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SAN LUIS, TX

SAN LUIS, TEXAS. San Luis was on what is now Farm Road 257 across San Luis Pass from the west end of Galveston Island and twelve miles east of Surfside in southeastern Brazoria County. The area, San Luis Island, was still a true island in 1885, but Little Pass later sanded up, leaving only an extended peninsula at the eastern end of Brazoria County. The site can be reached from Galveston County by Farm Road 3005 and a toll bridge. Some sources say the name originated with René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle's establishment in Texas, but most Brazoria County historians theorize that because the spelling is Spanish, not French, Luis de Moscoso Alvarado provided the name, which may originally have designated Galveston or some other island near the Texas coast. Stephen F. Austin obtained a league of land on the island in 1832. A stock company was organized after a survey in 1832 showed the water in San Luis Pass to be eighteen feet deep, sufficiently deep to accommodate large sailing ships. Plans were made to connect San Luis by canal and rail with rich plantations on the Brazos River. Developers laid out and sold lots, and forty houses were built. In 1836 the Follett family began its fifty-year operation of the Halfway House to accommodate mail carriers and others who crossed by ferry from Galveston to Brazoria County. Several hotels and general stores were opened in San Luis during the next few years, as the population reached 2,000. A newspaper, the San Luis Advocate, had begun publication by 1840. Up to eight or ten ships from throughout the world dropped anchor in the harbor at once. Developer George L. Hammeken built a 1,000-foot wharf and several warehouses to handle the shipping. To provide fresh water, rainfall on the roofs of cotton sheds was diverted by gutters to a brick cistern about seventy feet in diameter. A post office was established and Edmund Andrews was appointed postmaster possibly as early as 1840. The post office was discontinued in 1848. Robert Mills, a prosperous Brazoria merchant and plantation owner who was one of the founders of San Luis, built the first cotton compress in Texas there. It was operated by a mule turning the huge wooden screw to press the cotton into compact bales for shipment. At one time 5,000 bales of cotton compressed there were shipped throughout the world. By 1842 tides and storms had filled the harbor. A financial depression plagued the Republic of Texas. Residents began to leave San Luis, and by 1853 only 400 to 500 people remained. A fierce hurricane lashed the coast that year, leaving the beach bare and driving away those who had remained. San Luis had been abandoned by the latter part of the 1800s. The area had twenty-two permanent residents in 1989, when the Treasure Island resort development, a county park and recreational-vehicle campground with eighty hookups, was under construction.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Brazosport Facts, November 3-December 8, 1960. James A. Creighton, A Narrative History of Brazoria County (Angleton, Texas: Brazoria County Historical Commission, 1975). Galveston Daily News, July 11, 1936. Charles Waldo Hayes, Galveston: History of the Island and the City (2 vols., Austin: Jenkins Garrett, 1974). William S. Red, ed., "Allen's Reminiscences of Texas, 1838–1842," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 18 (January 1915).

Marie Beth Jones

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Marie Beth Jones, "SAN LUIS, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvsem), accessed July 27, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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