(Review) Galveston: A History of The Island by Gary Cartwright

Publication Date: 1991
Publisher: Atheneum, Macmillan Publishing Company
Genre: Nonfiction, History of Galveston, Texas
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 344
Source: Library
Rating: Very good


I was born and raised in Houston. I've only been to Galveston Island a few times. On one of those visits I remember touring the historic Moody Mansion. My dad was not interested in any beach, worry over his freckled skin kept him away. At one time my mother loved it, and during her youth she spent many days sunbathing on the beach. However, on September 1, 1957, my mother's first husband went wade fishing at San Luis Pass early in the morning. While fishing he stepped off into a sink hole and drowned. After this horrible event, my mother was not as interested in Galveston.
My husband's family has roots in Galveston. My father-in-law was born in Galveston. My husband's paternal grandmother grew up there. Her father was an engineer. He helped build the seawall. He also helped build the Panama Canal. My father-in-law has a large architectural drawing of the Panama Canal.
My husband's aunt Lily, and her late husband Lloyd, have lived at West Bay, on the Island, since the late 50s or early 60s. They were Galveston Island fishing guides. She was the first woman fishing guide in the state of Texas. Lloyd Pepper built custom fishing rods. Uncle Lloyd passed away last December.
The following links are on this well-known couple of Galveston:
West Bay Guides Have Seen Changes
Gulf Coast Closeup

Gary Cartwright begins the account of the history of Galveston with a grand tour of the Island. This tour is from what the Island looked like in the early 90s. I don't know what has changed since Hurricane Ike in 2008. This chapter is interesting, he gave a personalized tour, from one side of the Island to the other.
Further chapters are on the earliest known history of the Island, the Karankawas, Cabeza de Vaca, Spanish pirates, Jean Lafitte, African slaves, Sam Houston, the war of Texas Independence, the Civil War, the Great Hurricane of 1900, the building of the seawall, a new city government, gambling, prostitution, the revitalization of Galveston in the 1970s; and the main families who were the wealthy influencers of the Island. These families were the Moodys, Sealys, and Kempners.

A few things I learned.
  • The people who live on Galveston Island simply call the place the Island.
  • Bolivar Roads is where the ships pass through. However, I wonder if the name has changed since the writing of this book.
  • Galveston survived the Great Depression without problems.
  • Details of the Great Hurricane of 1900 and its aftermath I'd not known. This includes a 2 story pile of debris that was as wide as 6-8 city blocks. This debris was caused by the enormous push of the water on the Island. When the water retreated, the debris was left.
A few places in the book Cartwright shares gossipy information about the three main families, and the prostitution and gambling rackets. For me, this was interesting, because people are interesting. This information whether it is nice or not is apart of the history of the Island.