Matagorda County

Bay City, Texas

Bay City, the county seat of Matagorda County, is an incorporated city at the junction of State Highways 35 and 60, in the north central portion of the county ninety miles southwest of Houston.


Bay City is named for its location on Bay Prairie, between the richly productive bottomlands of the Colorado River and Caney Creek. It was established in 1894, when David Swickheimer, a Colorado mining millionaire and participant in a promotional organization called the Enterprise Land and Colonizing Company, formed the Bay City Town Company in partnership with G. M. Magill, N. M. Vogelsang, and Nicholas King. Planning that Bay City would one day supplant Matagorda as county seat, the men selected two cow pastures on Bay Prairie as the site for a new community. The company bought 320 acres from D. P. Moore and another 320 acres from the Mensing brothers of Galveston. One square mile was given to the townsite, on which the promoters laid out wide, regular streets. Elliott's Ferry, two miles away, provided transportation across the Colorado River. In August 1894, before a single building had been erected, Magill and Vogelsang released the first issue of the Bay City Breeze and began to promote the new community. Distributed countywide, the newspaper, coupled with the promoters' promise to build a new courthouse if the county government were moved, succeeded in convincing county residents to support the new town. At the time, the population of the county totaled roughly 3,000 people. On September 18, 1894, Matagorda County voters elected to make Bay City the new county seat. A week later, when editor Vogelsang announced the victory in the Breeze, he also revealed that the town did not yet actually exist: "As soon as it can be surveyed, lots will be put on the market, buildings will go up and Bay City will be a reality." Bay City was a tent city before construction began on its first buildings. The Town Company office, which housed the printing presses of the Bay City Breeze, was among the first completed. A small frame house, formerly used as the grand jury room at Matagorda, was moved overland to Bay City to serve as a makeshift courthouse, as was D. P. Moore's dry-goods store, which housed the post office.


Bay City, TX 28° 58' 57.9252" N, 95° 58' 9.8472" W

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