Ingleside: New town has an old history
By Murphy Givens

Ingleside is a new town - younger than I am - but it has an old history. It began when George C. Hatch arrived on Live Oak Peninsula with his family and slaves riding in covered wagons.

Hatch was a county clerk in Dyersburg, Tenn., who came to Texas to fight in the revolution. He rode with Sam Houston's scout,

"Deaf" Smith, at the battle of San Jacinto. Hatch's nephew Jim Bowie was killed at the Alamo. On Sept. 12, 1842, when Texas was a Republic, Hatch was serving on jury duty in San Antonio when Mexican Gen. Adrian Woll raided the town and took prisoners, including Hatch, back to Mexico.

Woll's Texas prisoners were held in a dungeon in Perote Castle, chained together, but Hatch and a man named Morgan managed to escape and made it back to San Antonio.

In 1854, Hatch settled on 3,800 acres in San Patricio County and built a big house on the bluff overlooking Ingleside Bay. Hatch was the largest landowner around and, like Texans of his time, he had diverse interests. He raised cattle and hogs and operated a store. He sold part of his land to John Vineyard, who is often called the father of Ingleside because he chose the town's name from a Robert Burns poem.

Old Ingleside was beginning to grow. Besides the Hatches, early settlers were the Vineyards, Bordens, Nolds, and Turners. Marcellus and George Turner, with Youngs Coleman, made the first trail drives from the area in 1857, '58 and '59. They were amazed that it only took six months to drive the herd to Kansas.

 When the Civil War broke out, the Turners sold their holdings and invested the money in 1) slaves and, 2) Confederate bonds. During the war, Union raiding parties came ashore and federal gunboats used the homes on the bluff for target practice. The Nolds' academy was destroyed.

After the war, George Hatch, a fierce Confederate, refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Union. Hatch and a widowed daughter, Annie Hatch Byrne, became exiles in British Honduras. Youngs Coleman relocated on a Mexican island in the Gulf and bought a coconut plantation; he never returned. George Hatch and daughter came back in three years after the oath was no longer required.

Another of Hatch's daughters, Mary Susan, married John Borden. John declined to invest in his brother Gail's scheme to condense milk in a vacuum; he used his money to establish a boys' school, the Ingleside Academy. Gail, meanwhile, founded the company that became Borden, Inc.

On Sept. 5, 1872, George Hatch was returning from a banking trip to Corpus Christi. After he crossed the bay on the Reef Road, he was attacked by robbers and shot to death in his buggy at Indian Point. Legend holds that the killers were tracked down and lynched, though there's no record to support it.

After Hatch was killed, his son John returned from the California gold fields a wealthy man. He also brought back ideas that bore fruit. He planted a 75-acre vineyard and began making wine. Wine and grapes were a big business in Ingleside until Prohibition; the vines were killed by blight.

But the rich blackland area around Ingleside had become famous for its produce. Workers in packing sheds sorted and packed cucumbers, radishes, squash, tomatoes and watermelons. Ingleside "ice-rind" watermelons were famous. Cotton and maize replaced vegetable crops and the economy began to change when Humble Oil (Exxon) built a tank farm and refinery and Reynolds Metals located in the area. Economic change continued with the coming of Naval Station Ingleside.

When Ingleside was incorporated, in 1951, it had a population of 850; today, it has more than 8,000 citizens. You wonder what George Hatch or Marcellus Turner would say about Ingleside today. The vast land, stretching into the sunset, from nowhere to nowhere, was what attracted them. But the country they found disappeared with them.

P.S. To sort out the names: After the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad came in 1887, the flag stop called Palomas became Ingleside. What was Old Ingleside, or Cove Village, metamorphosed into Ingleside-on-the-Bay, next door to Naval Station Ingleside, with a buffer that was once planned for Bakersport. Have we got that right? Palomas became New Ingleside which is now Ingleside. Old Ingleside evolved into today's Ingleside-on-the-Bay.
Murphy Givens is a writer for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times as well as a Texas historian. This article is published with the author's expressed permission; Copyright restrictions do apply.