Matagorda Island Timeline

1519 Alonso Álvarez de Pineda sails the Gulf Coast mapping Matagorda for the first time

1685 René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle set up a camp on the island when he arrives from France.

1839 The town of Calhoun is established on Matagorda Island

1844 The customhouse in Calhoun is moved to Galveston Island and the town does not survive

1847 March 17   James Power deeds the site for the future town of Saluria to Sommervell, Denison and Rose

1848 The first post office is established in the town of Saluria

1852 A lighthouse is built near Saluria – Dec. 31, The first light is lit in the lighthouse

1857 An additional 24 feet are added to the lighthouse tower

1859 The first Third Order Fresnel lens is place in the Matagorda lighthouse

1861 Fort Esperanza is first garrisoned

1863 Confederate troops abandon Matagorda after a four day siege of Ft. Esperanza

1864 June – Federal Troops withdraw from Fort Esperanza for the last time

1865 Oct. 15 – The lighthouse tower is dismantled and a temporary wooden tower is erected with a fifth order lens installed

1870 The tower is moved to higher ground and rebuilt – July, A new third order lens is ordered from Sautter & Company in Paris

1875 Saluria is destroyed in the same hurricane that decimated Indianola for the first time. They do not rebuild.

1882 Oil lamps are retired from the lighthouse and are replaced with the new kerosene incandescent vapor lamps

1956 The lighthouse is finally automated.

1977 The lens is removed from the lighthouse by the Coast Guard and  is loaned to the Calhoun County Museum in Port Lavaca where it continues to be on display

Matagorda Island

Vocabulary List

1.             Lighthouse

‘lIt-“haus (noun)
a. A structure (as a tower) with a powerful light that gives a continuous or intermittent signal to navigators
b. Beacon
2.             Empresario
An empresario was a land agent or land contractor. Under the system used by the Mexican government as a means of  colonization

3.             Aplomado Falcon

Aplomado Falcon, Falco femoralis

Aplomado Falcons are endangered because their grassland habitat has been altered by overgrazing and brush invasion. Changing rangeland into farmland has destroyed large areas of  habitat.       Contamination from pesticides entering the food chain has also reduced the number of Aplomado Falcons. In 1995, as part of the reintroduction project, the first nesting pair of  Aplomado Falcons in Texas in 43 years successfully raised a chick. Their wingspan is  15-18 in. long, 32-36 in.. They eat mostly birds and insects and live up to 20 years in captivity. They lay 2-3 eggs in April and May

4.             Lighters

Main Entry: ligh·ter
Pronunciation: ‘lI-t&r
Function: noun
a large usually flat-bottomed barge used especially in unloading or loading ships

5.             Customhouse

Main Entry: cus·tom·house
Pronunciation: ‘k&s-t&m-“haus
Variant(s): also cus·toms·house /-t&mz-/
Function: noun
A building where customs and duties are paid or collected and where vessels are entered and cleared

6.             Pass Cavallo

Cavallo Pass (Pass Cavallo) connects Matagorda Bay with the Gulf of Mexico between Matagorda Island and the Matagorda Peninsula in southeastern Calhoun County (at 28°23′ N, 96°24′ W). In the nineteenth century it was a major point of entry to the Texas interior.

7.             Artillery

Pronunciation: är-‘ti-l&r-E, -’til-rE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ler·ies
a.  Weapons (as bows, slings, and catapults) for discharging missiles
b . Large bore crew-served mounted firearms (as guns, howitzers, and rockets) : ordinance b : a branch of an army armed with artillery

8.             Ft. Esperanza

A Civil War earthwork fortification on the eastern shore of Matagorda Island, was constructed to guard Cavallo Pass, the entry to Matagorda Bay

9.             Garrison

Main Entry: 1gar·ri·son
Pronunciation: ‘gar-&-s&n
Function: noun
a. A military post; especially : a permanent military installation
b. The troops stationed at a garrison

10.          Fresnel

Pronunciation: frA-‘nel
Function: biographical name
Augustin-Jean 1788-1827 French physicist; instrumental in establishing the wave theory of light; pioneered in use of compound lenses in lighthouses

11.          Civil War

Function: noun
A war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country

12.          Saluria

Saluria was on the eastern end of Matagorda Island in southern  Calhoun County. In September 1875 a hurricane devastated upper and lower Saluria. Its post office was discontinued the next year      but was briefly reestablished in 1886-87. Another hurricane in 1886, however, sealed the fate of Saluria.

13.          Siege

Pronunciation: ‘sEj also ‘sEzh
Function: noun
a. A military blockade of a city or fortified place to compel it to surrender b : a persistent or serious attack (as of illness)
siege transitive verb
lay siege to a. Besiege militarily b.  To pursue diligently or persistently

14.          Lens

Main Entry: 1lens

Variant(s): also lense /’lenz/
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin lent-, lens, from Latin, lentil; from its shape
1.a. A piece of transparent material (as glass) that has two opposite regular surfaces either both curved or one curved and the other plane and that is used either singly or combined in an optical instrument for forming an image by focusing rays of light b.  A combination of two or more simple lenses c : a piece of glass or plastic used (as in safety goggles or sunglasses) to protect the eye
2.  A device for directing or focusing radiation other than light (as sound waves, radio microwaves, or electrons)
3. Something shaped like a biconvex optical lens <lens of sandstone>
4. A  highly transparent biconvex lens-shaped or nearly spherical body in the eye that focuses light rays (as upon the retina)