when it seemed local history held no more surprises, I read that
the original Lynchburg Ferry was not in Lynchburg.
It was on Crystal Bay in present-day Baytown.
According to researcher Janet K. Wagner of the Harris County Historical
Commission, Nathaniel Lynch started the ferry service in 1822 on
Crystal Bay where he also built a home and a store. The ferry --
a raft, really, that accommodated only one wagon or buggy at a time
-- ran back and forth to a landing south of Peggy McCormick's house
on Peggy's Lake. (McCormick's name would go down in history as the
owner of the land where the Battle
of San Jacinto was fought.)
from Missouri in 1822, Lynch received a Mexican land grant of 4,428
acres and cleared a 150-acre homestead on the east side of Crystal
Bay. Already experienced in running a ferry in Missouri, he decided
Crystal Bay would be a safe, calm place to establish a ferry operation.
In addition, he had other ways to make a living. He's listed in
the 1826 census as a farmer and stock raiser.
Lynch eventually and reluctantly moved his ferry landing upstream,
where the San Jacinto River meets Buffalo Bayou. When granting him
a ferry license in 1829, government authorities at San Felipe told
him to relocate, but the ferry's CEO took his good time going about
it. Finally he complied in 1830. The natives were getting restless
by then and demanding a more convenient ferry crossing, nearer the
increasingly busy confluence of waterways.
Wagner wrote that Clarissa Patching bought the Crystal Bay home
for $750, but Margaret Henson, in her book "The History of Baytown,"
said the home was on Scott Bay. Maps drawn in the 1800s are printed
on the inside front and back covers of the Henson book, and they
indicate Scott Bay had two other identities, Patching Bay and Turkey
Actually the home could have fronted both bays since the Lynch property
was located about where Scott and Crystal bays meet. If I were giving
directions back in the era of the Brownwood
subdivision, that would be near the intersection of Mapleton
Street and Bayshore Drive.
Anyway, the exact location would be good to pinpoint and could be
fodder for a future historical marker in the Baytown Nature Center,
the former Brownwood subdivision
where all three bays meet - Scott, Crystal and Burnet.
I wonder if Wagner realizes she dropped a bombshell in regard to
Lynch's first ferry. We BIBs (Born In Baytown) accept the news gladly,
though, because he, wife Fannie and their children came to Texas
as members of Stephen F. Austin's cream-of-the-cream colony of 300
families, and both Mr. and Mrs. Lynch played an important part in
the Texas Revolution. It's an honor to claim them as former Baytonians,
even though in their day the name Baytown was unheard of.
The ferry operation -- that Lynch wanted to keep on Crystal Bay
and not move upstream -- continues to this day as the oldest in
Texas and one of the oldest, continually operating, free-of-charge
ferries in the U.S.
Orton Baytown Sun Columnist
1, 2017 column
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