Prior to the civil war, all commerce passing through
Galveston was carried on sailing vessels, with the exception of
a line of small boats operated by Catain Charles Morgan, between
Galveston and New Orleans. In 1865, two lines were established to
operate between New York and Galveston. They were Spofford, Tileston
& Co., with T. H. McMahan & Co., as local agents and C. H. Mallory
& Co., with Wm. Hendley & Co., local agents. A short while after
C. H. Mallory & Co., established regular service, these interests
with Galveston capitalists organized the New York & Texas Steamship
Co., which afterwards became the Mallory Line.
The origin of the great Mallory steamship interests was in an
obscure shipyard located on the Connecticut shore. C. H. Mallory
began building ships as far back as 1837, and operated them, the
famous clipper type, between America, the Far East and Australia.
His interest in the possibilities of transportation by water,
between the Eastern Seaboard and the Southwestern Gulf, began with
the conditions arising from the Civil War. Mr. Mallory had obtained
a contract to build thirty gunboats for the Mexican Government,
and this fleet was in the course of construction at the time of
the outbreak of the War Between the States. He turned them over
to the United States to be used as army transports, and at the close
of the war they were returned to him.
Because of the operation of these ships between the Northeastern
Seaboard and the South Atlantic Coast, Mr. Mallory conceived the
idea of establishing regular service between these points after
the war, and in 1866 the firm of C. H. Mallory & Company was formed.
Galveston merchants and capitalists were very anxious that a regular
steamship line be established between Galveston and the Eastern
Seaboard and they interested Mr. Mallory in the proposition. As
a result, the New York & Texas Steamship Line was formed.
In those days ships were built of wood, very few of them more
than 200 feet long, with a carrying capacity of about 700 tons.
Generally they were propelled by steam, but relied largely upon
sail as an auxiliary power. Their maximum speed was seven or eight
knots per hour. A brisk trade developed, but the cargo capacity
being small, a maximum of 1,000 bales of cotton was the rule.
The first agent of this company in Galveston was Captain J. M.
Sawyer, who served these interests until his death, when he was
succeeded by J. B. Denison.
The list of ships originally assigned in this service will contain
names easily recognizable by old-time shipping men. This list included
such names as City of Galveston, City of Houston, City of Dallas,
City of San Antonio, City of Waco, State of Texas, Southwestern
Texas, General Ingersoll, the Tillie and others.
During the early 70's this line established the first regular
service to the State of Florida, through the port of Jacksonville.
Finally this service was abandoned because of insufficiency of water
over the bar at that port. Operations were then transferred to Fernandina,
Florida, and after operating through this port for about six years,
were transferred to Brunswick, Georgia. Meantime the service between
New York and Galveston was maintained. Some of the most prominent
men in Galveston were interested in this company, notably members
of the Sealy family.
Today the Mallory operates one of the finest fleets of steamers
calling regularly at Gulf Ports. Such ships as the Seminole, Algonquin
and Mohawk, palatial steamers of 8,000 tons, offer accommodations
for passengers weekly from Galveston to New York, with stops in
Florida. These steamers also carry freight and additional freight
service is afforded by sailings on Wednesday by the steamers Medina
The local agency of this company has been extremely fortunate
in that but six men have represented the company since the establishment
of the original office in 1866. Captain J. M. Sawyer was succeeded
by J. B. Denison. After a number of years, Mr. Denison was transferred
to New York, and was succeeded by S. T. DeMilt, then Frank T. Rennie
assumed the local agency. Upon the retirement of Mr. Rennie, Hugh
B. Wright was appointed local agent, but served only a short time
due to serious illness. W. V. Pittman, who has been connected with
the Mallory Line for a number of years, succeeded Mr. Wright, and
is the present agent. The first line of steamships to ply regularly
between Galveston and Liverpool were owned by C. W. Hurley & Co.,
in 1871. Texas and British capital were interested in this venture,
which was subsequently called the Liverpool and Texas Steamship
Company. Three ships were ordered built, the first to be placed
on the run being the San Jacinto of 1,050 tons. This ship arrived
in Galveston ! her maiden voyage February 6th, 1873, Cap. A. C.
Burrows, commanding. The San Jacinto was a passenger and freight
carrier and on her first trip to Galveston, had 250 passengers for
Texas. Later on, the San Antonio and the San Marcos were delivered
by their builders and placed in this trade. The San Jacinto carried
the first wheat ever exported from Galveston, in 1874. This experiment
was not a financial success and after operating about 8 years, the
ships were sold and the affairs of the company were liquidated.
From that time until deep water was assured, the greater portion
of the tonnage shipped from Galveston was carried by tramp steamers
and sailing vessels.
From History of Galveston, Texas, 1931
By S. C. Griffin.