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Stephen F. Austin State University

Galveston County

Galveston County split from Brazoria, Harrisburg, and Liberty counties in 1839, and became incorporated as a county in 1839. Around 100 B.C., Indians tribes of the Karankawa, Cocos, Cujanes, Coapites, and Copanos established a small city, and maintained a hunter-gatherer lifestyle until the 1550s and 1680s with Spanish and French expeditions.

Americans settled into the county in 1827. During the Texas Independence, Americans succeeded in annexing Texas to the United States. The county's economy thrived on the sale of cattle, cotton, molasses, sugar, and agricultural products. Large numbers of immigrants, especially Germans and other western Europeans, migrated to the county in the 1840s and 1850s.

Galveston County prospered on the eve of the Civil War, owing to the use of steamships. The other minority population in the county was slaves, which became a divisive point between immigrants and Anglos. The immigrant class preferred the Union, but the county voted in favor of secession. The railroad industry helped elevate Galveston County's economy, with lines from the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, Missouri-Kansas-Texas, International-Great Northern, Gulf and Interstate, and the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico station.

During the Civil War, railroads supplied the Confederacy and protected Galveston Bay. After the war, Reconstruction in Galveston County proved moderately successful compared with other states in the South. The Freedmen's Bureau opened schools throughout the county, which brought in African Americans from other parts of Texas and America.



Historical Association/Organization

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Museum/Historic Site

Text: Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association.