In 1900 the winds of change in Sealy were felt literally and figuratively. Sealy grew quickly from its founding in 1879 through the end of the nineteenth century. By 1900, Sealy’s population had grown to 1,400 and there were five general merchandise stores, seven saloons, a furniture store, a hardware store, two lumber businesses, two milliners’ shops, three dry goods stores, two renting stables, two bakeries, two blacksmiths, three pharmacies, three hotels, three doctors, lawyers, milliners and other thriving businesses.
However, a combination of natural and economic disasters in 1900 had a devastating effect on Sealy. The storm that struck Galveston on September 8, 1900 forever changed Galveston and caused significant damage in Sealy. St. John’s Episcopal Church building, constructed in 1889, and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, constructed in 1900, were totally destroyed by the storm. The first Catholic Church building constructed in 1889 was destroyed by fire in 1898, and the new church building was not quite complete when destroyed by the 1900 hurricane. The accompanying photo is of the Catholic Church built after the hurricane.
Only the Bible and bell were saved from St. John’s Episcopal Church when the building was destroyed. By the time of the storm, a majority of the Church’s members had moved to Bellville following the move of the railroad’s roundhouse and headquarters. The Bible and bell were later installed in a new church building constructed in 1910, which still stands at the corner of Meyer and 6th Streets, signifying the Church’s survival of the storm and the loss of members.
Many other homes and buildings were damaged by the 1900 storm, including the Krampitz wind mill that ran the family’s grist mill. Following the storm, Charley Krampitz used oxen to turn the stone mill to grind corn. The Ward house located on Ward Street lost its observation tower that had been located on the roof.
As Sealy entered the twentieth century many homes stood vacant due to the railroad’s move to Bellville. According to a newspaper article written by Dr. I. B. Sigler in 1939, the town was filled with despair due to the loss of jobs and businesses after the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad merged with other small lines and became part of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. Dr. Sigler reported that all of Sealy’s businessmen met in the old Opera House that was located at 6th and Hardeman streets to protest the railroad’s move, but to no avail. The railroaders left and many of their homes fell into decay. The Old Central Hotel closed and the Lott Hotel was moved to Bellville. Sealy, as it once was, had ended.
The topic of next month’s column will be Sealy’s early entrepreneurs and Sealy’s rise from the devastating events of 1900.
If you would like to share your knowledge of Sealy history with the Sealy Area Historical Society, please contact Nancy Naron at 832-492-4244 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The historical Society’s Ghost Tour will be held Oct. 28 in downtown Sealy. For more information, visit the website sealyhistoricalsociety.org.