David Culver and his two brothers, Arthur and James, came from Scotland via England in 1798 to settle in Lockport, New York, and continued their boat building trade. David’s son, John, and one of the his brothers came to New Orleans in 1838 and then to Austin, Texas, where they built flatboats to bring cotton down the Colorado River to Elliott’s Ferry. From Elliott’s Ferry the cotton was transported overland by ox teams to the port of Galveston.
John married Elizabeth Arans and they settled in Matagorda in 1847. Elizabeth was a music teacher and taught piano lessons on a melodeon which she had brought with her from Berlin, Germany, when she immigrated to the United States in 1839 at the age of eighteen. John and Elizabeth were the parents of five children: Clara, Cyrene, John, William and George. John died on January 22, 1885, and Elizabeth died on December 25, 1907. Both are buried in the Matagorda Cemetery.
John and Elizabeth’s sons, George and John were cattle drivers in their early years, and drove herds on the trail from Texas to Dodge City, Kansas. On December 22, 1892, George married Lillie Bruce, daughter of Arthur and Mary Smith Bruce. Arthur and Mary lived at Caney first, but moved to Matagorda to enroll their children in school.
In 1898, George was deputy sheriff of Matagorda County, Precinct 2, and vice-president of the Mid-Coast Industrial Congress. He also served on the board of directors for the Colorado River Improvement Association. He was a charter member of the Intracoastal Canal Association, and worked with C. S. E. Holland of Houston and Roy Miller of Corpus Christi. Among his many business ventures, George organized the Matagorda Shell Company which provided oyster shell for the first shell streets around the courthouse in Bay City. They were the beginning of hard-surfaced roads in Matagorda County. In 1901 he gave land for the Santa Fe Railroad as an inducement to run a passenger train to Matagorda. When the county seat was moved from Matagorda to Bay City, he bought the courthouse and later moved it to the lot where the Matagorda Courts were located. It was operated as a hotel by Ed and Fannie Savage for several years, but burned about 1838. George also bought the jail and converted it into a house that was used as a residence for many years.
About 1907 or 1908, several families from Matagorda—the Ward McNabbs, Goodwin Sternes, Albert Wadsworths, and the Culvers; built the Ben Hur Hotel on Matagorda Beach. It was built near the mouth of the river and was constructed of beach shell and concrete. Hurricanes finally washed it away.
George was a member of Christ Episcopal Church and served on the vestry as Senior Warden. A Bible used in the church for a number of years was given in his memory. Before he died on July 5, 1931, The Daily Tribune headlined an article about him entitled, “The Grand Old Man of Matagorda County.”
Lilly, his wife, was a devout member of the Matagorda Methodist Church and she and Mrs. Ed Baker made weekly visits in a horse-drawn buggy to all the church members to collect enough money to pay the preacher’s salary, and she helped to rebuild the church building after it was nearly destroyed by a hurricane. George and Lilly were the parents of four children: Arthur S., Eric G., Ned W., and Mary E. Lilly was a devoted wife and mother, and as was the custom in those years, the main requirement for a wife and mother was to run the household and rear the children; and without modern conveniences it was a demanding task. Lilly died on January 9, 1959. She and George were both buried in Matagorda Cemetery.
Arthur Stewart Culver, the oldest son of George and Lilly, was born on October 30, 1893, in Matagorda. He attended school in Matagorda and at San Marcos Academy, which is now Southwest Texas State University. On June 26, 1918, at the age of twenty-five, he married Minnie L. Murdoch, in Matagorda. Minnie was born on April 12, 1893, in Jayton, Texas. She moved with her family to Matagorda from Jayton in 1914. Arthur and Minnie resided in Simpsonville where Arthur engaged in ranching. Simpsonville, located between Tin Top and Matagorda, was situated near the railroad, and supported the railroad station, a small mercantile store, and a schoolhouse. The main purpose of this spur of the railroad was to ship cattle from the large ranches in the area to markets. Later the railroad was moved about a mile away and the town of Simpsonville soon faded away.
In 1924, after the big freeze, Arthur and Minnie moved back to Matagorda, and bought a house which was owned by Lilly’s uncle, Charlie Bruce. This was one of the oldest houses in Matagorda, and Minnie, at the age of ninety-one, still lived there. Arthur died on June 19, 1965, and was buried in the Matagorda Cemetery.
Arthur and Minnie were the parents of two sons, Arthur, Jr. and Ray M.
George and Lilly’s son, Eric George, was born on August 10, 1895, in Matagorda. Eric owned and operated Culver Grocery Store in Matagorda until his death in 1951. He married Lucille Pannill on June 25, 1924, and they were the parents of one son, Eric Neil.
Ned Wadsworth Culver was born in Matagorda, Texas, on October 4, 1899. He attended school in Matagorda and Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas. On December 26, 1921, he married Audrey Lee Miller in Belton, Texas. Audrey, the daughter of James A. and Eliza Miller, was born on February 25, 1898, in Belton, Texas. Ned and Audrey made their home in Matagorda where they remodeled and lived in a house across the street from the old Culver home. The house had been built for a Negro slave, Hannah Carr, by her former master after the Civil War. The old home was in use for several generations. Ned owned and operated the water works in Matagorda for many years and also owned Culver Plumbing Company in Bay City. In the early 1950s, Ned built the Beach Tavern on Matagorda Beach. Ned died on January 17, 1970, Audrey died on May 15, 1975, and both were buried in the Matagorda Cemetery.
Ned and Audrey had one son, James Lee, who was born on July 27, 1926, in Old Gulf, Texas. James Lee married Phyllis Yeamans on November 24, 1950 and they lived in Matagorda.
George and Lilly’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was born in Matagorda on March 21, 1902. On May 9, 1923, she married Hilmar William “Mickey” Mecklenburg who was born on June 15, 1899, in Sealy, Texas. Mickey came to Matagorda in 1921 to work in the office of Texas Gulf Sulphur Company in Old Gulf, Texas. The Mecklenburgs moved to Newgulf in 1929, and Mickey continued to work for Texas Gulf Sulphur for forty-three years and retired in 1964. They moved back to Matagorda and lived in the old Culver home. Mickey died on December 9, 1977, and was buried in the Matagorda Cemetery. Mary continued to reside in the Culver home in Matagorda. The Mecklenburgs were devoted members of the Matagorda Methodist Church. After they retired to Matagorda, Mickey was active with family business and served as a member of the Board of Directors of Matagorda Cemetery and as a member of the water board.
Mickey and Mary Culver Mecklenburg were the parents of two children, Joan Mecklenburg and William George “Bill” Mecklenburg.
Historic Matagorda County, Volume II, pages
113 - 115
|Marker wording typed by Faye Cunningham.|
Copyright 2011 -
Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
Sep. 5, 2011
Sep. 23, 2012