Past Treasure of the Month – February 2019

U.S.S. Texas
Historic image of the first 'U.S.S. Texas' [Galveston and Texas History Center Collection].

Historic image of the first U.S.S. Texas
[Galveston and Texas History Center Collection].

During the month of February, Rosenberg Library exhibited items related to the naval battleship U.S.S. Texas.

Ribbon badge and souvenir button from the 'U.S.S. Texas' visit to Galveston in February of 1899 [Gift of C.H. McMaster].

Ribbon badge and souvenir button from the U.S.S. Texas visit to Galveston in February of 1899
[Gift of C.H. McMaster].

Commissioned in 1895, U.S.S. Texas was the first American battleship built by the United States government. She was named in honor of the state of Texas. The battleship Texas was outfitted with the most sophisticated armaments of the day and was designed to optimize defensive strength.

Early in her history, U.S.S. Texas gained a reputation as an unlucky ship due to a string of mishaps including grounding, flooding, and crew deaths. The multitude of accidents earned her the nickname “Old Hoodoo.”

The battleship made several visits to the Port of Galveston during the late 19th century, including a visit in February 1897. Thousands flocked to the island to tour the vessel and attend a variety of festivities. Governor Charles Allen Culberson presented U.S.S. Texas with a silver service on behalf of the citizens of Texas. Living up to her cursed reputation, the vessel ran aground on a mud bank while in Galveston and had to be pulled out with a tug before leaving the port.

Brass plaque from the structural firing bridge of the second 'U.S.S. Texas', 1912 [Gift of Mollie R. M. Rosenberg].

Brass plaque from the structural firing bridge of the second U.S.S. Texas, 1912
[Gift of Mollie R. M. Rosenberg].

Despite some initial setbacks, U.S.S. Texas proved to be an effective naval battleship, successfully blockading the coast of Cuba during the Spanish-American War. She was decommissioned in 1911 when a new naval battleship — the second U.S.S. Texas — was being built. That vessel served during both World War I and World War II. The second U.S.S. Texas was decommissioned in 1948 and was converted into a museum located along the Houston Ship Channel near the San Jacinto Battleground. She was the first naval battleship to be declared a United States Historic Landmark.