1800 - 1868 (68 years)
||Simon W. Wiess |
||Jan 01, 1800
- His birthplace is listed as Warsaw, Poland on his daughter Pauline's death certificate (informant was grandson Harry C. Wiess).
||Sep 30, 1850
||Jasper county, Texas, USA 
||Jul 28, 1860
||Newton, Jasper county, Texas, USA 
||Aug 13, 1868
||Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA
||Wiess Cemetery, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA
- Born in 1800 to middle-class parents of German origin, Simon Wiess left Lublin, Poland at sixteen years of age and went to sea to make his fortune. (In 1800, Poland was in turmoil and Lublin belonged to the Austrian empire.) Family tradition has it that Simon Wiess was the third or fourth son in a Jewish family and therefore wasn't entitled to any inheritance. We are told he was given a ship when he was fifteen (1815) and he began his extensive travels which continued up until about 1830.
His great admiration for Napoleon Bonaparte causes us to wonder if he ever met Napoleon or perhaps one of his lieutenants. Though the record of his travels is sparse, we know he was in Constantinople, April 2, 1825 and later that year was in Asia Minor. Napoloeon was defeated and exiled to Elba in April of 1814. He retook Paris in March of 1815, leading to his rule of "One Hundred Days". His defeat at Waterloo was decisive, and he again abdicated and surrendered to the British in June of 1815. (This is about the time Simon left home to go to sea.) He was exiled to Saint Helena, an Island in the South Atlantic West of Africa, where he died six years later in 1821.
Simon Wiess had been sailing since he was 15. Andre Massena died when Simon was 17 and Napoleon died when he was 21.
He visited many places in Europe, Asia Minor (Turkey), the West Indies, Central and South America, and Mexico. He traveled extensively in the United States and lived for a time in Louisiana before making Texas his home. He could read, write and speak fluently seven languages. He is said to have owned several sailing vessels and engaged in the trade between New England and the West Indies.
Records of his travels can be found in Masonic records, for he was a Royal Arch Mason at Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), April 2, 1825, and went to Asia Minor (now Turkey) the same year where he held a prominent position in the Masonic circles. His first recorded visit to the United States was on February 22, 1826, when he visited the Mt. Lebanon Lodge in Boston Massachusetts. He was in Santo Domingo on August 17 1828, where he participated with the Masonic fraternity. He visited the Albion Lodge at Barbados, West Indies, and received the degree of Past Master. On the ninth of May, 1829, he visited the Amity Lodge _______ on the registry of the Right worshipful G.L. of Ireland. On May 11 1829, he visited the Integrity Lodge number 259 at _______ and there received Mark Master degree. June 2 1829, he visited Union Lodge No. 462 at Georgetown Demarara, and we find that in 1840 he visited Galveston and participated with Harmony Lodge No. 6. In 1847, he met with DeWitt Clinton Lodge No. 129 in Jasper County, Texas. Two years later, on April 17 1849, he met with the Woodville, Texas Lodge.
Jim Sturrock wrote "according to the meeting records of Milam Lodge # 2 (Originally Louisiana Lodge # 41) that Simon was the first Tiler and later was a member of the Jasper lodge. William Sturrock leased the top floor of his store building to the lodge. William and Simon were character witnesses for Sam Houston in a civil trial. These things we read and copied at Nacogdoches." "We have heard that Simon brought the papers granting lodge status to Texas' Holland Lodge #1 also known as LA lodge # 40 and gave them to Sam Houston who had them in his saddle bags at San Jacinto. We are not sure of the latter, only heard them."
One account says he was the first member of the Jewish faith to reside in Jefferson County, though he was never known to practice his religion in Texas -- especially after marrying Margaret Sturrock, a Scotch Presbyterian. Margaret was plagued with chills and fever and Simon looked for another place to be their home, settling at what is now known as Wiess' Bluff.
An admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, he named his first son for him and he named his youngest son for Napoleon's lieutenant, Massena. Family lore also says he brought acorns from the oak trees planted around Napoleon's grave to plant in America, but the evidence says that his son Mark brought the acorns, probably to honor his father's memory. It is said he became a Christian when he settled in Southeast Texas where he was scorned and distrusted by the people there until they came to respect him as a man of honor.
Simon Wiess first visited Texas in 1833 and by 1836 was Deputy Collector of Customs for the Republic of Texas near Camp Sabine, a military post of the United States located on the east side of the river in Louisiana. The customs station was at Sabinetown, on the Texas side of the river near Milam, some 135 miles upriver from Sabine Pass. It has since been covered by Toledo Bend reservoir.
He purchased the Old Stone Fort built by the Spaniards in 1779 and operated a trading post in it. William Sturrock later purchased the fort from Simon. The fort has been rebuilt and is now a tourist attraction in Nacogdoches.
He became a Neches River cotton broker at Wiess Bluff, Jasper County, in December 1839 after having operated unsuccessful stores at Nacogdoches, Beaumont, and Port Neches between 1836 and 1839.
In 1840, he loaned Sherod and Solomon Wright $500, presumably for improvements to their settlement at Pinetucky, which ran along the Wiess Bluff-Jasper Road near Sherod Wright's homestead. Pinetucky was later named Magnolia Springs.
By 1843 he was operating a peck mill at Wiess' Bluff to chip the bark from logs and square the timbers. It was the beginning of the area's early lumber business, which would make his sons and other Beaumonters wealthy. Just before the turn of the century, his sons owned the Reliance Lumber Company which was soon cutting 20 to 50 million feet of lumber per year -- the largest enterprise in Beaumont and one of the largest sawmills in the world.
He was appointed postmaster at the post office in Patillo, Jefferson county, Texas beginning December 9, 1852 and then, July 21, 1853, at Wiess' Bluff.
He wrote the following letter of admonition to his sons:
" Wiess' Bluff, January 1, 1866
"My dear boys:
"As you have just started in business, I think it is my duty to give you a little advice, and with the hope that you will take it, observe it, for your own good. 1st, do not force, or persuade anyone to buy your goods; 2nd, have but one price; 3rd, open no liquors to be drunk in your store; 4th, credit no one; 5th, don't make your store a harbor for loafers and idlers; 6th, spend your leisure hours in reading and in the best society; 7th, don't be discouraged even should the times be dull -- hold on and you will prosper in due time; 8th, stand to all your contracts. I have committed (in business) several errors which I hope to prevent in you, if you will avail yourselves of my advice; 9th, you will lose custom and character if you permit drinking in your establishment. These are my injunctions as well as judge Wingate's to you. Should you fail or not, heed our advice which is all intended for your good.
"In conclusion, I will say to you that my anxiety for your welfare and prosperity has prompted me to give you this advice -- I show this to your mother and she joins me in these admonitions to you and we will pray for your happiness and welfare.
"Don't hesitate to say No on all proper occasions, as it will save you many dollars and much disappointment. It is my desire that you preserve these lines as a token of admonition.
"And wishing you a happy New Year and may God bless you is the prayer of your affectionate father
No record has been found of Simon's parents or of his early years in Lublin, Poland. Pat Blue quotes Dr. Hooks' book "Be What You Seem to Be! A History of William Hooks", pp 154-155, which alleges Simon changed his last name from Weiss to Wiess. Carol Bromley, on April 26, 1999, said that Simon's family name was changed from "WIESHAUN" which means "white house", and that she was told this by Lucille McGaffey (possibly Carol's grand-aunt Lucille Wiess McGaffey?). A Simon Wietska has a birth record from Lublin Poland from the year 1800, father Simon Wietska and mother Agnes Lisouona (LDS microfilm 937, #494). The month and date are unclear, but appear to be Jan 1.)
||Dec 16, 2016 |
||Margaret (Elizabeth?) Sturrock, b. Jun 12, 1814, Dundee, Angus, Scotland , d. May 17, 1881, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA (Age 66 years) |
||Jan 06, 1836
||Natchitoches, Natchitoches parish, Louisiana, USA
- On one of his travels, Simon met a young Scottish girl, Margaret Sturrock, in Natchitoches, Louisiana and fell in love with her. At the time he was a resident of the Mexican state of Texas and serving as a customs agent there. To satisfy the Sturrock family, in December, 1835, Simon Wiess of Jasper County bonded himself to his bride's brother for $12,000, wherein he had to put up land titles equal to that amount as security. The indenture was nothing more than an early-day bond marriage, which existed in one form or another in all the frontier states and territories during the first half of the nineteenth century. Such a document guaranteed that the bridegroom could adequately support a wife. After overcoming the objections of the Sturrocks, they were married in 1836 and went to Nacogdoches, Texas to live. Not finding suitable opportunities there for investment and trade, in 1838 Simon boarded a keelboat and took his family and the first commercial load of cotton ever transported down the Neches River to Sabine Pass. He sold the cotton in New Orleans and settled his family at Grigsby's Bluff. In 1840, he moved to Grant's Bluff, at the head of a dry river navigation on the Neches river not far from where Village Creek enters it. His general store soon became a fixture among Neches River traders who began calling the location Wiess' Bluff in his honor and that is what it is called to this day. In addition to his store, he built warehouses and a small sawmill at the Jasper County site and took part in extensive land transactions throughout East Texas. He also helped to fund the first dredging of the Neches River channel.
Beginning in January, 1840, the annual board meetings of Sabine City Company required that the principal proprietors, Generals (Sam) Houston and Sidney Sherman and Colonels Philip Sublett and George W. Hockley, attend, either in person or by agent, at Sabine Pass. The Neches River was their main travel artery to that point and Wiess Bluff was a favorite stopover. (excerpt: "From Cotton Bales to Black Gold")
Simon and Margaret built their home at Wiess' Bluff in the fall of 1858 and by 1860 Simon had an estate valued at $30,000. Their home at Wiess' Bluff was occupied by the family well into the twentieth century but it is presently owned by J.C. Chance of Beaumont. Miss Florence Stratton, in her book "The Story of Beaumont" described the Wiess home this way: "The house is situated on a bluff overlooking the Neches on two sides, with a porch 75 feet long, extending its length. A bannister railing is attached by hooks to the gallery, so that it may be let down and used as a shelf for airing mattresses, blankets and quilts. At one end and entirely separate except for a covered passage, are the dining room and kitchen."
" The house has six large rooms, built on either side of a great hall, in addition to kitchen, dining room and two store rooms. A den flanked with stuffed animals that were killed at the Bluff is an interesting feature; then, too, there is the old wooden bucket with cover and gourd, that is kept filled with water from one of the three cisterns on the place that contains cooler water than the others."
" Old-fashioned heavy beds, with testers, marbletopped tables, a grandfather’s clock, walnut highboys, tall glass candle shades to keep the wind from blowing out the lights, are some of the prize possessions of this home."
" The flower garden, quaint and orderly, has been retained practically as it was originally planned. All the walks are borderd by yellow stone quart bottles that came from abroad, and massive liveoak trees shade the yard. Pink crepe myrtle, red roses, gladioli and bachelor button flaunt their loveliness in the old-fashioned garden that radiates an air of romance of bygone days."
From the diary of his friend and contemporary, Adolphus Sterne (McDonald, Archie P., ed. Hurrah for Texas! The Diary of Adolphus Sterne, 1836-1851. Austin: Eakin, 1986):
On page 85, it reads as follows:
Friday, 11th March 1842 "Gave to Simon Wiess my Headright League title to have it recorded in Liberty County, the Original County in which said Land was Originally Located. I send previously a Certified Copy of my Headright Title to Jasper thinking it in that County. I never heard any thing from it since I send it down & am afraid some rascality has been done by someone, at least my not hearing of my Title makes me believe so at least."
On page 203:
Friday, the 22nd, 1844 "- the western mail arrived for the first time under the new contract - brought several letters etc. one for myself from the County Clerk of Liberty County telling me he did not receive my Deed for my head right for record, so that the old scamp Weiss has not given my Deed for my head right to be recorded as agreed upon - it serves me right I knew he is a Damned Scamp and ought not to have trusted him."
On page 231:
Monday, the 28th, 1851 "Translated a deed for Simon Weiss - Lodge met, was up till Midnight."
Census data for the Wiess families:
1850 census, Jasper county, enumerated 30, Sept., 1850, dwelling 76, family 77, p. 225, roll M432_912
Simeon WIESS, 51, M, trader, 10,000, Poland
Margarett WIESS, 31, F,, Scotland
Paulina WIESS, 11, F,, Texas
Napoleon WIESS, 12, M, do
Mark Pole WIESS, 8, M, do
William WIESS, 8, M, do
Valentine WIESS, 6, M, do
Messina WIESS, 1, M, do
Adeline JACK, 21, F, Louisiana
James REESE, 24, M, Tennessee
1860 census, TX, Jasper, Newton P.O., p 17, (M653-1298, p 393), July 28
-- HH 106 Wm BROWN, 33, NC
-- HH 107 Wm SPIER, 44, $500, GA
-- HH 108 Soloman WISHAND, 36, $50, MN
-- HH 109 William SMITH, 34, $200, AR
-- HH 110
S G WIES, 59, M, merchant, $15000, $15000, Poland
Margaret WIES, 46, F, Scotland
N WIES, 21, M, domestic, TX
Mark WIES, 17, M, domestic, TX
William WIES, 17, M, domestic, TX
Valentine WIES, 16, M, domestic, TX
Mesena WIES, 10, F, domestic, TX
Adaline DOER, 26, F, LA
-- HH 111, Solon SMITH, 55, $700, IN
-- HH 112 A.J. TAYLOR, 45, $10000, $18000, GA
1870 census, TX, Jasper, sub 23, p 29; 497
July 16, 1870; lines 1-7; HH 213/214
WIESS, Margaret; 56, F, W, Keeping House; Scotland
WIESS, Valentine; 24, M, W, Dry Goods Merchant; Texas
WIESS, Mary E.; 19; F, W, Texas (this is Mary E. Herring, Valentine's wife)
WIESS, Massena, 21, M, W, Dry Goods Merchant, Texas
WIESS, Elizabeth E., F, W, 19, F, W, Texas (this is Elvira Elizabeth Janes, Massena's wife)
WIESS, Ann E., 18, F, B, Domestic Servant, Texas
Burks, James, 18, M, W, Farm Laborer; South Carolina
Two homesteads away is the family of Joseph WIESS, born North Carolina.
. . . who is this family ? They are listed as mulatto.
... lines 16-22; dwelling/family 217/217
WIESS, Joseph, 27, M, M, North Carolina
WIESS, Catherine, 21, F, M, Texas
WIESS, Matilda, 6, F, M, Texas
WIESS, Laura, 5, F, M, Texas
WIESS, Milton, 4, M, M, Texas
WIESS, Kittie (?), 2/12, F, M, Texas
WIESS, Julius, 2/12, M, M, Texas
And, three more households down, is Simon and Margaret's eldest son, Napoleon:
... lines 29-34; dwelling/family
WIESS, Napoleon, 31, M, W, Steamboat Captain, $400, $2000, Texas
WIESS, Cynthia, 24, F, W, Keeping House, Arkansas
WIESS, William S., 8, M, W, Texas
WIESS, Edward S., 6, M, W, Texas
WIESS, Martha A. 4, F, W, Texas
WIESS, Margaret, 2, F, W, Texas
Cynthia A. WIESS, Jasper county, E.D. 39, p. 164
Maassino WIESS, Williamson county, E.D. 162, p. 562
Mark WIESS, Jefferson county Beaumont, p. 174
Verret M. WIESS, Williamson county, E.D. 162, p. 562
1880 census, Jasper county, Texas, enumeration district 39, precinct 4
pg. 164B (pg. 12), microfilm Series T9, Roll 1313
enumerated June 15, 1880
lines 30-37, dwelling/household 99/99
WIESS, Cynthia A., W, F, 34, widowed, keeping house, AR, AR, AR
WIESS, William S., W, M, 17, son, mail carrier, TX, TX, AR
WIESS, Margarett I, W, F, 11, daughter, 1, at home, TX, TX, AR
WIESS, Walter, W, M, 5, son, single, TX, TX, AR
PICKEL, Thomas R, W, M, 30, boarder, single, rafting timber, GA, NC, GA
McVAY, Isabele, W, F, 30, boarder, widowed, TX, NC, Ireland
McVAY, Robert L, W, M, 9, boarder, TX, Ireland, TX
McVAY, Mary E, W, F, 3, boarder, TX, Ireland, TX
(There is no indication of the marital status of William -- he married Amy Sims circa 1880, but she is not living with them if they're married at the time of the census.)
lines 38-41; dwelling/household 100/100
???, Joe, B, M, 35, farmer, NC, NC, ??
???, Lossia(?), B, F, 40, wife, keeping house, Gia, Gia, Gia
SAUNDERS, Matilda, B, F, 18, Ward, at home, TX, NC, MS
SAUNDERS, Lossia, B, F, 15, ward, at home, TX, NC, MS
lines 42-44; dwelling/household 101/101
WIESS, Margaret, W, F, 65, widowed, merchant, Scotland, Scotland, Scotland
COFFIN, Pauline, W, F, 40, daughter, widowed, keeping house, TX, Poland, Scotland
SAUNDERS, James W, W, M, 40, single, boarder, clerk in store, FL, GA, GA
lines 45-47; dwelling/household 102/102
PIERCE, Aaron, W, M, 65, widowed, farmer, MS, TN, TN
PIERCE, Thomas, W, M, 7, son, TX, MS, IL
MILLER, John N, W, M, 46, working in farm, Via, Via, Via
lines 48-50; dwelling/household 103/103
FIELDER, Em??? R, W, M, 45, works in timber ???, AL, AL, GA
FIELDER, Martha A.R., W, F, 18, wife, keeping house, LA, AL, AL
FIELDER, Early P, W, M, 2, son, TX, AL, LA
The Wiess cotton gin had been operated by W. P. Herring as far back as 1851, and after 1860, by J. J. Herring and Company, a partnership which also included Otto and Charles H. Ruff.
Wiess's Bluff, also known as Wiess Bluff Community, is on Farm Road 1131 fifteen miles north of Beaumont in the extreme southwestern corner of Jasper County. The site, on the east bank of the Neches River, was known as Grant's Bluff before Simon Wiess opened a general store there in January 1840. Although Wiess's Bluff was a failure as a town site, it proved a tremendous business success for the Wiess store. At the head of low-water navigation on the Neches River and at the southern terminus of the Jasper-Wiess's Bluff road, the location drew most of the Neches River valley trade during the mid-nineteenth century. Steamboats plying the Neches and farmers throughout the area used the warehouses and store built by Wiess for their imported goods and cotton exports. During the Civil War, the Confederacy made Wiess's Bluff a depot for military stores and supplies.
Wiess, Texas was a switch and flag stop on the Texas and New Orleans Railroad seven miles southeast of Kountze in Hardin County. It was named by the Sabine and East Texas Railroad (which was co-founded by Simon Wiess) in 1880 for Mark, Valentine and William Wiess whose Reliance Lumber Company loaded logs at the point. The Reliance Mill was once the largest yellow pine lumber mill in the world. Scott Sturrock sturrock-at-marinemwr.or.jp> wrote "Simon Weiss and Wm. Sturrock at one time owned the Old Stone Fort in Nacogdoches which is now a state historical site".
During an interview with Arthur Coffin of Wiess Bluff in 1973, historian W.T. Block was informed that Sam Houston spent the night on two occasions at the old Simon Wiess home there, Wiess Bluff being an old steamboat stop on the Neches River, sixteen miles north of Beaumont. Wiess had known Houston in Nacogdoches as early as 1835. Coffin's grandmother, Mrs. Pauline Wiess Coffin, was born in Nacogdoches in 1837, but she had lived in the old Wiess home for ninety years, from 1840 until 1930. She could remember General Houston from days when she was a little girl. However, the times that he visited there must have been subsequent to 1846. Steamboat passenger service on the Neches did not begin until 1846, the year that the "Angelina" made its maiden voyage from Pattonia, Nacogdoches County, to Sabine Pass. Occasionally, deep-sea schooners may have traveled as far inland as Wiess Bluff, but generally wind velocity sufficient to fill schooner sails ended whenever the timberline was reached.
As early as March 25, 1861, when Jasper county's "Red Star Guard Rifles of Texas" organized at Wiess Bluff, the four oldest Wiess sons enlisted. Napoleon was elected first lieutenant; Mark was elected third corporal; William Wiess was appointed as secretary, to conform to the militia's company's constitution; and Valentine Wiess became drummer. Then on September 20, 1861, Mark and William Wiess, followed by Napoleon on July 3, 1862, and then Valentine, enlisted in Captain O.M. Marsh's cavalry Company A, Spaight's Battalion, at Sabine.
Beginning in May, 1863, the Wiess brothers (with the exception of Massena, who was only 13) took part in an 8-months campaign in Louisiana, and helped Confederate General Taylor's army to stem Union General Nathaniel Banks's first attempt to invade Texas. At its high water mark, Taylor's Atchafalaya River drive carried as far inland as Opelousas, Louisiana, before Banks chose to retreat.
Five of Colonel Ashley Spaight's companies fought in this campaign, although the Wiess brothers' company was detached, fighting as infantry, to Colonel George W. Baylor's Second Cavalry Regiment, Arizona Brigade.
The brothers fought at a number of Louisiana battles, particularly the Battles of Calcasieu Pass, Fordoche Bayou, and Bayou Bourbeau. A collection of their civil war letters is at the Rosenberg Library of Galveston.
For an example of one of those letters see the letter from Napoleon Wiess to his mother written shortly after the Battle of Bayou Bourbeau (or Boggy Creek), fought on November 3, 1863, seven miles from Opelousas, Louisiana (see in notes on Napoleon Wiess).
Wiess' Bluff served the Confederacy as a military depot, soldiers being stationed there and Confederate military goods being stored there.
Simon Wiess also left one of the best descriptions of Wiess' Bluff in an article written for the Texas Almanac in 1859, a part of which is quoted as follows:
"Wiess Bluff is situated on the Neches River, in Jasper county, fifty miles below the town of Jasper, and sixteen miles above the town of Beaumont; it is at the head of tide water. I have resided here with my family for nearly nineteen years. I believe this to be a very healthy section of the country -- so much so, that we have never had occasion to employ a physician. This is a timbered country, and consists of a considerable variety, but in the immediate neighborhood, it is mostly pine and cypress. This soil is thin, but it rests on a good clay foundation and most of it is susceptible to cultivation; the farms are generally small in the immediate neighborhood, but stock-raising is the principal occupation of the inhabitants . . .
When I first settled this place in 1839, the shipment of cotton that year consisted of fourteen or sixteen bales, but it has been increasing steadily until now; as near as I can judge of the quantity that went down (Neches River) last fall and this spring, it cannot be short of 7,000 bales, besides hides, peltries, tobacco, and lumber . . ."
The Texas Historical marker (# 10467) for Wiess' Bluff reads: "Wiess Bluff; End of tidewater navigation of Neches River; called Grant's Bluff in 1840, when Niles f. smith laid out town and Simon Wiess (1800-68) built wharf and warehouses to ship area products downriver. Post office, established in 1847 at Pattillo's, in Jefferson County, was moved here July 21, 1853. Area flourished about 1885, when J. G. Smyth & Co. built tram roads into forest and began to cut timber. Beaumont Lumber Co. bought out Smyth in 1888. As good timberland dwindled after 1900, local population declined. The Wiess Bluff Post Office closed Sept. 15, 1908." It is located 394910E 3347876W about 6.5 mi. south of Evadale on FM 1131.
The settlement called Pinetucky was also associated with the Wiess family. The Texas Historical marker (# ) reads: "Pinetucky; Name originally applied to widely scattered settlement astride Wiess Bluff-Jasper Road. First settlers, Alexander and Sherod Wright, came into area about 1824. Magnolia Springs Post Office opened at this site in 1850; within a few years the community had a store, church, and grist mill on Wright's (later Mill) Creek; a mill and tannery were on nearby Tanyard Branch. Texas Tram & Lumber Co. had extensive logging operation in area in 1880s-90s. Decline began with arrival of the railroad in Kirbyville, 1895. Post office was moved to present site in 1905." It can be found by going from Kirbyville via FM 1013 W 9 mi.; then north on FM 1005 1.4 mi. Lat/long 401282E 3398552N.
After Simon Wiess' death in 1868, Margaret Wiess continued to operate the family business with the help of her younger sons Valentine and Massena. In the 1870 census, both were listed as dry goods merchants, residing at Wiess' Bluff.
A Joseph Wiess family with five children lived at Wiess' Bluff in 1870, but this family's origins in North Carolina suggest that no kinship was involved.
Of his sons, Napoleon died at 33 of pneumonia. The other sons all became quite wealthy in their own rights, first in lumber and then in oil. Mark was an inventor and lumberman. William was one of the first investors in the Texas Oil Company (Texaco) and his son, Harry Carrothers Wiess, was a founder and president of Humble Oil Company. Valentine became a merchant and banker and, at the time of his death in 1913, was the largest taxpayer on Beaumont's tax rolls. Valentine's daughter later donated Wiess Park to the city of Beaumont. Massena was a businessman in Round Rock, Texas.
The Gulf, Beaumont and Great Northern Railroad was chartered on July 30, 1898. Intended to begin a mile south of Sabine Pass and to run north to Paris in Lamar County, for a distance of about 350 miles at a cost of $350,000. The members of the first board of directors were Nathaniel D. Silsbee of Boston, Massachusetts; James Irvine of New York City; John H. Kirby of Houston; and William A. Fletcher, William Wiess, Mark Wiess, W. S. Davidson, William W. Wilson, and W.C. Averill, all of Jefferson County, with the principal place of business in Beaumont.
The McFaddin-Wiess-Kyle rice canal was constructed in 1900. The Beaumont Pasture company was created March 14 1878, the members being William McFaddin, C.C. Caswell, O.M. Kyle, Valentine Wiess, and Samuel Lee. In 1901, the J.M. Guffey Petroleum Company was organized with the backers being Andrew and Richard Mellon, W.P.H. McFaddin, Valentine Wiess, Robert and Hal W. Gree, and J.C. Campbell. They were stockholders as well.
Wiess Bluff Post Office -- Postmasters (http://www.rootsweb.com/~txpost/jasper.html ):
- Wiess, Simon, 21 Jly 1853
Discontinued 23 Jan 1867
- (Re-established) Coffin, Miss Mary, 21 Aug 1868
- Sanders, Jas. W., 19 May 1873
- Wiess, Mrs. Margaret, 6 May 1878
- Sanders, Jas. W., 2 Jun 1881
- Conn, Ruffin C., 27 Sep 1890
- Carroll, Joe E., 24 Aug 1892
- Beaumont, Jacob, 25 Apr 1893
- Sanders, Jas. W., 18 May 1903
Discontinued 15 Sep 1908; mail to Beaumont
During the 1870's William and Valentine Wiess formed a partnership with their wives' uncle, William McFaddin, and with Dr. Obadiah Kyle (their wives' brother-in-law), known as the Beaumont Pasture Company, whose purpose was to purchase land and cattle in South Jefferson county. Although William Wiess left it, the partnership continued on as McFaddin, Wiess, Kyle Land and Trust Company (upon which land the Spindletop oil gusher blew in, in 1901) and later as McFaddin, Wiess, Kyle Rice Milling Company.
The heyday of Beaumont's steam sawmilling epoch can be said to date from December 12, 1878, when the Reliance Lumber Company officially organized, and full control of which passed to the Wiess brothers.
Following the deaths of Dr. Kyle in 1879 and William McFaddin in 1898, ownership in these firms was transferred to their respective sons, W. W. Kyle and W. P. H. McFaddin. The marriage of Massena Wiess' daughter Clyde, of Luling, in March, 1899 to Obadiah's son, W. W. Kyle, was a social event of that season.
The Wiess brothers founded the Magnolia Cemetery at Beaumont, where many of the family members are buried.
SPINDLETOP: An Austrian born mining engineer, Captain Anthony F. Lucas, had heard of Spindletop Hill while developing salt mines in Louisiana. After traveling to Beaumont he became convinced that there was oil at Spindletop and leased land from the Gladys Company in 1899. When his first attempt failed, Lucas was ready to quit until his wife urged him to seek outside financing and try again. Lucas went to the famous Pittsburgh wildcatting team of James Guffey and John Galey. They were interested in Lucas' prospects and approached Andrew Mellon for money to continue the operations. Guffey and Galey hired the Hamill Brothers of Corsicana, Texas, the best rotary drillers available. Al and Curt Hamill arrived in Beaumont and began drilling on the adjoining McFaddin-Wiess & Kyle tract of land in October of 1900. In spite of tremendous difficulties they reached 1,000 feet by Christmas. After returning from the holidays they encountered new problems. Upon reaching solid rock their drill lodged in a crevice at 1,060 feet. At approximately 10: 30 A.M. on January 10, 1901, while attempting to free their drill from the crevice, the famous Lucas Gusher blew. Oil sprayed over 100 feet above the derrick for nine days until the well was capped. It was the greatest oil well ever seen. Although Lucas estimated its flow at 6,000 barrels per day it was actually flowing 80,000 to 100,000 barrels per day. No longer was Pattilo Higgins laughingly called the "Millionaire." Practically overnight thousands of sightseers, speculators, promoters, fortune seekers and "boomers" poured into the small town as news of the discovery spread. By 1902, 285 active wells were operating on Spindletop Hill. Over 600 oil companies had been chartered. Although most vanished overnight some, such as the Texas company (Texaco), J.M. Guffey Petroleum Company (Gulf), Magnolia Petroleum Company (Mobil) and Sun Oil Company went on to become giants in the industry. The Lucas Gusher marked the beginning of a new age for the world - the Petroleum Age. Although Pennsylvania was the location of the first commercial oil well and Russia could claim the first gushers, the vast quantities of oil discovered at Spindletop first made possible the use of oil as an inexpensive, lightweight and efficient fuel to propel the world into the twentieth century.
|+||1. Pauline "Sissy" Wiess, b. May 14, 1837, Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches county, Texas, USA , d. Dec 13, 1930, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA (Age 93 years)|
|+||2. Capt. Napoleon Bonaparte "Nap" Wiess, CSA, b. Mar 10, 1839, Port Neches, Jefferson county, Texas, USA , d. Mar 12, 1872, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA (Age 33 years)|
|+||3. Marco Polo "Mark" Wiess, CSA, b. Oct 23, 1842, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA , d. Jul 01, 1910, Beaumont, Jefferson county, Texas, USA (Age 67 years)|
|+||4. William A. Wiess, CSA, b. Oct 23, 1842, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA , d. Jun 12, 1914, Beaumont, Jefferson county, Texas, USA (Age 71 years)|
|+||5. Valentine Wiess, CSA, b. Jul 27, 1845, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA , d. Jul 30, 1913, Goliad county, Texas, USA (Age 68 years)|
|+||6. Massena Wiess, b. Jul 27, 1849, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA , d. Jun 22, 1921, Beaumont, Jefferson county, Texas, USA (Age 71 years)|
- [S73] Hooks, Dr. H.A., 154-155.
- [S75] From Cotton Bales to Black Gold.
- [S197] Hurrah for Texas! The Diary of Adolphus Sterne, 18, pp. 85, 203, 231.
- [S608] Matheson-McFarland, Lottie Elma (Sturrock).
family group sheets received from Lucille July 2001
- [S6] Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas, J.H. Brown.
- [S1005] Yesterdays, Nacogdoches Genealogical Society.
- [S2126] Napoleon Bonaparte Wiess; W.T. Block, http://hans.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/n_b_wiess.htm.
- [S2127] Beaumont's Fabulous Wiess Brothers: Business Leaders of early Beaumont, http://hans.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/wiess.htm.
- [S2128] A Brief History of Wiess Bluff, Texas.
- [S2131] Early Beaumont Jewish Community 3, http://hans.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/jewishcommunity/page3.htm.
- [S4251] 1850 US federal census, 1850 census, TX, Jasper, Sept. 30, 1850, HH 76/77, p. 225, roll M432-912.
- [S136] 1860 US federal census, 1860 census, TX, Jasper, Newton P.O., p 17, (M653-1298, p 393), July 28.