The History of Alvin Texas
What started out as a small Texas cow town has grown into a community which honors the past and continues to seek new horizons. Three hundred years before settlers moved to Alvin, the Karankawa Indians roamed the Gulf Coast area and the Spaniards explored it.
Alvin’s first documented family, the Elisha Thomases, arrived in 1845 and settled near Mustang Slough south of the present Hillcrest Subdivision. During the 1860’s the Santa Fe Railroad shipped cattle from the Gulf Coast to markets in the east. Cattle holding and loading pens and a large water storage tank situated next to the railroad required an overseer. The railroad hired Alvin Morgan in 1872 to supervise activities at the stock pens.
As the area developed, more settlers moved in and he opened a general store and saloon. He later moved a box car from the railroad and converted it into a post office. The citizenry proclaimed the area a town, and when the population reached 49. they named it Morgan. However they learned that a town with that name already existed in Texas and changed its name to Alvin, still honoring their founding father.
Another noteworthy early settler was Major George W. Durant, a holder of extensive land in the area, who recognized the importance of the railroad to the growth of Alvin. He succeeded in the railroad’s designation of Alvin as a regular stop on the line.
In the 1880’s many cattlemen came to Alvin to purchase the prairie land. The area continued to prosper and the City of Alvin was incorporated in 1893.
In addition to the cattle industry, agriculture began to develop in the early 1900s. Alvin became one of the leading producers of strawberries. With the short life span of the fruit, ice was needed and blocks, cut from frozen rivers and lakes in northern states was shipped in to Alvin. Boxes were also needed to ship the strawberries and thus two businesses developed: T. J. Hicks Magnolia Warehouse and Alvin Box and Material Company. In subsequent years, oranges, pears, figs and the cape Jasmine flower were grown in Alvin.
Rice became a major agricultural commodity in the early 1930s. R. T. “Bob” Briscoe began farming and shipping rice and two rice dryers and two rice mills still exist today.
Oil was also discovered at that time, adding to Alvin’s growing economy and still plays a big part in the economy today.
The City of Alvin continues to prosper throughout the years but has not forgotten its past. The city streets themselves remind residents of the Civil War. Some north-south streets are named after confederate generals and certain east-west streets were given the names of land developers and Galveston business men, especially railroad investors.
Alvin continues to thrive because of the Texas spirit and the community pride of its citizens.