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Results of Commission Government in Houston, Texas

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Jerome Farbar writes about the commission government that was in effect in Houston beginning in 1901. This government contracted the paving of the roads, extending public parks, deepening the shipping channel, and other civic projects. Also, this was a more centralized form of government in contrast to the ward style government that proceeded it. Now the mayor and four commissioners make decisions instead of twelve ward officers. Under this new government, government employees face the same job insecurity as those in the public sector, “as in the directorate of a corporation, its officers can be removed by a majority vote, while all department heads are responsible to the chief and various employees responsible to the department head and the mayor.” (232) This change in government put more power into the hands of those who ran Houston so they could get more things done. Their contracting of the paving of the roads along with other building projects probably helped to employ W. L. Macatee, and if not directly then the expansion that this government helped to create certainly added to the success of Macatee and Sons.

Citation: Farbar, Jerome. “Results of Commission Government in Houston, Texas.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 38 (1911): 231-235. Web.

The Destiny of Buffalo Bayou

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To better understand Macatee’s role in the development of Houston it’s important to understand how Houston developed and what was going on in the time that Macatee was on the scene. “The Destiny of Buffalo Bayou” written by Andrew Forest Muir describes how the counties along the lower Brazos and Colorado Rivers became exceptionally successful. One of the reasons that these areas were so prosperous is because of the access to salt water ports that allowed trading of goods and materials produced on plantations which thrived off the rich soil in the region. However, there were natural obstacles in these river and their shallow depth made it difficult to transport goods over a great length of them. These obstacles hindered Houston’s entrance into the world exporting scene. Another reason for this areas success is the introduction of railroads and roads from other states, because this increased possibilities for export. The main reason for Houston’s success, Muir says, is the deepening of the Bayou which created a shipping channel. Houston became a booming port after the dredging of the channel because it allowed more bigger boats to enter. With its increased accessibility Houston took away trade from other cities and found their way to the center of the action. All of this information helps to give dates to all of these changes that were occurring in Houston when the Macatees were starting to grow their business. Since they worked in building materials their success was helped by Houston’s expansion and new connection to international and domestic markets.

Citation: Andrew Forest, Muir. “The Destiny of Buffalo Bayou.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 47.2 (1943): 91-106. JSTOR. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.

Macatee & Houston: Partners from the Beginning

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Once I began to focus on the question of what role the Macatees played in the development of Houston I went in search of an article that would answer that question. The vertical files in The Briscoe Center for American History located on The University of Texas at Austin campus contained this article about Macatee. It was written for the Houston Post in 1949, when W. L. Macatee was still alive. This is the most information that I found about the connection between Macatee and Houston. Other than this article it seems as though there is not much written about this man who contributed to Houston in so many ways. I decided that this research could fill the gap and provide the one document that would connect Macatee and Houston as well as describe Macatee’s road to success. Macatee & Houston: Partners from the Beginning was the turning point in my research that lead me directly to my question and gave me a focus.

Citation: Sumerlin, Ted. “Macatee & Houston: Partners from the Beginning.” Houston Post, September 18, 1949. Vertical File – Macatee, W. L.., Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

W. L. Macatee a Founding Father of Houston

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W. L. Macatee a Founding Father of Houston

Through sharing resources with other members of the class I found this article on W. L. Macatee in a book titled “Makers of Houston”. It discusses how W. L. Macatee came to Houston and his early life. It also mentions Macatee’s and his children’s business successes. Although this article doesn’t contain answers that analyze the connection between Macatee and Houston it does deepen understanding of his life and his successes.

Citation: Houston Biographical Association, Makers of Houston. (Houston: Houston Public Library, 2011). Accessed November 26, 2013. Web.

Census Data: The Macatee Sons

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George P. Macatee

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US Census: 1900. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1972.

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US Census: 1910. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1982.

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US Census: 1920. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1992. Image

US Census: 1930. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2002. Image

US Census: 1940. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2012.

Leonard W. Macatee

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US Census: 1910. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1982.

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US Census: 1920. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1992. Image

US Census: 1940. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2012.

Joseph I. Macatee

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US Census: 1910. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1982.

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US Census: 1930. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2002.

I spent a lot of time finding census data on all of W. L. Macatee’s sons because I thought that my research may turn in the direction of tracking the family’s movements and successes. This did not work out because I found the 10 year gaps in census information to leave too much ambiguity. Also, I could not find many articles about W. L. Macatee himself and I couldn’t find any on the sons.

What I did asses from the census data is that the Macatee sons worked for their father through all the census years that are available. George P. Macatee ran the Macatee Hotel and then eventually moved to Dallas to help the company when it expanded. Leonard W. Macatee worked as vice president of W. L. Macatee and sons for many years. Joseph I. Macatee worked for the family company as well as the family hotel. This information made me more confident in the success of W. L. Macatee and Sons but it also left me with more questions than answers.

Census Data: The Macatee Family 1880

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Census Data: The Macatee Family 1880

Through reading city directories and Sanborn maps I became familiar with the evolution of the company, W. L. Macatee & Sons, but I had no idea who W. L. Macatee or his sons were. I then began looking through HeritageQuest in search of the names of each member of the family and possibly the evolution of their lives, to find spouses, children, and if they moved locations. I began with the 1880 census because it was the first year that W. L. Macatee appeared on the census in Houston. Listed with him are his wife and children, this gave me a starting point to do more research on each member of the family.

Citation: US Census: 1880. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1952.

Houston City Directories: The Macatee’s Involvment

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Houston City Directories. Morrison & Fourmy Directory Co./R.L. Polk, 1882-83. pg 38.Image

Houston City Directories. Morrison & Fourmy Directory Co./R.L. Polk, 1887-88. pg 26.

It was discovered that W. L. Macatee held the first Texas State Fair on his property from the Houston city directory of 1882-83. Also, it was discovered that Macatee was involved in the Houston city government from the Houston city directory of 1887-88. These discoveries only increased the notion that the Macatees were highly involved in the development of Houston. These findings led me to search for articles on this connection that the Macatees had with Houston and what role they played.