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African American History Preservation

First Black Families of La Marque

History of La Marque Texas "the Settlement"
First Black Families of La Marque
Frank Bell Jr.
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Remembering Texas City's black cowboys


The Houston area is well-known for forgetting about its past, so it's especially interesting to hear about something like "the Settlement," a community founded by black cowboys who settled in Galveson County in the 1870s. Though most traces of the community are gone, locals hope to revive interest by converting the one remaining historic house into a museum.

Four ex-cowboys — Calvin Bell, David Hobgood, Thomas Britton and Thomas Caldwell — earned money herding cattle on the Chisholm Trail for the Butler Ranch, which was on the site of today's League City. After they quit herding, the cowboys moved south and bought the land that became the Settlement. The community centered on Bell Drive, just off FM 1765 and Highway 3 in Texas City. The unincorporated area was pretty isolated until the early 20th century, when the Galveston-Houston Electric Railway built a station nearby.

Over the years, all but one of the Settlement's homes have been torn down — the one that remains, a former Bell family home at 117 Bell Drive, is tabbed for a museum about the Settlement, though plans and funding haven't been finalized. For now, La Marque school officials plan to involve students in cleaning the home out this spring and gathering oral histories from people who grew up in the area with help from a $10,000 History Channel grant. Part of the grant will also be used to establish a community historical archive at the former Lincoln High School auditorium (Lincoln was the black high school where many descendants of the Settlement's founders went until the 1960s).

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Table of Contents

Bell Families

Britton Family

Hobgood Family

Black Conscious Site Ring
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