Tag Archives: Galveston

Today in Texas History – April 24

Reproduction Magnolia Petroleum Company Motor Oil Sign ...

From the Annals of Big Oil –  In 1911, the Magnolia Petroleum Company was founded.  The MPC was an unincorporated joint-stock association comprised of several other companies including primarily the John Sealy Company of Galveston. In 1931, Magnolia became an affiliate of Socony-Vacuum Oil Company. The Magnolia Petroleum Company merged with Socony Mobil Oil Company in 1959. Its operations became part of Mobil Oil Company, an operating division of Socony Mobil.

Today in Texas History – March 10

From the Annals of Medicine  –  In 1890, the John Sealy Training School for Nurses opened with eighteen students.  The first formal training program for nurses was housed in Galveston’s brand new John Sealy Hospital. The school was initially independent of the hospital, but was incorporated into the University of Texas Medical Branch in 1896.

From the Annals of the Breweries –  In 1896, the Galveston Brewing Company began operations. The GBC operated the first major brewery in Texas with notables such as major shareholder Adolphus Busch raising $400,000 to fund the construction.   Smaller local brewers had of course been operating since the early days of the Republic.  With its sizable German population,  several commercial breweries had been established in Texas’ German and Czech communities.  The impressive Galveston complex included a large ice plant, cold-storage rooms, water wells, railroad access, and a brewery capable of producing 75,000 barrels of beer each year.    GBC featured brands such as High Grade and Seawall Bond.   GBC’s facility somehow survived the infamous 1900 Hurricane practically unscathed.  Prohibition was more of a challenge than the worst the Gulf of Mexico could throw at it,  but the GBC managed to survive for a while by producing  Galvo, a “nonintoxicating cereal beverage” of questionable quality and likely disgusting taste.

Today in Texas History – October 27

From the Annals of the Tall Ships – In 1877, The Elissa was launched. She is the official Tall Ship of Texas and was originally designed as an iron-hulled, three-masted barque and built at the Clyde River shipyard of Alexander Hall and Company of Aberdeen, Scotland, for Henry Fowler Watt of Liverpool, England.  After much renovation, she is a now a fully restored sailing ship that belongs to the Galveston Historical Foundation. Her overall length is 162 feet and draws 16 feet. Her gross capacity is 430 tons. She carries nineteen sails made of 12,000 square feet of a synthetic material that resembles canvas. The Elissa began her career as a British merchantman on December 19, 1877, when she carried a cargo of Welsh coal to Recife, Brazil, where she arrived on January 28, 1878. For the next ninety years, she was steadily employed as a tramp freight carrier traveling all over the world. The main United States ports she stopped at were New York, Boston, Savannah, and Pensacola. She also stopped at Galveston in 1883 and 1886.  Her career included stints in Scandinavian waters hauling lumber and being used for smuggling operations in the Adriatic.  Over the years she was converted to a motorized ship with most of her sailing rig removed.

In 1974 the Galveston Historical Foundation purchased her as a restoration project to complement the Strand Historic District.  Galveston would once again have her in port.  She was also one of the few surviving square-riggers in the world and the oldest listed in the Lloyd’s of London Registry of Shipping.

In December 1978 the ship began the voyage to Galveston when she was towed to Gibraltar. On June 25, 1979, she was towed out of Gibraltar and set sail for Texas.  She arrived off Galveston on July 20. A dockside celebration was held in Galveston on August 4 to honor the arrival.

In the next three years the Elissa underwent a complete restoration, under direction of David Brink, which included extensive hull repair and new masts, yards, rigging, and sails, as well as a new deck and new deck houses.  Restoration was largely complete by July 4, 1982, when she was formally opened as a tourist attraction. On Labor Day of that year, the Elissa also sailed again as a full-rigged ship on sea trials off Galveston in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Elissa by Don Scafidi available at http://www.elissa.org.

Today in Texas History – June 9

From the Annals of Judaism –  In 1870, Mr. Tuck, the grand master of the Masonic Lodge of Texas, laid the cornerstone for Temple B’nai Israel in Galveston.  Rabbi Jacobs of the New Orleans Portuguese Synagogue officiated. It is believed that this was the first time an ordained rabbi functioned in Texas. Temple B’nai Israel is the oldest Reform Jewish congregation in Texas. The earliest mention of the congregation is found in the October 8, 1859, edition of the Galveston Weekly News. The earliest extant temple record dated August 16, 1868, records the normal meetings that led to the establishment of the congregation.  On March 27, 1870, S. K. Labatt was asked to secure a charter for Congregation B’nai Israel from the next session of the Texas legislature.