Robertson County TX
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in the 1830's, when the fertile fields of Robertson County were
inhabited by the
Indians, buffalo, wild horses, deer, wild cattle; when the pioneers of
traveled by course and by prominent objects such as clusters of trees,
certain creeks; when the Mexican hogs, wild turkeys, bears, panthers
wolves claimed this section of the state as their home, Augustus W.
drifted with Robertson's colonists to Texas and settled at the place
later to be
known as Port Sullivan. Sullivan
later became a member of the Texas army at San Antonio, and played an
part in the development of this country.
Port Sullivan and Wheelock are important to the history of Hearne. Many of Hearne's early citizens came from
Wheelock and Port
Sullivan. Christopher Columbus
Hearne for whom the town is named, first settled in Wheelock, and many
early businessmen and town leaders were from Port Sullivan.
Sullivan was described in the very early days as being situated on a
prairie bluff, on the west bank of the Brazos River, and commanded an
view of the surrounding country. There
were about twenty business houses, a good hotel, and a college. The inhabitants were principally intelligent,
planters who settled in that area after Texas had won its independence
Mexico. This group of hardy
pioneers developed the fertile soil and established Port Sullivan as a
trading center for the surrounding settlements.
Port Sullivan was one of the most important stops on the main
road from Belton to Houston in the early teamster days.
one time, all eyes of Port Sullivan were turned toward the progress of
the H. 9:
T. C. Railroad when construction of this railroad began to push
Houston. It was hoped by the
settlers of the Port Sullivan area that the railroad would be built
settlement or that a tap line would be built from Hearne.
Neither the main line of the H. Sc T. C. Railroad nor the tap
constructed in the Port Sullivan section and this helped seal the doom
Sullivan. The railroad was built
through the area that was later to become the town of Hearne.
the early days goods were shipped from Houston in ox-wagons as the
railroad was in Houston. During the
Civil War, much of the southern cotton was carried to Brownsville by
because of the blockade at Galveston. At
this time there was a ferry at Port Sullivan which carried the wagons
Brazos River. It was a two weeks
trip from Port Sullivan to Houston by wagon.
Old timers of the Port Sullivan area said that it was a common
see wagons drawn by oxen passing through Port Sullivan en route to
pick up supplies and merchandise.
many years, Port Sullivan was the post office for the whole section of
country. There were plenty of
saloons and every trade was opened and closed with a drink.
This was especially true among the horse traders, and there were
them in that area.
steamboats came up the Brazos River to Port Sullivan in the early days,
were not able to go farther upstream on account of the shoals at this
The Houston Morning Star of June 15, 1843 stated, "The Steamer
Mustang, lately ascended the Brazos to the shoals above Nashville.
The river was falling rapidly and Captain Moore did not consider
to ascend to the great falls as he intended."
1916, the federal government attempted to build locks and dams at Port
in an attempt to make the Brazos River navigable from Houston to Waco,
project was abandoned when the United States became involved in World
War I. The
citizens of Port Sullivan thought that the head of navigation on the
River would be at Port Sullivan during the 1850's and accordingly built
warehouse for storage of merchandise and supplies.
Remnants of the foundation of the old warehouse still remain on
land once belonging to James Archie Peel.
to James Archie Peel, a pioneer of Port Sullivan, the old town was a
community before and during the Civil War.
"When I first moved here it was the finest community I ever saw,
when the railroad was located at Hearne and Calvert, the trade as well
people moved away."
Mr. Peel said, "It was the only town accessible to ,the people in the
days and was the largest town in all of this section of the country.
There were at least 20 business houses as well as a fine college
drew students from the surrounding country.
James Sampson Ferguson had the largest general merchandise store
They went to New York to buy their goods.
This was a big event in the early days.
Captain Lenard and William Anderson had a nice general
also. W. T. Watt was the saddle
maker and had a saddle shop. Mr.
Watt moved to Hearne from Port Sullivan and operated a saddle shop and
store on the corner of Magnolia and Third Streets.
He later established the Provident National Bank of Waco and was
president of this institution. Colonel
W. H. White was the only lawyer in town. John
Sailors was in the real estate business, Mrs. Duncan ran the hotel, and
C. Ghent and Dr. Wilson opened a drug store and
brought their drugs from
Galveston by ox-wagons. The town
proper had about 1000 inhabitants. Tom
Anderson, William Anderson, C. G. Wilcox, E. Harlan, Alf Harlan, H. A.
J. A. Foster, R. J. Davis, R. A. Smith, Dr. F. Hall, Dr. Hightower,
Easterwood, George Wagner, William Duncan, Charles Duncan, and Pastor
were a few of the other leading citizens of the frontier town of Port
describing the old college that was once located at Port Sullivan, Mr.
said, "The old college was located on the outskirts of the town in a
of fine trees. The large wooden
building was two-story and had very large rooms.
Large hallways ran through the center of the two floors and the
was heated by broad fireplaces. There
was a boys dormitory called Steward's Hall."
Mr. Peel said that Port Sullivan as a frontier town had played her part in the role of civilization. But the day of the pioneer colonist is gone in this country. Wealthy towns have taken the place of Indian camps, and the old battle grounds of yesterday have been converted into fertile fields. Many of the pioneer citizens of Port Sullivan left this area in the days long past, and with the exception of a state marker erected in 1936 near the site of the old town, the only monument erected in the memory of these worthy citizens is the accomplishments of this group as they spread over Texas helping to establish other towns.
Used with permission of Norman Lowell McCarver, Jr. 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 McCarver family relatives.
Page Modified: 9 June 2012