Dinner fundraiser

Ronald McCulley, chairman of the Old Fort Velasco Historical Association, speaks at the Thunder on the Brazos charity dinner Saturday night. Money raised by the raffle will go toward purchasing cannons for rebuilding the fort.

SURFSIDE — The Old Fort Velasco Historical Association held a fundraising dinner Saturday to raise money for the rebuilding along the river of Fort Velasco, which played an important role in the Texas Revolution in the 1830s.

“We’re having a raffle and those funds will go to the purchase of the cannons,” Old Fort Velasco Historical Association member Dortha Pekar said. “They will be working cannons that will be built to specs that they were in 1832.”

The Battle of Velasco was the first of many between Texas and Mexico in the 1830s. Taking place at Fort Velasco in what is present-day Surfside, it was critical to the history of Brazoria County. Unfortunately, the fort was destroyed in a hurricane in the 1870’s, but new efforts have been made to rebuild the fort.

“The fort isn’t in any condition, it’s underground,” Old Fort Velasco Historical Association Chairman Ronald McCulley said. “We are going to build it in the same area but in a different place. We don’t want to build it on top of the old fort.”

The Cradle of Texas Conservancy has been raising funds for the fort for over 35 years.

“There was a very active group back in the 1970s and they bought 15 lots in Surfside,” Pekar said. “The conservancy was formed to hold that money, and we think we’re fixing to get started.”

Due to the harsh and unpredictable coastal weather, extra measures are being taken to ensure once the fort is built, it is not destroyed by another hurricane.

“(The conservancy) is planning to build it out of wood,” Pekar said. “It’s going to look very much like the fort, but they’re going to make it out of ‘storm-friendly’ materials. It’ll look like driftwood but it’s not going to be. To do something right you have to do a lot of studies. That’s especially important here on the coast.”

It is very important to the Old Fort Velasco Historical Association to make the fort look as authentic as possible while making it able to withstand extreme weather.

“(The fort) will look like it used to. It was two concentric circles of driftwood. We want it to look just like it was as much as we can tell,” Pekar said. “If it’s built out of a strong material ,then the fort shall be with us a long time.”

The fort will not only add to the community’s historical landmarks, it will also serve as a place for re-enactments and education.

“You’ll be able to tell the story of early Texas history because you have a standing place where you can tell the story,” local historian Michael Bailey said. “It’ll be a place for re-enactors and historians. It fulfills a lot of needs for the area. It will be good for tourism, and it’ll bring more business to the area.”

Overall, the fort is meant to bring some Texas history back to life and emphasize the resilience of Texans.

“People have forgot the history that happened here,” Pekar said. “We’ve had hurricanes and things that destroy the visual part of it. A lot of people don’t even know how important the history was. The Texas Revolution began and ended in Velasco.”

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