Eagle Island Plantation was established in 1826 on part of five leagues of land given to Sarah Ann Groce by her father, Jared Ellison Groce, on the occasion of her marriage to William Harris Wharton. The plantation was on Oyster Creek twelve miles from the Gulf of Mexico in southeastern Brazoria County. At one time it included 16,000 acres of the richest alluvial soil in Texas. The cotton plantation was developed around 1826 and served as the Wharton home from 1828 to 1878. Wharton replaced the original log house with an elaborate frame structure built of imported timber, surrounded by landscaped grounds, and patterned after a home in Mobile, Alabama. It was capable of housing thirty guests. A brick sugar house, double kettles, and duplicate machinery to avoid delay in case of breakdowns made the plantation operations highly efficient.
According to the census, John Austin Wharton, Wharton's only child, owned the plantation in 1860, when it comprised 700 improved acres, used 133 slaves, and produced 7,000 bushels of corn, 100 bales of cotton, and 185 hogsheads of sugar. Wharton's real property in that year was valued at $113,000 and his personal property at $123,950. William Wharton Groce, a nephew of Wharton, owned the plantation after 1872, and in 1884 it was purchased by Harris Masterson. Two other plantations, the Evergreen plantation of Alexander Calvit and the Lake Plantation of Abner Jackson, were developed on Wharton land. William H. and Sarah Groce Wharton and family friend Branch T. Archer were buried at the Eagle Island family cemetery.
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Randolph B. Campbell, An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821–1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989). William Wharton Groce, "Major General John A. Wharton," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 19 (January 1916). Abner J. Strobel, The Old Plantations and Their Owners of Brazoria County (Houston, 1926; rev. ed., Houston: Bowman and Ross, 1930; rpt., Austin: Shelby, 1980).
Houses, Mansions, and Plantations
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Diana J. Kleiner,
“Eagle Island Plantation,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 17, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 12, 2012