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TIMELINE 1870 - 1880


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



Death of Jose Antonio Navarro, signer of Texas Declaration of Independence


Horace Greeley makes a speech in Houston urging young farmers to "come southwest"


Texas and Pacific Railroad Company formed

Mayor Scanlan's administration initiated work on a $400,000 Market House, which would include a theatre, vendors' stalls, and city government offices

Nicholas J. Clayton opens architects office in Galveston


A horse-drawn sleigh is seen going down icy Main Street

June 10

Congress appropriated $10,000 for ship channel improvements. The Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Company had started dredging a channel across Morgan's Point, but the work was interrupted by the financial panic of 1873


Despite his reputedly corrupt administration, Scanlan was reelected mayor when Houstonians had their first chance in six years to select their own mayor. He was elected with a full Radical slate, including two black aldermen, in what may or may not have been a clean election


The city of Houston sheds the restraints of the despised Reconstruction Rule

The Houston Light Guard was organized to compete in military events. There had been two similar volunteer groups before the Civil War. Both had disbanded as their members joined various fighting units for the war. The Houston Light Guard fought as a unit in the Spanish American War

The National Exchange Bank opened

The legislature passes an act allowing Houston to reincorporated as a city

The Population: 9,400 residents

The city's earlier Republican charter is invalidated

May 28

The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad was chartered by Galvestonians, who panned to build an access route to the interior that would by-pass Houston

Houston got through rail service to St. Louis when Houston and Texas Central linked up with the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas at Denison

December 6

Mayor Scanlan petitioned Congress for federal aid to continue work on the ship channel when the Panic of 1873 threatened continuation of improvements underway


Government engineers recommended that the ship channel be deepened to ttwelve feet rather than six

The Annunciation Catholic was built at Crawford and Texas

Government engineers recommended that the ship channel be deepened to twelve feet rather than six


Houston was granted a new charter which authorized the governor to appoint city officials. Democratic Governor Coke turned out Scanlan's administration and appointed James T. D. Wilson as mayor and "respectable and prominent" citizens as aldermen. These appointees were later regularly elected to their posts

Reconstruction Ends

April 18

The Sixth Ward was created

June 12

Cotton factors and businessmen formed the Houston Board of Trade and Cotton Exchange (the Cotton Exchange), a body which strongly supported ship channel projects and C. S. Longcope was elected president

July 1

The Port of Galveston and the Morgan Steamship Line fell out over wharf fees

Commodore Charles Morgan, millionaire shipping tycoon, bought the Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Company and promised to finish the cut through Morgan's Point and construct a 9-foot deep and 120-foot wide channel from Houston to Galveston Bay. He completed this and established a terminal he called Clinton. Morgan built a rail line to connect his docks at Clinton with the major railroads in Houston.

September 28

Comanches defeated at Palo Duro Canyon and their horses slain


I. C. Lord was chosen mayor

Texas Rangers pursue stolen cattle across Mexican border

The Houston Light Guard formed the guard of honor when former Confederate President Jeff Davis visited the City fair. The fairground site was subdivided after the show discontinued. The present state fair in Dallas began in 1886

Racial segregation was fully entrenched in Houston

Quanah Parker, last war chief of the Comanche's and the son of Cynthia Ann Parker, brings the Quohadi Comanche's into the reservation in Oklahoma


The Capitol Hotel closes

March 3

Congress appropriated $35,200 for channel improvements

March 11

Paul Bremond received a charter for the Houston East and West Texas Narrow Gauge Railroad , which would connect the port with the timer regions to the northwest


The city defaulted on bond payments. Its debt stood at $1,691,349.03, and it could only afford to pay 3 percent interest on a debt of $693,878,33


A hurricane inflicted $50,000 worth of damage on the city


New state constitution adopted which still serves as the organic law

Congress appropriated $75,000 for channel improvements


Free public schools were opened in Houston. They were segregated and administered by the city government

April 22

Improvements on the ship channel allowed Commodore Morgan's Clinton, drawing 9 1/2 feet and freighting over 700 tons, to reach Morgan's turning basin at the junction of Sims and Buffalo Bayous. Freight was then sent by rail to Houston. A great transportation victory for the city, the event also initiated Morgan's monopoly over channel traffic

July 8

Scanlan's $400,000 Market House burned to the ground. It was insured for only $100,000

October 7

A $1,000,000 fire swept along Congress Avenue

December 7

Mayor Lord and seven aldermen were arrested and charged with contempt for ignoring a District Court order to pay a debt of $8,957. They remained in technical custody until December 23, when the Court of Appeals revoked the order


James T. D. Wilson again became Houston's mayor

Salt War breaks out in the Trans-Pekoes

Federal surveys of the ship channel produced recommendations for work on the upper and lower Galveston Bay areas

The first grain elevator was established on the channel

The Houston Board of Trade and Cotton Exchange reorganized as the Houston Cotton Exchange and Board of Trade

Commodore Morgan's control over local transportation reached alarming proportions when he purchased the Houston and Texas Central Railroad to go along with the Morgan Line shipping), the Houston Direct Navigation Co., the Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Co., and the Texas Transportation Co. His hold over the channel shipping was keyed by a great chain stretched across Morgan's Point where he collected tolls

Morgan's ships made 206 round trips from Louisiana ports, carrying 216,300 tons


The first carload of freight bound for San Antonio leaves Houston


Houston's first telephone was installed. Its range was about one mile

November 19

The Lyceum presented "phonographic entertainment" at the Lyceum Hall


Mayor Wilson and the city council gave a private contractor a franchise to build a water system for Houston. The contractor built a dam on Buffalo Bayou at Preston and a pipeline system to deliver bayou water to homes and business buildings. There were complaints about the taste and color of the water almost from the start. A few citizens drilled deeper wells and found good artesian water. The franchise holder got discouraged and put the Houston Water Works up for sale. A group headed by former mayor T. H. Scanlan bought the system

Outlaw Sam Bass slain by Texas Rangers at Round Rock

Congress appropriated $80,000 for ship channel work

A tax collector's census showed that one-half of the city's 2,466 children of compulsory school age (8-13) were not attending classes

Black and White Greenback clubs were organized in Harris County by Houston Green backers. Their members were mostly mechanics, contractors, laborers, and small merchants


Telephone communication between Houston and Galveston is established

May 8

Commodore Morgan died in New York City, but his heirs continued his dominance of ship channel transportation

First telephone installed between the office and home of A.H. Belo in Galveston


A contract is awarded for the construction of municipal waterworks


"Farmers'' Alliance, forerunner of the Populist Party, organized in Parker County

The city's five black schools had 716 students

The Western Union Telegraph Company provided local telephone service to forty subscribers

Actor Maurice Barrymore, on tour in Marshall, is wounded in a restaurant shooting


Andrew J. Burke took office as mayor


The Houston Post is established with J. L. Watson as Publisher

William R. Baker took office as mayor accompanied by a hand-picked slate of alderman chosen from amongst the city's foremost bankers and merchants. However, his six year administration was unable to solve the city's financial woes, and Baker left office with Houston $200,000 deeper in debt

Houston's population was 16,513 and 27,985 for Harris County

The first telephone exchange was installed in Houston. There were 50 telephones in the city

Congress appropriated $50,000 for ship channel improvements

Converging upon Houston were nine railroads with a total of 2,200 miles of track in operation and 1,800 under construction

The first electric arc street light is installed on Main Street at Preston Avenue

Texas' sheep population reaches six million

The Houston Chronicle is established with Marcellus E. Foster as Publisher

March 29

Former President U. S. Grant was a passenger on the first train to arrive at the new Union Station

August 30

The rail link between Houston and New Orleans was completed and the first scheduled passenger train between the two cities made its run



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