GOOSE CREEK, TX
GOOSE CREEK, TEXAS. Goose Creek, on Galveston Bay in eastern Harris County thirty miles southeast of Houston, was named for a nearby stream. There was no permanent settlement at the site until the early 1900s, when a small community was established. Although wildcat drilling began there as early as 1905, rice farming and cattle raising were the principal occupations. In 1913 a post office was granted. In 1914 Goose Creek was described as a boat landing five miles from the nearest banking center and rail connection. The town also had telephone connections, an estimated population of 300, and five businesses.
After the Goose Creek oilfield was opened in 1915 a boomtown known as Old Town grew up on Goose Creek. That same year a well explosion buried Old Town, and the residents moved further inland. The new site was originally called Newtown, but by 1916 the name Goose Creek had been adopted. The town grew larger in 1917, when Ross S. Sterling, president of Humble Oil and Refining Company (later Exxon, U.S.A.qv), and Price Pruett, a local landowner, organized and built the Goose Creek and Dayton Railroad to connect the oilfield with the Southern Pacific line at Dayton. In 1918 Sterling laid out a townsite west of the railroad right-of-way on 100 acres he had purchased for $90,000 from Pruett. To encourage stable and constant development, Sterling stipulated that merchants must construct their buildings of brick or plaster. He also owned the Goose Creek Electric Power system (sold to Houston Lighting and Power in 1925), the Goose Creek Water System, and Citizens State Bank; and he gave land for the Goose Creek-Harris County Library. The population soon rose to 1,200. On January 28, 1919, Goose Creek citizens voted to incorporate. The city government began in April with W. E. Bussey as the first mayor. A volunteer fire department was promptly organized. By 1927 the town had built a city hall and adopted home rule, and in 1928 citizens installed the manager form of government.
Though there were several attempts to consolidate Goose Creek with two adjoining oilfield towns, Pelly and Baytown, wrangling over which settlement was established first prevented the consolidation until January 24, 1948. The three communities, known as the Tri-Cities, were unified long before that, however, in their employment, schools, churches, and newspapers. Most residents of all three worked for the Baytown Refinery of Humble Oil and Refining Company, built in 1919 on Black Duck Bay and the Houston Ship Channel. Children from the three towns all attended schools of the Goose Creek Independent School District, which was formed on August 21, 1921, with district offices in Goose Creek. Blacks attended separate schools in the Oak and Central Heights additions of Goose Creek. In 1934 the district voted to start Lee Junior College (now Lee College), to be operated by the school board. The institution offered general academic courses and added noncredit technical-vocational education in 1936. An additional influence drawing the towns together was the chamber of commerce. The Goose Creek chamber was organized in 1921. Successful joint efforts to lessen the negative effects of the Great Depression and to provide relief for the unemployed caused the Goose Creek and Baytown chambers of commerce to merge during World War II.
Religious observances in Goose Creek began in private homes. The two oldest churches were Memorial Baptist Church, founded in 1918, and Grace Methodist Church, founded in 1919. Temple Knesseth Israel and St. Joseph Catholic Church were organized in the 1920s.
The first Tri-Cities newspaper, the weekly Goose Creek Gasser, was begun by Frank Boyer in 1918. In 1928 it became a daily under the name Daily Tribune. Chester Rogers was the first editor of the Tribune. Each of the three towns eventually had its own newspaper, but the financial pressure of the Great Depression forced the papers to consolidate in 1931. The new newspaper was named the Daily Sun and was published in Goose Creek. In 1949, after the Tri-Cities had become Baytownqv, the paper was incorporated under the name Baytown Sun.
Actual consolidation of the Tri-Cities began when Pelly annexed unincorporated Baytown under the rules of home-rule charter on December 7, 1945. The population of Goose Creek was 9,928, and by the annexation that of Pelly became 11,030-large enough to annex Goose Creek under state law. After a legal struggle, consolidation became a reality on January 24, 1948. With the adoption of the new charter of the city of Baytown, Goose Creek ceased to exist as a separate town.
Olga Miller Haenel, A Social History of Baytown, Texas, 1912–1956 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1958). Houston Post, January 31, 1963. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Baytown, Texas).