Stephen F. Austin State University

Cedar Bayou (February 2014)

Cedar Bayou
By Kevin Ladd

Cedar Bayou is a most unique community situated in western Chambers County and eastern Harris County, with early pioneers settling on either side of the stream known by that name. These various articles reflect on some of the local history and the personality of its people.

Galveston Daily News - Monday, Dec. 10, 1883

CEDAR BAYOU, Dec. 5, 1883 --Very little notice has been taken of this country; emigrants pass by and go to the interior and western portions of the State, overlooking some excellent country. A great deal can be said in praise of this part of the coast. The grand old Trinity River empties its waters through the bosom of this county into Galveston bay. It is considered an excellent stock county; the beautiful prairies are covered with cattle and horses, and I do not think any county in the State can show plumper-looking stock than this county. However, the county has not been built up much in pastures until later years. Formerly stockmen raised their cattle on the out ranges, the old- fashioned way, but that is gradually being changed.

There are some good-sized pastures being built, and an improvement being made among the stock from the common to Durhams, Devonshires, and the Brahmas, which show up a vast difference from the old style.

So much has been said about fence-cutting in the upper counties, but this country knows nothing of such lawlessness. Fence-cutting is altogether foreign to this county. The citizens are law-abiding. The criminal docket of this County Court seldom runs longer than three days.

The winters here are comparatively mild. Oranges do tolerably well in some parts, and all kinds of fruits and vegetables can be grown in abundance. Galveston is our chief market. This county is well adapted to farming. Cotton and ribbon cane do well, and are profitable crops; corn also does well. The black soil ranges from one to five feet deep. The most desirable portion of this county lies on the west side of the Trinity river, on a navigable stream known as Cedar Bayou. The principal game here is deer, wild turkeys, geese, ducks and brants. In winter hunters find great sport and profit in killing wild fowl and shipping to Galveston. Fish of all kinds abound. In summer the salt atmosphere from the gulf makes this county very healthy. There are but two or three doctors in the whole county, and they generally follow some other business to keep soul and body together; so, you see, this is a poor county for doctors.

There are three religious denominations in Cedar Bayou and vicinity who hold forth, viz: Baptist, Methodist and Campbellites.

The Masonic order have a neat large building, the lower story being devoted to school purposes. A good school is kept running ten months in the year. The school room can compare favorably with any in the State.

The post office of this community is by the name of Cedar Bayou.

Dallas Morning News -August 3, 1896

Is there a place in Texas called Mills Crossing? If there is, will you kindly tell me where it is?

Over forty years ago the Houston navigation steamers left Galveston for Houston on Sundays at 9 o'clock. N. N. John and the writer, each with a horse, went to Lynchburg and took the upper crossing or ferry on Cedar Bayou at Mills', who lived on the east bank and reached West Liberty after dark. West Liberty is now known as Dayton.

In those days Mills' was the only house between Lynchburg and West Liberty. At the present time Cedar Bayou is thickly settled up on both banks near its whole length. The post office now is Cedar Bayou. There is a Masonic hall, and at the old Mills' farm [the] Milam [brothers] established a brickyard, which is still continued, and I am told there is no charge for ferriage at that pace. The lower crossing or ferry (which means the same - people use both terms) is on the road leading from Lynchburg to Old River or Wallisville.

NOTE: The Mills referred to above was W. J. Mills, an early settler of Western Chambers County.

The Houston Daily Post - February 23, 1898

Cedar Bayou, Tex., February 21 - The first quarterly conference for Cedar Bayou charge, Houston District, Texas Conference, was held at Alexander Chapel Saturday and Sunday, February 19 and 20, 1898. Rev. O. T. Hotchkiss of Houston, presiding elder for the district, was on hand and presided in the conference, and preached to large congregations.

Quite a number of people from this place left this morning for Galveston, Texas, on the tug Annie to see the battleship Texas and the gunboat Nashville. Among the crowd were Joseph Lawrence and wife, John Ilfrey and wife, Mrs. Willie Ilfrey and others.

The board of stewards for Cedar Bayou Charge, Houston District, Texas Conference, met at the parsonage Monday evening, February 14, and assessed the church $620 for support of the pastor, Rev. L. P. Davis.

Mr. Solomon Dutton and Miss Salina Barber were married Wednesday evening, February 16, at the residence of the bride's grand-mother, Mrs. S. A. Barber, at Barber's Hill.

John Peter Sjolander

Born March 25, 1851 in Sweden
Died June 15, 1939 Cedar Bayou, Texas

The following obituary on John P. Sjolander was printed in a Baytown newspaper on June 16, 1939:

"Funeral services were held at 3 p.m. today for John Peter Sjolander, 88, dean of Texas poets, farmer, sailor, and scholar, who died early yesterday at his home in Cedar Bayou.

"Final rites for the former poet laureate of Texas, native of Sweden, who sailed Galveston Bay under the spread of canvas, were held at the Paul U. Lee Funeral Home. Rev. O. E. Linstrum, pastor of Collins Memorial Church, Houston, assisted by Rev. E. A. Peterson, pastor of Cedar Bayou Methodist Church, officiated.

"Burial was in Cedar Bayou Masonic Cemetery, with members of Cedar Bayou Masonic Lodge, in charge of the ritual at the grave. Mr. Sjolander was a charter member of the lodge, and was one of the three surviving men who organized the chapter.

"The career of Mr. Sjolander was a history of tragedy and adventure. He was born in Sweden in 1851, the son of a Swedish naval officer. The father was deprived of his position, imprisoned and his property confiscated because of conflicts with the established religion of that time. When John Peter was five years old, his father was killed during a storm that wrecked the sailing vessel he mastered after his release from prison.

"When a youth, Sjolander went to England, and a short time later came to America, landing at Galveston, and from there he came to Cedar Bayou. With the exception of a short time in Philadelphia as a reader on Peterson's magazine, he lived at Cedar Bayou the remainder of his life.

"Although noted for his poems, Sjolander also wrote fiction, biographies and essays. His fame was gained chiefly from a volume of verses 'Salt of the Earth and Sea,' which was given wide circulation.

"He was preceded in death by his wife, Caroline Johanna Busch Sjolander. Surviving him are a daughter, Mrs. E. L. Scott; five sons, Eric Sjolander, John C. Sjolander, Paul Sjolander, Frank A. Sjolander, and Sam Y. Sjolander, all of Cedar Bayou; 19 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

NOTE: John P, Sjolander, often known as "The Sage of Cedar Bayou," was a son of Olof and Margreta Sjolander.