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MATAGORDA, TEXAS

Matagorda County, Texas Gulf Coast

State Highway 60
At the Intracostal Waterway
92 miles SW of Houston
22 miles S of Bay City
47 miles S of Wharton
87 miles E of Victoria
62 miles E of Port Lavaca
Population 605 est. (1990 - 2010)

Matagorda, Texas Area Hotels
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Bay City Hotels
Matagorda TX Beach
Matagorda Beach
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine

Matagorda History in a Seashell

For such a sleepy place - Matagorda has a lot of History.

It was established in 1827 when Stephen F. Austin got permission from Mexico to build a town. Fifty-two families from New York and New England became the first settlers. It was incorporated in 1830 and two years later it had over 1400 people.

During the Mexican invasion, Matagorda was abandoned. When the people returned after San Jacinto, they formed a county and made Matagorda the county seat in 1836. The town continued to proper and soon got a newspaper as well as several schools.

The Civil War created a tense atmosphere as Matagorda was a port for blockade runners. Although it was never invaded, the town was fired on by Federal ships. After the war, the "Plantation economy" suffered from want of labor.

Hurricanes repeatedly swept the area, which perhaps explains the expanses of open land today. Bay City became the Matagorda County Seat in 1894 when they figured an inland courthouse might be safer.

A hurricane in 1942 forced the county to build a levee. It was wise planning for it minimized damage in 1961 when Hurricane Carla hit the area. By 1950 the population had declined to 650 people. It has continued a slow decline to reach the (1990) population of 605.

Matagorda Centennial Marker
Matagorda Historic Landmarks/Attractions
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Historic churches, homes, lodge, cemetery, bridges...

Texas Centennial Marker:

City of Matagorda

Projected site of a town in 1826. Founded in 1829 with Stephen F. Austin, Elias R. Wightman, Hosea H. League and Ira Ingram as proprietors. Third largest town in Texas in 1834. Incorporated January 28, 1839. County seat of Matagorda County, 1837-1894. Badly wrecked by storms in 1854 and 1875. An early cultural center of Texas as evidenced by schools, churches and press.
Matagorda Texas - City Of Matagorda Centennial Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
Click on image for photo of text close-up
Matagorda Historic Landmarks/Attractions
Matagorda Tx - Christ Episcopal Church
Christ Episcopal Church with markers
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
Matagorda Tx - Christ Episcopal Church historical marker
Christ Episcopal Church historical marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009

Texas Centennial Marker:

Christ Church
On a site approximately 400 yards east stood Christ Church. First Episcopal church in Texas. Organized January 27, 1839. The Rev. Caleb S. Ives, Rector. Building consecrated February 25, 1844 by the Rt. Rev. Leonidas Polk,, D.D., Bishop of Louisiana. Diocese of Texas established January 1, 1849. Building destroyed by hurricane September 11, 1854. Rebuilt on present site. The Rev. Mr. Ives and his wife established and taught an early school in connection with the parish.
Matagorda Tx - Christ Church Centennial Marker
Christ Church Centennial Marker
On Cypress and Lewis
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
Matagorda Texas - Matagorda Methodist Church
Matagorda Methodist Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
Matagorda Texas - Matagorda Methodist Church historical marker
Matagorda Methodist Church Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine
Matagorda Tx - St. Peter's Baptist Church Historical Marker
St. Peter's Baptist Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
Matagorda Tx - St. Peter's Baptist Church Historical Marker
St. Peter's Baptist Church Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
Matagorda Tx - Historic Culver Home
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
The Culver Home
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Matagorda, Texas historic home
The Dale-Rugley-Sisk Home
TE Photo
Historical Marker Text:
Dale-Rugeley-Sisk Home ca. 1830

Has withstood many hurricanes. A cultural, social, political center. Home of: A. C. Horton, 1st lieutenant-governor of Texas and governor 7 months; Rev. Caleb Ives, 1st rector of 1st Episcopal Church in Texas; W. L. Sartwell, partner in Ives-Sartwell-Academy; a leading churchwoman, Mrs. S. M. Dale; F. L. Rugeley, son of a Confederate leader; Robt. J. Sisk, pioneer in rice, oil and land development. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1964
Matagorda Texas - Matagorda Masonic Lodge/Library
Matagorda Lodge on Marice and Fisher, Matagorda
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, 2008
Click on image for photo of Matagorda Lodge Historical Marker

Historical Marker Text:

Matagorda Lodge No. 7, A.F. & A.M.

One of the oldest Masonic lodges in Texas, this lodge traces its history to the Republic of Texas. A group of masons met together on June 24, 1838, and petitioned the newly created Grand Lodge of Texas for a charter to Seth Ingram as first master.

From its beginning, the Matagorda Lodge was active and influential in the community's development. The first services of Christ Episcopal Church were held in the Masonic Hall. The masons operated a lending library for the town's citizens and supported local public education projects.

In 1868, due to a succession of financial difficulties and the strains of the Civil War, the Matagorda Lodge was deactivated. The members maintained interest in the lodge, however, and it was finally rechartered by the grand lodge in 1911 under its original number.

Many prominent Texans have been affiliated with this lodge, including local and state government officials. The lodge has counted among its members veterans of the war of 1812, the Texas Revolution, Mexican War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
(1990)
Matagorda Tx New Bridge under construction
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
Matagorda New Bridge
Matagorda Old Draw Bridge
Matagorda  TX - 1830 Matagorda Cemetery Gate
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, 2009
Matagorda Cemetery
Matagorda TX Fire Dept
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, 2008
Matagorda TX - Matagorda Bay Nature Park,  Roseate Spoon Bill
Matagorda Bay Nature Park
A 1600-acre park and preserve at the mouth of the Colorado River on the Matagorda Peninsula

(979) 863-2603
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine
Matagorda Tx - Fishing Boat
Matagorda Fishing Boat
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
Shrimp boats, Matagorda, Texas
Shrimp Boats at Matagorda
TE Photo
Gulf cost water scene
Water scene Near Matagorda
TE Photo
Church and date palm in Matagorda, Texas
Church and Date Palm in Matagorda
TE Photo
Texas gulf coast architecture 1910 home
Awaiting restoration - Typical Gulf Coast Architecture
TE photo

Matagorda Chronicles
  • Rafting Cotton from Bastrop to Matagorda by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales" column)
    During the 1840s and continuing through the Civil War, Central Texans saw the Colorado River as a transportation artery connecting them with the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Matagorda Tx - Welcome Sign
    Matagorda - "Where Texas History Began"
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, 2009
    Matagorda County TX 1920s Map
    Matagorda County
    From 1920 Texas state map
    #10749 showing Matagorda
    Courtesy Texas General Land Office
    Matagorda Texas Forum
  • Subject: Old Texas Swing Bridge
    It has come to my attention that the old Swing Bridge in Matagorda, TX is soon to be replaced by a more modern bridge. Is anyone researching or doing a documentary on the renovation of this historic bridge? Thanks. - Eryn Hall, July 16, 2005

  • Subject: Matagorda History
    Matagorda has historic significance, color, and is a very nice town. An interesting fact is that a huge logjam existed on the Colorado river near here for many years, and was cleared early last century, creating a division in Matagorda bay with a new river delta. Now we have East, and West Matagorda Bays. Cattle drives here are historic too. - Patrick Feagins, January 02, 2002

    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic photos of their town, please contact us.

  • Matagorda, Texas Area Towns:
    See Matagorda County | Bay City | Wharton | Port Lavaca
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