Indianola is a ghost town
A ghost town is an abandoned town or city. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, or nuclear disasters...
located on Matagorda Bay
Matagorda Bay is a large estuary bay on the Texas coast, lying in Calhoun and Matagorda counties and located approximately northeast of Corpus Christi, southeast of San Antonio, southwest of Houston, and southeast of Austin. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by Matagorda Peninsula and...
in Calhoun County
Calhoun County, Texas
Calhoun County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. In 2000, the population was 20,647. Its county seat is Port Lavaca. It is a part of the Victoria Metropolitan Statistical Area...
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...
, United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
. The community, once the county seat
A county seat is an administrative center, or seat of government, for a county or civil parish. The term is primarily used in the United States....
of Calhoun County, is a part of the Victoria, Texas
Victoria is a city in and the seat of Victoria County, Texas, United States. The population was 60,603 at the 2000 census. The three counties of the Victoria Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 111,163 at the 2000 census,...
, Metropolitan Statistical Area
Victoria metropolitan area
The Victoria Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the United States Census Bureau, is an area consisting of three counties in the Coastal Bend region of Texas, anchored by the city of Victoria. The area is sometimes referred to as the Golden Crescent Region, though this term is sometimes...
. In 1875, the city had a population of 5,000, but on September 15 of that year, a powerful hurricane
A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...
struck, killing between 150 and 300 and almost entirely destroying the town. Indianola was rebuilt, only to be wiped out on August 19, 1886, by another intense hurricane
Indianola Hurricane of 1886
The Indianola Hurricane of 1886 destroyed the town of Indianola, Texas. It was one of the most intense hurricanes ever to hit the United States.-Meteorological history:...
, which was followed by a fire. Designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark is a designation awarded by the Texas Historical Commission for historically and architecturally significant properties in the state of Texas....
in 1963, Marker number 2642.
German immigration port of entryPrince Carl of Solms-Braunfels
Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels
Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels , was a German prince and military officer in both the Austrian army and in the cavalry of the Grand Duchy of Hesse. As Commissioner General of the Adelsverein, he spearheaded the establishment of colonies of German immigrants in Texas...
representing the Adelsverein
Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas, better known as Adelsverein , organized on April 20, 1842, was a colonial attempt to establish a new Germany within the borders of Texas.-History:...
, selected Indian Point in December, 1844 as port of entry for the Verein colonists from Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
. Prince Solms renamed the port Carlshafen in honor of himself, Count Carl of Castell-Castell and Count Victor August of Leiningen-Westerburg-Alt-Leiningen whom Solms claimed had been christened Carl. Prince Solms' choice of Carlshafen and its inadequate accommodations as a port of entry, as well as the isolated route to New Braunfels, was to keep the Germans from interacting with any Americans. In February of 1845 Henry Francis Fisher
Henry Francis Fisher
Henry Francis Fisher , a notable German Texan, was born in Kassel, Hesse. In 1837 or early 1838 he came to Houston, Texas, where he was consul for the Hanseatic League...
conspired with Dr. F. Schubbert to coerce incoming immigrants to sign legal documents disassociating themselves from the Verein and to join Schubbert's colony in Milam County.
In May of 1846, Meusebach received a letter from Count Castell informing him 4,304 colonists were on their way to Texas. With no funds and no new settlements, the mass of emigrants were stalled at Carlshafen. Meusebach's requests to the Verein for more money, and his warnings at pending bankruptcy for the Verein, brought no results. As a last resort, Meusebach instructed D.H. Klaener to publish the plight in the German news media. Embarrassed by the publicity, the Verein established an inadequate $60,000 letter of credit. Meusebach had arranged with the Torrey Brothers for transporting the emigrants inland, but the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
hired the Torrey Brothers for use in the Mexican-American War. An epidemic of spinal meningitis broke out at Carlshafen and spread with the emigrants to New Braunfels
New Braunfels, Texas
New Braunfels is a city in Comal and Guadalupe counties in the U.S. state of Texas that is a principal city of the metropolitan area. Braunfels means "brown rock" in German; the city is named for Braunfels, in Germany. The city's population was 57,740 as of the 2010 census, up 58% from the 2000...
Fredericksburg is the seat of Gillespie County, in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 Census estimate, the city had a population of 10, 530...
Samuel Addition White and William M. Cook founded Indian Point, later Indianola, in August, 1846.
Some of these immigrants purchased land from Samuel White and established a settlement at Indian Point. The name of the settlement changed to Indianola in 1849 by combining the word "Indian" with "ola," the Spanish word for wave. The German immigrants continued to refer to the community as Carlshaven (Carl's Harbor) in honor of Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels.
Post German immigration yearsFrom its founding in 1846, Indianola served as a major port, and before the 1875 storm was second only to Galveston
Galveston is a coastal city located on Galveston Island in the U.S. state of Texas. , the city had a total population of 47,743 within an area of...
as Texas' primary port. The town incorporated in 1853. In 1856, the port received cargoes of camel
A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as humps on its back. There are two species of camels: the dromedary or Arabian camel has a single hump, and the bactrian has two humps. Dromedaries are native to the dry desert areas of West Asia,...
s, part of the US Army Camel Corps experiment to replace horses and mules as the primary pack animal in the southwestern parts of the country.
During the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...
, Indianola was twice occupied by Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...
troops, in October 1862 and November 1863. During the second occupation, part of a Union infantry regiment moving from Indianola to Matagorda Island
Matagorda Island, Spanish for "thick brush," is a 38 mile long barrier island on the Texas Gulf coast, about seven miles south of Port O'Connor, in the southernmost part of Calhoun County. The island is oriented generally northeast-southwest, with the Gulf of Mexico on the east and south, and...
drowned in Matagorda Bay
69th Indiana Infantry drownings
The 69th Indiana Infantry drownings occurred at Matagorda Bay, Texasduring preparations for the invasion of Texas by the Union Army during the American Civil War. Troops of the 69th Indiana Infantry Regiment were ordered to assemble at Matagorda Island on the Gulf Coast of Texas in preparation for...
In 1869, the world's first mechanically-refrigerated shipment of beef left Indianola for New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...
The destruction of Indianola served as an abject lesson for many residents of Galveston, 100 miles up the Texas coast. However, their calls for a seawall
A seawall is a form of coastal defence constructed where the sea, and associated coastal processes, impact directly upon the landforms of the coast. The purpose of a seawall is to protect areas of human habitation, conservation and leisure activities from the action of tides and waves...
to protect that city went unheeded, and Galveston nearly shared Indianola's fate when the Galveston Hurricane of 1900
Galveston Hurricane of 1900
The Hurricane of 1900 made landfall on the city of Galveston in the U.S. state of Texas, on September 8, 1900.It had estimated winds of at landfall, making it a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale...
struck the island.
A railroad was intended to connect the port of Indianola to San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States of America and the second-largest city within the state of Texas, with a population of 1.33 million. Located in the American Southwest and the south–central part of Texas, the city serves as the seat of Bexar County. In 2011,...
; however, after the two storms, discouraged investors abandoned the venture, instead connecting Galveston. After Galveston's hurricane, shipping traffic recentered over time to inland Houston
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...
After the 1886 storm, the county seat was moved to Port Lavaca
Port Lavaca, Texas
Port Lavaca is a city in Calhoun County, Texas, United States. The population was 12,248 at the 2010 census. The County had a 3.6% growth which brought the county population to 21,381. The city itself is bringing in more business into the area. It is the county seat of Calhoun County...
. On October 4, 1887, the post office in Indianola was permanently closed and the town declared "dead". Today, almost nothing remains of the original Indianola, as, due to storm erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...
, most of the site of the city is now under water. A granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...
marker was placed on the shore at the nearest point to the Indianola courthouse, now 300 feet (about 90 meters) away in Matagorda Bay. The site is also home to a statue of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, or Robert de LaSalle was a French explorer. He explored the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico...
During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
, the U.S. Army constructed an anti-aircraft firing range along the Indianola shoreline to train gunners and the facility was used primarily by military personnel from Camp Hulen
Camp Hulen was a military training camp near Palacios, Texas, United States that operated from 1925 until 1946, and at one time supported the largest concentration of troops for field training in the United States military....
, located outside of Palacios
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 5,153 people, 1,661 households, and 1,244 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,021.4 people per square mile . There were 1,976 housing units at an average density of 391.7 per square mile...
Indianola is now the site of a small unincorporated
In law, an unincorporated area is a region of land that is not a part of any municipality.To "incorporate" in this context means to form a municipal corporation, a city, town, or village with its own government. An unincorporated community is usually not subject to or taxed by a municipal government...
Popular cultureIn Elizabeth Hand's novel Aestival Tide, a reconstructed Indianola is featured as the lowermost level of the central ziggurat in the dome city of Araboth.
In the story Matagorda by author Louis L'Amour
Louis Dearborn L'Amour was an American author. His books consisted primarily of Western fiction novels , however he also wrote historical fiction , science fiction , nonfiction , as well as poetry and short-story collections. Many of his stories were made into movies...
, much of the action took place in Indianola, Texas on the day it was destroyed by the 1875 hurricane. The courthouse, the site of which is now underwater out in the bay, was featured as the last refuge of the townspeople.
Singer/songwriter, Charlie Robison
Charles Fitzgerald "Charlie" Robison is an Texas Country singer/songwriter, who was raised in Bandera, Texas. His brother is singer/songwriter Bruce Robison...
, included a song titled "Indianola" on the 1998 album "Life of the Party" that is a specific reference to Indianola, Texas. The song begins from the perspective of a German immigrant approaching Indianola by sea and chronicling details of the narrator's family. The narrator and his cousin attempt to traverse the South to join the Union Army in the American Civil War, though they encounter Rebel resistance in Indianola (state left undefined). The next scene of the folk song briefly addresses the stock market crash of 1929 in an indirect fashion, noting that little change occurred in their respective life other than rust accumulating on wagon wheels. While this verse is brief in regards to words and time, it denotes a subtle and increasing disaffection in the American/Texan experience, adversely affected by seemingly non-relevant incidences. The storyline then progresses to World War II, introducing an internal struggle between the call of duty of the United States of America and its armed conflict with Germany, the ancestral point of origin of many Americans. The overall sentiment of the song begins as a story of new promises followed by a series of fictional, though personally carved facts, that illustrate a common experience for the individualist. Texas exemplifies a spirit that is not only uniquely a Texan story, but an American one, thrusting the individual against the external influence that would assume its right to assert its own values. This, however, should not be confused with contemporary movements deviating from the spirit of this song.
EducationWhat is now Indianola is served by the Calhoun County Independent School District
Calhoun County Independent School District
Calhoun County Independent School District is a public school district based in Port Lavaca, Texas . The district's boundaries parallel that of Calhoun County.In 2009, the school district was rated "recognized" by the Texas Education Agency.- Schools :...
- Great Comanche Raid of 1840Great Raid of 1840The Great Raid of 1840 was the largest raid ever mounted by Native Americans on white cities in what is now the United States. It followed the Council House Fight, in which Republic of Texas officials attempted to capture and take prisoner 33 Comanche chiefs who had come to negotiate a peace...
- U.S. Camel Corps
- News accounts of 1875 storm at GenDisasters website
- Indianola Immigrant Database Project at VictoriaVictoria, TexasVictoria is a city in and the seat of Victoria County, Texas, United States. The population was 60,603 at the 2000 census. The three counties of the Victoria Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 111,163 at the 2000 census,...
Regional History Center website
- Indianola history at Indianola, TX website