HISTORY OF MANVEL, TEXAS
In the early 1800's a young couple traveled from Tyler County by oxen-drawn wagon and settled on Chocolate Bayou near it's head. The place became the town of Manvel, Texas about twenty miles south of Houston. This couple, William Rufus Booth and wife, Elizabeth Tursey Rawls Booth, stopped at the place that became their home in July 1857. A few families began to settle around this area after the war. The settlement, first known as Pomona, was later named Manvel upon learning a town in west Texas bore it's identical name of Pomona. As people began to see the great prospect in the sunny south, the town of Manvel boomed. They found the area in Manvel to be attractive, very fruitful, and full of wild game. It was mostly prairie grassland, with some timber, shade, and fertile soil along the creeks at the heart of Chocolate bayou. The town site was named after Allen Manvel, then the president of the Santa Fe Railroad.
In 1877, the Gulf Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad built lines out of Galveston to Alvin, Texas, which is about 8 miles from the town site. By April 1879, the railroad had been built as far as Manvel. They appointed Charlie Nogel as the first section foreman for the railroad the first depot agent was Charlie Bowen. Some of the railroad officials from Kansas formed the A.A. Luther Land Company and purchased all the land bordering on the railroad right-of-way. A town site at Manvel's crossing was formed in 1890. In 1933 the Manvel Depot was removed and no trains have stopped for passengers since.
Parents realized the need for their children to attend school. The first schooling consisted of training supplied by a friend of a relative from some distant town who lived in the home about three months out of the year. Later a school was organized and classes were held about three months of the year. Later a school was organized and classes were held upstairs over the groceries store. The first teacher was Miss Ella Dieter in 1893. Later as the community grew, it became necessary for the school to seek larger facilities. Classes were held in Dunkard Church for several years until the storm of 1900 flattened the building. After the 1900 storm a new building was erected on the Henry Crainer Place, it was destroyed by fire. Afterward a 12-room schoolhouse was built in 1937 on FM 1128 that is now known as the old school grounds.
In the late 1800's to early 1900's the chief money crop was strawberries. This crop farming drew many families into Manvel and required a tremendous amount of work. It also brought in a tremendous amount of cash. Hay making proved a very profitable business since the parries were open and had abundance of good grass. Individuals simply mowed around a certain area to establish his hay meadow and all other men respected this area. People began moving in from the northern states, principle Iowa and purchased prairie land. The Iowa Colony newborns, as they were called, planted huge orange orchards, which were a good business until the winter freeze destroyed the trees. Next the farmers planted successful fig orchards until weather conditions hindered their crop also. Along about this time the dairy industry showed great money making prospects and many farmers built dairies.
The first oil well was drilled in the Manvel area in 1929. Once again the small community showed prosperity and many new faces were seen about town. As the oil business diminished, families were transferred from here and the chief income for the remaining citizens turned to rice farming. This type of farming proved to be the most successful industry.
Manvel was incorporated as a city in 1961 with Paul Kreuzer Jr. being elected Mayor. Frank Levoy was elected Secretary-Treasurer. Manvel itself was to begin an extensive program of annexation in the late 1960's, with four "Annexation by Petition" bringing the total area of the city to cover some 23 square miles. The area has since grown considerably to about 55 square miles. These additions were to make it the largest (area wise) incorporated city in Brazoria County, and it gave the fledgling city government 25 miles of public roads and drainage ditches to be maintained. Strain was placed on the city as a result of explosive growth in the 1970's when Manvel went from a recorded population of 106 in 1970 to one of 3,549 in 1980. This growth, due in great part to the construction of State Highway 288, put Manvel in the position of being the "fastest growing town in the continental United States.
Some real needs of the Community were to be met by the organization of the Manvel Volunteer Fire Department in 1953, with Frank Davis as the fire chief. Ambulance and emergency medical services came to the area with the formation of the Manvel EMS in 1978 and it was to bring an added sense of security to the community. The Manvel Post Office was first established on September 22, 1892 at which time William N. Pugh was appointed postmaster. The Manvel Police department came into existence with the incorporation and C.L. McDaniel's serving as the first city marshal/police chief.
The families who settled in Manvel, Texas have lived through many changing times and much of that changing was not easy. Lethal hurricanes, hard freezes, widespread floods, fires, mosquitoes, economic disasters, and plain old human prejudices have all played a part in threading the existence of what is now Manvel. What saved it from the oblivion that met so many other small communities was the bravery and sheer dogged persistence of the people who lived it, people who cared enough to make it work as a community in spite of everything. Manvel, Texas has survived because of the caring, persistent, and determined individuals who took pride and worked very hard to call Manvel home.