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Beach City Boundaries Map

Beach City sits on a broad peninsula that is bordered on the east by Trinity Bay and on the west by the San Jacinto River. The southern tip of that peninsula is called Cedar Point. Beach City is on the southern and eastern sides of the peninsula and the larger city of Baytown on the western side. A large central area of the peninsula has been designated an industrial district. Beach City lies on the western shore of Trinity Bay in Chambers County, Texas, and occupies most of that shore. The median elevation of the city is about 20 feet (6 m) and parts are about 30 feet (9 m).
history 1
Trinity Bay is the northeast portion of Galveston Bay, included within the boundaries of Chambers County and having its shoreline bordered solely by the land portions of that county. The bay, approximately 20 miles (32 km) long, heads at the mouth of the Trinity River. The line of demarcation of Trinity Bay from the rest of Galveston Bay is generally considered to run from the mouth of Cedar Bayou on Cedar Point southeastward to the tip of Smith Point.

Trinity Bay fronts on the vast network of Chambers County marshes and prairie land. The Trinity Basin contributes 54% of the total bay system inflow for the Galveston Bay complex. Near the head of the bay on the north end is the city of Cove, and on the east side sits the city of Anahuac, the county seat of Chambers County. The unincorporated communities of Oak Island and Smith Point are south of Anahuac on the eastern shore. Much of the area near the northern and eastern shores is semi-rural or marshy and undeveloped. These include a large marsh on the north shore around

Cotton Lake commonly called the Delhomme ("del-LOAM") Marsh which is prime wildlife habitat and a productive shellfish breeding area They also include the 24,536-acre Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge  which lies near the eastern shore between Trinity Bay and East Bay, another segment of the Galveston Bay complex.

history 2It is likely that the area has retained its generally low and estuarine character for millions of years. This is indicated by the Oligocene (23-34 million years old) oil deposits in many oil and gas fields near Beach City, because estuaries are where most petroleum was formed. Fields within about 15 miles of the city include at least the Anahuac oil field, Barbers Hill oil field, Cedar Point oil field, Double Bayou gas field, East Robinson Lake gas field, Fishers Reef oil field, Goose Creek oil field (1922 photo at left), Lake Stephenson oil field, Lost Lake oil field, Mays oil field, North Cotton Lake oil field, North Fishers Reef gas field, Oyster Bayou oil field, Redfish Reef oil field, Smith Point oil field, South Cotton Lake oil field, Trinity Bay oil field, Turtle Bay oil field, White Lake oil field, and Willow Slough oil field.

The salt dome formations in and around Beach City suggest that in Cretaceous times (over 65 million years ago) the area was sea floor. A salt dome is a geologic formation caused by a phenomenon known as diapirism, in which lighter materials force their way up through denser ones. Salts and other evaporated minerals are generally lighter than the sedimentary rock which surrounds them, and as a result, salt has a tendency to well up, creating a visible bulge in the surface of the earth which is often capped with a layer of rock. Salt domes have been utilized by humans for centuries as readily available supplies of salt, since they typically contain a high concentration of halite, otherwise known as table salt .

The earliest known native inhabitants of the area were the cannibalistic Karankawas who ranged along the Gulf Coast from about what is now Beaumont to Corpus Christi and the Atakapan who ranged from about Houston to Lake Charles. In 1721, Frenchman Jean Baptiste de La Harpe  reached the area, and reportedly found only Atakapans present.

The revolution that made Texas a republic and then later one of the United States began at Anahuac about eight miles east of Beach City and ended at San Jacinto about ten miles west.

The first brief settlement in the immediate area by people of European descent was at what is now Anahuac, where Colonel Henry Perry erected a military post in 1816.  Perry was an American officer in the "Army of the North", which had invaded the southeastern part of Spanish Texas during the War of 1812. Congress declared war on England on June 18, 1812. The mostly-Irish Army of the North marched under an emerald green flag into Texas in July, 1812. The pretext under which they marched was to prevent England from taking the poorly defended Spanish territory, and then possibly launching attacks on the United States from Texas. Later in 1816, Colonel Perry was arrested and indicted in the US District Court of Louisiana for violating neutrality laws.

A year later, the privateer Jean Lafitte established a colony on Galveston Island, about 30 miles south of Beach City. The island had for some time been controlled by Mexican pirates. In the fall of 1817, the Spanish took the unusual tack of using pirates against pirates. They invited the infamous Lafitte to attack the Mexican pirates in Galveston and rid the island of these men who had proclaimed their area, the "Republic of Mexico." In return, Lafitte was to be pardoned of all his crimes against the Spanish. Through negotiation Lafitte convinced the Mexican pirates to leave. Lafitte then moved his own pirates from Louisiana onto Galveston. He called the town Campeche and used it as a base of operations to pirate all ships, including Spanish ships. In a short time, he had over 1,000 men and several ships. Business was good and he built himself a large red brick mansion, complete with second story cannon armament. He called his house Maison Rouge.

Things were not going at all as the Spanish had hoped. They had for some time been concerned about incursions of American, French, and Indian squatters into Texas.

The Spanish were eager to populate East Texas to stop these incursions and had considered many plans. One they adopted was the empresario land grant system, which was continued after Mexican independence from Spain in 1821.

Empresarios (from the Spanish word empresa for enterprise or venture) were businessmen or land speculators granted large blocks of land in exchange for an oath of allegiance to the State. Each empresario agreed to settle a specific number of Catholic families on a defined land grant within six years. In return, the empresario received a land premium of just over 23,000 acres for every 100 families he settled. However, if the requisite number of families did not settle within six years, the contract was void. The empresario controlled the lands within his grant, but he owned only the lands he received as a premium.

The majority of the Texas empresario grants were effected under the national law of 18 August 1824 and the Mexican state law of 24 March 1825. Under the state law, a married man could receive up to 177 acres of farming land (a "labor") and 4,428 acres of grazing land (a "league"). An unmarried man could receive one-quarter of this amount. The settler had to improve the land and pay a nominal fee to the state. By 1830, however, the Mexican government began to question the loyalty of American immigrants in Texas, who outnumbered Mexicans in the area by more than two to one. Thus, on 6 April 1830, Mexico passed a law prohibiting further American immigration and canceling existing empresario contracts.

The empresario system failed to dramatically increase the loyal Mexican population of Texas. The costs of obtaining a grant and surveying the land were high, and the wait for the land to become profitable was long. Although some empresarios, such as Stephen F. Austin, were successful, many others failed to fulfill their contracts. However, many of the unfulfilled contracts were de facto ratified after the Texas Revolution.

Among those who settled on the Cedar Point peninsula under the empresario program were the following. They are listed along with the parts of Beach City that lie within their former properties.

  • John Ijams - Cedar Point Road to just past Seacrest Avenue
  • William D. Smith - Seacrest Avenue to just north of McClellan Road (formerly McKinney Road)
  • John K. Allen - McClellan Road to just south of the present Community Building
  • J.L. Hill - Community Building to west end of Point Barrow Road
  • Solomon Barrow - East end of Point Barrow Road to Lawrence Road

North of the present Beach City, Benjamin Winfree was established. His grant included the present Cotton Lake Estates subdivision and a community that he established called Winfree's Cove, later shortened to Cove. J.C. Fisher received a grant along Cedar Bayou.
In October 1830, six months after the ban on American settlers, Mexican Colonel Juan Davis Bradburn established a customs post and fort at Anahuac atop the same 30 feet (9 m) bluff where Henry Perry had camped. Bradburn's orders specified that the new post would be named Anahuac, from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word one meaning of which is "capital". By March 1831, Anahuac comprised 20 houses and 7 stores.

Two major events in 1832 and 1835, known as the Anahuac Disturbances, helped to precipitate the Texas Revolution that led to the separation of Texas from Mexico, one being the jailing of William Barret Travis by Mexican authorities. (The other was perceived unfair taxation and duties on river traffic to the settlers.)

Bradburn strongly supported the Mexican law forbidding slavery. In August 1831 he gave asylum to two men who had escaped slavery in Louisiana. The owner retained local lawyer Travis to represent him in trying to get the slaves returned. In May 1832, Bradburn received a letter, ostensibly from a friend, warning that 100 armed men would come from Louisiana to reclaim the slaves. When Bradburn realized that the letter was a hoax, he arrested Travis for questioning. He intended to send Travis to Matamoros for a military trial on charges of attempted insurrection. Actual insurgents captured some Mexican cavalry officers and exchanged them for Travis.
Events escalated into a full-blown revolution in 1835 and 1836, in which Travis was killed at the Alamo in San Antonio by an army under Mexican president Santa Anna. After that Santa Anna chased a ragtag Texas army under Sam Houston eastward back toward San Jacinto, near Beach City. Houston's army gained reinforcements during that "running scrape" and turned on Santa Anna at San Jacinto, defeating him within minutes and capturing him the next day.

In the next year, by then president of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston purchased a plantation in what is now Beach City from Tabitha Ijams Harris, the daughter of Mexican land grantee John Ijams. The plantation was called Cedar Point and its rustic manor house was Ravenmoor. In 1840, Houston married his third wife Margaret Moffette Lea, and they resided most of the time at Ravenmoor until 1862.  In declining health at that time, Houston reportedly sold his plantation to the J.C. Fisher family and spent the rest of his life at his rented "Steamboat House" in Huntsville, where he died the next year.

After the Houston's moved away, the site of Ravenmoor was washed away by a hurricane. Today, only the remains of Sam Houston's well structure can be seen at low tide.

With the Houston's gone, the Beach City area was a quiet one of plantation and ranching life until the 1940s, although there was some minor fighting in and around the present city during the Union blockade of Galveston from July, 1861, through October 1862. Pieces of grapeshot and canister shot are still occasionally found within the city.
From 1898 to 1936 the younger children of the present Beach City and surrounding area attended West Bay Common School No. 13. This 18 by 30 foot one-room structure, made of cypress wood, originally had a wood shingle roof. Half of this still remains under the present metal roof which was added after the 1915 hurricane. The first teacher was Arthur Carpenter who received $33.35 a month in pay. Grades kindergarten through grade seven attended the schoolhouse until its closing. The building was sold and moved a short distance and made into a three room house.

It was owned for some time by W.B. and Peggy Anderson of Beach City. With the efforts of the League City Historical Society, the school was moved to League City in December of 1992 and restored. It is now at the corner of Kansas and Second Street in League City.
This little schoolhouse was formally dedicated as the West Bay Common School Children's Museum on October 21, 1993. For visitors, a schoolmarm brings history to life with an award winning program that includes a pen and ink lesson, reading at the recitation bench, slate lessons and a spelling bee. A recess program follows in the Barn Museum .

By the early twentieth century, the relatively temperate bay breezes and good views and fishing began to lure people from nearby towns to the Beach City area. About 1930 Joseph Weingarten, who built the Weingarten's chain of grocery stores, constructed a mansion summer house just inland from the former site of Houston's Ravenmoor. The Weingarten house, under different ownership, was being remodeled circa 1981 and caught fire. The fire was believed to have been caused by a heating gun used by workers to remove old wall paper. The home was a total loss. A new home was later constructed on this site.

Around 1950 the state built FM-2354, a road that ran from Baytown most of the way around the Cedar Point peninsula. This road was authorized by the Colson-Briscoe Act of 1949. A bascule drawbridge, which continued to operate until 1983, crossed Cedar Bayou at the lower end of the bayou.
With the boom economy after World War II, people had time and money for recreation. People from Baytown especially began to take advantage of the drawbridge and built small summer/weekend houses or "fishing camps" along the shoreline of the present Beach City. By the early 1950s, they had nicknamed FM-2354 "Tri-City Beach Road", because the present Baytown resulted from a merger of three smaller towns in 1948.

However, a number who came for recreation decided to stay. By the early 1960s the community commonly called Tri-City Beach had about 500 permanent residents. At that time, the Texas legislature began to consider annexation reform. Previously, Texas municipalities had almost unfettered power to annex adjacent lands. Cities could control vast territories by annexing ten-feet-wide strips surrounding them. During that period, Baytown controlled an area larger than the California city of Los Angeles did. Larger cities could even annex smaller cities, after they had annexed to surround them.

Knowing that reform was pending, many cities began a flurry of annexations. Defensively, a number of unincorporated communities began proceedings to incorporate as municipalities. The Tri-City Beach community was one of those.

On April 6, 1963, the Tri-City Beach Civic Association was formed. They met to discuss ways to better their community. The officers were Hayden Harper, a local grocer, President; Nina Harper, Secretary; Georgia Mackrell, Chairman of Publicity; and John Jennings, Chairman of the Membership Committee.

The association explored a number of ideas, including the construction of a breakwater, and then began considering incorporation as a city. An Incorporation Committee was formed consisting of George Armer, Ruth Hoover, Eloice Jordan, J.D. Nicholson, and Bill White.
Ms. Jordan met with County Judge Oscar F. Nelson, Jr. on March 8, 1966, and presented him with a petition for an incorporation election. On March 24, 1966, the Baytown City Council adopted Ordinance 788, consenting to the inclusion of an unspecified part of what Baytown then claimed as its extraterritorial jurisdiction within the proposed new municipality to be known as the City of Beach City. On April 5, 1966, an election was held to determine if the area would become a municipality. The results were 103 for incorporation to 4 opposed. The incorporation of Beach City was finalized by a decree issued by Judge Nelson on April 11, 1966.
Beach City was originally incorporated as a Type B General Law City under Texas law, and was later changed to a Type A General Law City by resolution of the City Council, under the provisions of law. The original boundaries of the city were, roughly, Cedar Point Road to the south, FM-2354 to the west, Point Barrow Road to the north, and Trinity Bay to the east.

Under Texas law, when a city is incorporated some adjacent territory not already controlled by another city automatically comes under its limited jurisdiction, and other cities may not exercise jurisdiction there. The territory is called the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction or ETJ. However, Baytown executed six different strip annexations into what Beach City believed was to have been its ETJ, including five that were completed after Beach City's incorporation. Those annexations were completed on March 4, May 12, June 23, June 25, September 9, and November 9, 1966.These completed a ring around the planned USX industrial site. The stated purpose was to protect Baytown's ability to form an industrial district. These conflicting assertions of jurisdiction have been disputed since that time, as will be discussed further.

An election was held on May 21, 1966, to select the first municipal officers. Eloice Jordan was elected mayor.  W.D. Bush, Alvin J. Crawley, William D. Daniel, J.R. Holland, and J.D. Nicholson were chosen as aldermen for the first city council. Gus Dauzat became the first city marshal. Later Ruth Hoover was appointed by the Council as city secretary and Claude Galloway as deputy marshal.
The mayors of the city have been, by date of election:

  • Eloice Jordan - May 21, 1966
  • Carl Slaughter - July 25, 1967
  • Eloice Jordan - April 6, 1968
  • Jimmy McClellan - April 7, 1970
  • Herschel Scott - April 27, 1976
  • Jim Ainsworth - May, 1982
  • A.R.  "Rusty" Senac - April, 1986
  • James Standridge - May 26, 1992
  • A.R. "Rusty" Senac - May 23, 2000
  • Guido Persiani - May 25, 2004
  • Billy Combs - May 8, 2010
  • Jackey Lasater - November, 2018
  • Ryan Dagley - November, 2020
The Beach City Volunteer Fire Department was formed in 1967 and still exists. A Tri-City Beach Emergency Medical service organization had been formed before the City's incorporation and has since been merged into a county-wide emergency medical service.

The Texas annexation reform process, and the widespread annexation fervor, continued for several years.
With Baytown's concurrence, Beach City increased its area on August 19, 1968, by annexing approximately 1,781 acres near Point Barrow Road and taking in McCollum Park. The 1968 annexation moved the northern boundary of the city to Lawrence Road. This annexation brought into the city limits the historic home site of early pioneer Solomon Barrow (1801-1858), whose land included the area where McCollum Park is now located. The park, as a matter of record, contains the last resting place of Barrow, his wife Elizabeth Winfree, and Barton Clark, the first husband of their daughter Narcissa Ophelia Henrietta Jane Barrow.

On October 27, 1970, again with Baytown's concurrence, Beach City annexed the area where the Beach City Community Building and the Beach City VFD fire station are located. That is the only part of the city limits that extends west of FM-2354.

Meanwhile, there were rumors that Baytown intended to annex the community of Cove. On September 22, 1970, Beach City received a petition of 84 residents of Cove to annex the community. The mayor of Beach City at the time was Jimmy McClellan. On November 24, 1970, Beach City annexed Cove, an area bounded generally on the west by FM-2354, on the east by the Old and Lost Rivers, on the south by Lawrence Road, and on the north by a line just north of FM-565.On December 2, 1970 Beach City extended its Cove annexation to include the property where the old Cove Community Building sits.

This time Baytown did not concur. In 1971, Baytown sued Beach City in an attempt to stop the annexation of Cove.
In 1973, Beach City released its claim to what are now the city limits of Cove. An incorporation election was held and the City of Cove was incorporated on May 23, 1973. Leroy Stevens was Cove's first mayor. The City Council of Beach City presented to Mayor Stevens Cove's first municipal seal, which is believed to be the one still in use.

However, the original area of Beach City's Cove annexation had extended beyond what eventually became the Cove city limits, and Beach City continued to assert the validity of its claim over the rest of that area. The legal issue continued for years, and the potential cost of litigation to Beach City was controversial, the assets of the city at the time being approximately $5,000. The issue was apparently never resolved in the courts. Rather, Beach City's annexation north of Lawrence Road was apparently repealed by action of its City Council in 1976, after Herschel Scott replaced Jimmy McClellan as Mayor and John Lefebvre replaced Eugene Jenson as City Attorney.

In 1986, Beach City celebrated its twentieth anniversary and the State of Texas celebrated its 150th, or the Sesquicentennial of the Republic of Texas. By that time Beach City had grown to a population estimated at 1,200, with about 600 residences of which about 60% were primary residences.

A number of celebrations were held in September of that year. The theme for the one in Beach City was "Get it --- Beach City Spirit". At that event, Mayor A.R. "Rusty" Senac stated, "I am extremely proud of our community. There are no taxes except utility franchise fees. There are no sales taxes or City property taxes. Our greatest resources are the members of our community. The willingness of everyone in Beach City to donate and devote their time and effort to improve our city makes our community an exceptional area. Our fire department, our emergency medical service, our marshal, and numerous civic and service organizations are all volunteer organizations. Each performs exceptionally well, always striving to protect the well-being of our citizenry, providing educational and recreational opportunities, or simply lending a helping hand to a neighbor in need. The American and Texas spirit that exists in Beach City cannot be describe appropriately using the written word. It must be experienced to be understood. All of us in Beach City are also proud to be Texans and Americans. We do not have problems in Beach City. We only have opportunities that we must capitalize upon. People in Beach City have Beach City Spirit."

In that same year, Mayor Senac and the City Council initiated a series of periodic public opinion surveys, asking City residents about their goals and expectations of the City and its government. That practice has continued to the present, and has guided the City Council to maintain the course that it has followed since the incorporation of the city - minimal interference, minimal services, and minimal taxation.

On June 10, 2006, the City observed its fortieth anniversary with a celebration called "Beach City - West Bay, An Oral History". Approximately 85 people attended, including our first mayor Eloice Jordan, current and former elected City officials, and Sam Houston IV. It was an afternoon of history and anecdote and continued celebration of the Beach City Spirit.
On April 23, 2016, Beach City celebrated its 50th anniversary with live music, vendors, food...all proceeds benefited the BCVFD.

We strive to produce an accurate history of our community. We welcome suggestions if you have a favorite anecdote you would like to see included. If you see anything that needs updating, clarification, or correction, please drop us a line. Send your comments via email to Ken Pantin, or to the Beach City, City Secretary at

The mailing address: City of Beach City, Attention: City Secretary, 12723 F.M. 2354, Beach City, Texas 77523-0915.