^
Keep Houston Press Free
4

Get Lit: Houston History, Now in Handy Book Form!

It’s hard to fathom a time when Houston was a muddy area bound by the bayou on the north, Walker on the south, Bagby on the west and Caroline on the East. That was 1838. Dr. S. O. Young wrote about how the city came to be back in 1912 in A Thumbnail History of The City of Houston, Texas, which is being reissued by Copano Bay Press in a limited run along with True Stories of Old Houston and Houstonians by the same author. (They come together in a set – an expensive set. It’s $124.95 for both; see www.booksontexas.com. But if you’re rich and a history buff…)

The book painstakingly chronicles the evolution of government, transportation, commerce, churches, newspapers and education in Houston. It’s not easy to get through, but patience yields some interesting information.

One of the first public buildings was the jail built in 1838: “The jail was something of a curiosity, being simply a square log box with neither doors nor windows. There was but one opening, that being a trapdoor at the top.” Freaky.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Back in the day, this was no one-daily-paper town: “…between 1865 and 1880 there were no less than twenty-one [newspapers] that had appeared.”

Early water works certainly left something to be desired – in 1879 a “company built a dam across the bayou to shut off tide water and secure as pure water as possible from the upper bayou. It was totally unfit to drink…” Ew! Luckily, soon afterward it was discovered that “pure artesian water could be obtained anywhere in Houston.”

Also, the first official market, at Market Square, “soon became famous for the number of rats that took possession of it. Perhaps, in no part of the world were there ever so many rats gathered together in a limited space as were found in that old place.” Remember that next time you’re at Warren’s. – Cathy Matusow

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.