Texas City Newspapers: Preserving History One Page at a Time

Earliest Texas City Newspaper: Serving the Galveston County Mainland

It looks like the first newspaper in print in Texas City was the Texas Coast News, started in January 1895 by Arthur Keetch, a prominent attorney. Its masthead declared it was “A Weekly Publication Devoted to The Interests of the Mainland and Coast Country Between Galveston and Houston.” This set the precedent of Texas City newspapers serving the Galveston County mainland.

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Arthur Keetch (#29) was a first bass singer in the Galveston Quartette in the late 1800s.
(Galveston Quartette photo courtesy of the Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas)

A most-interesting fellow by the name of Edgar Rye took over 
the paper in September 1896 and renamed it Texas City
News. Six months later, the newspaper building located at
the corner of 5th Street and Texas Avenue was “smashed to
smithereens” by a windstorm. It is unfortunate that no copies
of the paper under Rye’s editorship have surfaced. The Texas
State Library has preserved just three copies by Keetch. In
November 1897, T. C. Rowe and Oswald Wilson purchased
the paper and the printing plant. They chose not to stay in
Texas City and moved the plant to Brazoria to begin
publishing the Brazoria Enterprise, another paper that seems
to have been lost to time.

Despite only having a few issues of the Texas Coast News
available to research, much can be ascertained about Texas
City in its infancy. The little coastal prairie township was developing quickly and was working to create
bonds with the surrounding communities.

Article written by: Brenda L. Broussard

References:
▪ The Houston Post, Sep 06, 1896.
▪ Galveston Tribune, March 29, 1897.
▪ Galveston Daily News, November 11, 1897

3 - The History of Newspapers in TC - Searching for the Truth

Part of the process of preparing our historic newspapers for digitization required that a biographical description be made for each paper.

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? You just need the dates the paper was in publication, list any name changes it may have had over the years, and include any pertinent or interesting information about the publishers or editors. Right. Shouldn’t be a problem. 

Let’s start with the oldest paper we have in the archives, the Texas City Times. Its letterhead in later years states it’s been around since June 1, 1909. But wait, Vol.1, Issue No. 1 is dated May 1, 1909. How does a paper get its own start date incorrect? Was this a mistake or a deliberate indication of some behind the scenes drama at the paper’s inception? Was it a legal matter? Did the paper change hands during those first four weeks? These are all questions that I am exploring in my research.

1909_05-01 - Texas City Times - Vol 1

1909_06-01 - Texas City Times Established Date

Then there’s the Texas City Sun. Its own published history account states it has been around since 1912 but, we only have physical proof of publication as early as 1915. The account also states that no newspapers were in print between December 30, 1916 through July 1923 in Texas City[1]. So far, we have at least one issue of the Texas City Sun published in 1920 and complete runs of The Texas City Daily Times and The Texas City Times through to July 1918 and Rosenberg Library has runs through to 1920.  These papers refute the Sun’s historic account that the paper was not in publication at that time and shows that other papers were still serving the residents of Texas City.  

These discrepancies sent me on a fact-finding mission. I combed through all of the boxes in the archives, looked through old scrapbooks, researched business licenses andArchival items property deeds, and scanned all the newspapers available online to find mention of Texas City papers.

Beginning in 1900, newspaper and magazine publication underwent a change. Syndicates and chains began to buy up serial publications across the world and streamline the publishing process. This also meant that printed information was shared more widely, so, a newspaper in Chicago was just as likely to print a story about one of its sister papers in little ol’ Texas City as it was to discuss the Second Boer War in Africa. It was while looking at other newspapers that I came across an article stating that the new Byrne Printing Company was being built in Texas City and that in 1915, the city would soon have four newspapers in publication. Four papers in one town would certainly indicate that Texas City was growing and prospering. The problem is, I can’t find that a fourth paper was ever printed. The Byrne Printing company advertised its other printing services in area newspapers, so the company did open after being built. So now, I have a new research item to add to the list of newspaper history mysteries.

(Photo Credit: Brenda L. Broussard for Moore Memorial Public Library) 


[1] Texas City Sun, Reflections: Texas City – La Marque Early 1830S -1996, (Texas City: Texas City Sun, 1996), 119.

Article written by: Brenda L. Broussard

Published: June 27,2023



2 - The Value of Yesterdays Newspapers


Yesterday’s news is today’s history, and this makes newspapers invaluable to people.

In addition to being an excellent genealogical resource for births, marriages, and deaths, the Local History Librarian has recently utilized past papers to: 

  • help identify people, buildings, and events in old photographs  
  • create local business and club history timelines  
  • search for proof of a military slave containment camp in the region; map the movements of key individuals, slaves, and freedmen during and after the Civil War help patrons research topics such as the 1947 Disaster, weather events, area murders, and the women’s suffrage movement 
  • help patrons find photos and articles about themselves when they were involved in school activities  
  • collaborate (or disprove) family stories by matching with events discussed in news articles 

 Currently, the older newspapers are being used to create a timeline of Texas City newspapers with the hope of solving the discrepancy of the publication dates of The Texas City Sun and The Texas City Times. This research is also adding to the history of the city and the people who came to live and work in Texas City.  There are many papers already available online to do your own research and exploring, but soon over 8000 additional pages of local newspapers will be available. 


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Online sites with Texas Newspapers: 

The Moore Memorial Public Library Digital Archive (texascitylibrary-archive.org

The Portal to Texas History: https://texashistory.unt.edu/explore/collections/TDNP/

Newspaper archive: https://library.texascitytx.gov/975/Access-Newspaper-Archive


Image Citations:

Civil War article, The Tri-Weekly News 2/10/1863 

Suffragist article The Texas City Star 1/9/1915  

Civic Club articles The Texas City Star 1/28/1915

Article written by: Brenda L. Broussard

Published: May 16, 2023


Saving and Sharing History - BIG


There’s a treasure hidden away in a couple dozen boxes stored in the Moore Memorial Public Library Archive: old newspapers. These newspapers date back to 1909. Some of them are in surprisingly good shape, while others are deteriorating and soon may be mere piles of dust. Most of them have reached a stage in their existence where they should not be handled too much anymore. So, the need has arisen to digitize the papers to preserve their valuable information and make them easily available to the public.

Libraries began using microfilm regularly in the 1930s to preserve newspapers mainly as a space-saving tool. An entire year’s worth of a newspaper could be stored on one reel of microfilm. Then patrons would use the microfilm readers to view the contents on the reels. This system was great — for the era. The downside to old microfilm is that the image resolution is often low, and these films are beginning to degrade and deteriorate. Skimming through microfilm reels is not very research friendly by computer-age standards. One way of making text items research-friendly is with Optical Character Recognition (OCR). However, despite it being possible (with the right equipment and software) to use microfilm images to create digitized versions with OCR, the microfilm’s low resolution usually results in a poor OCR read. This makes the original newspapers the best option for modern preservation techniques.  Technology has advanced so much, that OCR programs make most newspaper text searchable and sometimes damages can even be “repaired” in the scanned images. 

For the last few months, the Moore Memorial Public Library Archive team members have been carefully cataloging, noting conditions of each paper, tracking down missing issues, collaborating with other library archives, and preparing these old newspapers for their journey to the University of North Texas so they can be preserved through the digitization process and will soon be available for online research through The Portal to Texas History website. 

(Photo Credit: Brenda L. Broussard for Moore Memorial Public Library)

Article written by: Brenda L. Broussard

Published: February 15, 2023