Including Port Lavaca, Seadrift
and Port O'Connor
In 1685, Robert, Cavalier de La Salle sailed from France with four ships and about 300 people in order to establish a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi. Misled by inaccurate maps, the fleet sailed too far west, and entered a bay named by the French San Bernardo, now called Matagorda. La Salle named a nearby river Les Veches, or "Cow River", the Spanish translated it to La Baca and it eventually became Lavaca.
He established a settlement on a creek off Lavaca Bay known as Fort St. Louis, but disease, Indians and bad weather led to its failure. In 1689, a Spanish expedition arrived at the site to chase the French out of their territory but Karankawa Indians had killed the last surviving colonists. The Spaniards burned the fort and buried the eight cannons that LaSalle had left behind. They intended to come back for the cannons, but never did. The exact location of Fort St. Louis was unknown until a rancher with a metal detector discovered the cannons in the 1990's.
The area remained largely uninhabited until the 1820's when more and more ships sailed into Matagorda and Lavaca Bays to offload cargo bound for inland settlements. In 1831 John Linn built warehouses and a wharf on Lavaca Bay and this became the town of Linnville. Linnville was sacked and burned by the Comanches in 1840. The survivors moved several miles down the coast and established a new town, which became Lavaca and later Port Lavaca.
In 1844, Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels began landing German immigrants at Indian point. Most of the Germans moved inland but some settled there and named the place Karlshaven (Carl's Harbor). The name was later changed to Indianola, a combination of the words "Indian" and "ola", the Spanish word for wave. Indianola became the county seat in 1846 and was a major seaport from 1844 until it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1875. The town was rebuilt but was destroyed by another hurricane in 1886. That was the end of Indianola and the county seat was moved to Port Lavaca.
In 1848, some of the Germans in Karlshaven moved west to the shores of San Antonio Bay and established a community there named Lower Mott. This later became Seadrift.
During the Civil War, Union troops blockaded and occupied Port Lavaca and Indianola.
Port O'Connor started out as a small fishing village in the 1890's called Alligator Head but was later named after Thomas M. O'Connor, the largest landowner in the area.
Click on the links below to learn more about the history of Calhoun County.