P O R T   S U L L I V A N ,   T E X A S :   G H O S T   T O W N

By John Martin Brockman
1968 Texas A&M University Master's Thesis

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Even though the Port Sullivan community was across the Brazos River from Robertson County in Milam County, large numbers of its residents were originally from and ended up in Robertson County.  As a result, any information that can be found relating to Port Sullivan and its residents will be placed online at the Robertson County site.  This will (hopefully) include an unpublished manuscript once held by Mrs. Helen Peel of Hearne as well as a handwritten journal written by Bremond's John Coleman Roberts.  If you have information about Port Sullivan that you'd like to share, please contact William Kent Brunette.


The remains of a lock built by the United States Corps of Engineers between 1910 and 1920, can be seen in the Brazos River just above the bridge on United State Highway 190, five miles west of Hearne, Texas.  The lock is all that remains from the attempt made by the Corps of Engineers to improve the Brazos River for navigational purposes from its mouth to Waco, Texas.  Westward from the bridge about three-fourths of a mile, a gravel road joins the highway from the right.  Following this road a short distance, one comes to a historical marker placed at the site of old Port Sullivan.  The marker is a reminder of the days when steamboats ventured up to this point on the Brazos.

This is the story of Port Sullivan, Texas, from its rise to its passage from history.  Why study the history of a ghost town that was never very important even at its zenith?  By limiting the scope of such a study as this one is limited, one may learn more about the individual that lived in a certain area during a particular time in history.  One may learn what life was like for the average man and how individuals reacted to various events, little and big, publicized and unpublicized.  One may also gain a deeper insight into the history of the surrounding area.

This is the history of the people of Port Sullivan:  why they came to the town; their religious, economic, political, and social institutions; their part in the history of their state and nation; and why the people left the town.

I would like to express appreciation to the following persons for making this thesis possible:  Dr. J. N. Nance, my adviser, for permitting me to attempt such a study as this and for his expert criticism in formalizing the results of the study; Mr. John C. Roberts of Bremond for granting me access to his grandfather's diaries and for the time he spent with me deciphering them; Mr. John B. Henderson of Milam County Abstract Co., for granting me the privilege of examining the company's records that pre-date the Milam County Court House fire; Mrs. Helen Peel of Hearne for the use of a typescript which contained a great deal of information on Port Sullivan; Mr. Niley Smith of Cameron for his recollections of his father's days in Port Sullivan; and Mr. Johnny Watkins of "Ten Acres" on TX television in Waco and Bryan, Texas, for the initial stimulation of my interest in the history of Port Sullivan.  I would also like to thank the Inter-Library Loan Department of Texas A&M University for its aid in obtaining materials from various libraries throughout the state.  Finally, I express my appreciation for the aid given me by my wife (Martha Beard Brockman) in completing this work.

John M. Brockman

College Station, Texas
July, 1968