Katy... A Proud History
(Editor 's Note: The historical information included in the following article was compiled from A History of Katy by Susan DeVries Barwis, who acknowledged the help of Mrs. L Rylander, granddaughter of Mr. John Henry Wright and Pauline Dorothy Schlipf)
If you had come in 1875 to live where Katy is today, you would have found no town and no railroad. One family was here. Thomas and Mary Robinson had 200 acres of land on the Cane island branch of Buffalo Bayou. They came in 1872. Fifteen years later. Peter Black and his wife Ophelia bought land and moved out from Addicks. These families farmed quietly until 1895 when it seemed that a lot of people suddenly decided Cane Island Texas would be a good place to settle.
Why did this area seem to he a good place to settle? Two main reasons -- first, people wanted to farm land; second, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad was completed, and it was easier for people to get to the area, and easier to get farm products to market.
What did the people find when they arrived? The arriving people found rich farmland. The land was flat and seemed to go on forever. The prairie was covered with tall, flowing grass as high as a man on horseback.
Who came to settle the land? The first family of the 1895 group of new settlers arrived on Christmas Day in 1894. Mr. William Pitt, his wife Lella and their three children came from the town of Pattison, Teas. In 1895 many more families came to find new farms and new lives. The Peeks came from Indiana and Iowa to farm and run dairies. The Stuarts and the Danovers came from Iowa The Beckendorff's came from Pattison to farm. Mr. Cabiness came then, too. He worked for the railroad as the depot agent. He also built a lumberyard, milled rice bought and sold the farmer's peanuts and helped start the Apostolic Faith Church in 1905.
One very important person to come this year was Mr. James Oliver Thomas, who came from Mississippi. He bought 320 acres of land and laid out the town site of Katy in 1895. Mr. Thomas set aside land for two parks -- one on Cane Island Creek and the other was the town square.
The year 1896 saw more arrivals. The Stockdick family, the Ruskeys, Mortons, and David Peter Franz, a watchmaker. From Iowa, Mr. Stockdick was a real estate person who encouraged many more families to move to the northern areas of Katy. This was also the year that Katy is first listed in Washington, D.C. as having a post office. It is officially called Katy Texas arid Mr. J.O. Thomas was the postmaster. The post office was part of his general store.
Other key arrivals came in the form of Eule family from Germany in 1897 Mr. Eule is very special to Katy's history as he is the first person to raise rice here, the second year he dug wells to irrigate the fields, and the Eule family had a school in their home for their own children and the children of their neighbors; also. Mr. Featherston, the first pastor of the Katy Baptist Church, arrived in 1898 two families arrived on the same train in 1900, both from Germany: the Schlipf family and the Weinman family, with a school built on Schlipf land, which children attended until it closed in 1918, when the Katy Independent School District was formed. Many of these early arrivals raised rice. Other raised peanuts and cotton.
Many people in Katy date events in the town "before" and "after: the storm. The hurricane of September 8, 1900 that destroyed most of Galveston Island also destroyed most of the buildings in Katy. The only buildings not damaged in any way were the homes of J.H. Wright and Mr. Featherston. These homes are still in Katy. After the storm, Katy rebuilt and continued to grow. The main industry was rice farming, and a gas field was discovered in 1934 west of town. Many wells were dug and a refining plant was built. These industries are an important part of the town today.
Today, living in the Katy area means an escape from the hustle and bustle of the Houston scene. Katy offers the charm of a small town, or the sophistication of suburbia. Housing in Katy ranges from apartments and condominiums to large estate homes with acreage to enjoy and maintain horses. Others have championship golf courses in their backyard. Subdivisions abound with tennis courts, swimming pools, and endless amenities for residents.
Fully planned communities, which feature areas of shopping centers, spacious plazas, and every convenience that enhances community living lead the way to future growth in an exciting and efficient style. With the various stages of housing available, no matter what the size of the checkbook, one can find living in Katy easy and affordable. But a residency in a community is only half of being a part of the life in that community. Katy has so much more, to offer in many churches, clubs and organizations to fit one's preference for a complete lifestyle.
Katy is historically an agricultural area with rice the major crop, and soybeans having been added as an alternate crop in recent years. The Katy area has been the site of one of the United States' largest gas fields since the early forties, which added greatly to the economy of the area. Most recently the development of industrial sites, both East and West of the City, and numerous retail and restaurants have joined existing businesses and added growth to the economy, as the Katy area has been among the fastest growing in the nation in terms of both residential and business growth.