OurBaytown.com - Baytown's Historical Resource

Little Known Facts about the Baytown area.
Goose Creek Oil Field submitted by E H Jones

    • The Brunson theater opened in 1949 and was Baytown's first post-WWII movie house. It closed in 1982 and was purchased by the city of Baytown in 1997. In 2017 Baytown city council voted to commit 1.5 million dollars to convert it into a business incubator and tourism center.

    • Wayland Smith made Doc Severinson and Ed Mc Mann a chocolate milk shake in 1978 while working at Swensen’s Ice cream Parlor on Garth Rd.  Clay Blasingame

    • Precinct 2 Harris County Commissioner Charlie Massey was largely responsible for initiating the ferry operation between Hog Island and Morgan’s Point. A ferry was named for commissioner who, by the way, came from Cedar Bayou. - Wanda Orton

    • W.T. Busch and Prof Sanders pushed the tunnel concept for traveling under water between Baytown and La Porte. - Wanda Orton

    • Elizabeth Burrus gained nationwide attention for developing a system to teach English to Spanish- speaking pupils at the original De Zavala Elementary School. - Wanda Orton

    • Jewel Blasingame was on the Price is Right in 1958.  Clay Blasingame

    • 2013 The San Jacinto Methodist hospital on Decker Drive has been purchased for renovation.

    • The Brunson Theater was built in 1949.  The property was purchased by the city in 1998.  It is currently only a facade with no roof.

    • The Robert E. Lee Marching band played at the opening of the Astrodome. However, they were supposed to march, but didn't. The on-field part was scrubbed because, at the time, they were attempting to grow GRASS in the astrodome.  Paul Cherry

    • The Lee band went to Chicago in 1950 to be part of the inauguration of the incoming Lions Club new president, a Texan.  The band raised money via booths on Texas Ave. in old Goose Creek for expenses, which included train fare for all members of the band and chaperons. E H Jones

    • The band played for the openings of the Pasadena tunnel and the Shamrock Hotel (Houston).  It also played in the Houston parade to honor Gen Douglas MacArthur (all in the '50's).  It went to Atlanta in 1954 (?).E H Jones

    • Charles F. Jones, a long time Pelly resident, was the valet and admitted murderer of William Marsh Rice, founder of Rice University. - Tom Griffin

    • Jennifer Garner Affleck, TV and movie actress, is the daughter of Baytown native Bill J. Garner (R.E.Lee '56) and grand-daughter of the late Exie L. Garner of Baytown - B. Garner

    • Romany Malco - Started as a rapper in a group called R.M.G in Baytown, Texas (He went to Sterling), but was born in Brooklyn, New York. Later moved to Los Angles. Starred in: The 40 year old virgin - Blades of Glory - Baby Mama - The Love Guru

    • Keith Heimann...a RE Lee grad (Lee College, too), went on to graduate from Juilliard. He has sang with major opera houses around the world and has appeared on Broadway as well.  His Bio here.

    • The last interurban railway to be built in the United States, the Houston North Shore Railway Company, built twenty-six miles from Houston through Baytown to Goose Creek in 1927. It operated until 1948. The line, no longer electric, is now an important industrial branch of the Union Pacific between Houston and Baytown and is virtually the only vestige of the Texas interurban network that remains.

    • (1) The Robert E. Lee High School Band, AKA, The "Famous" Robert E. Lee High School Band was the largest band in the state of Texas during the mid 1960's
      (2) Doc' Severinsen, who was the Trumpet and Band Leader for the "Tonight Show Band, Starring Johnny Carson," performed frequently with The Famous Robert E. Lee Band during the years 1967-1978 with director Charles Forque
      (3) The Famous Robert E. Lee Band performed for the opening of the Astrodome in the 1960's.....
      (4) Former President Ford attended a Gander Football game in 1976.
      (5) Many people, including those living in Baytown DO NOT realize the significance the Robert E. Lee Band has played in placing Baytown on the map....Tommy Juarez  Colorado Springs, Colorado Former Baytonians and proud former member of the REL Band...

    • During World War 2 a German war prisoner camp was located on Highway 146, south of I10. AG Dunn

    • During World War 2 the Butyl Rubber Plant in Baytown had a higher priority than the Atomic Bomb. AG Dunn

    • Country Singer Chris Cagle is from Baytown. Graduated Ross Sterling High in 1987. Father works at Exxon currently. Chris has had many top 10 hits along with a #1 hit single, "I breathe in, I breathe Out".  www.chriscagle.com  Ron Mackert

    • Baytown is the 278th largest city in the USA.  There are only 2 cities named Baytown in the USA.

    • Isla Carroll Turner Friendship Trust  Read about her philanthropy

    • Another interesting tidbit is that Gen. James B. Weaver was the great-grandfather of "Dennis the Menace" cartoonist Hank Ketchum, and great-great-grandfather of television actor Stephen Collins, star of "Seventh Heaven."  Wybra Wooster Holland

    • Country singer Chris Cagle is from Baytown!  He recently won a CMT music award and currently has a popular country album.    Stacy Hopper, CPA

    • Actor Romany Malco (40 year virgin) moved to Baytown as a teenager and graduated from Sterling.

    • German POW camp in Baytown in the 40's information submitted by Don Holloway:  Beverly B wrote; Yes I remember . Like on old 146. POWs as I remember, you could see them milling about from the road. Well cared for it appeared.
      Gene PB  wrote; Yes I remember the camp. We passed by it several times going to Barbers Hill.
      Paul  wrote; POWs on line hard back. At the end of WW11 the USA had 425,000 POWs in 511 camps with Texas having the most because of mild weather. Very interesting about the POWs that helped out our farmers who didn't have help to maintain crops.
      Tufy wrote; And reminded me of the German butcher we had at Hollaways  Food Mkt.(Fred Wherring) also there was a POW camp between Barbers Hill and Dayton, way back off 146. Some say they had a chained bear there? Why? I do know that there was one there because I worked with a POW at Hollaways, after the war he got his family here. He was happy to be here,  Good worker. He was a butcher.
      Lonnie B wrote;  Yes there was a camp East of hwy 146 where the Abby addition was built in the 50s. My dad used German POWs to harvest his rice crops during the war. I was 4 yrs old and remember going to Liberty to get the men each day. The POW camp was located on FM563 at the fair grounds. I used to steal the guards lunch every day, He put it where I could find it easy, they thought it was funny. The guard would eat a good hot meal my mother would bring the workers every day. I can tell you several stories about the German workers. They were glad to work in the USA away from the war zone.

    • Dr. Ashbel Smith was one of eight Goose Creek area families who owned slaves.  He owned 32 slaves.

    • By 1900, the growing communities of Lynchburg, Wooster, Goose Creek, Cedar Bayou, Barbers Hill, and Cove were established in this area.

    • In 1921 Clan #4 of the Goose Creek Ku Klux Klan held weekly parades on Texas Avenue.

    • Burnet Bay and Burnet Drive in Lakewood is named after David G. Burnet who came to this area in 1831.  His name is pronounced "Burn-it".

    • Baytown is bordered by eight bays Burnet, Crystal, Scott, Mitchell, Black Duck, San Jacinto, Tabbs, and Galveston Bay.

    • June 12th, 1908, the first oil well came in at the Goose Creek Oil field.

    • Ross Shaw Sterling left school at the age of twelve after the death of his father, to help provide for his family.

    • The big oak tree in the middle of Texas Avenue is one of Baytown's oldest landmarks.

    • Nathaniel Lynch came to this area in 1822, started the Lynchburg Ferry and became a Postmaster.

    • Cedar Bayou had at least 4 ferries, the most famous being Ilfrey's Ferry where Cedar Bayou Road meets Ferry Road.

    • Hog Island, located in the Ship Channel was at one time Lovers lane for Baytonians.

    • From 1927 to 1961 the Houston North Shore Railroad provided 'The Interurban' electrical railcar/Railbus service from Houston to Baytown.

    • More than half the Toluene produced in WW ll came from the Baytown Humble Refinery.  Toluene is the second T in TNT.

    • The first outlaw motorcycle group in Baytown was the Iron Horsemen. Jack Crowder

    • Street dances were held on main street in downtown Pelly.

    • John Wayne's 'Hell Fighters' was partially filmed on Evergreen Road.  'Robocop ll', on Texas Avenue, and 'Silkwood' with Merryl Streep and Cher was shot with the Exxon backdrop on Ashby Street, in Wooster.

    • The Baytown-La Porte tunnel was to be cut in 3 pieces, raised to the surface with air, and towed to the Gulf to be sunk as an artificial reef. The real possibility of it sinking and blocking the ship Channel changed this idea. Instead, it was demolished.

    • The Fred Hartman Bridge is named after the publisher and editor of the newspaper 'Baytown Sun' and formally opened September 30th, 1995 almost exactly 10 years after it was approved.

    • Residents of Pelly were known as Pelly Rats, the origin of which is unknown at this time.

    • Hurricane Carla hit Baytown in 1961, Hurricane Alicia came in 1983.

    • Jennifer Garner Affleck (Actor), Joe Tex (singer), Gary  Busey (Actor), Blue Deckert (actor), and Bobby Fuller (singer),   Buddy Ace-The Silver Fox of the Blues, and Mean Gene Kelton and 'the Die Hards' are all from Baytown.  The popular Country Western singer, Joe Stampley, also went to school here. I was friends with him at Cedar Bayou Junior High in 1957 or so ("Dandy" Don Cunningham).

    • When the Tri-cities consolidated, many streets were renamed.

    • The name Baytown was first applied to the area around 1859.

    • Early industries were ship-building, cotton, ranching, rice farming, and brick making.

    • The first successful oil well was established in the Goose Creek (located in Pelly) oil field in 1907.

    • Between 1912 and 1925, the Goose Creek oil field produced over 53 million barrels of oil (53,373,391), making it the fourth largest oil producer in the State of Texas.

    • In 1920 the Tri-City area numbered a couple of hundred people.  By 1928, it grew to almost 20,000.

    • Civil War Veterans buried in Baytown found in the Cedar Bayou Masonic Cemetery.

    • At least 4 Civil War Veterans buried in Magnolia cemetery off of 3rd Street and Fayle Street. Charles Swick

    • Renee Zellweger, Oscar winner in 2003 for her supporting role in “Cold Mountain,” was an Oscar nominee for best actress in 2001 for “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and for “Chicago” in 2002. Her family once lived in Chaparral Village in Baytown. Renee attended Stephen F. Austin Elementary School, belonged to a Brownie Scout Troop and attended Trinity Episcopal Church. W. Orton

    • Gary Busey — born in Goose Creek’s Lillie-Duke Hospital, 1944 — was nominated in 1978 for best actor in “The Buddy Holly Story,” best picture of the year. Even before he became famous, Sun staffers kept up with Gary‘s career through his aunt Zenobia Booth. Nobie frequently brought club news to The Sun newsroom and the conversation often led to her sister’s son. The former Virginia Arnett, Gary’s mom graduated from Robert E. Lee High School where she was a member of the Lee Brigadiers.(Gary mentioned that once on the Johnny Carson Show.) She later worked as a secretary in the office at REL. W. Orton
       

Much of the information on this page comes from the excellent book 'Baytown Vignettes', or 'The History of Baytown'  available at Sterling Municipal Library and the Baytown Historical Museum located at 220 W. Defee. *information on Buddy Ace supplied by Mean Gene Kelton 

 

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