Indianola, Texas - Blown
Away by the Winds
Vintage Indianola street scene.
So, Indianola, has it
been with thee,
Thou once fair city by
the moonlit sea!
Thy fame is ended and
thy beauty fled.
Bleak memory call thee
form the silent dead.
Thy streets are
nameless, and seaweeds grow
Along the walks where
life did want to flow
Forever thy dream is
Thou livist alone on
Memory's barren shore
The sun that set, yet
sets to rise again,
Will smile the same,
yet smile on the in vain
While moonbeams dancing
as the billows roar,
Will seem as bright,
yet dance onít thee no more.
- Jeff Melemona 1889
Though entirely gone today, Indianola,
was once one of the most important
ports along the Gulf of Mexico. Established in 1846 by Sam
Addison White and William M. Cook, the first settlement was called
Indian Point. At the terminus of the Chihuahaw Trail, the
military road to San Antonio, Austin, and Chihuahua, Mexico, as well
as the road to San Diego, the town was destined to grow quickly. Anglo-American landowners surveyed the site and began selling lots in
1846 and a year later a post office was opened in September, 1847.
Very close to Indian Point already sat a small German settlement
founded in 1844 called Karlshaven. Here, the first house was built by
German immigrant, Johann Schwarts, in 1845.
Stage coach service began in the settlement in 1848 as Indian Point
became firmly established as a deep-water port. Soon, it became
the chief port through which European and American immigrants flowed
As Indian Point began to grow and merge with the nearby settlement of
Karlshaven, the two towns became one and changed its name to Indianola
in February, 1849. With its rapid growth, the town soon expanded
three miles down the beach to Powderhorn Bayou when Indianola
was chosen as the terminus to Charles Morganís New York-based
In 1852 Indianola was made the Calhoun County seat and the first
newspaper, called the Bulletin, was established by John Henry
Brown. Other newspapers soon followed including the Courier,
the Times, and the Indianolan. In 1853, the town was
officially incorporated and a new City Hospital was established.
In 1856 and 1857
two shiploads of camels were off-loaded at Indianola.
Under the direction of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, the animals
were used in an experiment to transport military supplies through the
southwestern United States.
By 1860, the port
town, which had quickly rivaled nearby Port Lavaca, had grown to over
a thousand people. Though its economy was not based on the
plantation culture and few slaves were part of the settlement, the
residents voted by a large majority for
secession at the start of the
Civil War. Calhoun County
volunteers became part of the Third
Infantry of the
Army. Others from the area joined the
Guards or the Lavaca Guards, which became part of Company A of the
A prime target for the
Union, Indianola was bombarded by Union gunboats on October 26, 1862. Afterwards it was looted and occupied for a month before the Union forces
with drew. However, they returned in November 1863 and seized the
city again, where they remained until 1864.
By 1870 over 2,000 people
inhabited the port city as Indianola
grew in importance as a military depot and became the second largest port
Railroad service from Indianola
to the interior began in 1871 and by 1875; Indianola
supported a population of more than 5,000 people.
Indianola was at the peak of her
prosperity when the first hurricane struck the port city. At sea
level, the town was extremely vulnerable to tropical storms and on
September 16, 1875, it was hit by 110 mile an hour winds which literally
blew the town away. Though much of the town was rebuilt, the damage
to the town and its economy would never quite recover.
Illustration of Port of
Today, all that's left of
and a few foundations.
population began to decline and by 1880 less than a 2,000 people remained. A second hurricane struck on August 19, 1886 that was even more
destructive than the first. After this second disaster, the town was not
rebuilt. In 1887 the county seat was moved to Port Lavaca as well as the
post office. The population of Indianola
scattered, many of them also moving to Port Lavaca.
1878 the Southern Pacific Railroad bought out the property of the Morgan
Lines, which had headquartered at Indianola
since the 1850s, and in 1887 reopened the war-damaged railroad. This
development, along with the growth of other railroads across the state,
reduced Port Lavaca from a major seaport to a fishing center.
Today, Indianola is called home to only a little more than 100 souls.
is located in Calhoun County on the
Gulf Coast about ten miles from Port Lavaca on Highway 316.
of America, updated December, 2016.
One business remains in Indianola at the marina.
Texas Ghost Towns
One of the few remains
left of the original Indianola is a piece of the old Courthouse. In recent
years it was placed near where the county courthouse once stood with this
During the Storms of
1875 and 1886
precious lives were
saved within its walls
concrete and lime.
Photo by Dave
Alexander, December 2016.
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