Indianola. The port of Indianola, on Matagorda Bay in Calhoun County, was founded in August 1846 as Indian Point by Sam Addison White and William M. Cook. In 1844 a stretch of beach near the point had been selected by Carl, Prince of Solms Braunfels, commissioner general of the Adelsverein, as the landing place for German immigrants bound for western Texas under the sponsorship of the society.
The German landing area was referred to, briefly, as Karlshafen. One immigrant, Johann Schwartz, built the first house in the area in 1845. Indian Point became firmly established as a deep-water port during the Mexican War. For thirty years its army depot supplied frontier forts in western Texas. Anglo-American landowners in the area had the site surveyed in 1846 and began selling lots.
The post office was opened in September 1847, and stagecoach service to the interior began in January 1848. Mrs. Angelina Belle Eberly, heroine of the Archives War in Austin, moved to Indian Point in 1848 and operated hotels there until her death in 1860. In February 1849 the name of the growing town was changed to Indianola. Indianola was the county seat of Calhoun County from 1852 to 1886. The town grew rapidly, expanding three miles down the beach to Powderhorn Bayou, following its selection by Charles Morgan as the Matagorda Bay terminus for his New York-based steamship line. In a short time, Indianola achieved the rank of the second port of Texas, a position it held until the catastrophic hurricane of September 16, 1875, devastated the low-lying city and caused great loss of life. With a population of more than 5,000, Indianola was at the peak of her prosperity when the 1875 hurricane struck. The town rebuilt on a smaller scale and then was almost obliterated by the hurricane of August 20, 1886, and the accompanying fire. By 1887 the site had been abandoned. Continue reading Indianola History from the Handbook of Texas Online >>
Indianola. Many currents of the mainstream of Texas history flow in this onetime port. Pineda explored the coast in 1519 and La Salle planted a settlement near here in 1685. Once an Indian trading point, it was a major seaport from 1844 to 1875. Texas colonists, including Germans led by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, entered through Indianola. "Forty-niners", supplies for frontier forts, and experimental Army camels were landed here landed here. During the Civil War Indianola and Fort Esperanza, which controlled the gateway to Indianola through Pass Cavallo, were objectives of Federal blockading vessels. Pass Cavallo, ten miles south, was one of several entrances to the inside waterway created by Matagorda Peninsula and the offshore islands extending to the Rio Grande. To deny Confederate use of this waterway for commerce through Mexico the Federals had to seize control of these entrances. Before Confederate defenses at Fort Esperanza were completed, two Federal steamers slipped through Pass Cavallo to Indianola and on October 31, 1862 demanded the surrender of Lavaca (now Port Lavaca) to the northwest. The Confederate command refused, stood off the naval guns with land batteries, and forced the withdrawal of the Federal ships. Federal forces attacked Fort Esperanza November 22, 1863. The Confederates withstood the assault of naval and land forces for six days then spiked their guns, destroyed their magazines, and withdrew to the mainland. Indianola then fell December 23. On Christmas Eve, Federal and Confederate forces clashed at Norris Bridge, eight miles north. Two days later Lavaca was occupied and the entire Matagorda-Lavaca Bay area remained in Federal control until the war's end. Indianola was partially destroyed by a hurricane in 1875 and completely destroyed by another in 1886. A memorial to Texans who served the Confederacy. - Historical Marker Text, marker erected at SH 316 terminus at beach, Indianola, in 1963.
A History of Indianola, by Lelia Seelingson. Brief history of Indianola, beginning with the arrival of La Salle. Read the book online from The Portal to Texas History.
Indianola: The Mother of Western Texas, 1988, by Brownson Malsch.
Indianola Scrap Book, 1936 compiled by George H. French
Postcards and Photographs of Indianola
Above: Indianola before the 1875 Hurricane destroyed most of the town.