The master-planned community of Bridgeland will be home to more than 20,000 houses at build-out, but it was once home to rice and cattle farming.[/caption]
Like most of Cy-Fair, the area now known as the master-planned community of Bridgeland was enveloped by farmland until the late 1900s. Although the area was originally home to several of Stephen F. Austin’s “Old 300” colonists during the 19th century, by the mid-1900s, it featured large-scale cattle and rice farm operations.
Abraham Roberts and his son George were some of the first farmers to settle in the Bridgeland area in the 1830s within Stephen F. Austin’s colonial boundaries. At that time there were mainly smaller farming operations in the area along Cypress Creek producing their own living: primarily corn, potatoes and cattle on the salt grass prairie that covered the landscape.
The construction of the Texas Central Railway north of Bridgeland in the 1850s benefited George Roberts, who was running 3,000 cattle and owned 41 slaves at the time. He also served as a Harris County commissioner in the late 1850s.
During the 1880s, two of George’s sons—Abraham and Hiram—died. By the 1890s, the family’s enterprise was most likely diminished by the use of land for the railroad and a bad economy. More than 25,000 acres of land in the vicinity of Bridgeland was given to the Houston and Texas Central line, the promotion of which attracted farmers from the Midwest and immigrants alike.
The development of the railroad also helped spur the rice-growing industry in northwest Harris County in the 1900s.
The Longenbaugh family grew rice in the Bridgeland area after moving to Texas in the 1930s and became one of the area’s top producers. By the 1950s, the family owned 4,000 acres of rice fields in the Bridgeland area.
Along with the flourishing rice industry, oil fields in Tomball and Katy in the 1930s brought interest to the area along Cypress Creek, including the Bridgeland vicinity. A former Cypress oil field lies entirely within the master-planned community.
Lenoir Josey owned thousands of acres in Bridgeland in the 1940s.[/caption]
By the mid-1940s, businessman Lenoir Josey began purchasing land in the area that would become Bridgeland and paid taxes on more than 5,550 acres in 1945. Josey and his family first came to the Houston area in the 1920s during the Texas oil boom and founded the Josey Oil Company.
In addition to a ranch in Cypress, the family-owned land on Lake Travis and son Jackson Josey served as a trustee at Rice University and as vice chairman of the board at the University of Texas.
The first homes in Bridgeland were built nearly 10 years ago. The community will have 20,000 homes at build-out along with commercial and office space in four different villages.
Source: A historical research and interpretive planning report for Bridgeland by Sue Winton Moss.
Marie came to Community Impact Newspaper in June 2011 after starting her career at a daily newspaper in East Texas. She worked as a reporter and editor for the Cy-Fair edition for nearly 5 years covering Harris County, Cy-Fair ISD, and local development and transportation news. She then moved to The Woodlands edition and covered local politics and development news in the master-planned community before being promoted to managing editor for the South Houston editions in July 2017.