Beeville, county seat of Bee County, was laid out in 1859 on the north bank of Poesta Creek on a one-hundred-and-fifty-acre site donated by Patrick Burke and his mother and stepfather, Mary and Patrick Carroll. The Carrolls were Irish immigrants who came to Texas in 1834 to settle in McMullen and McGloin's San Patricio de Hibernia colony, which encompassed Bee County. The county and the county seat were named for Barnard E. Bee, who was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and was a Republic of Texas official and diplomat, at the request of his son, Hamilton P. Bee, a Goliad County planter who represented Laredo in the Texas legislature when the county was organized in 1857.
The town of Beeville remained small and isolated until it was reached by the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway (SAP) in 1886, then the Gulf, Western Texas and Pacific Railway in 1889. The development of the townsite as a series of slightly offset street grids indicates the stages of its growth; the SAP tracks historically divided the town into the downtown and middle-class neighborhoods to the east and less prestigious neighborhoods to the west. Cattle and horse ranching were the basis of Beeville's economy, supplemented by agriculture (principally cotton) in the early twentieth century, and oil and gas after the opening of the Pettus Townsite field by Beeville physician W. E. Hewit and lawyer and banker James R. Dougherty in 1929. Naval Air Station Chase Field contributed to Beeville's economic stability during the sixty years (1943–1993) it operated as a U.S. Navy flight-training center; its site was redeveloped in the late 1990s with a complex of prisons by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
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