Kemah, purportedly an Indian word meaning “facing the wind,” was chosen. One of the earliest and most significant businesses operating in Kemah was Platzer’s Boatyard that built and repaired boats. Most every family on the bay used boats for transportation, and many docked at Kemah because the water was deeper than other areas along the bay shore. Additionally, the shell reef extending from the Kemah shoreline was the source for shell used to pave many roads throughout the county.
Kemah is on State Highway 146 and State Highway 96 in a half-moon pocket on Galveston Bay twenty-five miles northeast of Galveston in northeastern Galveston County. The Southern Pacific had been built passing through a small settlement and with the railroad came more people. About 1898, the Bradford & Kipp families, owners of almost all land, subdivided it into lots establishing the township of Evergreen. It was also known as Shell Siding in the period when the railroad hauled shell from the area. Along the shoreline of the Bradford property there extended a shell reef several hundred feet long, extending into the bay a couple of hundred feet. It is reported that in some places the shell was some 20 to 30 feet high. During the 1890's Bradford sold the shell to the railroad at seventy-five cents per rail car. The railroad built a spur track across the prairie from Dickinson to the bay to haul away the shell. There is some evidence of isolated sales of shell sold in 1875, which was hauled away by barge to Galveston for roads in that city. Indian Burial grounds were also found in the shell reef.
J.H. Kipp attempted to obtain a post office for Evergreen but was turned down because there was already a town of Evergreen. Summer residents were asked to come up with a name and "Kemah" was chosen, an Indian word meaning "wind in the face". It was officially renamed Kemah, for its position on the bay in 1907, when the post office opened. By 1914 Kemah had a population of 200, four hay producers, farm homes, summer homes belonging to residents of Galveston and Houston, and several fishing camps.
Kemah which was once know as Evergreen was established in 1898 by local land owners Jim Bradford and J.H. Kipp. When they asked the U.S. Postal Service to open a post office there, they were told the name of Evergreen was already taken. Summer residents were asked to create a new name.