|History in a Watersoaked Pecan Shell|
Started in 1846 as Indian Point, the town almost immediately entered into a rivalry with Port Lavaca. Lavaca had taken the role of leading port south of Galveston after Linnville was burned by Comanches in 1840.
Indianola is Texas' Queen of ghost towns. While Thurber (west of Ft. Worth) was nearly as colorful, Thurber's history had to do with labor relations, immigrant miners, infrastructure, manufacturing and railroading - while Indianola was a port of debarkation for the thousands of European immigrants (plus a few boatloads of camels).
Today, they have only one thing in common - hardly any trace of either town exists.
In 1845, thousands of Germans were stranded at Indianola because their agents had gone broke. Disease claimed many lives on the shore, and when others attempted to walk to their destinations of New Braunfels and Fredericksburg, they infected the established populace, causing hundreds of more deaths. Many who couldn't finish their journey settled in the towns of Victoria, Cuero and Gonzales. (See The Story of our Texas' German Pilgrims: or Death March to Comal Countyby W. T. Block Jr.)
A storm hit the Texas coast in 1851. It was referred to as "The Great Storm" until the bigger ones arrived.
During the Civil War, Indianola was occupied by the Union Army and there were enough skirmishes to keep both sides occupied. After the war "occupation" was peaceful and relations cordial. Discord would stand in the way of business and in Indianola business was everyone's interest.
As a port to rival New Orleans, Indianolia was well on its way. Ships had started sailing directly from New York and New England. The New England ships brought cargoes of ice - cut in the winter months. A newspaper called the Indianola Bulletin had correspondents as far inland as Wilson County (30 miles east of San Antonio).
Besides storms, a fire did damage in 1867 and the same year brought a yellow fever epidemic.
The first major hurricane to hit a fairly populated Indianola was in 1875. Nearly all of the debris was used in rebuilding a stronger and more secure city. The second storm of 1886 totally demoralized Indianolans and forced them to move inland. In some cases the few houses that were left standing were moved inland to places as distant as Victoria,Cuero and even Gonzales. The huge ice warehouse, second in size only to the courthouse, was floated across the bay and converted into a residence. As one of the few remaining buildings - it had proven its strength. (See Indianola Remnants by Mike Cox) Indianolia could've rebuilt again, but the amount of silt and sand blown in by the storm made the bay too shallow for the ships that mattered.
Three railroads had Indianola in their name and had varying degrees of success. "Warehouse Row" - was Indianolia's cash cow. Although the warehouses had different owners, they were a select group of businessmen, which made for a near-monopoly.