Sapphire City
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Sapphire City of the Neches

A Brief History of Port Neches from Wilderness to Industrialization

This book was originally published in 1987 and has recently been published on Amazon in two formats: Kindle eBook and Hard Cover.

Link to Amazon


I have known since childhood that Port Neches has a fabulous history. On one occasion, my father pointed out to me, in front of the Texaco Offices, that my grandfather’s Confederate Artillery Company, Co. B of Spaight’s Battalion, once guarded the lower Neches River while they were stationed at Fort Grigsby. However, he never once mentioned to me that, as a boy, he had often dug arrowheads, pottery shards, and skeletons from the old Indian mounds which stood nearby. As a child, I grew up listening to stories about life in early-day Port Neches before 1900; of wild boars once so plentiful that they attacked farm laborers in the fields; and the never-ending tales of the gold hunters who sought Lafitte’s treasures along the Neches River’s bluffs and shell banks.

During the 1920’s, I saw twelve-foot-high stacks of moonshine stills, which the sheriff stored sometimes on our farm at the Oak Bluff Cemetery, and which had been captured by law enforcement agents or Federal ‘Revenoors’ along the river. I saw the extreme poverty of the “river rats” who lived in the houseboats along the river, and the depths of despair and impoverishment suffered by many families during the Great Depression, who sometimes went years without employment. I straddled the long rows of corn, beans, and potatoes on our farm at harvest time. I saw unemployed schoolteachers and engineers digging ditches and levees with shovels in 1933-1935 for the W.P.A., a Federal Make-Work Project, for $30 a month. I would often watch from some secluded spot nearby as the hooded Ku Klux read their burial rites over the grave of a fellow Klansman. I have watched Port Neches become the world’s largest asphalt producer and synthetic rubber complex. All in all, I saw much about old Port Neches that logic tells me should be preserved for posterity. I hope you enjoy reading some part of it.

First Pages

The book was written before WT had access to a computer so there are no original computer files to use as a resource to recreate the book. To republished the book, I scanned the book and published it as a "Print Replica" in Amazon terms.

NOTE: Print replicas are not fully functional as Kindle eBooks:

  1. Not compatible with Kindle e-reader (requires PC, Android, or iOS application to view).

  2. Print Replica versions are scanned images and the font size cannot be changed. Text in these books can still be selected and searched on like the fully functional Kindle versions.

The following images represent the beginning of the book in order to see what the scanned book looks like inside.

--William T. Block III (WT's son)

Copyright © 1998-2024 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
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