Confederate Naval Works marker dedicated
March 30, 2008
“My dad, granddad and uncle sometimes talked
about a shipyard at Goose Creek, but they were good storytellers and
I didn’t know if it really existed,” said Civil War historian Ralph
Wooster, gesturing to the shipyard-less waters on the east bay of
During his childhood in Baytown, these men had painted pictures in
Wooster’s mind. They told him of an epic battle aided by a
civilian-built and run shipyard that becomes a key player in the
Confederate Army’s fight.
On Saturday, the Harris County Historical Society confirmed the
Around 100 people gathered at Bayland Park to acknowledge the
forgotten shipyard and witness the unveiling of a marker erected by
the Historical Commission.
Amongst attendees were descendents of shipyards founders - the Chubb
Historical Commission members said the shipyard was both integral
and unique to the war.
After the Confederate government’s plea for civilian help, Thomas
and John Chubb decided to build a shipyard and purchased the land
that is now Bayland Park.
Situated on the east bank of Goose Creek at the mouth of Tabbs Bay,
the land they purchased became Confederate Naval Works during the
Texans knew the Union had the industrial advantage during the war
and private ventures such as that of the Chubb brothers is what kept
the Confederate Army afloat.
The design and structure of ships built at the Goose Creek shipyard
were integral to running the Union blockade.
Thomas Chubb also served in the Texas Marine Department, an element
of the Confederate States Army operating independently of the
Even after the war, the Chubb brothers’ shipyard thrived.
The brothers were commissioned to build ships for the new federal
government in addition to working on private vessels at the Goose
Wooster said the shipyard site on Goose Creek is only a slice of the
contributions that Texans have made to the rich history of the
“I’m of the opinion that Texans have fought in more wars in more
states than anyone else,” said Wooster.
He said he has yet to meet anyone who can refute that fact.
“The Naval Works here is a big part of that story,” he said.
As Mayor Stephen DonCarlos and the Harris County Historical Society
unveiled the marker, 12-year-old Anna Novak stepped out from the
A descendent of the Chubb brothers, Novak helped with the unveiling.
The front and second rows of onlookers at the marker dedication
ceremony were actually Chubb family descendants.
Novak said the story of the shipyard is “pretty cool.” She said the
tale had been forgotten even to those in her own family.
The Goose Creek shipyard later built ships for the federal
government and private mariners until Thomas Chubb left the business
in 1869. The following year, the Thomas B. Gaillard family purchased
the former shipyard and established Gaillard’s Landing. Later, the
site became part of the Goose Creek oil fields - starting point of
the Exxon Mobil oil dynasty.
The Historical Commission hopes that the new marker will resurrect
the story of the shipyard for young and old alike.
“This site has a considerable amount of history,” said DonCarlos.
“We hope that from time to time, you all take a moment to reflect on
the woven tapestry that is our history, our city, our county and our
Attendees read along in their programs as Historical Commission
chair Patrick Van Pelt read the marker inscription aloud:
“In 1854, brothers Thomas and John Chubb bought land in the William
Scott League on the east bank of Goose Creek at the mouth of Tabbs
Bay. On this site, they established the Chubb Shipyard prior to the
Civil War. At the time, Texas shipbuilding was a developing
industry. During the war, however, in an effort to compensate for
the Union's industrial advantage, the Confederate government
encouraged Texans to engage in manufacturing ventures that would aid
its miltary effort. The Chubb brothers responded to this call with
the Confederate Naval Works at Goose Creek, which built and repaired
vessels during the war. Thomas Chubb also served in the Texas Marine
Department, an element of the Confederate States Army operating
indepently of the Confederate Navy. He obtained the rank of Captain
and later became superintendent of the Confederate Naval Works. The
design and structure of ships built at the Goose Creek shipyard were
integral to the Department's effectiveness in running the Union
blockade. The shallow draft of the centerboard schooners made them
suitable for blockade running in shallow areas of the Gulf of
Mexico, where deep draft vessels could not pass. These successful
ships included the Royal Yacht, Bagdad, Phoebe, Henrietta,
Marguereta and Altha Brooks. An important contributor to the Texas
naval and industrial effort during the Civil War, the Goose Creek
shipyard later built ships for the federal government and private
mariners until Thomas Chubb left the business in 1869. The following
year, the Thomas B. Gaillard family purchased the former shipyard
and established Gaillard's Landing. Later, the site became part of
the Goose Creek oil fields.”
Most published data researched and used by
permission of: Garnett Cleveland, Jr. “Confederate Naval Works of Goose Creek,”
Baytown Vignettes, One Hundred and Fifty Years in the History of a Texas Gulf
Coast Community prepared by John Britt and Muriel Tyssen (Baytown TX: Lee
College. 1992). Please purchase a copy at the Baytown Historical Museum
220 W. Defee
OurBaytown.com would like to acknowledge Trevia
Wooster Beverly - Harris County Historical Commission ,
John Rocco and Cherie Laughlin - Bayer Material Science, Garnett Cleveland, Jr.,
Jean L. Epperson.