Originally known as Highland for its position on the banks
overlooking Highland Bayou, settlement began in the mid 1840s. The
original Anglo settler Jonas Butler was followed by a group of French
settlers who traveled to Galveston
and back using the bayou as their path. Their lives were made much
easier in the 1870s with the arrival of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa
Fe Railroad. The town's name was changed from Highland in the early
1870s when widow Emily Hitchcock, donated land to the railroad if
they would name their stop after her late husband (Lent M. Hitchcock).
A post office was granted in 1884 and the town was platted in 1891.
The following year the town had a healthy population of nearly 300.
In 1914 Hitchcock's population was 550. The population decreased to
350 in the 1920s when truck farming declined. Many former Hitchcockers
resettled in Texas City.
Hitchcock gained population slightly in the 1930s but shrank back
to 350 when WWII
broke out. Camp
Wallace was established nearby and the Navy constructed a blimp
base to search for German submarines that were sinking oil tankers
from Houston, Port
Arthur and Louisiana refineries. (See The
Hitchcock Naval Air Station.) The camp and blimp base were mustering-out
points after the war and many veterans decided to remain in the semi-tropical
climate, adding a few citizens to Hitchcock's population.
The town improved its infrastructure after the war and formed its
own school district. With cars again available, Hitchcockers found
they could easily commute to jobs in Texas
City and Freeport. The population
was 1,105 in the mid-1950s and by 1968 it had grown to nearly 7,000.
It declined in the 70s and leveled off at around 6,400 - where it
remained (more or less) for the 2000 census.
I was in anti-aircraft
artillery at Camp Wallace from '42 to '43. I taught radio operating
and maintenance in the schools there. I often had to take radio operators
out on 2 week bivouac and for gunnery practice at the beach. We were
often down at Galveston's
Stewart Beach firing 40 and 90 mm (3 1/2" barrel) AA guns, and .30
and .50 cal AA machine guns. Also firing bazookas, throwing grenades,
running infiltration courses under machine gun fire, etc. I had to
take basic infantry training for 8 weeks twice, since the Infantry
would not accept my AA training. I was transferred to 78th Infantry
in Dec '43 while on Tenn 2nd Army manuevers and spent, much of '44
and all of '45 in England, France and Germany.
I also remember large pecan orchards there. During the 1950s weekly
delivery trucks used to pass through my town of Nederland
with the motto: "Nuts to you from the Hitchcock Pecan Company." -
Block, Nederland, Texas, March 31, 2007
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