How did Rockport get its name?

By KAM WAGERT
Friends of History Center for Aransas County

After the Civil War, Aransas/Refugio counties became important cattle ranching and shipping centers. In 1866, James M. Doughty, T.H. Mathis, and John M. Mathis constructed cattle pens and a long wharf which extended out into Aransas Bay from “Rocky Point.” The Rocky Point was a limestone ledge that went out to the deep-water channel in the bay. This ledge also formed a natural harbor.

Doughty got his brother and half brothers (Jeremiah and Robert Driscoll) to join the partnership. Warehouses and cattle chutes were built right on the Rocky Point, and range cattle were driven straight from the pastures onto waiting steamships. Soon, the Morgan Steamship line was sending three ships weekly to pick up cattle from the Rocky Point wharf. The ships then went to New Orleans.

There were only about 1,000 people in both Aransas and Refugio counties in 1866. The town needed a name, and the name chosen was “Rockport” - named for the limestone ridge, or Rocky Point. In 1871, Aransas County was created out of the coastal portion of Refugio County. Rockport was incorporated in 1870, and became the county seat in 1871.

In 1940, when Rockport put in its new harbor, the limestone ledge was dynamited out. The old wharf stood at the end of Wharf Street.

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The History Center for Aransas County showcases local heritage.  Outdoor and indoor exhibits tell the stories of the real people of Aransas County. The Center provides space for displays, workshops, meetings and gatherings.

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