George Paul Brulay, planter, son of Ambroise and Eliza (Vernon) Brulay, was born on December 6, 1839, in Paris, France. He was educated at home and at local schools until he was fourteen, when he boarded a merchant vessel and was shipwrecked off Colombia. After being stranded in Cartagena, he worked his way through the interior of the country for three years, then returned to Paris, where he worked for a commission merchant. At eighteen he shipped out to Tampa, Florida, and from there to the Rio Grande valley of Texas. With his brother Arthur, Brulay opened a business handling merchandise between Matamoros and Monterrey by mule caravans. They also used sailboats to deliver goods to coastal towns, and on one of these trips Arthur was lost at sea. In Brownsville Brulay operated a mercantile business under the firm name of Colon, Brulay, and Company until about 1876. On March 11, 1876, he married Marie E. Boesch; they had five children. In the early 1870s Brulay bought about 400 acres of land, which he named Rio Grande Plantation, east of Brownsville. He first planted cotton and experimented with other produce, including sugarcane. He became a successful cane producer and built a mill, commissary, residences, a schoolhouse, and other buildings as the industry grew. Small rail cars ran from the fields to the mills, and hundreds of laborers were employed. Brulay began irrigating his fields on one of the first irrigation permits on the Rio Grande. The Brulay plantation home became a gathering place not only for local people but for state and foreign travelers as well. In 1891 the Brulay family also maintained a home in Brownsville. The sugarcane plantation was operated for several years after Brulay's death, on March 29, 1905. He was buried in Buena Vista Park, Brownsville.
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W. H. Chatfield, The Twin Cities of the Border and the Country of the Lower Rio Grande (New Orleans: Brandao, 1893; rpt., Brownsville: Brownsville Historical Association, 1959). Lewis E. Daniell, Texas–The Country and Its Men (Austin?, 1924?).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Brulay, George Paul,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 20, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 1, 1994