When you think you are having a bad day. . .

Corpus Christi, Front Page, Local history, Personal History


Pictured at top, Fannie Brown; children from left to right are Gussie, Davie Darlene, and Giles.

     On January 20, 1890 twins were born in Runge, Texas, to a couple who already had ten other children. The fraternal twins were Fred and Frances Alma Brown. It most likely took them many years before they realized that occasionally on their birthday, there would also be a new president being sworn into office. The governor of Texas at the time of their birth was a man named Lawrence Sullivan (Sul) Ross, and these twins probably had no clue at the time of their childhood that Sul Ross had fought in the Civil War, and he had been a Texas Ranger who served in the pursuit of a Comanche raiding party in the winter of 1860 called “The Battle of Pease River.”  In that battle Cynthia Ann Parker, mother of Quanah Parker, was recovered. Sul Ross had also helped write the Texas Constitution of 1876, which governs Texas today. Perhaps the parents of these twins, Samuel and Emma Simmons Brown, knew all these things, but the family children may or may not have thought of such events or people.

     Most of the Brown family time was spent farming, going to church, going to school, and – even though electricity was available in cities – doing their homework by lantern light. They had horses and buggies, but cars were not in their lives just yet. Education and religion were important for learning and becoming good citizens but also served as a place to learn socialization skills. Once Frances, known as Fannie, graduated high school, it made sense that she would look for work close to home. Her first job was in a rural school at Couch, Texas, an area in Karnes County that isn’t marked any longer. She made $25 per school month as an assistant teacher. She lived with a family and walked to and from school with the children daily. Her job was to sweep the floors, build a fire in the winter, and teach the children – some of whom were older and bigger than she was – every subject. They were all ages and of all abilities. Fannie was eighteen.

     Fannie Brown’s next job was as a teacher at Moore Rural School in Texas. Then she went to Southwestern in Georgetown for more education. Her next few years were spent in Mathis and Pettus. By the 1914-15 school year, she was a principal at Alta Vista School in Nueces County. Her permanent Teacher’s Certificate was earned in the 1915-16 year at the San Marcos teachers’ college. By the next year, she was the principal at Alta Vista. Since there is no evidence of where Alta Vista School was located, one can assume it was in the area of Ocean Drive where the Alta Vista subdivision now stands, but that would have been out in the country then. There is a reason for going through Fannie’s various teaching positions and her move upward. She never stopped improving her education nor the education of those she taught, whether they were her students or her family members.

     Then came the years of 1917 through about 1922. That’s when she met and fell in love with a man who was a widower and a school board member. She quit her job to get married and suddenly had three stepchildren who were almost her same age. But, they were grown and married. Her husband was David Munchausin (Munchy) Dodson, a farmer. They proceeded to have two children, Gussie Mae, and Giles Louis. Then in 1921, while pregnant with her third child, she endured a radical mastectomy due to breast cancer. She was also told by the doctors that, once this baby was born, she would have to undergo a total hysterectomy. All this was on her mind.

     David, her husband, became ill with cellulitis, and three days before Fannie Brown Dodson was about to have her 32nd birthday, she became a widow. David M. Dodson most likely could have survived with antibiotics of today, but that was not to be in 1922. Widowed, eight- months pregnant, and facing more surgery, she found herself on January 17, 1922, in the depths of despair. Yet, she rarely felt sorry for herself. Less than a month later, on February 15, 1922, her little baby girl was born. The doctor, Dr. W. C. Barnard, who knew well her condition, and who was the father of three sons, pleaded with Fannie to allow him and his wife to adopt this new baby since they had no girls. She told him, “Dr. Barnard, you tell me which of my three children I should be able to give away.” He understood and didn’t ask again.

     Fannie named her new baby for the baby’s daddy, dead less than a month. Davie Darlene Dodson was born on February 15, 1922. Never a quitter, Fannie enlisted her sister, Mary Dobie, to take over the care of the baby so her surgery could be performed. The other two children, Gussie and Giles, about five and not quite three respectively, were most likely under the care of their grandparents. Once Fannie was able, she was back to finding a job in the education business. There were no safety nets for widows in 1922. She was a principal at Alta Vista, and later at Sunshine School, which was located near the present-day intersection of Rodd Field Road and Wooldridge Road. There was a home next to the school called the “Teacherage”, where she and her children lived, and Fannie enlisted her father, Samuel Brown and Fannie’s Aunt Sarentha to baby sit the ones who were not of school age. She recalled that some days she would boil a chicken and share it with students at lunch. Her salary in 1926-27 was $125 per school month. Giles remembered that his Grandpa Brown would sit on the porch and tell them not to leave that area because there were “Wild animals out there that would get them.” While that may have been true, it was probably also true that Samuel Brown didn’t want to have to chase after the little Dodson children.

     One day in 1928, Fannie was complaining to her eldest child, Gussie, that there surely were a lot of things that needed to be fixed. When a windmill repairer came to see if he could fix their windmill, Gussie ran to find her and said, “Mama, I found us a handyman.” The man was Fred Weber, a farmer and a widower who had three children of his own. His were a bit older than Fannie’s children. He lived at the corner of what is now Gollihar and Weber Road, a road in existence today that was named for his family. Fannie Brown Dodson Weber was a difficult person to convince she should retire and take it easy. She ended up teaching a total of about 55 years. She was honored by the Texas State Senate on March 24, 1966, and lived until she was almost 96. In 1976 Bill Walraven wrote an article about her in the Caller-Times. Mathis, Texas, named a school for her. She is the main reason I became a teacher. She was a tremendous example of a person who met each struggle head-on.

     Any time any of us has a bad day, or a bad month, or even a hard year, I just try to remember my grandmother, my daddy’s mother, Fannie Weber. This week, on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, that little baby born after that truly difficult year of my grandmother’s life turns 95 herself. We grew up calling her Aunt Darlene. She became a nurse in World War II and met a Naval pilot named Frank McBride. They managed to live all over the world during their times in the service, including Guam and Hawaii. Aunt Darlene now lives near her daughter in Colorado. I am so grateful that my grandmother was brave enough to face the world without giving up her baby for adoption. Without this baby, my brothers, my cousins, and I would never have had the opportunity to know our Aunt Darlene.

NOTE:  The following is a poem written about Fannie Brown by her granddaughter, Margie Lambert, the writer of this historical account.  Margie followed in her grandmother’s footsteps by becoming a teacher, as well.

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Sand, Smugglers, and Santa Anna Helped Name Flour Bluff

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history
Texas GLO 1839 map of Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays

     In 1839, an unnamed cartographer sketched a map of areas surrounding Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays.  This map (depicted above) is in the hands of the Texas General Land Office.  The area circled in red indicates the first printed use of the name Flour Bluffs, an area at the tip of what is now called the Encinal Peninsula.  According to Bill Duncan in a Caller-Times article from 1963 on the subject of Flour Bluff, “In 1835, Mexico parceled out most of South Texas in grants to its citizens, a vast tract stretching from the Oso (then called El Grullo, the Grey) to Baffin and Alazan Bays” to families who probably never even saw the property because it was far off the beaten paths.  The Encinal Peninsula, like the rest of South Texas, became part of the Republic of Texas in 1836.  Two years later, the remoteness of this land, Duncan suggests, is what attracted smugglers to the area during the Pastry War.

      According to Christopher Klein, writer for History.com, the 3-month war was actually a military conflict sparked in part by an unpaid debt to a French pastry chef.

     “In the years following Mexico’s 1821 independence from Spain, rioting, looting and street fighting between government forces and rebels plagued the country and damaged property, including the ransacking of a bakery near Mexico City owned by a French-born pastry chef named Remontel. Rebuffed by the Mexican government in his attempt at compensation for the damage caused by looting Mexican officers, Remontel took his case directly to his native country and French King Louis-Philippe.

     “The pastry chef found a welcome ear in Paris. The French government was already angered over unpaid Mexican debts that had been incurred during the Texas Revolution of 1836, and it demanded compensation of 600,000 pesos, including an astronomical 60,000 pesos for Remontel’s pastry shop, which had been valued at less than 1,000 pesos. When the Mexican Congress rejected the ultimatum, the French navy in the spring of 1838 began a blockade of key seaports along the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula to the Rio Grande. The United States, which had a contentious relationship with Mexico, sent a schooner to assist in the blockade,” Klein reports.

     This action, according to Bill Duncan, made the price of many staples jump in price, including the price of wheat. “Smuggling,” writes Duncan, “became a highly profitable, though precarious occupation.  Corpus Christi Bay was a natural landing spot.  The new Republic of Texas, seeking French recognition, took a dim view of the smuggling and in the late summer of 1838, Texas militiamen spotted a group of Mexicans unloading cargo on the beach east of El Grullo.  They approached and the Mexicans fled.  The principal item left behind was 100 barrels of flour.”

     But, flour was only part of the story.  It turns out that giant, white sand dunes graced the shores of Flour Bluff Point where the smuggling occurred.  According to those who leveled the sandy giants in 1940 to build NAS Corpus Christi, they stood 40 feet high.  Sand naturally collected in this area, according to R.A. Morton and J.G.Paine who studied the area and wrote about it in the 1984 publication, Historical Shoreline Changes in Corpus Christi, Oso, and Nueces Bays, Texas Gulf Coast.   Evidently, this was apparent to the cartographers in 1845. because the Texas GLO map below shows the area with a second name, the Poso, which means “deposits” or “sediments” in English.  This sandy peninsula with giant white sand dunes and 100 barrels of flour naturally led to the name Flour Bluffs, now simply referred to as Flour Bluff.

Texas GLO map showing Flour Bluffs or the Poso, 1845  (Poso translated into English means “deposits” or “sediments.”)

    Santa Anna’s connection to the naming of Flour Bluff may have been ever so slight, but the story of his involvement in the Pastry War adds a little seasoning to the tale. Matthew Thornton, Texas history teacher and historian, tells of Santa Anna’s role in the Pastry Wars:

“In 1838, Santa Anna seized an opportunity for redemption while fending off a French invasion of Mexico. He once again led Mexican troops in what became another major Mexican military loss, but negotiations between France and the Mexican government eventually settled the dispute and brought end to the invasion. Though he had notched his belt with another difficult loss on the battlefield, Santa Anna was met with renewed support from the Mexican people for his will and ability to quickly rally troops and come to the defense of the country. For his troubles during the conflict, Santa Anna managed to lose his leg to cannon fire, an incident for which he chose to hold a formal burial with full military honors for his sacrificed limb. He famously donned a wooden prosthetic after the leg was successfully amputated.”  (Read the full story about Santa Anna here.)

     All in all, the grey, muddy waters of the Oso have long separated Flour Bluff from the rest of Corpus Christi and Texas.  This geographical separation has created a difference in the land.  Corpus Christi proper is black gumbo.  Flour Bluff is sand.  It has also created a difference in attitude, an attitude that the people of the Bluff understand and defend.  Social media pages such as “I Grew Up in Flour Bluff,” “It’s a Bluff Thing,” and the like keep the current citizens attached to each other.  This writer’s goal is to attach them to their history so that all can appreciate being separate but also see how they are tied to those beyond the Oso and the Laguna Madre.

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“The Napoleon of the West”: A Political Cat with 9 Lives

Corpus Christi, Education, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Government and Politics, Human Interest, International Issues, Local history

     Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna served 11 terms (6 official and 5 unofficial) as president of Mexico between the years of 1833-1855. For his many efforts, the cunning and self-proclaimed, “Napoleon of the West”, proved to be as charming as he was inept, cycling in and out of favor (and exile) with the Mexican people throughout his career in Mexican politics.

The War for Mexican Independence: 1821

     During the Mexican War for Independence, a young Santa Anna fought in the Spanish Royalist Army where he learned the merciless atrocities of war during battles such as that which occurred in Medina, Texas in 1813, where an estimated 1300 rebels were slaughtered and executed in what is known to be the bloodiest battle ever fought on Texas soil. During the final year of the Mexican Revolution (1821), Santa Anna saw the tides turning in favor of the rebels and he opted to switch sides to support an independent Mexico. Such antics, when coupled with his highly touted charming demeanor, won him influence among citizens and politicians in Mexico City. In 1833, Santa Anna was elected president of the young Mexican Republic, marking the beginning of what became a roller-coaster career characterized by intense peaks and valleys.

The Texas Revolution: 1836

     Two years into his presidency, he faced another rebellion in the Anglo colonies, one which was eventually led by Lone Star Legend, Sam Houston, and which culminated in the loss of Texas for Mexico. With intent to quell the rebellion and punish the Texian rebels, Santa Anna marched north with an army of thousands during the dead of winter in 1835, a rare season in Mexican history that saw record low temperatures and 15-16 inches of snow. His infamous victory at the Alamo might actually be viewed as a loss had the Mexican Army not killed the entirety of some 200 Texans who gave their lives holding the mission. For his efforts over the 13-day battle, Santa Anna lost 3 times the number of troops he defeated in the Alamo before splitting his army in a blundering effort to surround Sam Houston and 900 more rebels who were on the march near San Jacinto. At the most inopportune of times, the Napoleon of the West decided to take a siesta in an open field near a small lake, and opted not to post guards, a move that set the stage for his first big fall and his own Waterloo. Under surprise attack, Mexico lost the war in 18 minutes to the Texans at San Jacinto. In the heat of the strike, Santa Anna fled the scene on horseback and was found the following morning hiding in a thicket of brush. After his capture, the Mexican president attempted to conceal his identity after having swapped his general’s uniform for that of a common soldier. Once identified, he famously traded Texas to Sam Houston in exchange for his own life, triggering the first of many falls from favor within the public eye of Mexico. In proper fashion, Austin, Texas, was originally named Waterloo as a poke at Santa Anna’s self-proclaimed Napoleonic likeness.

The Pastry Wars: 1838

     In 1838, Santa Anna seized an opportunity for redemption while fending off a French invasion of Mexico. He once again led Mexican troops in what became another major Mexican military loss, but negotiations between France and the Mexican government eventually settled the dispute and brought end to the invasion. Though he had notched his belt with another difficult loss on the battlefield, Santa Anna was met with renewed support from the Mexican people for his will and ability to quickly rally troops and come to the defense of the country. For his troubles during the conflict, Santa Anna managed to lose his leg to cannon fire, an incident for which he chose to hold a formal burial with full military honors for his sacrificed limb. He famously donned a wooden prosthetic after the leg was successfully amputated.

The Mexican-American War: 1846-1848

     During the early 1840’s, Santa Anna once again lost the support of his people and had been exiled to Cuba around the same time Manifest Destiny had begun to cause friction between America and Mexico. By 1846, the U.S. declared war on Mexico after 11 American soldiers were killed by the Mexican Army along the Rio Grande. The war itself was one of high political controversy on the part of the United States, but once again, Santa Anna would get his chance to revive a career destined not to die. He booked passage on a boat from Cuba to Mexico, a voyage which was intercepted by the U.S. Military. Upon inspection, Santa Anna assured the U.S. government that he would go to Mexico and negotiate peace agreements to bring the war to end. Though his cunning nature preceded him, the Americans took the bait and Santa Anna returned to Mexico only to be given full command of 20,000 troops with the hope that he might be able to prevent the loss of the northern half of the Mexican national territory to the Americans. No such defense was in order, however. Santa Anna’s army was defeated at Cerro Gordo, a battle which ended somewhat satirically when the Mexican general’s chariot was raided by the 4th Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry. In yet another effort to flee from capture, Santa Anna jumped on his horse and rode away. In his frantic hurry, however, he managed to leave behind his peg-leg, which was confiscated by the Americans and became a prized war trophy for the American victory. The leg, to this day, remains on display at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield.

The Gadsden Purchase: 1853

     After losing the northern half of its nation, Mexico once again retracted its support for their on-again-off-again leader. He was again sent into exile – this time to Jamaica – and as had been seen before would again return and become the president of Mexico. In 1853, a resurgence of conservative efforts brought Santa Anna back into power. Upon his arrival back into office, he found that the government was in dire need of cash if it hoped to maintain a military. After much negotiation and in the interest of raising federal funds, Santa Anna accepted a $10 million dollar offer from the U.S. in exchange for a nearly 30,000 square mile tract of land which served as the final puzzle piece in completing the expansion of the American southwest.

From Staten Island to Chewing Gum: 1855

     In 1855, after falling from grace in the Mexican public for his last time, Santa Anna was exiled to Staten Island where, in a roundabout way, he became acquainted with an inventor by the name of Thomas Adams. At the time, Santa Anna had been importing a chewy, rubbery substance harvested from Mexican sapodilla trees. Adams was intrigued and hoped to use the substance in order to find a way to produce a rubber substitute. Santa Anna, still holding onto dreams of a return to power, saw an opportunity to finance his return to Mexico. The project, however, failed after a $30,000 effort. Adams did, somewhat ironically, manage to find a way to add a combination of flavor and sweeteners to the plant, which led him to produce what he referred to as, “rubber chewing gum.” Adams went on to brand a chewing gum company that would become the largest in the country, later eclipsed only by Wrigley’s and Chiclets. Santa Anna, though he would eventually return to Mexico City, never reclaimed his power in politics, and lived to be 82 years old before dying of natural causes.

        The life and career of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna is nothing shy of a story worth telling, but moreover, might be better used as a didactic tale serving to warn citizens of the potential folly which can result from pouring public trust, support, and votes into leaders who simply look and speak in manners that are attractive.

Related article:  “Sand, Smugglers, and Santa Anna Helped Name Flour Bluff”

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Imagine a 32-foot Christ Statue in Corpus Christi Bay

Arts, Corpus Christi, Local history
Gutzon Borglum

     With work continuing on Shoreline Boulevard for the next few months, readers might be interested in looking at past plans to beautify the bay front.  In January 1912, the city approved the purchase of 150 palm trees at a cost of $5.25 each to line Shoreline Drive and make it more attractive for visitors and locals.  That was the start.  From there, many plans have found their way to the council chambers but none quite like the one planned by a visionary sculptor and a Chamber of Commerce president.

     This January 22, 1928, news piece will certainly peak the interest of anyone interested in the history of Corpus Christi or the future of the bay front.  It seems that many plans have been developed over the years concerning what should happen at this site.  Even Gutzon Borglum, world-renowned sculptor and creator of Mt. Rushmore, the monumental sculpture of larger-than-life Americans, had a vision for Corpus Christi.  The article below ran in the Albuquerque Journal in 1928.

     The Abilene Reporter-News on June 24, 1928, declared that the improvements proposed by Borglum “will make Corpus Christi one of the most beautiful cities in America.  The article described how Borglum said that he had always had a dream to create a figure of Christ “along heroic proportions” and that “nothing could be more symbolical than the placing of such a statue in Corpus Christi which means Body of Christ.”  As modern-day Corpus Christians know, this plan never came to fruition.  Alan Lessoff, author of Where Corpus Christi Meets the Sea:  Corpus Christi and Its History, “After the artist died in 1941, his son Lincoln attempted without success to erect a version of the Christ colossus in Spearfish, South Dakota, home of a production of the Passion play.”

Postcard image of Borglum’s Christ Statue (Spearfish, South Dakota)

     It seems that the idea of a monumental Christ in the bay was very popular over the years and that the idea was presented to the city at least four times.  Lessoff relates that in 1953-1954, a group proposed a statue forty feet taller than Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.  He quotes one of the supporters of the project as saying, “The monument must be the tallest one in the world, for this is Texas.”

     Lessoff also makes mention of two Mexican artists who, in 1971, showed up in town with a model for a “sixteen-story steel-and-marble colossus, envisioned as a bicentennial gift from Mexico.”  There was a glitch in the arrangement of the reception, and they were left displaying the model at a local mall.

     This was closely followed in August 1979 by another rejected statue proposed by Sherman Coleman, a local surgeon and sculptor.  A lawsuit was threatened to prevent erection of the statue on a city-owned spoil island.  By 1995, the idea of a Christ statue overlooking Corpus Christi Bay came to fruition at the hands of a local, Swedish-born and internationally renowned sculptor, Kent Ullberg.  The First United Methodist Church commissioned Ullberg to create a  fifteen-and-a-half-foot bronze of Christ stilling the waters.  The statue stands in front of the church on Shoreline Boulevard.

     I can only imagine what Corpus Christi would be like now if Borglum’s plan had been carried out.  Artwork that would rival the Statue of Liberty itself would have certainly had an impact on the people who live here and those who would find their way here to see such a wondrous monument.

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A Street by Any Other Name

Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history

Back in 1959, before Corpus Christi annexed Flour Bluff, its residents petitioned for a change of names of several streets on the Encinal Peninsula.  According to the Caller-Times article from June 23, 1959, petition signers cited getting house-to-house mail delivery in Flour Bluff to replace their rural mail status.  “They allege, apparently correctly, that 25 street names in the Flour Bluff area are identical with 25 in the city of Corpus Christi,” the article states.

Corpus Christi postmaster, Arneta McGloin, told the Caller-Times that Post Office Department policy prohibited house-to-house delivery to streets with identical names in the same town.  Even though Flour Bluff was not part of the city at that time, it did not have its own post office and was considered a part of Corpus Christi.  County Commissioner Bob Barnes for Precinct 4, whose area of representation included Flour Bluff, said there would be a “quasi-public hearing” on the matter at the July 14, 1959, regular meeting of the County Commissioners Court since this kind of action could ruffle the feathers of those not in favor of the name changes.

Such was the case with the name change of Rabbit Run Road to Greenwood Drive.  This name change was faced with a great deal of opposition.  Some of the old folks said they might get lost if the name was changed.  The reasons given for the name change were perhaps not as logical as the reasons for the Flour Bluff names changes.  According to the same Caller-Times article,The reasons given for changing that name was that there were no longer any rabbits willing to get shot on the road, and besides it was a bad street running knee-deep in mud.  It was not explained how changing a street name would result in dry weather.”

So, which streets in Flour Bluff went by another name?  Only 20 (listed below) of the 25 name-change requests appeared in the article.  Can anyone guess what these streets are named today?  The answers can be found below the map.

  1. Bayview
  2. Tyler
  3. Duncan
  4. Rose
  5. Live Oak
  6. Laurel
  7. Elm
  8. Agarito
  9. Oleander
  10. Mistletoe
  11. Ann
  12. Eunice
  13. Hackberry
  14. Carol
  15. Santa Barbara
  16. Ebony
  17. Palm
  18. Sharon
  19. Buena Vista
  20. Johnson Drive



  1. Riverdale Drive
  2. Wyndale Drive
  3. Purdue Street
  4. Roseanne Street
  5. Woodcrest Drive
  6. Sentinel Drive
  7. Sunglo Drive
  8. Orange Drive
  9. Ridgewood Drive
  10. Lynhurst Drive
  11. Pearson Drive
  12. Crestline Street
  13. Stardust Lane
  14. Tulane Street
  15. Clearview Drive
  16. Dove Lane
  17. Amber Drive
  18. Annette Drive
  19. Oakdale Street
  20. Glenoak Drive

Of course, many are aware that Davis Drive morphed into what is now South Padre Island Drive, as did a stretch of Lexington Boulevard. The piece of Lexington Boulevard that ran to NAS CC became NAS Drive.  The piece of Purdue Street that ran from Waldron to Laguna Shores was re-named Hustlin’ Hornet Drive.  With all the talk about streets these days, it’s sometimes just more fun to take a trip down Memory Lane and forget about its condition.

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Better in the Bluff

Flour Bluff, Local history




     In the City of Corpus Christi’s most recent water issue, it turns out that the people who live and work in Flour Bluff fared better than most because of its location. Situated on the Encinal Peninsula between the Cayo del Oso and the Laguna Madre,  the community was far enough away from the point of contamination that it really didn’t affect them, even though they were instructed to stop using the water until further notice. In the early days, this distant location was considered by some to be a hindrance for getting enough water to serve the residents.  Up until 1951, when a water line was run from Corpus Christi to Flour Bluff, the main source of water came from wells.  The new water line was the result of the work of several concerned Flour Bluff citizens whose wells nearly ran dry in the summer of 1950.  This prompted the creation of the Flour Bluff Water District.


     According to a 1960 Caller-Times article, “The Flour Bluff Lions Club spearheaded petitioning of the State Board of Water Engineers for creation of a water district which would buy water from the City of Corpus Christi and pipe it to customers at Flour Bluff and on the island. This move, although heavily favored, had its dissenters and there was campaigning to be done – before the board of water engineers and in two elections at Flour Bluff.  One was for ratification of the district’s creation, the other on a $700,000 bond issue to put the district in business.  The bond issue passed 153 to 19.”

     By July 1951, the water line tied Flour Bluff citizens to the city’s water supply.  By June of 1953, a water tank had to be installed to increase the water supply for use by residents.  The Caller-Times reported that on the morning of June 16, 1953, that only five pounds of pressure was coming out of the city line. “The Naval Air Station, with an underground reservoir situated between Flour Bluff and Corpus Christi, naturally cuts down the pressure,” said M.C. Jarrell, then head of the Water Control District.  He assured everyone he was not complaining about the use of water by the Navy but that he was concerned about fire danger in the area with such low water pressure.  In his words, the Flour Bluff residents were “sitting ducks.”  Many people in the Humble Camp reported that they had been using well water again. In an effort to resolve the Flour Bluff water issues, Jarrell told the Caller-Times that a second water tank at Flour Bluff would be installed, with a booster pump added for use in emergencies.  This tower sat on the north side of Davis Drive (now Padre Island Drive) between Lakeside Drive and the Laguna Madre.  It saw its demise when the causeway bond was paid off and the county turned the roadway over to the state.  A new, multi-lane wide highway went in, and the tank was in the way.

Caller-Times photograph, 1971

      In 1971, the current Flour Bluff water tank was built at a cost of $235,600. Now, this water tower may also be seeing the end to its usefulness.  It has been in poor condition for some time and has added to the water woes of Flour Bluff.  If it is removed, it will be a sad day for the Flour Bluff folks. It has been a thing to conquer for the youth in the area as they challenged each other to climb to its top.  It has served as the home to a pair of great-horned owls who hunt from its rails.  Mostly, it serves as an icon of a fiercely independent little community with a great history all its own. It has stood watch over Flour Bluff,  greeting all who enter, saying, “Welcome home!”to the Bluffian returning from somewhere beyond the Cayo del Oso, and assuring them that life is better in the Bluff.

If you love the Bluff, you might be interested in a “Better in the Bluff” shirt as pictured above.  Click here to get the details.

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A Mastodon in Flour Bluff?

Flour Bluff, Local history, Science


     It appears that mastodons walked the shores of Oso Creek in Flour Bluff over 25,000 years ago.  According to a January 1, 1954, Corpus Christi Caller-Times article, the discovery of a large tooth weighing nearly 18 pounds led to the uncovering of an entire skeleton of the prehistoric elephant on the east bank of Oso Creek off Yorktown Boulevard.

     Travis Berlet, civil engineer for the Houston Natural Gas Corporation, unearthed the tooth on his 11-acre property off Yorktown where the road crosses Oso Creek over the old Mud Bridge. According to the article, “He found part of the tooth sticking out of an eroded area back of his house.  He broke part of it while digging it out.”  Berlet, who was an authority on the subject, estimated the age of the mastodon based on the condition of the tooth.  It was the second mastodon find by Berlet.  The first was found in the clay banks of Galveston Bay near Kennah, Texas, in 1928.

Caller-Times photo from January 1, 1954

     Berlet said that his property lay in the midst of a geological fault that is believed to extend as far as Copano Bay.  A fault is a fracture in the earth, usually caused by an earthquake.  The Caller-Times reported that mastodons are found most frequently in faults because they wash up more easily.  Berlet, who moved to Corpus Christi in 1941, said his mastodon was the first unearthed in the Flour Bluff area.  The discovery occurred 62 years ago.  At that time, Berlet planned on contacting Texas A & I in Kingsville and Del Mar College to see if anyone was interested in extracting the beast.  For now, this is all that has been uncovered in terms of the story behind the article.

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Grapes, Grass, Gas, and Glass in Flour Bluff

Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history
Photo of Karankawa village courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

      Flour Bluff’s colorful history begins with the archaeological evidence that suggests that pre-Karankawa peoples used the area near Oso Bay as a burial ground between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D.,  long before the Karankawas waded along the shores of the Cayo del Oso and Laguna Madre in search of food.  In 1838, the Encinal Peninsula was used as a hand-off spot by Mexican smugglers during the Pastry War between France and Mexico.  In May 1841, Philip Dimmitt, a hero of the Texas Revolution, built a trading post, probably at Flour Bluff Point, to compete with Henry Kinney’s trading post, a move that didn’t set well with Kinney.  Many believe the rivalry between the men launched the contention between Corpus Christi and Flour Bluff, that in some ways still exists.  Be that as it may, in its early days, Flour Bluff attracted all kinds of entrepreneurial types looking for a place to start a new venture, some of which would be considered a bit odd.

     For example, it might be difficult for the average person living in Flour Bluff today to imagine a 1000-acre vineyard on the Encinal Peninsula with the large dunes looming in the background along the bay.  But, that’s exactly what was planned by Mr. S. M. Johnson of San Antonio about 120 years ago.  According to The Galveston Daily News article from November 22, 1895, Johnson purchased the land and had “a large force busy at work clearing off the brush and getting everything in proper shape for the raising of the largest and most important land deal that has been made in this section in many years.”

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

     There is no record of grapes ever being grown in Flour Bluff, but the 1000 acres crops up in other tidbits of news.  It seems that another San Antonio fellow by the name of R. L. Timmins purchased 1000 acres in 1907.  It is not clear if it was the same piece of land.  According to Bill Duncan, writer for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in 1963, Timmins bought the land from Theodore H. Koch, a man from Minnesota. Timmins then sold the 1000 acres to Ed Duncan of Tahoka.  According to the June 9, 1963, article, a man named Gurney bought the land and started an ambitious nursery business on the Oso.  It was complete with its own irrigation system from a large concrete reservoir.  This nursery, located midway down the peninsula, only lasted a couple of years.

Contributed Photo A 1909 map shows the Encinal Peninsula between Cayo del Oso and Laguna Madre with Flour Bluff Point by the bay and the farming community of Brighton to the south.

     Unlike raising grapes, raising cattle on the coastal grass caught on in Flour Bluff. Murphy Givens, local historian and Caller-Times columnist, wrote in one of his columns, “In 1895, the Texas Land & Cattle Company began selling acreage around Flour Bluff. This syndicate in Scotland had bought Mifflin Kenedy’s Laureles Ranch. It sold farmland south of Corpus Christi in the Encinal and Garden tracts. Some Flour Bluff lands were sold in the early 1890s by E.B. Cole (for whom Cole Park was named). Cole would rent buggies with teams of horses, load up the buggies with ice, beer and picnic lunches, and pick up his prospects at the Steen Hotel. They would spend the day driving around Flour Bluff looking at land.”

          Retired Flour Bluff Junior High history teacher, Karen Howden, author of the Flour Bluff ISD Texas Historical Commission Marker, found information about ranching in the area.  The free-range cattle, owned by the ranching families living in Flour Bluff at the turn of the century, often grazed the grasses near the school buildings.  This prompted the building of fences to keep the cattle away from the school. Since the ranchers’ children were accustomed to living and working with cattle, the destructive nature of the beasts is probably what prompted the school officials to fence the bovine out.

     In the 1930s, significant finds of oil and gas were located in Greta, Sam Fordyce, Loma Novia, Lopez, Placedo, Plymouth, Flour Bluff, Benavides (or North Sweden), and Premont.  However, exploration in the area began as early as 1912.  In the advertising section of the January 5, 1912, Corpus Christi Caller, B. Walker posted a trailer for sale in the Humble Camp.  The camp was located near the south gate of what is Naval Air Station Corpus Christi today.  This perhaps explains why so many small houses are in that area north of the freeway in Flour Bluff.  Oil and gas changed the landscape of Flour Bluff forever with the drilling of dozens of wells, the creation of roads to access the wells, and the clearing of land to allow for drilling to take place.  Oil and gas production is still part of the Flour Bluff area.

Photograph of Nueces Hotel, ca. 1913, from Jeff and Mary Bell Library, Texas A & M University Corpus Christi

     One Corpus Christi Oil & Gas Co. spokesman asked Corpus Christi Caller readers on May 25, 1919, to follow him on “a mind trip.”  He wrote, “We are on the roof of the Nueces Hotel.  We are looking at the spot where once was the Municipal Wharf.  Now we see, instead, immense steamboat piers, jutting out into deep water.  Deep-water vessels are loading and unloading at these piers.  Railroad tracks now run down the middle of the piers.  Shifting engines shunt loaded and empty freight cars up and down.  All is bustle and activity.  Notice, now, the immense chimneys that tower along the skyline at Flour Bluff.  Those are the chimneys of huge glass factories, whose products are shipped all over the world.”

File:Seneca Glass Company Factory ovens.jpg
Abandoned ovens at the Seneca Glass Company, located at 709 Beechurst Avenue in Morgantown, West Virginia, United States. Built in 1897, the company complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

        Unfortunately, the glass production went the way of grape production.   Who knows what happened?  Maybe  no one bought into the idea.  Perhaps the money just wasn’t there.  Or, maybe the other ventures took over like the Flour Bluff sand bur.  Whatever the case, Flour Bluff survived and thrived without them.  WWII brought NAS Corpus Christi, which grew the community.  In answer to that growth, E. J. Wranosky, a man with a vision of his own, took a country school that served the children of the ranchers, the oil field workers, and the fishermen and turned it into an independent school district that now serves as the number one attraction to Flour Bluff.  God only knows what lies in the future of this little community with such a rich history.

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From Sea to Shining Sea: A Brief History of Mexico’s Northern Territory

Front Page, Local history

     The history of Mexico’s northern territory is, in the most literal sense, brief. Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. By 1848, northern Mexico, which consisted of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado was ceded to The United States.

     Though it is not well-remembered, the new Mexican Republic (finalized in 1824) lacked citizenship in the north. Most Mexicans lived near Mexico City and could not be persuaded to move up to the northern provinces. Still, the Mexican government believed it needed a loyal presence if they hoped to secure the entirety of their new country. By the time they created their first federal constitution in 1824, Mexican officials had determined that they could entice Anglo-American settlers to give up their American citizenship, become Catholic, learn Spanish, and commit to becoming a part of the Mexican culture in exchange for ultra-cheap land in Texas. Empresarios like Stephen F. Austin began taking large land grants to recruit and settle hundreds of American families in Texas at the cost of about 12.5 cents per acre, a price that was only about 10% the cost of land being sold in America at the time. There were even greater price incentives for those who were willing to marry into the Mexican culture and have children.

     Between the years of 1821-1830, the Anglo-American presence in Texas exploded, eventually leaving Tejanos (Texans of Mexican descent) outnumbered by Americans to the tune of about 10 to 1. In 1828, Mexico sent a government official – General Manuel Mier y Teran – to the Texas colonies to check in and see that their new American counterparts were living lives that were loyal to the Mexican Republic. To little surprise, he found that English was the dominant language, and a genuine loyalty to Mexico was lacking.

     “As one covers the distance from San Antonio de Bejar to this town, he will note that Mexican influence decreases until arriving (in the colonies) where he will see that it is almost nothing… The ratio of Mexicans to foreigners is 1 to 10… It could not be otherwise than that from such a state of affairs should arise an antagonism (conflict) between the Mexicans and foreigners… Therefore, I am warning you to take timely measures. Texas could throw the whole nation into revolution…” – General Manuel Mier y Teran

     In 1830, Mexico decided they had seen enough, and they attempted to close the border in Texas to prevent any further immigration of Americans. They attempted to enforce new laws and new taxes (under the Law of April 6th, 1830), but it was too late; the Anglo population who had once been referred to as Texicans had begun to simply call themselves Texans. The Texas Revolution broke out in 1835, and in less than a year, Mexico lost Texas in another mythically-charged story of the underdog.

     In 1845, just 10 years after the Republic of Texas was born, America coined the term Manifest Destiny to implore the U.S. government to adopt Texas as a state in the union. Texas was accepted that winter as the 28th state. Convinced that America had devised a plan to steal Texas, Mexico furiously threatened war, and in the spring of 1846, The Mexican-American War began in a dispute over the southern border of Texas. Evidence suggests that American president, James Polk, consciously lured Mexico into the fight so that he could fulfill his presidential promise – Manifest Destiny. In 1848, after 2 years of fighting, the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ceded Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California to the United States. In the same year, gold was struck in Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, which marked the beginning of the famously lucrative California Gold Rush – a race for wealth of which Mexico reaped no benefit.

     In the Spanish culture, when land is gained, it is never to be ceded – not sold, and certainly not stolen. In 1832 – the same year in which Santa Anna became the president of Mexico, and several years before northern Mexico became Southern America – General Manuel Mier y Teran lay down on his sword in a fit of depression that stemmed from what he perceived to be the beginning of the end of his country. Perhaps Teran’s suicide expresses such a generalized sentiment. And though much more could be said about the loss of Mexico’s northern territory, one may suffice to say that, in the end, it was the unchecked, open borders in Texas that provided America with opportunity to proliferate, expand, and conquer nearly half of the Mexican Republic.

     In 2016, in the wake of an upset election in the U.S., perhaps Trump’s wall – be it virtual or literal, tall or small – is not the answer to the illegal immigration problems that face America today. But in flashing back on an important time in early Mexican history, it might be fair to conclude that Mexico wishes they had taken illegal immigration a bit more seriously than they did in the 1820’s.

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Robert Holt Writes a Sad Commentary on Corpus Christi’s Treatment of Historical Cemetery

Corpus Christi, Front Page, Human Interest, Local history


The following article on Old Bayview Cemetery is the work of R.W. Holt.  He is an artist, photographer and freelance writer based in Huntsville, Alabama, who grew up between Georgia and Texas calling Austin his second home. Through All Aspects Photography he routinely photographs and documents lost and forgotten cemeteries and places of historical interest throughout North Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. Shooting film and Wet Plate Collodion, he is also an active practitioner of many alternative process photographic printing processes. Through an online blog and YouTube channel he is actively spreading the gospel of the photographic arts.  All photographs in this article are the work of Robert W. Holt.


Remembrance Deep in the Heart of Texas





Texas is without argument one of the proudest states in the union. The story of Texas is remarkably complex and unfolded over a long period of time. Texas was its own Republic for crying out loud! In many ways the rise of Texas was the result of forces which it did not own. The westward expansion of European immigrants and Eastern Americans, the Spanish, the Mexicans, Native Americans, the Civil War all are just examples of key ingredients in the caldron within which Texas was brewed. Stories abound of individuals and groups, struggles, tragedies and victories. Texas was not easy for, or on, anybody but it produced a legacy of strength, courage, perseverance and pride. Texas created legends. Texas pride is legendary.

Texans have a lot to be proud of and tend to be fiendishly defensive of their rich and diverse history. It is a state where the inhabitants overtly pronounce their pride both as Texans and as Americans. To be a Texan is to be something unique and there is a feeling that goes along with that. I do not need to argue the point that this pride is something that more and more stands out in stark contrast to our high tech, “its all about me,” nation where we continuously bear witness to a growing antipathy and even disrespect for our history. Been to an NFL game lately? Sat with a gaggle of hipster millennials in a farm-to-table fair-trade coffee-brewhouse-retro-market-bar lately? Yawn!

That Texans take great pride in themselves and their history can be seen in just about all aspects of Texas culture. It is in no way more evident than when it comes to the way they treat historical places. Whether a piece of architecture or a plot of land, Texans revere and mark these material elements of their history with fervor. From the Alamo and Adobe Walls to the State Capital and historic ranches, Texans protect and remember their history. Remember the Alamo! This holds true for historical figures as well. Houston, Austin, Baylor, Bowie, Crockett, King, and Hood just start the long list. Yes, Texans remember their history and they remember their dead. Well, most Texans do that is.


Deep in the heart of Texas, in the town of Corpus Christi lies Old Bayview cemetery. Ever heard of it? Didn’t think so. You are not really going to stumble upon Old Bayview whilst strolling through the touristy areas of Corpus Christi. It’s off the beaten path a bit. It’s probably more accurate to say that the beaten path has moved away from the cemetery over the years leaving it alone in deep urban shadows.

Stepping into Old Bayview, at first glance you’re left with the impression that you’re standing amidst the aftermath of an air raid. It is more ruins than cemetery. The listing and toppled masses of gravestones amidst shattered sites with bits and pieces strewn about brings to mind the bombing of Berlin or the Battle of Britain. It’s wreckage pure and simple. In fact it is a struggle to find an intact grave site. Walking through the cemetery, from site to site, is when you begin to come to terms with the destruction and the dire state of the cemetery as a whole. Even in the open grassy areas the odds are with you that you’ll feel something under foot and upon inspection discover a piece of a headstone or even one in its entirety fully encased under grass and dirt. Within minutes you will begin to wonder what the heck is going on. You will ask yourself how can this be.


But wait….it gets worse! You see, amidst all of this rubble reside no less than half a dozen historical markers each covering in extensive detail the history of the cemetery as a whole and then specific grave sites. This is when the real smack to the face comes. I promise you, reading these words whilst looking out over the wreckage will immediately cause you to pinch yourself because you’ll surely feel you must be dreaming.

What will happen next is that you will turn from this first sign, look back over your shoulder at the cemetery, return to the sign rereading parts of it to make sure that what you thought you read is in fact what you’ve read. Again you’ll look back over your shoulder at the cemetery and finally you’ll start to feel something welling up inside you. Don’t be alarmed. What you’re feeling is a sour cocktail of shame, anger and confusion. Looking past the sign from the edge of the “brow of the hill” and you’re looking out over the city of Corpus Christi. From this “beautiful spot” you’re left to wonder how on earth this all adds up. You’ll then continue on your self guided tour with words like Pioneer Settlers, Rangers, Texas Republic and Veterans running through your head. In a state of mild disbelief you will feel extremely compelled to inspect each grave, all of it’s remaining pieces and parts, in detail. This will be no small task and you’ll quickly discover that you’re missing many pieces to the puzzle. You’ll then sink into dismay.


Yes, it gets worse still. You see, the Old Bayview Cemetery historical marker is an incredible understatement. It merely tickles the surface with regards to the real scope and significance of the history contained within the cemetery. Let’s hit some of the highlights.

The first thing you should note is that if you’re standing in Old Bayview Cemetery, you’re standing in the south. Yes, it matters. You see there are no “sections” in Old Bayview. Unlike just about every cemetery you’ll find from this period in time, in the South, it is a fully integrated cemetery. From anglo settlers to Mexicans, former Slaves and Buffalo Soldiers, all occupants share equally in their rest upon this “beautiful spot” on the “brow of the hill.” So, not only is this cemetery substantial in terms of the breadth of history it offers, its’ diversity takes that great breadth and enriches it yielding a more complete historical offering.

The next thing to contemplate is the fact that this is the oldest military cemetery in Texas. Surely, and I’m not sure, it must rank as one of the older military cemeteries in our nation. From Texas Rangers and those who fell in defense of the Republic of Texas to service personnel earlier and later, the span of military military history represented is unparalleled until you step into places like Arlington National Cemetery. This is a military cemetery of significant proportion covering not just Corpus Christi history, not just Texas history but American history.


It is when you start to absorb the stories of the “pioneer settlers” that the full magnitude and significance of Old Bayview comes into complete perspective. As noted on the marker, after the Army departed, “the cemetery became the community burial ground.” What a stroke of luck! The stories that every single one of these civilian graves offers up, when taken in combination with the military graves, produces a vivid historical picture of life and times, a true historical record. With origins ranging from all parts of Britain, Europe and Mexico you will move through travail, turmoil, tragedy and triumph.

Let us return to the fact that Old Bayview is a diverse resting place treating all of its inhabitants on an equal basis. This is irrefutably true when you understand its history and consider it’s composition. Unfortunately, it is also equally true today when it comes to the disrespect, destruction and failure to preserve and protect. Military heroes, sheriff ’s, immigrants, former slaves, Mexicans, Anglos and children, yes children, have all met with the same fate.

So, what’s the deal then? Well, let’s be straight about a couple things. What you’ll see at Old Bayview is destruction plain and simple. No two ways about it! The willful defacement and destruction of a local, State and National treasure by humans. We’re not talking negligence, yet, we’re talking maliciousness. You’ll see disrespect for humanity and history on a grand scale. You’d have to look far and wide to see anything comparable to what you’ll find in Old Bayview. To make matters worse, the destruction is still occurring. There is a truly sick and disturbing element at work here.

You will find gross negligence and antipathy. The plain truth is that this destructive activity has happened and continues to happen because it is allowed to. It needs to be said, and even more to the point, measures are not in place to preserve, protect and sustain Old Bayview. While this is of State and National concern the cemetery belongs to the town and while it’s all too easy to blame “the Government” let’s be clear, the Government of Corpus Christi is comprised of elected officials and they’re spending the money of the very people who elected them. If enough people cared, well, it would not be that difficult to get the politicians moving. The reality is, obviously, people do not care. They do not care about their history, Texas history or American history. Even more, they do not care about respecting the dead and respecting the deeply heartfelt commemoration that has gone into each burial site.


The blindness of the citizenry of Corpus Christi to what has been entrusted into their safe keeping with Old Bayview has resulted in the cemetery not only failing to be heralded the prize possession it surely is but its being relegated to no-priority status and thereby failing to receive the attention and resources necessary to preserve, protect and sustain it. I’m calling a spade a spade here. This is shameful.

Wait, it could get a little better. Over the past dozen years a small band of Corpus Christi locals have at personal time and expense dedicated themselves to efforts to protect the cemetery. Protection seemed the first logical step and I agree. Basic maintenance in the form of grass cutting, the installation of an ineffective fence and even pleading with the town to more favorably place street lamps were all meager but essential first steps. Through their efforts things have improved a bit and a drip of resources have made their way torwards this national treasure. All the while this group has worked with the county historical commission and others to try and raise public awareness. So far, not so good.

Working with the town library a website was established and an effort was made to move through the cemetery photographing, documenting and essentially cataloging as many of the occupants as possible. All of this is publicly available on the main Library’s website. A survey of the cemetery was conducted using ground penetrating radar and this went a long way in terms of allowing for the identification of unmarked burial sites. These efforts are to be applauded. The digital record is essential.

All said and done, it is a strange and confounding problem that Old Bayview presents. Strange in that of all the places in the United States that you’d least expect to see history so disrespected and neglected, Texas would be at the top of the list. Perhaps it is truly and simply mass ignorance about Old Bayview altogether? Well, that’d be a bit easy. Truth is, the Government of Corpus Christi and the County of Nueces know all that is to be known about Old Bayview. That’s a fact. As for the scourge of willful human destructors? Well, I don’t think that Corpus Christi is alone there. That they allow this to occur against a precious heritage is alarming. Everything is big in Texas? Well, shame is big in Old Bayview. What was that saying again? Oh, that’s right…..DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS!

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