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TIMELINE 1860 - 1870


Thomas W. Whitmarsh became mayor of Houston

Buffalo Bayou's steamboat era reaches its zenith

The richest man in the county was William Marsh Rice and he was believed to the second richest man in the state. Rice owned the biggest building in Houston. One of his several businesses was hauling ice to Houston from New England by ship

Knights of the Golden Circle, Southern Rights Association, and other organizations stimulate local sentiment in favor of secession

Houston's population was 4,845. That figure included about 1,068 slaves. Fourteen Texas counties had more people than Harris County

Over 115,000 bales of cotton passed through the city

Houston was a growing rail center with five short rail lines and over 350 miles of track leading to the city by the time the Civil War began

Industry still lagged far behind commerce, as Houston could claim only fifteen manufacturing establishments. The largest was a thirty-employee iron foundry, producing about $50,000 worth of goods a year

J. E. and J. W Schrimpf opened a large meat packing plant

At least nine Houston merchants reported taxable holdings of over $250,000

The city experienced two disastrous fires, one destroying $350,000 worth of property

Founding of King Ranch

January 31

The first telegraph connection established in 1853 proved temporary. On this day, the first news dispatch arrived over what would be a permanent connection. The telegraph line was kept operating all during the Civil War with sulphuric acid from Sour Lake


The first train crossed the causeway linking Galveston and the mainland, and soon daily runs between the Island and Houston were in operation

A telegraph link between the two cities had been completed a short time earlier


Wharfage fees at Houston were abolished, primarily because they increased freight rates and hurt the competitive position of Bayou shipping vis-a-vis rail service to Galveston

November 6

Independent Democratic Party candidate John C. Breckinridge received a majority of Houston's presidential votes


Now aged, General Sam Houston spoke to a large crowd urging maintenance of the Union, but he received sparse support


William J. Hutchins became Houston's mayor

Still lacking municipal services, Houston had two fire engines, but had no paid firemen, no paved streets, no covered sewers, no street lighting, and no permanent health board

The Houston and Texas Central Railroad now extended eighty miles to the northwest

The Houston Baseball Club was founded

January 1

Houstonians fire a fifteen-gun salute in celebration of South Carolina's secession

January 14

Houstonians voted overwhelmingly for succession of Texas

February 20

About 500 eager volunteers reported for service in the Confederate Army under Col. John S. "Rip" Ford

March 2

Abraham Lincoln inaugurated as president of the United States of America

March 16

Sam Houston resigns as governor after refusing to take Confederate oath of allegiance

April 12

The Civil War began with Confederate forces attacking Fort Sumter, South Carolina


U. S. Navy blockades Texas Coast

Sam Houston is ousted from office for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the confederacy

The city of Houston serves as military headquarters for the confederate district of Texas


Economic decline came to Houston with the Union blockade. With the ship channel getting limited use during the war, most of the pre-war improvements disappeared. Shoals and bars formed, and snags accumulated

September 9

Col. Benjamin F. Terry mustered into service his famed Texas Rangers, accepting Capt. J. G. Walker's Company as the 9th company from Harris County, the unit which would be the pride of Texas for its performance in the Civil War

November 16

A canon salute was fired in the Courthouse Square to celebrate the fall of Fort Sumter



Confederate invasion of New Mexico from Texas foiled by volunteer Colorado miners

Thomas W. House became mayor of Houston

February 13

A Warehouse fire destroyed $12,000 worth of cotton and food supplies


The Weekly Telegraph estimated that 12 percent of Harris County's population had joined the Confederate Armed Forces

Massacre of pro-Union German Settlers

October 9

Federal troops occupy Galveston and Houston was inundated with Galveston refugees, many whom chose to remain after the end of the war


William Anders took office as mayor.

January 1

The city got a first hand taste of military action with the Battle of Galveston. Houston troops under Gen. John B. Magruder drove the Union forces from Galveston Island

Prices soared, with flour now quoted at $50 for a 100 pound sack, milk costing $1 a quart, boots worth $100 a pair, and tea and coffee unavailable at any place

January 1

The "cotton clad" steamboats Bayou and Neptune, sailing from Houston, defeat Federal men-of-war in the Battle of Galveston

Some 1,600 Confederate forces under General John Blankhead Magruder are mobilized in Houston and recapture Galveston Island and kept the port open until the end of the Civil War


Houston becomes military headquarters for the Confederate District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

July 26

The death of Sam Houston. Many people were beginning to believe Houston's predictions about the outcome of the war at the time of his death.

September 8

Battle of Sabine Pass

Lt. Dick "The Kid" Dowling lead a company of 42 men against a 15,000-man Union landing at Sabine Pass which prevented the Yankees from taking the strategic rail junction


Deaths of Cynthia Ann Parker and her daughter Texanna, repatriated Comanches captives


There is a shortage of salt even at the extravagant price of 75 cents per pound



Following the surrender of Gen. Lee, Houstonians held a public meeting where they declared "uncompromising resistance," but demoralization soon set in

April 9

Robert E. Lee surrenders Confederate forces at Appomattox, Virginia

Three black schools were established by the Freedman's Bureau

June 19

Maj. Gen. Gordon granger arrived in Galveston and proclaimed the emancipation of Texas slaves. The day would be known as "Juneteenth"

June 20

The U.S. Army occupied Houston with limited violence. One black man was killed. The city remained orderly, and the troops were withdrawn by November

Reconstruction begins locally

June 25

The Amnesty Office opened as Houstonians came forward to swear allegiance to the United States

October 19

An ordinance was passed authorizing the mayor to accept private loans for Buffalo Bayou ship channel improvements

Battle to Palmito Ranch, last conflict of Civil War, fought on Texas soil


Horace D. Taylor became mayor of Houston

Harrisburg votes for incorporation

The Houston Gas and Fuel Company was established to make gas from coal

Formal banking institutions emerged with the First National Bank organized by B.A. Shepherd and T. M. Bagby. Popular prejudices and strictures in the state constitution prevented banks before the war

The Texas Transportation Company was chartered to construct New Houston near present-day Constitution Bend. It was planned as a transfer point where ocean-going ships could transfer cargo to railroads leading to Houston. Though the project failed, it evidenced quickening interest in ocean traffic among Houstonians


Lt. Dick Dowling reopens his Bank of Bacchus Saloon

June 19

Houston's first "Juneteenth" celebration included a banquet given by freedmen and their former mistresses and masters

October 9

The Houston Direct Navigation Company was chartered for the purpose of putting barges on the Bayou, which could load and unload ocean vessels in mid-channel and thereby eliminate docking in Galveston. The Company controlled traffic on the Bayou in the immediate post-war period


Texas under Martial Law

Great Texas trails drives begin

An outbreak of Yellow Fever became the city's worst epidemic in history, killing Lt. Dick Dowling, occupation commander Charles Griffin in Galveston, and many others in both cities


Andrew McGowen again became mayor

March 2

First Reconstruction Act passed by U. S. Congress over presidential veto


Hugh Rice was commissioned by the city to survey a proposed ship channel from the foot of Main Street to Bolivar Roads


Joseph R. Morris became mayor

Black Texans vote for the first time

The first horse car is placed in operation on the Tap Railroad

Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches moved to Fort Still, OK, but raids into Texas continue


The Houston Direct Navigation advertised, for the first time, a through bill of lading from Houston to New York City

The first gas lighting was installed, using gas produced from oyster shells and coal


The Klu Klux Klan appeared in Houston

April 6

The Houston City Railway placed its first trolley car in operation on McKinney Avenue. They were pulled by mules


Houston was unable to pay its municipal employees, and the military authorities ordered the removal of the mayor, recorder, and city marshal. The ensuing appointment of a "carpetbagger" mayor aroused indignation


The Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Company is created to dredge the channel to a depth of nine feet

Thomas W. House, William Marsh Rice, and other important citizens founded the Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Company with the intention of dredging a nine-foot channel from Houston to Bolivar Roads. City residents subscribed $100,000 for the project

The Houston City Mills textile factory opened in a three-story building. It employed eighty people and included fifty looms and 2,200 spindles

A new ice factory failed for lack of customers

Gus and Mollie Bailey Circus begins operations and tours the South until 1918


Construction began on the Church of the Annunciation, a beautiful Roman Catholic Romanesque structure

April 15

TEXAS vs. WHITE decision in U.S. Supreme Court repudiates the doctrine of states' rights


The Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Company succeeds in obtaining a Congressional designation of Houston as a port of delivery awarding it federal funds to finance an improvement project

Thomas H. Scanlan, the most famous of Houston's Reconstruction Radicals, was appointed mayor by Radical Governor Edmund J. Davis. Blacks held positions on the city council and in the police force during his four-year administration

Houston's population stood at 9,332. Harris County had a population of 17,375. Only Washington County had more people

Harris County had sixty-four manufacturing establishments, employing 583 laborers and adding $305,359 in value to manufactured items

Eureka Mills, a $125,000 textile factory, opened five miles northwest of the city

Congregation Beth Israel established the first synagogue in Houston, at Franklin and Crawford

The City Bank of Houston opened

The first 300 Chinese immigrant laborers arrived in Houston

The cornerstone was laid for the first synagogue

First Lt. H. M. Adams of the U. S. Army Engineers began the first federal survey of a ship channel for Houston

April 16

Martial law ends, and with it the formal Reconstruction

Texas is readmitted to the Union

Henry Journeay, the fiddler of Perote Castle, killed in Galveston by a mule drawn omnibus


The first Texas State Fair was held in Houston

May 23

The Texas Historical Society was organized with Ashbel Smith as president

July 14

Congress declared Houston a port of entry, authorized a customs house, and ordered a survey of the proposed channel from Houston to the Gulf


Houston recedes a new city charter establishing eight city wards



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