Seadrift, Texas History:
Seadrift was founded in 1848, and was incorporated in 1911. It was settled by German people who originally came to settle in Indianola, as they moved inland to farm. The town area was originally known as Lower Mott, but the name of 'Driftwood' was chosen for the town, but when the town folk went to register the name with the state of Texas, they discovered that name was already registered. The name of 'Seadrift' was chosen after that by the early settlers.
Of course the first inhabitants of the area were the Karankawa Indians. These native Americans lived along the coast and on the islands between what is today the cities of Corpus Christi and Galveston. They used dugout canoes to help supplement their diet with fish, porpoise, oysters and plants from the bays. The Karankawa were driven from the area by the Spanish and French leading to their extinction by about 1858.
Some of Seadrift's early settlers were: Iva Hortense Brown, J.A. Peeler, Susan Jordan Brown, James Henry Brown, Thomas B. Dowda, Mary Strait, as well as the Bindewald; Coward; Cook; Leibold; Dierlam; Cloudt; Steinberg; Buffington; Madden; Willmers; Roemer; and Leake families.
J.A. Peeler was one of the founding settlers of the community. He had an import export business of livestock, and camels from Saudi Arabia. He was a Master Mason Architect, planned and constructed most of Seadrifts' subdivisions, homes, and general layout of the town. (He used sailing boats for his import/export business, so it could very well be where and why the town 'map' is shaped as a sail. He was also president of the Port Lavaca school board, and was involved with The Lions Club.
The post office opened in 1891 and has remained in continuous operation. In 1892 J. Dierlam served as postmaster, and the town had a physician. In 1896 Seadrift had tri-weekly mail service, a Baptist church, a music teacher, and a population of 120. Residents relied on stage coach service to Port Lavaca.
The Calhoun County Cattle Co. bought a large amount of land from Thomas M. O'Conner in 1908. The Seadrift Townsite Company bought the land in 1909 and sold it to the American Townsite Co. in 1911.
By 1909 a railroad came to Seadrift followed by the other railroad companies. A channel was dug to the Inter-coastal Waterway to facilitate shipping of seafood and vegetables. On May 15, 1911, Seadrift began a period of rapid development. A. D. Powers offered five acres outside the city limit for each lot purchased within the city limit. Incorporation soon followed, and the first city council meeting was held in December 1912; W. G. Stewart served as first mayor. A canning factory and an ice factory were established in 1913. On January 6, 1913, J. F. Etheredge was appointed the first city marshal. William F. Koch of Victoria served as the first city attorney.
By 1914 Seadrift had three churches, two banks, a telephone connection, four hotels, a photographer, and 1,250 inhabitants. The weekly newspaper was called the Seadrift Success. The boom ended on June 28, 1919, when a large hurricane caused massive damage to the growing town. Many residents moved, and passenger-train service to Seadrift was canceled.The storms of 1919 and 1929 took a toll on the city. Many residents decided not to rebuild.
The 1916 census reported the population for the City of Seadrift to be 2,000 people, with expectations of growth.
The first school in Seadrift consisted of a 'one room building', which all children would attend for all grades.
By 1926 the population had dwindled to 321. In 1939 the Seadrift Independent School District had four teachers who instructed 161 students. In 1941 Seadrift had a population of 437, and in 1954 it had 567. In 1961 the population was 1,082, but by 1978 it had fallen to 950.
In the 1970s and 1980s many refugees from Vietnam settled in Seadrift. A crab-picking plant employed many of them. Surrounding chemical plants and an aluminum plant also provided many area jobs.
In 1990 the population was 1,277, and in 2000 the community had 1,352 inhabitants and fifty-two businesses.
In 2012, Seadrift celebrated its Centennial with a big anniversary celebration. Many historical markers were added during the Centennial, and an historical tour was organized using the markers. At the same time, citizens interested in preserving history dedicated the historic Seadrift depot, still under renovation.
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