Details for Mustang Island (Atlas Number 5507015857)

Historical Marker — Atlas Number 5507015857

Data

Marker Number 15857
Atlas Number 5507015857
Marker Title Mustang Island
Index Entry Mustang Island
Address 101 E. Brundrett
City Port Aransas
County Nueces
UTM Zone 14
UTM Easting 690931
UTM Northing 3080483
Subject Codes islands, settlements
Marker Year 2009
Designations
Marker Location
Marker Size 27" x 42"
Marker Text Port Aransas is located on Mustang Island, one of seven Texas barrier islands. It is named for the wild horses that came here from shipwrecks and Spanish expeditions, and which once populated the island. The earliest humans here were members of nomadic groups collectively known as the Karankawas; they stayed on or about the islands in winter and fall, before moving inland during spring and summer. Robert Ainsworth Mercer (1799-1875) was Mustang Island's first settler; he came here in 1855 with his wife Agnes and children Mary Agnes, John and Edward. The Mercers built a house and a complex they named El Mar Rancho (Sea Ranch). Other settlers soon joined them, forming a small community; however, the new settlement was abandoned during the Civil War, when the USS Arthur took station off Mustang Island to blockade the Aransas Pass. The Federal sailors lived off the land, prompting six settlers to fire on them on February 11, 1862. The USS Arthur bombarded the island and a landing party further damaged property, leading to the islanders' flight from the island. Settlers returned here after the war, with many engaging in the booming cattle industry. By the 1880s, when the industry declined, islanders found markets for turtles and wild ducks. Many also offered goods and services, including guidance to hunting and fishing grounds, to workers constructing the Aransas Pass Jetties. Sportsmen began to visit the island, and by the 1920s tourism became the basis for its economy. By 1929, two roadways and a ferry service allowed for easier access to the island and further development of the tourist industry. Today, Mustang Island continues to be a popular destination for visitors, while also serving as home to increasing numbers of Texans. (2009)