Down Memory Lane

The Old J. Michaelis Ranch House

Story By Shannon Hall
Photo By Jennifer Heylmun

If there is one thing I like about Galveston, it is the history, from the east end to the west end. This Island is rich in history. Jennifer Heylmun submitted a photograph of the Old J. Michaelis Ranch house on FM 3005, which she can view directly across the street from her west Galveston home.

Her message to me was that she wanted to capture its character before it was completely deteriorated. That inspired me to feature it in The Islander Magazine, since it is a structure I pass on many occasions.
In Roberta Marie Christensen’s book, Pioneers of West Galveston Island, the old Michaelis Ranch house is featured.
According to the book, Henry and Fredrica Ostermayer were from Germany and lived in this house. The records described this account featured in the book:
“Ostermayer, just back of the sand hills along the beach, Lot #3. Henry and Fredrica Ostermayer did not survive the 1900 hurricane. They were drowned. According to weather reports, the center of the 1900 storm apparently passed west of Galveston Island, between eight and nine o’clock p.m. By then, the wind was estimated to be about 120 MPH and the storm tide on the Gulf side of the island at 7:30 was reported to have risen to a possible ten or fifteen feet with twenty-five foot high breakers. At 16 Mile Post the Osterymeyers did not have a chance.
Henry and Fredrica drowned but their foster child Florence survived. I was given this startling information in 1990 by Johnny Sullivan Enterprises, Galveston. He said that his grandmother was the Ostermayer foster child, who was born in 1886 and was saved because she clung high in the salt cedar branches of a tree, along with a oppssum and a snake.”
There is a black and white photo in the book written by Christensen showing the roof in tact, the structure on the back of the house has a second story, and the chimney appears to look in the same condition.
After discussing this structure with Heylmun, we both agreed it was pretty amazing that it had survived the 1900 storm as well as Hurricane Ike although dilapidated and it should be recognized. She also added that since she sees this house she often wonders what life was like for the people who had inhabited it over the years.
If anyone has any other pictures of historical information on the Old J. Michaelis Ranch, please feel free to send it to shannon@theislandermagazine.com or call 409-370-6768.

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