping on "corn-shuck" mattresses in upstairs bedrooms; every move waking you up with the "rustling,"

2) An old foot pump organ in the "lobby" down-stairs that the "kiddies" tried to play until one pedal "broke-down." To conceal the disaster, we propped it up with one of Mrs. O'Neal's baking powder biscuits which were, however, very good eating.)

Tick Pierce even identified the room on the right hand side of the balcony as where he slept.


Crossroad Chronicles

Palacios Point, situated across the bay from present-day Palacios was founded in 1838. John Duncan and R. R. Royall, proprietors, advertised this town of Palacios in the January 3, 1838 issue of the Matagorda Bulletin:

"This town is situated upon "Half Moon Point," formed by the junction of the Bays of Matagorda and Trespalacios- the later of which forms a harbour of superior excellence, affording a sufficient depth of water contiguous to the shore for the largest vessels which can enter the Matagorda Bay to lay in security alongside of a wharf and discharge and receive cargoes at pleasure.


"The extraordinary advantages of this point, for a commercial city are so well known, not only in Texas, but in the cities of the United States, that it is deemed unnecessary to enumerate them.


"The place has hitherto been kept out of the market, in order that the title might be perfected before being offered for sale-and this object having been happily accomplished, purchasers can obtain unquestionable titles, and the lots will be sold at auction on the first Monday of March 1838 and the succeeding days, on a liberal credit, the purchasers giving bond with approved security and a mortgage till final payment. The point is situated about 20 miles N.N.E. of Paso Caballo and the same distance W.S.W. of the town of Matagorda, it is the form of a square, is nearly surrounded by the waters of the Bays, and is sufficiently extensive for a popular city.


"The proprietors with a thorough knowledge of the whole sea coast, unhesitatingly state it as their firm conviction that this place will become the great commercial emporium of Texas."


J. M. O誰eil

J. M. O誰eil was born in Marshall County, West Virginia, on January 15th, 1858, and passed to his eternal rest at his home in Palacios on April 17th, 1937. When a young man he went from his home in West Virginia to Colorado and Montana, and worked in the silver mines. He moved to Missouri in 1891, engaging in business there, and in this year was married to Miss Ida L. Fountain. Mr. and Mrs. O誰eil came to Texas in 1908, residing in Palacios for a short time. During this year he had a hotel built in Portsmouth, some miles along the coast from Collegeport. Mr. and Mrs. O誰eil managed this hotel until two years ago when they moved to Palacios.

The funeral service was held in the Presbyterian Church on Sunday, April 18th, at 3 o団lock, and the sermon was preached by Rev. George F. Gillespie, Pastor of this Church, who had known the late Mr. O誰eil intimately during the past 17 years. He took as his text Acts, ch. 13, v. 36 and spoke of the way in which Mr. O誰eil had served his generation. Mr. O誰eil was a sincere Christian and attended church when his health permitted. He had been a man of principle all his life. Institutions may change their form, and the rules governing them may change, but principle is eternal. 禅he good men do lives after them, and Mr. O誰eil had been deeply and thoroughly honest in all his ways. He abhorred anything savouring of scheming or trickery in business or private relations. The supreme thing in life is Christian character, and Mr. O誰eil痴 friends will always remember him for his solid character. He has now gone to the many-mansioned home, where faith is merged in sight, where hope becomes fruition, and where every desire of the soul is satisfied.

Mr. and Mrs. O誰eil have been members of the Church of Christ for many years. There was a large attendance of local people at the Service in the Church, and many friends came from Collegeport. The Service at the grave was under the auspices of the I. O. O. F. Lodge, of which he had been a member almost 50 years.

Mr. O誰eil is survived by his wife, Mrs. Ida L. O誰eil, and one son, Charles E. O誰eil, who occupies a very important position in the business world. He is President of the National Bondholders Corporation with offices in New York City. The sympathy of the entire Community goes out to Mrs. O誰eil and Mr. Charles E. O誰eil.

George F. Gillespie, Pastor Presbyterian Church

Palacios Beacon, April 29, 1937

Mrs. Ida Louise O誰eil

Mrs. Ida L. (nee Fountain) O誰eil, was born at Queen City, Mo., January 2, 1867. In early life she united with the Christian Church. She was married August 13, 1891, to James M. O誰eil who died in Palacios, April 17, 1937. Mr. and Mrs. O誰eil moved to Palacios in 1908 and were among the early settlers of this community, conducting a hotel at Portsmouth until they returned to Palacios to reside about ten years ago.

To them one son, Charles, was born and he was sent away to school and college shortly after their arrival here, making his home in New York City where he has since resided.

The deceased united with the Presbyterian Church of Palacios, November 12, 1939. She was a great lover of flowers and at her home usually could be found rare specimens of shrubs and flowers sent her by her son Charles from many different localities visited during his travels.

After protracted illness, Mrs. O誰eil died on Sunday morning May 16 at her home on Welch Avenue. Funeral services were conducted at the Palacios Funeral Home Monday, May 17 at 5 P. M. by her pastor, Rev. J. G. M. Ramsey, assisted by Rev. G. F. Gillespie and Rev. L. W. Crouch, close neighbors and friends of the deceased. Billy Crouch sang 鄭bide With Me accompanied by his mother, Mrs. L. W. Crouch. Mrs. E. E. Burton played at the piano for the service.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles O誰eil of New York arrived at her bedside a few days before the mother passed away and remained until late this week before returning to their home.

Palacios Beacon, May 20, 1943

Articles courtesy of Mike Reddell and the Bay City Tribune


Copyright 2006 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs 
All rights reserved

Aug. 23, 2006
Jun. 18, 2016