From the time of the earliest documented history, the Gulf of Mexico has been the main point of entry into Texas. Some settlers of the 1820s even came by keelboat, going ashore along the way to kill game, in the same way an overland party would live off the country while traveling. Some settlers did choose to come to Texas by land, but a poor system of wet and rough roads was crossed by countless rivers. In most cases, the rivers were crossed only by costly, ill-tended ferries, many of which were manned by unscrupulous operators who preyed upon naive travelers.
Galveston in the 19th century was a chief port of entry into Texas. It was sister city to New Orleans, so well-organized was passage from one to the other. Texas ports of entry included Velasco, Quintana, La Vaca, Indianola, Matagorda, Port Isabel, Houston and Corpus Christi. Yet Galveston - with the best natural harbor between Pensacola and Vera Cruz - dominated travel both into and out of Texas. This port welcomed statesmen, speculators, teachers, soldiers, clergymen, doctors, merchants, craftsman and tourists.
Galveston's prominence among the major ports of entry in North America led to the construction by the United States government of important quarantine and immigration stations that replaced earlier ones built and operated by the City of Galveston
and the State of Texas. These stations saw tens of thousands of immigrants enter Galveston. While some settled within the city and contributed to Galveston's diverse population, most dispersed across Texas and aided in the growth and development of the state.