On January 21, 2024, the Bellville Historical Society welcomed Dr. Paul Spellman, an acclaimed author and professor, to present a lecture titled “The Voyage of the Good Ship Lively: A Tale of Texas Colonization.” The event, held at the historic Bellville Turnverein at 5:00 pm, drew a sizable audience, eager to delve into a key chapter of Texas history.
Dr. Spellman’s talk centered on the ship “Lively,” a two-masted schooner integral to the early settlement efforts in Texas. He debunked popular myths surrounding the ship, particularly the erroneous belief that it sank near Galveston Island with all aboard lost. Instead, Dr. Spellman offered a narrative grounded in his extensive research, revealing the true story of the “Lively” and its passengers.
The “Lively,” purchased by Stephen F. Austin for $600 in New Orleans, was central to Austin’s ambitious colonization plan. Its journey began in late November 1821, with a crew led by Captain Ebenezer Cannon. The ship’s mission was to transport settlers and supplies to the mouth of the Colorado River, a location chosen by Moses Austin and later by his son Stephen F. Austin for the establishment of a new colony.
However, the voyage was marked by challenges, including a severe gale that threw the ship off course. Dr. Spellman vividly recounted the ship’s adventures, including encounters with a pirate ship near Galveston Island and a rescue operation for survivors of a separate shipwreck.
In a twist of fate, the “Lively” mistakenly landed at the mouth of the Brazos River, not the Colorado as intended. Unaware of their error, the settlers began to establish a settlement there, laying the groundwork for what would become the town of Richmond. Dr. Spellman emphasized the resilience and adaptability of these early settlers, who, despite being in the wrong location, persevered and contributed to the foundation of Texas.
The story of the “Lively” and its passengers, as presented by Dr. Spellman, is a testament to the complex and often unpredictable nature of early Texas colonization. It serves as a reminder of the human element in historical events – the aspirations, mistakes, and triumphs that shape our understanding of the past.
The Bellville audience, captivated by Dr. Spellman’s narrative, gained a deeper appreciation for the nuanced history of Texas colonization. The event, a blend of historical insight and engaging storytelling, was a memorable occasion for all who attended, enriching their understanding of Texas’s rich historical tapestry. You can view the presentation below: