About the Santa Fe Historical Society



Elinore McDonough

Galveston, Texas

May 25, 1927


At a called meeting of the Board of Directors of the old company, held on May 10, 1879, to hear the report of the Finance Committee, that committee was ordered to turn over to Mr. George Sealy, Trustee, as part of the assets of the company covered by the trust deed, a donation from the Galveston City Company of Ten Thousand Dollars. This donation was made by the Galveston City Company at a meeting held on April 5, 1875, "to encourage the early construction of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad", and was to have been paid in installments as construction reached certain designated points.

All land titles in the City of Galveston derive from the Galveston City Company, which was incorporated by an Act of the Fifth Congress of the Republic of Texas, approved Feb. 5, 1841. However, the Galveston City Company had been in existence before that time, having been organized by Michel Branamour Menard, to take over and dispose of the league and labor of land including the east end of the Island of San Luis, or Galveston, which had been conveyed to him by Don Juan Nepomucino Seguin et al., of the Town of San Fernando de Bexar, under date of June 23, 1834. The land had been granted by the government of the State of Coahuila and Texas to Don Juan Nepomucino Seguin et al. on April 27, 1833, out of the distribution of the vacant lands of the empire. Michel B. Menard's title was confirmed by an Act of the Congress of the Republic of Texas, approved Dec. 9, 1836. The conditions of the Act having been complied with, Sam Houston, then President of the Republic of Texas, issued a patent for the land to Michel B. Menard on Jan. 25, 1838. Menard had actually taken possession of the land in 1837.

Mrs. Mary LeClere, a member of the Menard family, who died shortly prior to 1900, bequeathed sufficient funds to erect a memorial tower to Michel Menard on St. Patrick's Church, on the corner of 34th St. and Avenue K, Galveston. This tower, very tall and slender, with an electrically lighted cross on its summit, was wrecked in the great storm of 1900, falling on the church and almost completely wrecking it also. Though the church was rebuilt -- along somewhat different lines -- the tower was never raised to its former height. However, the marble tablet still remains in the vestibule of the church, with its inscription to Michel B. Menard, founder of the City of Galveston.

Michel B. Menard left no direct descendants, but among his collateral descendants is Mr. W. Kendall Menard now Paymaster of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company at Galveston. Besides his relationship to the founder of the City of Galveston, Mr. Menard is also, through his mother, a grandson of Gen. Sidney Sherman, commander of one wing of the Texas army at the Battle of San Jacinto, and to whom most historians give the credit for having won the battle from the Mexican forces under Santa Anna. General Sherman was also the first to raise the battle cry "Remember the Alamo".

In connection with this sketch, it is interesting to note that it was chiefly due to the untiring efforts of Gen. Sidney Sherman that the first railroad in Texas was built. This was the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railroad, chartered by the Third Legislature of the State of Texas, Feb. 11, 1850, and now a part of the Southern Pacific System through its purchase in 1868 by the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway Company. The road was financed by the sale of Harrisburg town lots, and the first locomotive was named the "General Sherman".

That so many of the firms that were subscribers to the capital stock of the original Santa Fe are no longer in existence, is due, in some measure, to the road itself -- not through loss of money invested in the new venture, but because the era of railroad construction was at first calamitous for the city. From the early days of the State, the products of the eastern United States and of Europe were brought to its people by vessels of various sorts through the port of Galveston, and the city became a great distributing center. But with the building of the railroads, things changed. The cities of the interior sprang up and flourished, and the great wholesale houses on the Strand at Galveston closed their doors. The business of the city had to start all over again -- a great export business had to be built up to take the place of the imports that had failed it. Under the changed circumstances that exist today, the present Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway has become the main artery of the tide of business prosperity that flows into the city. And though control of the Santa Fe has long since passed out of the hands of those who first planned it, it still remains, in the thought of the people of the city, a Galveston road.

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