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6000 TO 8000 YEARS AGO
Aransas County has been the site of human habitation for several thousand years. Archeological artifacts recovered in the region suggest that the earliest human inhabitants arrived around 6,000 to 8,000 years ago. Subsequent inhabitants belonged to a culture known as Aransas. Aransas campsites, some dating back approximately 4,000 years, have been found in Copano Bay and Aransas County.
1200 TO 1400 A.D. ARANSAS, KARANKAWAS AND COAHUILTECANS
The Aransas Indians, a nomadic, hunter-gatherer people, appear to have left the Gulf Coast around A.D. 1200 to 1300. The region apparently afterward remained uninhabited for 100 years until the ancestors of the Karankawas moved there around A.D. 1400. During historic times, the Coastal Bend area was occupied by several groups of Indians, including the Karankawas and Coahuiltecans. These nomadic hunter-gatherers never formed a large alliance or organization. After the arrival of the Europeans most fled, succumbed to disease, or were absorbed by other Indian groups in Mexico; by the mid-1800s virtually all trace of them had disappeared.
1519 TO 1766 SPANISH CONQUEST EXPORATION
Aransas County was formed in 1871 from portions of Refugio County. It was named after Rio Nuestra Senora de Aránzazu, a Spanish outpost in early Texas. The first European to see this land was probably Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, who sailed along the coast of Texas in the summer of 1519 and who also discovered the Aransas Bay. The area remained undisturbed until In 1766 Diego Ortiz Parrilla conducted an exploration of the Gulf Coast and gave the names Santo Domingo to Copano Bay and Culebra Island to what is now St. Joseph Island.
By the late colonial period, the Spanish had established a small fort on Live Oak Point that they named Aránzazu, reportedly after a palace in Spain. Several attempts were made to establish settlements in the lower Nueces River valley to the south, but because of the threat of Indian attacks and the distance from other Spanish enclaves the plans came to nothing. Across Copano Bay in what is now Refugio County. A port of entry and customhouse was established in the 1780s, which became known as El Cópano. During the late Spanish and Mexican periods, the port, which served Goliad, Refugio, and San Antonio, was considered the best in what was called western Texas. Around 1832 James Power founded Aransas City on Live Oak Point near the site of the Aránzazu fort. A customhouse, a post office, and several stores were established at the settlement. Until the establishment of Corpus Christi, Aransas City was the westernmost port in Texas; its estimated population was several hundred. The town was raided by Comanche and Karankawa Indians on several occasions, and at least three times by Mexican bandits, in 1838, 1839, and 1841.
18XX MIRABEAU B. LAMAR BECAME PRESIDENT OF TEXAS. LAMAR BECOMES A TOWNSITE
At about the same time three local figures, Capt. James W. Byrne, George R. Hull, and George Armstrong, were developing another townsite, Lamar, across the pass on Lookout Point. After Mirabeau B. Lamar became president of Texas, he ordered the customhouse moved to the new town. In 1840 Refugio became the county seat, and as a result Aransas City began to decline; by 1846 it had ceased to exist.
After the revolution cattlemen and sailors founded another community, Aransas, on the southern end of St. Joseph's Island, which was a prosperous port. During the Mexican War the Live Oak Peninsula was the site of Zachary Taylor's main encampment before he moved his army south. A short time later James W. Byrne and his associates founded the settlement of St. Joseph on the western end of St. Joseph's Island.
1858 THE ARANSAS RAILROAD COMPANY BEGINS WORK
The community proved to be short-lived, however. Byrne became associated with Pryor Lea in a plan to develop a railroad from Lamar to Goliad. In 1847 the railroad was incorporated by the legislature, and Byrne induced a number of settlers to move to Lamar. In 1858 The Aransas Railroad Company graded a roadbed across Live Oak Peninsula. In the meantime, a man named Joseph F. Smith had begun to develop another port town, St. Mary's of Aransas, on Copano Bay, two miles up the bay from Black Point. The settlement soon became the largest lumber and building-materials center in western Texas. Regular wagon trains hauled goods inland to Refugio, Goliad, Beeville, and San Antonio, and on the eve of the Civil War St. Mary's was an important shipping point for hides, tallow, cattle, and cotton. By 1860 Lamar had two stores and a post office, but St. Mary's had become the more important port.
1863 CIVIL WAR CAUSES LAMAR TO BECOME A GHOST TOWN
During the Civil War the area that was to become Aransas County was the site of several engagements between Union and Confederate forces. In February 1862 marines from the USS Afton went ashore on St. Joseph's Island and destroyed Aransas. By the summer, civilians had deserted the islands. Vessels of the United States Navy under J. W. Kittredge blockaded the coast, using St. Joseph's Island as a depot to store captured cotton. On May 3, 1863, Capt. Edwin E. Hobby's Confederate company attacked the Union garrison there and killed twenty, but in November 1863 federal troops under T. C. G. Robinson succeeded in regaining control of the island. St. Mary's, which had been a prime focus for blockade runners, was attacked, and its wharves and warehouses were destroyed. Many of the town's leading citizens moved elsewhere, including Joseph F. Smith, who moved to Tuxpan, Vera Cruz, where he purchased a plantation and lived until his death. Despite the destruction and economic disruption caused by the war, the future Aransas County area quickly recovered. Aransas, which had been destroyed during the war, became a ghost town, and Lamar, which had burned during the war, declined,
1867 ROCKPORT BECOMES A TOWN AND THE FULTON'S SHOW UP
Following the Civil War, a number of people considered developing the Live Oak Peninsula. Joseph F. Smith, who had founded the nearby town of St. Mary's in 1850, joined with Thomas H. Mathis and his cousin J.M. Mathis, who were agents of the Morgan Steamship line, and founded a wharf at the site of what would later become the town of Rockport, in 1867. The same year, George W. Fulton and his wife, Texas heiress and Joseph Smith's cousin, Harriet Smith Fulton moved to her extensive land holdings on the peninsula. Fulton also took an interest in the development of Rockport, as well as creating the town of Fulton farther up the coastline. In response, a nascent cattle-slaughtering and packing operation at the wharf expanded rapidly, allowing Rockport to be officially incorporated as a town in 1870; its name arising from the rock ledge that runs along the shore. Thomas Mathis became Rockport's first mayor after being appointed by the governor. A year later in 1871, the town achieved "city" status after continued growth.
1866 FULTON IS FOUNDED GEORGE FULTON BUILDS THE MANSION
Fulton was founded in 1866, named for George Ware Fulton, Sr., a land developer in the area. Fulton had been a teacher in Indiana and decided to come to Texas by flatboat with 60 other men during the war for independence between Texas and Mexico. After the long trip to Texas, George Fulton found that the war was over but he joined the Army of the Republic of Texas for a few months.Fulton built a large house, now known as the Fulton Mansion, in the area where Fulton stands. The town quickly became the site for many slaughterhouses as cattle from south Texas were driven to Fulton. The cattle slaughterhouses lasted until the 1880s, when railroads reached the area and provided ways to ship live cattle to population centers such as Chicago.
1872 ARANSAS COUNTY IS FORMNED CATTLE INDUSTRY BOOMING
During the years of the great cattle boom, the new port towns became important shipping and processing points. The first packery in the county was built by W. S. Hall in Fulton just after the war, and over the course of the next eight years. Numerous other packeries sprang up, most of them located in the Rockport-Fulton area, including the Carruthers and Fulton Company, Lyman Meat Packing and Canning Company, American Meat Company, American Beef Packery, Boston Packing Company, Texas Beef Packery, and Marion Packing Company. In 1871 a man by the name of Daniel L. Holden installed the first ice machine in the packing houses. As late as 1880 a single factory in the Rockport-Fulton area handled 93 percent of the $500,000 worth of beef slaughtered by Texas factories in 1880.In March 1871, because the great cattle boom had established it as the most important town in the area, Rockport became county seat of Refugio County. On September 18 of the same year, the legislature voted to divide the county and designated much of the coastal area as a new county named Aransas. Rockport was made the county seat, and on March 26, 1872, the county commissioners' court met for the first time in a rented frame house. In 1888 the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad (later the Texas and New Orleans) reached Rockport, thus ensuring the town's continued importance as a shipping center. The rise of Rockport, however, marked the beginning of the decline for St. Mary's. Successive storms in 1886 and 1887 destroyed the town's wharves, and by the early 1890s St. Mary's had dwindled to a small village.
1888 ARANSAS PASS L.C. BEGINS DEVELOPING THE AREA
In 1888, the Aransas Pass Land Company, instituted a comprehensive plan to develop Rockport and the surrounding region. A new county courthouse was built in 1889 and by 1900 tourism for the first time began to play a significant role in the area's economy. During the first half of the twentieth century two new industries emerged, fishing and shipbuilding. By the early 1890s commercial fishing was flourishing in the Rockport area, and over the course of the next several decades it continued to expand, eventually outstripping agriculture in net receipts. The shrimping Industry also began to develop in the 1930s. In 1930, some evidence of a prehistoric settlement was found in the Fulton area, possibly Karankawan.
1950 SHRIMPING AND SHIPPING BOOM
By 1950 it produced fifty-one million pounds of shrimp. The area's small shipbuilding industry, which had begun to develop at the end of the nineteenth century, took off during World War I and continued to prosper during the 1920s and 1930s. During World War II the United States Navy took over the Rockport Yacht and Supply Company to repair and maintain vessels in the 100-foot class, and another shipyard, owned by Rob Roy Rice, built wooden submarine chasers. Oil was discovered in the county in 1936, and thirteen wells were in production in 1946, but it was not until the 1950s that oil was produced in large quantities. In 1990 498,703 barrels was produced; total production between 1936 and 1990 was over 77,000,000 barrels. Much of the drilling has been done offshore, and the county benefited greatly from the settlement in 1953 of the Tidelands controversy, which gave it an additional 208 square miles of submerged land area.
1946 ARANSAS COUNTY INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT
The first school in the county was Lamar Academy, founded around 1850. The first school in Rockport opened in 1881, and in 1884 the first public school opened there. Between 1893 and 1949 seven common school districts operated in the county, but in June 1946 they were consolidated in the Aransas County Independent School District.In the early 1980s Aransas County had three elementary, one middle, and one high school. Private schools enrolled fifty-three elementary students. Fifty-seven percent of the 139 high school graduates planned to attend college. The total number of businesses in the county in the early 1990s was about 450. Leading industries included agribusiness, tourism, oil and gas extraction, and fish packing. Gross sales in 1990 totaled $193,138,955. In 1990, approximately 33 percent of the land in the county was in farms and ranches, and 14 percent of the farmland was under cultivation. Aransas County ranked 253d in the state in agricultural receipts, with 69 percent coming from crops. Principal crops included sorghum, fruits, and nuts; the primary livestock products were from cattle.
ROCKPORT FULTON EVOLVES
Today Aransas County is on the Gulf Coast northeast of Corpus Christi. The county, divided into three parts by Copano, St. Charles, and Aransas bays, is bounded on the north and northwest by Refugio County, on the south by San Patricio and Nueces counties, and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico. The county seat and largest city is Rockport. Several highways cross the county, including State highways 35 and 361, and Farm roads 136, 881, 1781, 2040, 2165, 2725, and 3036. The county is also served by the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which runs the length of Aransas Bay, handles a large volume of shipping through the area and is an important element in the economy. In the late twentieth century tourist trade was also a major source of income. Local attractions include Goose Island State Park, Copano Bay State Fishing Pier, the Rockport Beach, and the Texas Maritime Museum. Special celebrations include Seafair in October, Fiesta en la Plaza in September, and the Fourth of July Fireworks and Art Festival; Oyster Fest occurs in March and the Children's Christmas Tree in November.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 528 square miles (1,370 km2), of which 252 square miles (650 km2) is land and 276 square miles (710 km2) (52%) is water.
Rockport is adjacent to the town of Fulton, and many refer to the combined communities as "RockportFulton"; however, Rockport and Fulton are legally separate municipalities.
Lamar is a small, unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Aransas County, Texas, United States, 10 miles (16 km) north of Rockport The community was named for Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas. Lamar was founded in 1839 at Lookout Point, on the channel entrance to Copano Bay. President Lamar agreed to relocate the custom house here, and the town thrived as a port and the site of a salt works. This prosperity ended abruptly on February 11, 1864, when the town was bombarded and practically obliterated by the Union Navy.
The cemetery, said to be the oldest in the territory, remains relatively unchanged and is one of the more picturesque coastal cemeteries in the state. It has been designated a historical landmark and reads on the text; “This burial ground originally served pioneer settlers of the Lamar community. Founded by James W. Byrne (d. 1865), a native of Ireland and a veteran of the Texas Revolution, it was named for his friend Mirabeau B. Lamar, former president of the Republic of Texas. The earliest grave is that of Patrick O'Connor (1822-54), a bookkeeper for Byrne's business operations in New Orleans. The town of Lamar ceased to exist by 1915 and the cemetery was neglected until the 1940s when it was restored through efforts by the family of John Henry Kroeger, Jr. (d. 1944). (1981) Incise in base: Donated by the Lamar Woman's Club.
Goose Island State Park is a state park in the U.S. state of Texas, located north of the city of Rockport on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The park covers 321.4 acres (130 ha). It is surrounded by both St. Charles and Aransas Bays.
The park was established on land acquired from private owners between the years 1931–35. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the earliest facilities.
The park is home to "The Big Tree", a Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana), thought to be over 1000 years old. It has a circumference of 35 feet (11 m), is 44 feet (13 m) in height and has a crown spread of 90 feet (27 m).
Although it is located on the seashore, there is no designated swimming area at the park, as the shoreline consists of concrete, oyster shell, mudflat, and marsh grass. Instead, the main park activities include camping, birding, fishing, and boating. The park averages more than 60,000 overnight campers each year and has about 200,000 visitors annually. There are 45 shade shelters with electricity and water on the island. There are 57 shelters with electricity and water, and 27 with water and no electricity. Speckled trout, redfish, drum, flounder, and sheepshead are a few of the fish caught.
Also included is the community of Holiday Beach. Holiday Beach is located on the eastern shore of Copano Bay along State Highway 35 in Aransas County, approximately 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Rockport.
Development of the area began in the mid-1960s, when a group of Dallas investors organized the Copano Land Company. The first lots were sold around 1964. The subdivision continued to develop with waterfront homes and boat canals throughout the remainder of the twentieth century.
ROCKPORT FULTON TODAY (HURRICANE HARVEY)
On August 25, 2017 Hurricane Harvey made landfall near the communities as a Category 4 storm on the Saffir–Simpson scale. The storm caused significant damage. Harvey developed from a tropical wave to the east of the Lesser Antilles, reaching tropical storm status on August 17. Harvey soon resumed strengthening and quickly became a major hurricane and attained Category 4 intensity later that day. Hours later, Harvey made landfall at San José Island, Texas, at peak intensity, followed by another landfall at Holiday Beach at Category 3 intensity.
Clean up efforts have been ongoing since then and it is estimated that over xxxxx cubic tons of debris caused by the storm have been removed and are currently being incinerated.
The Community has been resilient in the rebuilding efforts and over 500 business are currently opened.
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LOCAL HISTORY OF THE AREA
Lets start with a little History Lesson of the Rockport Fulton Aransas County area. We hope you find this information enjoyable and helps you to experience our community in a whole new way.
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