Port Sullivan

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Port Sullivan was on a low bluff just downstream from a shoal of giant limestone boulders in the Brazos River, one mile northeast of Farm Road 485 in eastern Milam County. A stone marker erected at the site in 1936, during the Texas Centennial, gave rise to the erroneous name Fort Sullivan. On December 12, 1835, August (or Augustus) W. Sullivan (Sillaven, Sillivan, Sullaven) gained title to the bluff overlooking the Brazos. In 1843 the steamboat Mustang traveled up the river as far as the bluff, demonstrating the possibility of steam navigation to this point. Steamboats again made it up the Brazos to this area in 1850. Reuben Anderson, a planter with land east of the river in Robertson County, persuaded Sullivan to subdivide his land on the bluff into town lots, and on May 1, 1851, two of Anderson's sons purchased the first lots sold in the new town. In 1852 Port Sullivan had a population of 200, four stores, one circular sawmill, two or three warehouses, and a post office. One merchant traveled to New York to purchase merchandise for his store. The town also had several doctors and a lawyer. Steamboats in Galveston advertised that through bills of lading would be issued on shipments up the Brazos to Port Sullivan. Shipments from the town included cotton, hides, and pecans. The fact that it was free from flooding, unlike the surrounding agricultural land, contributed greatly to the town's development. By 1860 the population of Port Sullivan had grown to 680, and Port Sullivan Male and Female College had been established.

During the summer of 1860 the Vigilance Committee of Port Sullivan lynched two men named Boatwright, an uncle and nephew, suspected of being abolitionists. In the presidential election of 1860, 224 votes were cast in the town, none of them for Abraham Lincoln or Stephen A. Douglas. On November 24, 1860, the Lone Star flag was raised in a ceremony supporting secession, and a delegate was sent to the Secession Convention. Port Sullivan voted on February 23, 1861, in favor of secession, 227 to 24. During Reconstruction Capt. George Haller, an officer in the United States Army, was killed near Port Sullivan in 1869. In the election for governor later that year, there was a disturbance involving Reuben A. Smith of Port Sullivan and Emil Adams when both tried to instruct some freedmen on how to vote in this crucial election. Because of this incident, the votes of Milam County were not counted, and the outcome of this very close election might have been altered.

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John Martin Brockman | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Port Sullivan is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists

Yes

Place type

Port Sullivan is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • [Fort-]
  • (Brackenville)

Location

Latitude: 30.88352310
Longitude: -96.70330820

Has Post Office

No

Is Incorporated

No

Population Count, 2009

15