The Matagorda Maddens


It takes a while for each of us to figure out who we are, from where we came and where we want to go with that information.  In our youth we take these aspects of our lives for granted. We react to our surroundings without reflection. As we grow older so does our awareness of all that surrounds us and eventually we want to understand more about our lives.

This is how it is with questioning our ancestry. Uncle, aunt or cousin so-in-so are all just who they are. It is in later in life that we begin to wonder about the stories of these people. The times in which they lived become mysteries to be solved. Most people I talk to say that they never gave much thought to the history of their families, nor were they curious until many of their family members were deceased. They regretted not asking the questions required to find the stories of the people who shaped their lives in so many ways. How did these family members live a generation earlier and in what circumstances? What was the history of their lives?

This story is about finding some of my beginnings. I became interested in this quest when I thought about my Uncle Willie who lived alone on a little island across the Intracoastal Waterway from Port O’Connor, Texas. Although my maternal grandparents and I visited him periodically, I never questioned his life style. I never thought much about how he got there, why he lived there, and the story of his relatives. Now I am interested and have made it a personal quest to not only discover as much as I can about him and my other relatives in the area, but to be able to place each of them in their part of the history puzzle.

This is the story of the Madden family who continues to live in the lower Texas gulf coast, why they chose that area, why they stayed and how the times in which they lived affected their lives. I call these relations the Matagorda Maddens in the Texas Coastal Bend.

I began my quest by going back to some genealogical materials that my second cousin Bruce Davis had sent me over twenty years ago. He sent the materials to me thinking that I would be interested since I was always questioning him about our family. As he aged and his health began declining he thought I would be a good source to save the information he collected for later generations. To this day, Bruce’s mind is as sharp as ever. As a history teacher he had always had a keen interest in discovering facts about the past and especially how this related to his family.

Inspired by Bruce’s research, I joined to begin my own search of the history of my mother’s family, the Maddens. The website linked me up with many other people who were interested in the Madden family as well.  I then traveled to the south Texas coast to visit some of the places where my family had lived and connected with several distant cousins who also had an interest and information about the Madden family history. I purchased a small portable scanner to digitize some of the documents and photos that were available and also a small recorder which converts conversations into anmpeg3 file. My laptop computer was the central processing unit to combine my findings and to organize them. I had already purchased the domain name and had begun to devise and post my information on the Internet using the Dreamweaver CS5.5 web tool. I am continuing to connect with many people who helped fill in the missing pieces of the Madden story.

I am sure this project will never be finished. One good thing about an online project is that unlike a book, information can continuously be added or changed. It is never finite. Additional pieces of information can always be added or corrected and the project format can always be edited.

I continue to be indebted to the many relatives, individuals and organizations that have generously contributed information for this project.  Without their help I would have never been able to gather and assemble all the stories and photos of the Matagorda Madden family.