Turtle Bay Community

By Margaret Johnson

The Turtle Bay Community is situated in the southwestern part of Matagorda County. It is bound on the west by Jackson County, on the south by Turtle Bay and Well Point, on the east by Turtle Bayou, and on the north by Reeds Creek and Jackson County. Turtle Bay was named for the adjacent bay by that name, which derived the name from the many turtles in its waters.

The land surveys given under Stephen F. Austin's colonization for this area were Thomas J. Williams, John Duncan, Edmund P. Crosby, and Rynd Lander. Up until about 1907 most of this area was used by the Ward Cattle Company of Jackson County and Abel H. "Shanghai" Pierce for the grazing of cattle. There is no evidence that any of the original owners ever lived here. Thomas J. Williams, Jr first lived at Cedar Lake in eastern Matagorda County, later moving to a place on Wilson Creek. John Duncan lived on a plantation in the eastern part of the county.

On August 26, 1907, a deed was recorded in the Deed Records of Matagorda County Book 18, Page 579, between Theodore F. Koch and Company and the Ward Cattle Company, who now owned this land, for the purchase of 3,299.55 acres. Koch was living in St. Paul, Minnesota. Koch and Company also bought large tracts in Chambers, Jefferson and Kleberg counties. They advertised this land as a "Garden of Eden" where large crops of citrus fruit, figs, cotton, and grain could be grown. Fliers were sent all over the northern states where the people were disgruntled with the long, cold winters. Many came to this "Southern Paradise" by train to buy land; others bought sight unseen.

Matagorda County deeds show the following persons bought land from Theodore F. Koch and Company in 1908: George H. and Emma Hamlin, of Calhoun County, Michigan; John Schumacher and Henry Boden, Defiance County, Ohio; A. J.  Louderback, Indiana; Z. K. Carson and W. Parsons, Winnipeg, Canada; Michael Kelly, Massachusetts; Ira Williams, Hardin County, Ohio; C. M. Hansen, Rush City, Minnesota; Paul Paulson (born in Denmark), Calhoun County, Texas; George Hatcher, Ohio; H. A. Davis, Bosque County, Texas; W. E. Heidlebaugh, Vaughnsville, Ohio; J. F. Carmean, J. D. Stout, J. B. Barger, and H. Panning, Belle Center, Ohio; P. F. Campbell, Palacios, Texas; William Buntz, Henry County, Ohio; Rudalph Tann, Calcasieu County, Louisiana; T. J. McAran, Chariton County, Missouri; J. L. Carroll, Pemiscot County, Missouri; Anton Morboe, Richland County, North Dakota; Wallace Lewis and W. W. Lewis, Cogswell, North Dakota; Edward Ryba; Joseph Ryba; A. S. Kitchen; F. A. Rhode, Stillwater, Minnesota; and B. G. Engstran, Taylor County, Wisconsin.

Land buyers in 1909 were: John Larson, Marshall County, Illinois; A. G. Everson, Rib Lake, Wisconsin; Peter Jensen, John L. Woodman, and Christian Johnson, Hennepin County, Minnesota; James A. Shuler and J. W. Bailey, Caddo County, Oklahoma; J. W. Wisecup; Edwin A. Whitacare; and Walter C. Lewis, Sargent County, North Dakota.

Frank Gillespie of Laurence County, Illinois, and James Matthew Harbison arrived in 191O. Newcomers to Turtle Bay between 1911 and 1940 were: Henry Clinton Mozley, George Miller, Robert Beard, Joe Beard, Ed Beard, Ed Buffaloe, G. A. Salisbury, John Evers, a Belnap family, a Bussel family, Sherman Saddler, C. A. Evans, Malcom Cavallin, Joe and Jim Benham, a Tweedle family, a Mr. Knight, Roy and Al Lindquest, D. H. Stewart, Sanford Barton, George Adkins, a Fields family, William E. Barber, a Linville family, L. H. Bell, Ben Elliot, Ira Ressler, Hardy Ross, a Skalla famiy, and a Phillips family.

The following families lived in Turtle Bay after 1940: Ellis, Nelson, Miller, Jeffers, Gullett, Batchelder, Shimek, Hunt, Turek, and others.

In 1907 with the arrival of settlers, many acres of virgin soil were plowed for the growing of cotton. The soil was of a heavy black texture and very fertile. A good farmer expected to produce a bale of cotton per acre. One of the most prosperous farmers was Frank

Gillespie. The first piece of land he bought in Turtle Bay had an artesian well that may have been used for the cultivation of rice. Gillespie built a large two-story home for his wife and three children, Roy, Mary, and Alice. They were able to add many acres to their farm which today is owned by children and grandchildren. At this time the principal crops grown are sorghum, cotton, corn, and soybeans.

The first school in Turtle Bay was a one-room building on land donated by James Matthew Harbison. It was probably built in 1911 as Harbison bought the land in the fall of 1910. This building was situated almost one mile south of Turtle Bay Bridge. Bernard

Jensen, a grandson of Harbison, has a home near the site of the first school. Henry Clinton Mozley gave land for a new and larger school in 1914. This building was on State Highway 35 and remained there until 1948 when it was moved into Palacios and made into the high school band hall.

As in all country communities, the social life revolved around the school. Church and Sunday School were held in the school. Many social get-togethers and parties were held there. Many a family sought shelter in the strong school building during a hurricane. On one such occasion a baby girl, Lydia, was born to the Ellis Jensen family.

Some teachers who taught in Turtle Bay were: a Mr. Pepper, Hazel Hall, J. R. Laslie, Maude Marshall, Eleanor Harrison (married A. J. Louderback), Lorene Ifland, Helen Ward, a Mrs. Herman, Clara Schley, Florence Best, Florence Stark, Mary Paulson (married a Mr. Wolf), Trude Ann Duffy, Weldon Sullivan, Annie Eversole, a Mrs. Cleveland (married Emil Peterson), Miss Vernon Cleveland, and Ester Anderson.

Charles and Margaret Johnson reminisce:

We never lived in Turtle Bay, however, we carried the mail on the Star Route, which serviced Turtle Bay, 1939-1947. This was when most of the roads were just black dirt. During periods of heavy rain the roads were almost impassable. We wore out a new pickup truck almost every year. We came to depend on the people along the way to pull us out of the bog-holes. They in turn depended on us to carry their eggs and cream to market and to purchase their groceries. We made many friends along the way.

Historic Matagorda County, Volume I, 407-408

Submitted by Gale French

Turtle Bay Topics

There was a good attendance at Turtle Bay Sunday school Sunday.

Mr. and Mrs. Albert Davis and son Ulvan attended church at Palacios Sunday.

Mr. Backen has a good new well on his farm.

Mrs. Clara Fuller and son Myrl visited with Mrs. Whitacre and family last Thursday.

Miss Mary Gillespie has been having a case of sore throat.

Mrs. Gillespie attended church in Palacios last Sunday.

Mr. and Mrs. Wright and family called on Mr. and Mrs. Hamlin Sunday.

Mrs. Powers has returned from a two weeks visit with her sisters.

Mr. Bennie Jensen and sister Effa called on Miss Vola Fuller last Saturday evening and had a fine time.

Miss Ethel Hardy was visiting her sister, Mrs. Robert Church.

Mr. and Mrs. Osburn and daughter called on Mr. and Mrs. Ashley last Tuesday afternoon.

Henry Ashley was in Palacios last Saturday on business.

Miss Clara Fuller has been quite sick the last two days, we hope she will be better soon.

Palacios Beacon, June 13, 1913

Turtle Bay Topics

The Helping Hand Club met with Mrs. G. A. Salsbury last Thursday.

Mr. and Mrs. T. P. Gillespie and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Gillespie went to the fair this week, leaving Tuesday and will return Saturday.

The road gang is working the road by the Osburn farm this week.

Mr. and Mrs. Walter Green and Mr. and Mrs. G. H. Hamlin visited the Davis family Sunday.

Mr. H. A. Davis and family will move to Mount Calm next week.

Mr. J. J. Whitacre's son-in-law, Mr. Jim Fields and family moved here the first of the week from Marlin.

Ellis Jensen is making hay at the Gillespie farm this week.

Mr. Noble and the Whitacre boys are making hay at the Gillespie farm this week.

Palacios Beacon, October 19, 1915

Turtle Bay

Mr. Tom Massey was in Bay City this week on business.

There will be a community gathering at the school house Friday night, December 10.

The primary room at the school was glad to welcome two new pupils this week, little Effie and Tracy Wright.

The disagreeable weather prevented the young people of this district from holding their choir practice last Sunday evening.

Palacios Beacon, December 10, 1920

Party at Turtle Bay Friday Night To Be Hospital Fund Benefit

There will be a "42' and game party at the Turtle Bay school house Friday night, Feb. 21, starting at 8:00 o'clock.

The Home Demonstration Club women will sell hot dogs, sandwiches, pie, coffee and cocoa. The money made will go for the benefit of the Hospital Fund. Please come, there will be plenty of food and fun.--Mrs. E. E. Johs, chairman of Finance Committee.

Palacios Beacon, February 20, 1947

Turtle Bay Club News

The Turtle Bay Home Demonstration Club met Wednesday, Feb. 12 with Mrs. Edd Buffaloe. Mrs. C. C. Ramsey called the meeting to order and all joined in saying the Club Prayer. Fourteen women answered roll call and one new member was added to the roll.

Report of the February Council Meeting in Bay City was given by Mrs. C. G. Jeffers.

Plans were made for the Community Party at the Turtle Bay schoolhouse on Friday evening, Feb. 21. Club extends a cordial invitation to the public.

The program on Food Production for 1947 was given by Mrs. Jeffers. All phases of gardening were discussed. Names of new and improved varieties of vegetables were recommended.

Mrs. Heath, Recreation Chairman, was in charge of recreation period.

Those present were Mesdames C. L. Batchelder, J. E. Beard, Edd Buffaloe, Ben Elliott, Eldon Hamlin, Jim Heath, C. G. Jeffers, Erich Johs, Oswald Kubecka, Geo. Miller, A. V. Miller, L. H. McMichiel, C. C. Ramsey, R. N. Thompson and D. H. Stewart.

The next meeting of the club will be Tuesday, Feb. 25 at the home of Mrs. D. H. Stewart.--Reporter.

Palacios Beacon, February 20, 1947


Copyright 2013 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Jul. 28, 2013
Jul. 28, 2013