Taking root: Families that stayed

Sid Bouse’s family survived the 1900 Storm and has owned land on Bolivar Peninsula ever since. Bouse (back row, holding his granddaughter) stands with four generations of his family.

COURTESY PHOTO

For a long time, Sid Bouse’s family members have been living off the land. Both of his family lines, the Johnsons and the Bouses, came to Bolivar Peninsula to farm and to raise cattle.

If the humid climate and sandy terrain weren’t exactly the best conditions for raising cattle, they were nothing compared to the families’ bad timing. The Johnsons arrived on Bolivar Peninsula in 1900, just months ahead of The Great Storm that killed more than 6,000 people.

Bouse’s family survived, in part, because his great-grandparents lashed his grandfather Andrew Johnson to a tree so he wouldn’t be blown away. They rebuilt and opened a hotel, which got washed away during a storm in 1943. So they started over again with a grocery store, which operated into the 1960s.

“We’re talking about a completely isolated environment,” Bouse said. “It just makes me amazed that they came and settled this land.”

Bouse, who works as a surveyor and still raises cattle on 300 acres on the peninsula, said his family predated electricity on the island, and has been happy to watch from a distance as Galveston developed into something far different from the Bolivar Peninsula.

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