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Capt. Napoleon Bonaparte "Nap" Wiess, CSA[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]

Male 1839 - 1872  (33 years)


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  • Name Napoleon Bonaparte "Nap" Wiess 
    Prefix Capt. 
    Suffix CSA 
    Born Mar 10, 1839  Port Neches, Jefferson county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Census Sep 30, 1850  Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [8
    Census Jul 28, 1860  Newton, Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [9
    Census Jul 16, 1870  Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [10
    Died Mar 12, 1872  Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Wiess Cemetery, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • Captain Napoleon Wiess was born at Port Neches Texas.  In his book "East Texas Mill Towns, etc" Vol II, Dr. W.T. Block, he is said to have been the first white child born in Port Neches.  His parents soon thereafter moved to the family's new home at Wiess' Bluff, where he lived the rest of his life.  He was a pioneer Neches River boatman, owning and operating two Neches River cotton steamboats: the "James L. Graham", the second largest boat of its time ever to go to as far inland as Concord, Hardin county, Texas and the "Albert Gallatin" (no. 2).  Prior to 1840 cotton was primarily shipped by wagon, but it began to increasingly be shipped by boat.
          Capt. Napoleon Wiess was one of the best-known steamboat masters to ply the Neches River, at various times in command of the sternwheelers "Adriance", "J. H. Graham" or the "Albert Gallatin." One record in Texana states that, in 1870, Captain Wiess of the "Gallatin" (an early vessel built at Beaumont) sent word ahead that "he would come and get the cotton" as soon as the river was at flood stage. It added that the "Gallatin" then docked at Boone's Ferry in Tyler county. For two days and nights, a grand ball was held aboard the steamer, while guests from as far away as Woodville and Moscow attended, "to hear the best fiddlers available."
          In January of 1863, he and his brother, William Wiess, both steamboat men on the Sabine River, were involved in the breaking of the Union blockade of Sabine Pass (January 21, 1863).  The steamboats "Josiah Bell" and "Uncle Ben" were armed with cannon and about 200 musket sharpshooters were selected by drawing straws.  Napoleon and William lost the draw so they each paid a soldier who had won the right to participate $10 to take their place. They were then detailed as sharpshooters from Co. A, Spaight's Battalion.
          Below is Napoleon Wiess' letter to his mother while serving in Louisiana in the Civil War.  In the camp were also his brothers, William and Mark Wiess and he mentions his cousins David and Peter Gellatly, sons of his mother's older sister, Nancy "Agnes" Sturrock Gellatly.  It was written from Carion Crow, Louisiana on November 12, 1863.
      " Dear mother;
          " I set myself by a little oak fire in the dark to write to you a few lines, I can hardly see so you must do the best you can about reading it ....
          " We are all around this same little fire in good health and enjoying ourselves as well as could be expected for soldiers.
          " We have had one little Battle (Battle of Carion Crow Bay) among all the little fights .... We lost 37 men killed, 60 wounded, 15 prisoners.
          " The Yankees lost 355 killed, and wounded I have no idea.  We exchanged wounded prisoners with them and had 60 more than they had and we took a receipt fore them, we also took 1,244.  Cousin David and Peter was in the fight and came out safe ..... the battleground is about 4 miles long.
          " We also captured two pieces of artillery and a great many small arms.  Some of the boys got ... clothing and a good many horses ...
          " I THINK THEY ARE leaving us as fast as they can, they have ruined this country from Opelouses down about 100 miles of very rich country .... destroyed all fences, burned and tore down a great many houses and took away all the sugar and cotton in their reach.  They also used up a great deal of corne potatose and beefe ... they paid dearly fore it ...
          " I almost forgot how you all look -- and I have not had a scratch of a pen from a Soule since i have been over here ... take care of yourselves and do the best you can...
      " Your affectionate son,
      "    Napoleon
      -----------------------------------------------------------
      " WIESS, NAPOLEON:
          " The records show that napoleon Wiess, surname also borne as Wiess Private, Company A, 11th. Battalion (Speights) Texas Volunteers (Calvary, Artillery and Infantry) Confederate States Army, enlisted at Sabine Pass July 3, 1862, age 23 years.
          " By consolidation of Organizations about November 20, 1864, he became a private of Company A, 21st Regiment, Texas Infantry, Confederate States Army.
          " His name appears on a regimental returns of the Last Names Organization for the month of March 1, 1865, which shows him "Det. service Jan. 24, 1864 Eng."
                " (Signed)
                " E.S. Adams, Major General
                " The Adjutant General
      'By S.J.R.
      -----------------------------------------------------------
      From "The Neches River Cotton Steamboats:  A Romantic Interlude Of Frontier Days",  by East Texas historian W. T. Block ( http://www.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/neches1.htm ):
          "The fact that Sabine Pass cotton shipments dropped from 20,000 bales in 1860 to 6,000 bales in 1866 reflects the adverse effect of the war on East Texas' major industry. But the Neches River cotton trade revived rapidly nevertheless, if the number of new boats on the river by 1867 is any indicator. Between 1866 and 1872, two Neches River skippers, Captains William and Napoleon Wiess brought three new packets, the "Alamo," the "Adrianne," the "James L. Graham, to the Neches River, and built a fourth boat, the "Albert Gallatin," on the banks of Brake's Bayou at Beaumont.
          "The "Graham" was probably the river's fastest packet of the post-bellum era and soon established a new 4 1/2 hour record between Beaumont and Sabine Pass. Soon after, the Sabine Pass "Beacon" ran an editorial lamenting the fact that Jefferson County had to tolerate "a contemptible pony mail to Beaumont" when much better service by water was available.
          "During the 1870s, an arch rivalry developed between Capt. Napoleon Wiess of the "Graham" and Capt. G.B. Burr of the Sabine River cotton boat, the "Era No. 8."  In May, 1873, the Beaumont "News-Beacon" carried a long account of the racing sternwheelers, and event won handily by the "Graham," which ended as follows:
          'The black smoke rose in perfect clouds, indicating an unrestricted use of pine knots. In the race from Sabine Pass, the "Era" left 56 minutes ahead of the "Graham," but as they passed up the reach below town, the "Era" was only one or 200 yards ahead. We suppose the "Era" will not give up yet, and we will have the pleasure of seeing a little more of the fun ourselves.'
          After the war, in 1866, both Napoleon and his brother, William Wiess, began their careers as steamer masters and owners on the Sabine-Neches waterways.  He may have also co-owned or captained the "Alamo" and the "Adrianne" with his brother William.  Napoleon piloted the second packet to bear the name "Albert Gallatin" up until 1870. J.P. Landers in "Valentine Burch", Texana, III (Summer 1965), pp 109-110 records "...the steamboat "Albert Gallatin", built in Beaumont, with Captain napoleon at the helm, sent word ahead when the river was at flood stage in 1870 that he would come and get the cotton.  The boat docked at Boone's Ferry for two days and a great ball was held for two nights on the upper deck, and people from 20 miles away came -- Woodville to Moscow -- by ox wagon ..."  After 1870, he became master and owner of the "James L. Graham".  His career was cut short in 1872 when he died of pneumonia at 33 years of age. His brother, William Wiess continued until 1875.  (Much of the above came from Mr. W.T. Block's book "Cotton Bales, Keelboats and Sternwheelers: A History of the Sabine River and Trinity River Cotton Trades, 1837-1900".)
          Capt. W.E. Rogers, who married Sophia Kappas, had served in cavalry Co. A, Spaight's Battalion during the civil war.  He sometimes served with Capt. Napoleon Wiess and, after his death, Rogers and two partners purchased the Graham, and he served the next 3 years as captain on that vessel.  (Source: CAPT.  WILLIAM  E.  ROGERS: BEAUMONT  STEAMBOATMAN; by W.  T.  Block)
          An 1869 photo of Capt. Napoleon Wiess appeared in the Beaumont Enterprise, Diamond Jubilee Edition, of November 16, 1955.
          On January 18, 1872, his younger brother, Valentine Wiess, published a column in the Jasper News-Boy.  "The steamer J.L. Graham passed up this morning with heavy freight.  The steamer Laura is now in heavy coming down -- presume she has a full load.  The steamers Tobe Hurt and Era No. 8 arrived at Sabine Pass Saturday, the former with 364 bales of cotton, the latter with 415 bales of cotton, from the Sabine River, River falling here slowly."  Valentine wrote these words just two months before Napoleon was to die of pneumonia.  The article was referenced in the Beaumont Enterprise, Monday, January 26, 1961 (p. 5-B) in an article by Joe Combs entitled "Steamers".
    Person ID I1447  mykindred
    Last Modified Dec 21, 2016 

    Father Simon W. Wiess,   b. Jan 01, 1800, Lublin, Poland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aug 13, 1868, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 68 years) 
    Mother Margaret (Elizabeth?) Sturrock,   b. Jun 12, 1814, Dundee, Angus, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. May 17, 1881, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years) 
    Married Jan 06, 1836  Natchitoches, Natchitoches parish, Louisiana, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • 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
      -
      1880 census:
      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.
      [11]
    Family ID F546  Group Sheet

    Family 1 Cynthia Ann Sorrels,   b. Aug 15, 1845, Arkansas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Feb 06, 1891, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 45 years) 
    Married Jul 20, 1861  Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • Napoleon apparently died without a will and all fiscal and probate papers relating to the Wiess brothers "were removed at some time in the past and were never returned".  His wife and children got nothing from his death, the description and disposition of his property, if any, is unknown.  One of the riverboats he owned, the "James L. Graham", was in service for several years after that until it blew near Redfish Reef in Galveston bay in May of 1876.  In a lawsuit filed by Cynthia A. Wiess, et al against Margaret Sturrock Wiess, she alleged that 160 acres taken over by Margaret were Napoleon's and hers as his widow.
      -
      1870 census, TX, Jasper county, sub 23, p 29; 497, July 16
      -
      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
      WIESS, Massena, 21, M, W, Dry goods Merchant, Texas
      WIESS, Elizabeth E., 19, F, W, Texas
      WIESS, Ann E., 18, F, B, Domestic Servant, Texas
      Burks, James, 18, M, W, Farm Laborer, North Carolina
      -
      216/217
      WIESS, Joseph, 27, M, W, North Carolina
      WIESS, Catherine, 21, F, W, Texas
      WIESS, Matilda, 6, F,, W, Texas
      WIESS, Laura, 5, F, W, Texas
      WIESS, Milton, 4, M, W, Texas
      WIESS, Kittie, 2/12, F, W, Texas, b. April, 1870
      WIESS, Julius, 2/12, M, W, Texas, b. April, 1870
      -
      219/220
      WIESS, Napoleon, 31, M, W, Steam Boat Captain, $400 property, $2000 personal, 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
      -
      1880 census, Jasper county, Texas, ed 39, pct 4, (T9-1313, 12), p. 164B
      June 15, 1880, HH 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
      -
    Children 
    +1. Willie Simon Wiess,   b. Jun 20, 1862, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Nov 14, 1893, Hooks Switch, Hardin county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 31 years)
    +2. Capt. Edward Sorrell Wiess,   b. Dec 14, 1865, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Jun 09, 1922, Boerne, Kendall county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 56 years)
    +3. Martha Ann "Mattie" Wiess,   b. Jan 09, 1866, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Apr 01, 1948, Beaumont, Jefferson county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 82 years)
    +4. Margaret Isabell "Maggie" Wiess,   b. Jan 24, 1869, Wiess Bluff, Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Mar 10, 1960, Beaumont, Jefferson county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 91 years)
     5. Napoleon Bonaparte Wiess, II,   b. Oct 29, 1871,   d. Nov 08, 1874  (Age 3 years)
    +6. Walter Wingate Wiess,   b. Dec 24, 1874, Hardin county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aug 24, 1954, Longview, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years)
    Family ID F547  Group Sheet

    Family 2 Cynthia A. Sorrels,   b. 1843, Arkansas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d.  
    Married Jul 20, 1861  Jasper county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F49439  Group Sheet

  • Photos
    Wiess, Capt. Napoleon (1839-1872)
    Wiess, Capt. Napoleon (1839-1872)

    Documents
    Wiess, Napoleon B. & Sorrells Cynthia A.
    Wiess, Napoleon B. & Sorrells, Cynthia A.
    Wedding license of Napoleon Bonaparte Wiess and Cynthia Ann Sorrells.  This is in the possession of Robert Wiess.

    Headstones
    Wiess, Capt. Napoleon Bonaparte
    Wiess, Capt. Napoleon Bonaparte
    Wiess Cemetery, Wiess' Bluff, Jasper county, Texas
    Wiess Cemetery, Wiess' Bluff, Jasper county, Texas

    Histories
    Beaumont, The Story of
    Beaumont, The Story of
    by Florence Stratton, 1925
    Bumstead, Dora -- Family Bible
    Bumstead, Dora -- Family Bible
    The family Bible of Dora Bumstead Wiess and Willie Simon Wiess
    The Bible of Willie Wiess & Dora Bumstead
    The Bible of Willie Wiess & Dora Bumstead
    PDF version for printing

  • Sources 
    1. [S7] Rosenburg Collection.

    2. [S8] General Adam's Letter Re: Napoleon Wiess.

    3. [S6] Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas, J.H. Brown.

    4. [S2126] Napoleon Bonaparte Wiess; W.T. Block, http://hans.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/n_b_wiess.htm.

    5. [S2127] Beaumont's Fabulous Wiess Brothers: Business Leaders of early Beaumont, http://hans.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/wiess.htm.

    6. [S2128] A Brief History of Wiess Bluff, Texas.

    7. [S2130] Capt. William E. Rogers: Beaumont Steamboatman, http://hans.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/williamrogers.htm.

    8. [S4251] 1850 US federal census, 1850 census, TX, Jasper, Sept. 30, 1850, HH 76/77, p. 225, roll M432-912.

    9. [S136] 1860 US federal census, 1860 census, TX, Jasper, Newton P.O., p 17, (M653-1298, p 393), July 28.

    10. [S14] 1870 US federal census, 1870 census, TX, Jasper county, sub 23, p 29; 497, July 16.

    11. [S75] From Cotton Bales to Black Gold.



  
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