Robertson County
Texas

 

 

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County Coordinator is Jane Keppler.

County Co-Coordinator is Jean Huot Smoorenburg


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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

These electronic pages may not be reproduced in any format by other organizations or individuals. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material must obtain the written consent of John Martin Brockman.

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  This will (hopefully) include an unpublished manuscript once held by Mrs.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 Jane Keppler.

CHAPTER VI

Declining Days

The end of the Civil War brought social, economic, and political changes to Port Sullivan and to the South.  The town was able to adjust to the new situation without too much trouble, but a change in the transportation system in the state, which had begun before the war, spelled doom to the town.  Railroad companies resumed construction soon after the war ended, and new railroad companies were chartered.  Port Sullivan sought to attract a rail line to the community much like it had sought to have steamboats solve its transportation problems, and the town tried once more to assert its claim that it was a steamboat port.  Both attempts failed, and the town began to fade away rapidly.

The first obstacle Port Sullivan faced after the close of the Civil War was the end of slavery, which was declared officially at an end by General Gordon Granger's proclamation on June 19, 1865.[1]   Many residents of Port Sullivan were directly affected by the order.  It was thought by many in the South that the Negro could only be encouraged to work as a slave.  This assumption proved to be false.  The planters of the Brazos bottom along the boundary of Milam and Robertson counties were able to make contracts with the Freeman in the summer of 1865.  The planters reported that "everything is getting along smoothly."[2]  Of course, not all of the former slaves went back to work right away, and some shortage of labor occurred.  In the spring of 1866, "Dan", writing from Milam County, reported a new sight in the cotton fields, where he white women hoeing cotton.  "Dan" described them as "heroic, noble girls!"  A former soldier who had lost an arm found he could still manage a plow,[3] and that life continued on after the war, if not always in the same style or to his liking.

Some of the Negroes after emancipation became landowners.  Dennis Sullivan, a free man of color, purchased lot number eight, block three, in Port Sullivan on September 7, 1866.[4]  As block number three was in the commercial section of Port Sullivan,[5] Sullivan may have opened a store or saloon of some type.

Other Negroes purchased farm land in Milam County near Port Sullivan and Cameron.  Tracts of land varying from two to two hundred acres each were bought by Negroes after the war.  Those purchasing land were described as "pretty good citizens."[6]

Some of the former slaves stayed on the plantations where they had previously lived and worked.  Others left the plantations for a few years; but, in time, many of them returned.  The former slaves came back to the plantations on which they had formerly worked because, according to one writer in 1868, they missed the social life of larger communities.[7]  By 1869, a new system was developing on the large plantations.  The owners were no longer selling off part of their lands, but had begun to rent land for a share of the crop.  The sharecrop system came into existence.  Under this new system, the Negro was provided with ten to forty acres of land, plus living quarters.  The houses for the Negroes consisted of two, three, or four rooms, with a yard and stable lots, and were located at various point on the plantation.  In return for the house and land, the Freeman agreed to pay the landowner for one-fourth to one-third of the crop as rent.  If the planter furnished mules and tools, the rent was increased to one-half of the crop.  In rare cases, the landowner provided subsistence; and, consequently, the rent was raised to two-thirds of the crop.[8]  Thus was born a new economic system for the production of the usual staple crop of the South.

In the first months after the end of the war, minor changes in the political system were made.  Planters with over $20,000 in taxable property were disfranchised and not allowed to hold office.[9]  Most of the citizens of Port Sullivan, however, suffered no political disabilities in the first year after the war.  Andrew Johnson, who became President upon the death of Lincoln, wished to restore the Southern states to the union on easy terms and as quickly as possible.  Texas adopted a new constitution in 1866 in attempting to fulfill President Johnson's requirements to be re-admitted to the United States.  The constitution did not suit the Radicals who gained control of Congress late in 1866.

The Radicals had other plans for Texas and the South.  It was their contention that the Southern states had seceded, and that they were not conquered territories and needed to be disciplined before re-entering the Union as states.  After the Congressional elections of 1866, the Radicals gained control of the Congress of the United States, and early the next year even before the new members took their seats in Congress, the Radical leadership began to enact its own Reconstruction plans.  State officials or anyone who had taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and who later had voluntarily participated in the war on behalf of the South or had, in any way, voluntarily supported the Confederacy, were disfranchised and had to obtain a special pardon from the President to regain their political rights.  General Philip H. Sheridan was named military commander of the Fifth Military District, which included Texas.  Sheridan extended the disfranchisement to any participant in the war who had previously been a minor official in the state, including court clerks, justices of the peace, school trustees, and policemen.[10]  This provision prohibited a number of leading citizens of Port Sullivan from voting.  A letter from "Ike" in Milam County in the summer of 1869, declared that politics had lost its charm for the masses.  He said there was no county government to speak of; the tax collector was called "an old scalawag."[11]

The people of Milam County and Port Sullivan did not get along with the military during the Radical Reconstruction program.  A Captain George Haller came to Milam County in the summer of 1869, to investigate the murder of several Negroes in Bryan.  Haller disappeared while in the county.  Later, a squad of cavalry came in search of him and, reportedly, arrested some persons for killing him before the body had been found.[12]  Haller's body was not found until eight months later when it was found on Elm Creek between Port Sullivan and Cameron.[13]

In 1868-1869, after a new registration of voters, followed by an election for a new constitutional convention, a new constitution was written in Texas completely under Radical influence.  Hopefully, this new constitution would meet the approval of both the people of Texas and the Congress of the United States.  The constitution was placed before the voters of Texas late in 1869 in a special election that would also choose a new Governor and other state officials.[14]  In the gubernatorial race, the actual contest was primarily between two Republicans, E. J. Davis, a Radical, and A. J. Hamilton, a Conservative; although the Democrats, most of whom could not vote, put forth Hamilton Stuart as their candidate.  The election was set for November 30 through December 3, 1869.  Troops were sent to all of the polling places,[15] which were, during this election, located only at the county seats.  Orders were given to close the polls should any disturbance occur.[16]

The election proceeded quietly in Milam County until December, when the polls were closed.  Reuben A. Smith, who lived near Port Sullivan and had been a secretary of St. Paul's Lodge for many years,[17] and had lost a brother in the war, rode over to Cameron with his son to vote.  Smith took with him a group of Negroes who had formerly belonged to him.  He had instructed the Negroes on how to vote in the election, and the former slaves rode on ahead of the Smiths toward Cameron.  Before reaching Cameron, the Negroes were stopped by Colonel Emil Adams and a company of Federal troops.  Adams was supposedly a "Yankee detective," and he proceeded to give the Negroes the Radical's ticket to cast in Cameron.  The Smiths later caught up and tried to persuade the former slaves to go on and vote before their minds were changed.  Adams began to curse Smith and his son violently and ordered them to leave at once.  "Many Citizens," who signed the article that appeared in the Galveston newspaper describing the incident, said Smith, after being cursed by Adams, started to dismount, and while doing so his pistol discharged, shooting his own horse in the neck.  Adams and his men ducked behind some trees and opened fire on the Smiths.  All in all, about twenty shots were exchanged.  Adams, along with Smith's horse, were wounded.  The polls at Cameron were closed after Adams got to town, and the votes were not counted.[18]  Had the votes been counted in Milam County, and had the polls been opened in Navarro County, the election might have gone to the conservative Hamilton instead of the Radical Davis.[19]

Before the town of Port Sullivan was founded on Sullivan's Bluff, the Galveston and Red River Railroad was organized in Texas.  The line, chartered on March 11, 1848, was to run from the Gulf to the Red River in northern Texas.  Little was done by the company until it received permission, in 1853, to begin construction at Houston instead of on the coast.  In 1856, the name of the company was changed to the Houston and Texas Central, and the line started moving northward out of Houston.  By 1860, the railroad had reached Millican in Brazos County, and a branch line was extended over to Brenham in Washington County.  Millican remained the railhead until after the Civil War.[20]  The main line of the railroad stayed east of the Brazos River and the town of Washington, and the branch line crossed the river south of Washington, leading to the downfall of that Brazos River town.  Washington, in 1858, had many empty business houses; the trade had moved to other towns.[21]  In 1859, Washington was described in the Texas State Gazette as a town that once had a considerable amount of business.  The town still had many well constructed business houses, but most of them were empty.[22]  Would Port Sullivan suffer the same fate?

In the Texas Almanac of 1861, it was predicted that the Houston and Texas Central Railroad would run within ten or fifteen miles of Port Sullivan.  "A tap road will doubtless be built to Port Sullivan," concluded the Texas Alamanc.[23]  Since the railroad was delayed at Millican by the war and its aftermath, the people of Port Sullivan had time to make plans to build a tap road.  This time, however, was not used.  The town waited until construction of the railroad resumed before making definite plans concerning a tap road.

The construction of the Houston and Texas Central moved northward from Millican in 1867, reaching Bryan in 1868.  Late in 1868, Professor C. G. Forshey, one of the founders of the Texas Engineers Association and later its chairman,[24] visited Port Sullivan.  Forshey explained to the citizens of the town his ideas on wooden railroads.[25]  The people of the town became very much interested in this type of railroad, and plans were made to build one.  "Ariel," writing from Port Sullivan on November 27, 1868, after insulting the editor of the Galveston News, described the town and the railroad, and made some predictions as to the future importance of Port Sullivan.  In beginning the letter, "Ariel" asked:

"Did the News ever get a letter from this Port, or did the Geographic Editor of that well informed journal ever know that there was such a port?  No ship-channel, let me assure you, is needed - for the rapids of the Brazos - where the waters roar over the rocks in the channel, and forbid any higher navigation.  No ship has ever passed above this point, and hence the propriety of the name Port."[26]

"Ariel" went on to say that much discussion was heard in Port Sullivan concerning railroads.  All persons in town agreed that a road should be built, but there were differences of opinions on whether to build an iron or a wooden road.  Some favored the wood road because it could be built to Hearne by the time the Houston and Texas Central reached that point.  "Ariel" had no doubts that a railroad would be built to Hearne, and he predicted that the "prairie village will grow into immediate importance," and the storekeepers would become merchants.[27]

In a later letter from Milam County, "Ariel" was even more optimistic concerning the railroad and Port Sullivan.  After the railroad was built from Port Sullivan to Hearne, no wagon would ever have to cross "that swamp" or "that Red Sea and wilderness" again, as he described the road across the Brazos bottom from Port Sullivan.  Once the railroad was completed, Port Sullivan would become the "New Bryan," and "those spirited men about the Port will have their day -- the speculation in lots and their grand market place."  The writer went on to say that Port Sullivan would always be an important place because it was right on the river and had unmeasured water power.[28]

The State of Texas chartered the Port Sullivan, Belton, and Northwestern Railroad on January 25, 1869.  Among the members of the board of directors were such men as Thomas J. H. Anderson, F. M. Hall, Blanton Streetman, Hugh Davis, H. C. Ghent, C. G. Forshey, and William White.  The company was authorized to build a railroad from nearby Hearne in Robertson County, by way of Port Sullivan to Belton, thence in a northwestwardly direction to the boundary of Texas.  The capitalization of the company was limited to $5,000,000, and the company had the right to organize once $10,000 had been subscribed to, with 5% payment on the same.  The company was given authority to build the road with wooden rails and to use horse power until the traffic over the road indicated the need for iron rails.  One other condition had to be met.  The road had to be surveyed to Belton and at least five miles had to be constructed by January 1, 1870,[29] only eleven months away.

Soon after the road was chartered, the people of Belton indicated their support for the "Belton and Port Sullivan Railroad," as they called it.[30]  A meeting was held in Cameron on March 23, 1869, to organize the company.  A letter from Cameron on that day indicated the importance of the meeting.  "The quiet of our sober little city has been considerably broken today by the proceedings of the railroad meeting. . . .  Expectation, of course, was on tiptoe, and the various streets and roads were watched during the morning for the coming in of the parties interested."[31]  The company was organized after the citizens of Cameron dipped into their pockets and purchased the few additional shares required by the law for organization.[32]  Cameron would benefit from the road as the town was situated between Port Sullivan and Belton.  The stockholders resolved, on the day the company was organized, to build a first class iron railroad, unless there was some danger in not meeting the January 1, 1870 deadline.[33]

The company published an eighteen page pamphlet in 1869, containing the "financial plan of operation; description of the country traversed, and the general advantages to the country, and the enriching of the parties who own and operate the railroad."  The pamphlet reported that the route had been surveyed to Belton, and it gave an estimate of the cost of constructing the road from Hearne to Port Sullivan.  The total cost of construction of the first phase of the railroad was set at $20,000, including depots at Hearne and Port Sullivan, and for a ferry across the Brazos.  The road was expected to earn $43,750, the first year of its operation.  The cost of running the road was estimated at $15,6000.  Thus, a net profit of $28,150 could be expected from the first year's operations,[34] which sum would amount to more than the cost of construction.

Despite the optimism of "Ariel" and the rosy outlook given the Port Sullivan, Belton, and Northwestern Railroad in the pamphlet published by the company, January 1, 1870 rolled around with no railroad being built.  Meanwhile, the Houston and Texas Central continued northward throughout the year 1869.

In the summer of 1869, the Houston and Texas Central Railroad reached Calvert, a town built along the right-of-way near Sterling.  The town grew rapidly, and had an estimated population of 4,000 to 5,000 by the time regular train service was established.  The town contained a number of business houses, beer saloons, bar rooms, doctors, lawyers, mechanics, and a company of United States troops was stationed there.[35]  Thomas J. H. Anderson, who, with his brother, had purchased the first lot in Port Sullivan in May 1851,[36] bought lot number five in block four in Calvert several months before the railroad reached that point.[37]  Anderson, perhaps, saw the handwriting on the wall as far was Port Sullivan was concerned.  He, however, did not move to Calvert, but continued to live in Port Sullivan until his death in 1871.

The railroad changed the lives of the people with whom it came in contact.  Its depot became a meeting place for the residents of the town and of the surrounding country.  Many got into the habit of meeting the trains.[38]  It was quite a novelty in 1869, to see someone get off the train in Calvert at 7:00 PM, after leaving Houston the morning of the same day.[39]  The railroad to Calvert changed also some of the trading habits of the people to the west of the Brazos River.  As the railroad was nearing Calvert, it was announced that a new road was being opened between Belton and Calvert.[40]  An increasing amount of the trade from Belton and other towns nearby which had formerly passed through Port Sullivan en route to the railhead now by-passed Port Sullivan and went directly to Calvert.[41]  Port Sullivan would have to get on the ball if it wished to survive as a trade center.

Shortly after C. G. Forshey had made his talk on a wooden railroad at Port Sullivan, he reported on another proposed railroad, the International Pacific, that was to run from Cairo, Illinois, near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, to Mazatlan, Mexico, on the Pacific coast.  This route would connect the middle portion of the United States with the closest Pacific port.  The International Pacific, according to Forshey, planned to cross the Brazos at Port Sullivan,[42] so the town still seemed to have a chance to obtain a rail connection with other places.

The talk of the International Pacific Railroad and the Port Sullivan, Belton, & Northwestern Railroad was heard at the same time.  This may have frightened some would be investors away from the Port Sullivan road.  A short-line railroad would have little chance to compete with a parallel, long-haul railroad.  Some in Port Sullivan may have lost interest in the proposed railroad to Belton, thinking that a transcontinental railroad would soon be built through their town.

The failure of the United States Congress in 1869 to incorporate the International Pacific Railroad proved to be only a temporary setback, as the State of Texas incorporated the railroad the next year, and the company began to make more definite plans as to routes.[43]  The citizens of both Calvert and Bremond, the next town north of Calvert on the Houston & Texas Central Railroad, were anxious for the new International Railroad, as it was now being called, to pass through their respective towns.[44]  The surveyors of the road, however, had their own ideas about where to build the line.  They were more concerned with finding a suitable crossing point on the Brazos.  The engineers of the International ran a survey from Hearne to the Brazos, planning to cross the Brazos below where Little River joins it, and to build the line along the divide between the Yegua and Little River to Austin.[45]  Port Sullivan, on the Brazos above the mouth of Little River, seemed again to be out of luck as far as railroads were concerned.

While talk of wooden and iron railroads was going on in Port Sullivan, several articles on Brazos River navigation appeared once more in the Galveston papers.  A letter from Bryan on October 21, 1869, stated that the Brazos had been navigable as high as Port Sullivan at least six months of the year in every year since the end of the war.  The writer urged that some effort be made to improve river transportation as the freight rates by land conveyance and by the railroad were "exorbitant."[46]  The Texas Almanac of 1870, suggested that some money should be spent to improve Texas' rivers.  River transportation would be cheaper than the freight rates charged by the railroads,[47] and in a period of falling farm prices the cost of transportation loomed even more important to the farmers.  Consequently, in an effort to revive river transportation, plans were made in 1871 to purchase two steamers for the Brazos trade.  The boats were to run to Port Sullivan at high water.[48]  Nothing, however, came of these plans.

In 1871, Port Sullivan was still alive and kicking, but it was as if in her death agony.  Her attention was now turned to developing improved post roads.  The Galveston Tri-Weekly News of September 22, 1871, reported that "a splendid wagon road" was being built from Port Sullivan to Hearne at the cost of several thousand dollars.[49]  Earlier the same year, on May 29, 1871, F. M. Hall and Ira W. Smith were authorized by the State to build a bridge over the Little River between Hearne and the mouth of Little River,[50] as the first important step toward improved freighting between Hearne and Port Sullivan.  Later that same year, J. Wise Parker was authorized to operate a ferry across the Brazos River at or near Port Sullivan on the Cameron and Hearne Road.[51]  At least the trade of Cameron still came through Port Sullivan on its way to the railroad.  The wagon road from Hearne to Port Sullivan was included on a map of Texas about 1874.[52]  A wagon road was better than no road, but was certainly not a railroad and surely did not offer the advantages that rail transportation held for developing the economy of a community.

A railroad through Post Sullivan was still a possibility in the early 1870s.  In November 1872, it was reported that the International & Great Northern Railroad, the company resulting from the merger of the Houston & Great Northern Railroad with the International Railroad, planned to build a line from Huntsville to Belton through Hearne.[53]  Such a line would probably pass through Port Sullivan, but, unfortunately for Port Sullivan, it was never built.  Two years later, in 1874, the Hearne, Belton, & Northwestern Railroad was chartered; but, like the Port Sullivan, Belton, & Northwestern projection, it proved to be only a pipe dream.[54]  The Panic of 1873 stopped virtually all railroad construction in Texas.

The International & Great Northern Railroad crossed the Brazos going west in late 1873.  In February 1874, trains began to run regularly between Longview, in East Texas, and Rockdale, a new town in Milam County.  The railroad advised those having freight for Cameron, Belton, and Georgetown, to ship it to Rockdale.[55]  Trade from the towns west of Port Sullivan now no longer came through the Brazos River town.  There were more convenient places with which to trade.

The tax rolls for Milam County indicate that Port Sullivan began its long, but steady, decline immediately after the Civil War.  The tax values of the property holders in the town reached their highest point during the war and began a rather sharp decline thereafter.[56]  This, however, was not unusual for many communities in Texas, but for Port Sullivan, it marked a continual downward decline and not a temporary post-war recession, as was the case of a number of other towns.  Some of the people of Port Sullivan, perhaps, foresaw doom for the town.  John C. Roberts left the river town in 1868 for Bryan.  The next year, he moved up to Bremond.[57]  He was only typical of a number of others who moved to other areas, usually not too far away.

The census of 1870 was taken soon after Port Sullivan had reached its zenith.  The total population for the community in 1870 was 1, 423, as compared to 960 in 1860; but a closer look at the census reports reveals that the urban population, the merchants, clerks, doctors, mechanics, and the like, had decreased in numbers between 1860 and 1870.[58]  The increase in population was the result of more farmers living in the area, and not because the town as a trading center had gained importance.  The farmers numbered in the seventies in 1860, and by 1870, there were one hundred and twenty-eight farmers plus twenty-one farm laborers, who received their mail at Port Sullivan.  Housekeeping was considered an occupation in 1870 and ninety-four persons spent their time in that manner.  Except for eight persons who listed their occupation as servants, the other occupations listed by Port Sullivan residents numbered less than five each in 1870.  Ten years before there had been eight merchants, five clerks, and five mechanics.[59]  The non-farming population was considerably less in 1870, pointing to a reduction in trade at Port Sullivan.  The railroad reached Calvert a year before the census was taken.

The census of 1880 included the Village of Port Sullivan with a total population of 123, less than one-tenth of the figure ten years earlier.  The village had one physician, one druggist-merchant, and one school teacher.  The remainder of the population consisted of farmers or housekeepers.[60]  Port Sullivan was no longer "some place," as "Rover" had predicted it would be in 1852, and the town had had its day.

The storekeepers, clerks, doctors, blacksmiths, carpenters, and others of non-farming occupations began moving from Port Sullivan as the railroads approached the general area, but failed to come to Port Sullivan.  Some of the residents waited hopefully for a few years after the railroads were built through the area before deciding to leave the town.  Wesley Platt Ferguson, who worked in his father's store in Port Sullivan, moved over to Hearne in the early 1870s.[61]  A saddle maker in Port Sullivan, W. T. Watt, moved to Hearne in 1874 and opened a mercantile business.  Later, Watt moved to Waco where he founded the Provident National Bank.[62]  H. B. Easterwood, who operated a store in Port Sullivan, waited until 1880 to move to Hearne, where he opened a grocery business.  Many of the first residents of Hearne were from Port Sullivan.[63]

Dr. Henry Clay Ghent came to Port Sullivan right after the Civil War.  He had been trained at the University of Louisville and at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.  Although a physician, Ghent was active in politics.  He had been elected to the Secession Convention in Alabama in 1860.  After coming to Port Sullivan, he continued to be active in politics.  He gave the principal speech at the July 4, 1871, celebration of national independence at Cameron, held in "old-fashioned Democratic style."[64]  Dr. Ghent, who listed himself as a merchant in the census of 1870, was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1872.  The next year Ghent moved to Belton.  Later in life, he served as president of the Texas Medical Association and as vice-president of the American Medical Association.[65]  Another doctor in Port Sullivan, U. A. Rice, moved to the Brazos River town in 1871.  Rice's son, S. P. Rice, joined his father in Port Sullivan after Ghent moved to Belton.  S. P. Rice later moved to Marlin and he, too, became president of the Texas Medical Association, being elected to that position in 1917.  The father remained in Port Sullivan until 1880, when he joined his son in Marlin.[66]  After the elder Rice left, the town of Port Sullivan had no doctor, or, perhaps by 1880, the doctor had no town.

Slowly the organizations of Port Sullivan faded away.  As early as 1875, Port Sullivan no longer had a Methodist minister, not even a circuit rider.[67]  The college burned in 1878, but it had probably been abandoned before then.  The Methodist Church refiled the deed to the college land on May 19, 1880, following the courthouse fire in 1874; but the school was not rebuilt.  On November 28, 1899, the college land, eleven and seven-tenths acres, was sold for $234.[68]  Membership in the Masonic Lodge hit its peak in 1871, two years after the Houston & Texas Central Railroad reached Calvert.  The number of masons in the lodge, however, began decreasing rapidly the next year.  The chapter was moved to Maysfield in Milam County, in 1885.[69]

Toward the end of the 1870s, the town of Port Sullivan became less and less important.  It had lots its position as a trade center, and its economy had dwindled rapidly in the decade of the 1870s.  In 1878, someone built a fence across the Cameron and Port Sullivan Road.[70]  In the early 1880s, J. A. Peel began buying up the land in the town site, paying as little as $22.50 for two whole blocks.[71]  The town soon disappeared altogether.  Niley Smith, a resident of Cameron and descendent of R. A. Smith, the figure in the election of 1869, says that the town of Port Sullivan was completely gone by 1894, and had passed into the realm of a ghost town.  Later, around the turn of the century, a store and gin were built near the site of the old town, and a small settlement began.[72]  The settlement called itself Port Sullivan, but it had no ties with the old steamboat port, except for the location.

Port Sullivan was both a product and a victim of geography and technology.  Technology in the form of steampowered boats killed Orozimbo and Montezuma, the two towns that claimed to be at the head of tidal navigation on the Brazos, and it gave rise first to Washington and later to Port Sullivan.  Geography aided the development of the town on Sullivan's Bluff through the obstruction to steamboat navigation produced by the shoal and boulders at the bluff and the absence of unconquerable obstructions below the bluff.  The shoal at the bluff created a ford making river crossings easier at that point than at other point along the Brazos, giving Port Sullivan even greater importance.  The location of the bluff, north of Little River, gave the town a good portion of the trade in the counties west of the Brazos and north of Little River.  As the years passed, both geography and technology began to hurt the town.  Railroads came to the scene, replacing the steamboats.  The ironhorse did not follow the roads used by ox wagons but blazed new paths in Texas.  The flood plain of the Brazos to the east of Port Sullivan forced planters farming adjacent to the river to live in Port Sullivan or to live several miles east of their land, and it kept the Houston & Texas Central several miles east of Port Sullivan also, as it passed through Bryan, Hearne, and Calvert.[73]  If the road could have been built right along the river, Port Sullivan might have survived.  The International Railroad planned at first to cross the river at Port Sullivan and to continue on to Austin.  The engineers of the road must have realized that to cross the river at Port Sullivan would mean that an additional bridge would have to be built to cross Little River and possibly another at the San Gabriel River.  Being north of Little River was no advantage in regards to the International Railroad.

The death of Port Sullivan was summed up by a former resident of the town, J. A. Peel, interviewed in 1930:

"When I first moved here, it was the finest community I ever saw, but when the railroad was located at Hearne and Calvert, the trade as well as the people moved away."[74]

[1]  Wallace, Texas in Turmoil, 147.
[2]  Texas State Gazette, August 1, 1865.
[3]  Tri-Weekly Telegraph, May 30, 1866.
[4]  Burned Record, Milam County Abstract Co.
[5]  See Chapter III, 57-58.
[6]  Galveston Daily News, December 19, 1868.
[7]  Ibid.
[8]  Ibid., March 10, 1869.
[9]  Wallace, Texas in Turmoil, 162.
[10]  Ibid., 192-195.
[11]  Galveston Tri-Weekly News, June 30, 1869.
[12]  Ibid., July 26, 1869.
[13]  Ibid., March 6, 1870.
[14]  Wallace, Texas in Turmoil, 207.
[15]  W. C. Nunn, Texas Under the Carpetbaggers, 13-17.
[16]  Charles William Ramsdell, Reconstruction in Texas, 283-284.
[17]  Masonic Reports, 1856-1870.
[18]  Galveston Daily News, December 5, 1869.
[19]  Nunn, Texas Under The Carpetbaggers, 18.
[20]  S. G. Reed, A History of the Texas Railroad, 65-74.
[21]  Galveston Weekly News, July 20, 1858.
[22]  Texas State Gazette, March 26, 1859.
[23]  Texas Almanac, 1861, p. 185.
[24]  Galveston Tri-Weekly News, July 7, 1869.
[25]  Galveston Daily News, December 2, 1868.
[26]  Ibid., December 4, 1868.
[27]  Ibid.
[28]  Ibid.
[29]  Findlay and Simmons (eds.), Gammel's Laws of Texas, VI, 124.
[30]  Galveston Daily News, January 29, 1869.
[31]  Ibid., March 31, 1869.
[32]  Ibid.
[33]  Ibid., April 1, 1869.
[34]  The Port Sullivan, Belton and Northwestern Railroad of Texas, 1, 9-12.
[35]  Galveston Tri-Weekly News, August 23, 1869.
[36]  Burned Record, Milam County Abstract Co., Also see Chapter II, 36.
[37]  Calvert, Love Abstract Co.
[38]  Parker, Robertson County, 62.
[39]  Galveston Tri-Weekly News, October 6, 1869.
[40]  Galveston Daily News, April 30, 1869.
[41]  The Port Sullivan, Belton and Northwestern Railroad of Texas, 1; Galveston Tri-Weekly News, March 23, 1870.
[42]  Galveston Daily News, January 8, 1869.
[43]  Galveston Tri-Weekly News, June 19, 1870.
[44]  Ibid., December 14 and 16, 1870.
[45]  Ibid., November 30, 1870.
[46]  Ibid., October 25, 1869.
[47]  Texas Almanac, 1870, p. 191.
[48]  Galveston Tri-Weekly News, May 7, 1871.
[49]  Ibid., September 22, 1871.
[50]  Findlay and Simmons (eds.), Gammel's Laws of Texas, III, 1548-1549.
[51]  Batte, Milam County, 82.
[52]  Correct Map of Texas, Published by the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway, n. p., c 1874.
[53]  Galveston Tri-Weekly News, November 29, 1872.
[54]  Batte, Milam County, 84.
[55]  Galveston Daily News, February 1, 1874.
[56]  See Appendix, Table Number III.
[57]  Parker, Robertson County, 188-189.
[58]  United States Census Returns, 1860 and 1870, Schedules Number 1 and 2.
[59]  Ibid.
[60]  Ibid., 1880, Schedule Number 1.
[61]  McCarver, Hearne on the Brazos, 138-139.
[62]  Ibid., 122; and Rogers, "Time Dims the Brilliance," [6].
[63]  McCarver, Hearne on the Brazos, 99, 120.
[64]  Galveston Tri-Weekly News, July 14, 1871.
[65]  Holman Taylor (ed.), Texas State Journal of Medicine, VII (March, 1912), p. 316.
[66]  Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell and Coryell Counties, 425-429; and Pat Ireland Nixon, A History of the Texas Medical Association, 1853-1953, p. 302.
[67]  Weekly Examiner and Patron, November 19, 1875.
[68]  Deed Records, Milam County, Vo. E 4, p. 236, and Vol. 51, p. 359.
[69]  Masonic Records, 1856-1885.
[70]  Batte, Milam County, 81.
[71]  Rockdale and Miscellaneous Towns, Milam County Abstract Co.
[72]  Niley Smith, Cameron, TX, in an interview with the author on November 3, 1967.
[73]  See Appendix, Map Number 1.
[74]  Rogers, "Time Dims the Brilliance," [4-6].

 

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