Matagorda County

Including Bay City, Palacios,
Matagorda and Sargent

In 1685, Robert, Cavalier de La Salle sailed from France with four ships and about 300 people to plant a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi. Misled by inaccurate charts, the fleet sailed too far west, and entered a bay named by the French San Bernardo, since called Matagorda. He attempted to establish a settlement there but disease, Indians and bad weather led to its failure. One of his ships, La Belle, was lost in the bay during a storm. It was rediscovered in 1995 and artifacts from the ship can be seen in the museums at Palacios and Bay City.

In 1721, the French explorers, Belisle and La Harpe, attempted to form a settlement on Matagorda Bay but we're driven out by Indians. Even before the French arrived, Spain had claimed the territory but never established any settlements and the area remained largely unoccupied until the 1820's.

Moses Austin had dreams of establishing a colony in Texas and in 1821 was given permission by Spain to do so. However, he died before his dream could be realized and his dying wish was that his son Stephen carry out his plans. Between 1824 and 1828, Stephen F. Austin brought in more than 1000 families and many of them settled in Matagorda County. During the Texas War of Independence most of the settlers abandoned the area, but soon returned after the Texian Army defeated Santa Anna at
San Jacinto in 1836.

The Town of Matagorda was established in 1829 at the mouth of the Colorado River and by 1834, it was the third largest town in Texas. In 1836, it was made the county seat. During the Civil War, it was blockaded and fired on by Union ships. In 1854 and 1875 Matagorda was devastated by powerful hurricanes, and so in 1894, the county seat was moved to Bay City.

By the early 1900s, the railroad had come to Matagorda County, oil was discovered and the cultivation of ricefields began. More towns were established, such as Collegeport, Markham, Blessing, and Palacios.

In 1926, Camp Palacios was established outside Palacios as a training facility for the Texas National Guard. In 1930, the name was changed to Camp Hulen and in 1940, the facility was taken over by the U.S. Army. By 1942, the camp had facilities for over 14,000 military personnel. In 1944, part of Camp Hulen was converted to a prisoner of war camp for German prisoners. In 1946, the camp was closed and its air base eventually became the Palacios Municipal Airport.

Matagorda County has one of the longest and richest histories of any County in Texas. Explore the links below to learn more.

Historical Sites and Stories
Bird Hunting at Big Boggy in 1894 (Matagorda Co.)
La Salle Shipwreck (Matagorda Co.)
Matagorda in 1850 (Matagorda)
Palacios (Ghost Town)
Port Austin (Ghost Town)
Historical Markers
Albert Clinton Horton (Matagorda)
Bandstand (Matagorda Co.)
Battle Island (Matagorda Co.)
Bay City Library (Bay City)
Bay City Methodist Church (Bay City)
Bay City Post Office (Bay City)
Bethel Baptist Church (Bay City)
Cedarvale Cemetery (Bay City)
Christ Church (Matagorda Co.)
Christ Episcopal Church (Matagorda Co.)
City of Matagorda (Matagorda Co.)
Collegeport (Matagorda Co.)
Confederate Defenses at the Mouth of Caney Creek (Sargent vicinity)
D. P. and Louise Moore House (Matagorda Co.)
Daily Tribune and Matagorda County Tribune (Matagorda Co.)
Dale-Rugeley-Sisk Home ca. 1830 (Matagorda Co.)
Deming's Bridge Community (Blessing)
Dr. Albert Moses Levy (Matagorda)
Early Texas Freighting (Matagorda Co.)
Elliott's Ferry (Bay City)
First Baptist Church of Bay City (Bay City)
First Burials in Matagorda Cemetery, Benjamin Wightman and Esther Randall Wightman (Matagorda)
First High School in Bay City (Matagorda Co.)
First Presbyterian Church of Bay City (Bay City)
Fisher-Sargent-Gottschalk House (Matagorda Co.)
Grove Hill Missionary Baptist Church (Matagorda Co.)
Hensley - Gusman House (Matagorda Co.)
Holman House (Bay City)
Home of Horace Yeamans (Matagorda Co.)
Hotel Blessing (Matagorda Co.)
Ira Ingram (Matagorda Co.)
Ira Ingram, First Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives (Matagorda Co.)
Kilbridge - Barkley House (Bay City)
Luther Hotel (Matagorda Co.)
Major George Morse Collinsworth (Matagorda Co.)
Masonic Lodge #411 (Matagorda Co.)
Matagorda Cemetery (Matagorda Co.)
Matagorda County (Matagorda Co.)
Matagorda Lodge No. 7, A.F. & A.M. (Matagorda Co.)
Matagorda Methodist Church (Matagorda Co.)
Matagorda, C.S.A. (Matagorda Co.)
Mother Zion Missionary Baptist Church (Bay City)
Old Bay City Bank (Bay City)
Old Hawley Cemetery (Matagorda Co.)
Old Matagorda Post Office (Matagorda Co.)
Palacios Cemetery (Palacios)
Palacios Pavilions (Palacios)
Palacios Preparatory School (Matagorda Co.)
Richardson Royster Royal (Matagorda Co.)
S. Rhoads Fisher (Matagorda Co.)
Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Wadsworth)
Sargent Cemetery (Sargent)
Selkirk Island (Matagorda Co.)
Seth Ingram (Matagorda Co.)
Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church (Matagorda Co.)
Sinclair David Gervais (Matagorda)
Site of Caney Post Office (Matagorda Co.)
Site of Dream Colony of Jane McManus
(Matagorda Co.)

Site of Early Bay City School (Bay City)
St. Francis Catholic (Matagorda Co.)
St. Mark's Episcopal Church (Matagorda Co.)
Texas Baptist Encampment Grounds (Matagorda Co.)
The A. B. Pierce Home (Matagorda Co.)
The Culver Home (Matagorda Co.)
The F. Cornelius House (Matagorda Co.)
World War I and II Memorial (Matagorda Co.)

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