Chapter Five: Development to the Civil War, 1846 - 1861
So much occurred during these years. Seguin pulsed with activity in every aspect of community development: county government, mercantilism, the War with Mexico's drain on Seguin's young men, defense against marauding Indians, German immigration, organized religion, education, laying of roads, beginnings of organized transportation, and fairs and recreational activities. Seguin would grow from a dream in 1838 to a reality in 1861.
Her governmental destiny was fairly well determined by the time of Statehood.
According to Max Moellering's Thesis, a petition of at least one hundred free male inhabitants of the Seguin region was sent to the Congress of the Republic requesting a county be established in accordance with Article IV, section 11, of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. The petition was accepted and the Congress of the Republic of Texas passed an act, January 29, 1842, creating Guadalupe County. Records indicate that little in the way of governing was done. However, several things emerged that set a precedent for later development. First, the groundwork was laid early for a county in this region and second, Seguin was established as the County Seat.
Official organization for government in this region came shortly after annexation. The new State Legislature passed into law, March 30, 1846, an act creating "a new county out of part of the counties of Gonzales and Bexar to be called the County of Guadalupe." The boundaries were established. However, as other counties were created such as Wilson, Hays, Comal, and Caldwell, Guadalupe County's boundaries would change several more times.
The original county boundary lines have not changed much and are presented here to give the reader an appreciation of how prominent land features served not only as navigational aides but boundary lines as well:
Section I of The Act Reads:
The laws of the Republic of Texas required a minimum of 900 square miles for a region to become a county. After Statehood this changed. Today, Guadalupe County's area is 713 square miles, and Seguin remains the County Seat.
Finally, on August 7, 1846, less than 10 years after its founding, a government was organized in Seguin that would provide administration for Guadalupe County and the town of Seguin until 1853. In 1853 Seguin would have its first City Charter.
The first elected county officials were:
The County Judges from 1846 -1988 have been:
The elected officials of the county at the beginning of 1988 are:
All, in their respective roles, have continued to represent their people and the county as a whole in the traditions of the past. Regardless of transactions over the years, and controversies arising from the transactions, not once has the democratic process faltered in being upheld, with the exception of the "Carpet Bag Rule" just after the Civil War. Interestingly, as there are controversies today so there were controversies in the 1840s and the 1850s.
Henry McCulloch, Ranger and Texas Revolution hero, in 1858, as our State Senator, had voted in favor of cutting off a part of Guadalupe County when Blanco County was created. Our State Representative, Isham V. Harris, joined Senator McCulloch. They had so infuriated their Seguin and Guadalupe County constituents that the voters passed a number of resolutions stating that they, the voters, had made a mistake in electing McCulloch and Harris. In the end the voters always have the last word. Yet, what courage it takes for a man or a woman to be willing to stand up and represent their people as best they can and then withstand the criticism.
Soon after the county government was organized, arrangements were made for another meeting in August 1846. Because there was no courthouse, the early representatives met under oak trees or in private homes near the center of downtown Seguin.
For example, according to Moellering's Thesis, the first Grand Jury met under a live oak grove, and the District Court tried its first cases in Paris Smith's home. Wilson Randle allowed the use of a room in his house for the County Clerk. Then in April 1847, a contract was advanced to E.M. Cox and William Lancer to build the first courthouse - a two story structure, 30 feet by 50 feet, the upstairs serving as a courtroom; the lower floor with four rooms used as offices by the county officials. The cost, after negotiation, was $1,400.00.
Both Mrs. Weinert and Mr. Moellering listed the first jurors of the District Court. It was presided over by Judge William E. Jones in September 1846. The list is somewhat like reading a Who's Who in Texas History. They were pioneers of Green De Witt's Colony, Texas Rangers, heroes of the Revolution, defenders against the Mexican invasions of 1840 -1842, members of the Santa Fe and Mier expeditions, survivors and heroes of the Linnville massacre and Battle of Plum Creek, founding fathers of Seguin, statesmen, businessmen and educators.
On the Grand Jury were John A. Green, District Attorney; ParisSmith, Foreman, Grand Jury: Sam Towner, John F. Tom, S.R. Miller, French Smith, G.W. Louis, John W. Nichols, Charles A. Smith, John Sheffield, Solomon G. Nichols, John H. Turner, John N. Sowell, John R. King, Matthew A. Doyle, and Andrew J. Sowell.
The Petit Jury was comprised of Solomon W. Brill, Foreman; Joseph Zorn, Sr., Jacob Eckstein, John Lowe, ______Baker, William Turner, Peyton Medlin, W.B. Pinchard, William G. Winters, E.P. Frost, and W. Clark.
All of these men are a history unto themselves. The first County Judge, Michael Erskine, had bought the Capote Ranch from the heirs of Jose de la Baume. He raised cotton and floated the bales down the Guadalupe River to market and conducted the first cattle drive to California from Seguin with the help of Jack Coffee Hays. He also survived the Comanche massacre of Linnville.
John R. King would become the first interim mayor of Seguin in 1853 and fought at San Jacinto.
Commissioner William Beard had two sons in the Mier Expedition. He also donated the eastern end of San Geronimo Cemetery for a "burial" ground, according to Mrs. Weinert.
James S. Day was wounded at the Battle Ground Prairie just east of Seguin, and fought at the Battle of Salado. His mother's home, next to the Ranger Station, was often used to treat the wounded Texas Rangers.
Commissioner William Tom's son, John, was only fifteen years old when he fought at San Jacinto and later became county sheriff. Commissioner Tom fought for Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812.
Wilson Randle redeemed Seguin from the Battle Ground Prairie when he killed Vicente Cordova at the Baffle of Salado in San Antonio.list of accomplishments of these pioneer men is endless. Let history at least recognize their names.
The first order of business of the elected officials was the establishment of law and the surveying of routes for roads. James Callahan, Andrew Sowell, Joseph F. Johnson, and Charles Smith were ordered by the county, in 1846, to "review and blaze the road from the town of Seguin to the county line of Gonzales County, on the most direct route to the town of Bastrop."
In Mrs. Weinert's history "the Bastrop Road was to begin at the home of Mr. H.B. King and go across the Callahan Crossing over the San Geronimo Creek to Martin's Ford on the San Marcos River and that a road be established from York's Creek to the Callahan Crossing."
The court ordered S.R. Miller, William Beard, J.W. Nichols, French Smith, and Peter D. Smith to "review and blaze" a road from Seguin to Gonzales along the lower part of Guadalupe County. This road came to be known as the Wood Road and was part of the trail used by the Mexicans from San Antonio to Gonzales. Today it is mostly FM-466, winding its way through present day ranch country, towards Gonzales. This road also had other names such as Mill Road because there was a mill at the confluence of Mill Creek and the Guadalupe River.
Ferries were also to be established for the citizens so they could easily cross the Guadalupe River. Joseph Johnson established the Johnson Ferry in 1846. It was located at the bend in the river at Starcke Park. For $1.00, a person could ferry a wagon and a yoke of oxen or a loaded wagon and four horses. Each additional mule or horse was six and one-fourth cent and a pleasure carriage drawn by two horses, fifty cents. Charges were also levied for horsemen, cattle, goats, and hogs.
Another ferry, Swift's-Morrison's and more recently Mertz's, was located close to the bridge crossing the Guadalupe River on highway 90 west, next to Lake Placid. This ferry provided a link from the Old San Antonio Road south of Seguin to Johnson's Ferry at the park to Swift's Ferry and thence towards the Cibolo Creek, thus becoming known as "the upper San Antonio Road." The Old San Antonio Road, per agreement with the commissioners, was extended to the Johnson Ferry, to go directly to the public square and then west on Court Street to the Swift Ferry.
The "Big Hill Road," or Seguin to New Braunfels Road, also grew out of the ferry trade. On July 12, 1847, Andrew N. Erskine was appointed to do this and the road was to run along the west bank of the Guadalupe River. As one drives along FM-725 from Seguin to McQueeney, through Schumannsville to New Braunfels, he would be tracing the same route as did our early settlers, and German immigrants.
While the officials of Seguin-Guadalupe County established law and order by setting up citizen patrols, blazing roads and building ferries to connect Seguin to Gonzales, New Braunfels, and San Antonio, other events were ongoing as well.
Education began in 1842 as did organized religion. These two institutions were inseparable in the early years. Home and business buildings were erected and the German immigrants began to pour through Seguin on their way to New Braunfels and the Hill Country. The Mexican War broke out in 1846 and soon the stagecoach would come. Foundations were also laid in 1846 for the eventual incorporation of Seguin.
In the Bicentennial Minutes, Mrs. Idalene Donegan reflects that early education probably began as early as 1842 with the arrival of Methodist Minister Reverend David Evans Thompson and his enterprising wife, Elizabeth Ann.
In 1845, Reverend Thompson had started a school and taught in Seguin's first schoolhouse on the northeastern corner of Nolte and Milam Streets. It was a three room adobe building which, by 1890, "succumbed to the elements." By 1849, Reverend Thompson, with the first trustees of the Methodist Church - Ezekiel Smith, Joshua Young, Wilson Randle, Thomas D. James, Thomas H. Duggan, James C. Watkins, and Charles A. Smith, built the first church at the northwestern corner of Austin and Market (Nolte) Streets. It was built with lumber shipped from Indianola, a three week trip. Today, one of the first church buildings in Seguin is located on the corner of south Camp and Washington Streets. It is a private residence.
Elizabeth Ann can only be described as a leader among women. She not only stood by her husband's side rather than behind him, she led the way during his absences. She was a member of the first graduation class of the Georgia Female College, later Wesleyan College, and the first woman teacher in Seguin. While her husband served in the Civil War, she literally ran the family plantation with the help of slaves. Cotton was planted and shipped to Mexico. She operated a cloth factory spinning cloth for the Confederacy as well.
Assisting Elizabeth Ann with a Sunday School for the children was Mrs. J.A.M. Boyd (Rachel Boyd). Her sons, John R. King and Henry B. King, were not only founders of Seguin but served their community and state with distinction. The youngest, William G. King, came to Seguin with his mother and step-father in 1840. He was appointed the county's first tax assessor-collector in 1846. Mrs. Boyd held her Sunday School classes under the oak trees at Walnut Branch - the gathering place of the Rangers and founders of Seguin.
As the churches helped in getting education started in Seguin, so too did Seguin's business leaders and local politicians. Seguin, at times, must have been a leader in education in the state for there was and continues to be so much time, effort, and money devoted to education in Seguin.
The first group of men to engage in organizing an educational system for Seguin and the county were William E. Jones, Michael Erskine, Dr. John E. Parks, Joseph F. Johnson, and Martin Lewis. They organized and established Guadalupe College, which was to be located in Guadalupe City.
Guadalupe City was an interesting endeavor. In 1845, Joseph F. Johnson was awarded a tract of 738 acres of the Thomas R. Miller half-league that ran alongside the western boundary of Seguin. Today's Guadalupe Street actually separated what was once Guadalupe City and Seguin. With expectations of community expansion to the west, Johnson and Martin B. Lewis did a little land speculation and it worked. Several prominent citizens bought lots and erected some excellent homes, the most prominent of which came to be known as Sebastopol. As expansion did continue westward, Guadalupe City and Seguin merged to be incorporated as the City of Seguin in February, 1853.
In any event, the initial endeavor for Guadalupe College gave way to another effort in education a year later.
According to Moellering, William E. Jones, Andrew Neill, Thomas D. Johnston, Hartwell C. Fountain, William N. Gordon, Samuel N. Elliott, and J.B. Morgan received a charter for the Guadalupe High School Association. They would establish an educational institution in Seguin. The year was 1849 and the founders of Guadalupe College joined the High School Association.
It was initially a huge success. By 1850 the school was in full operation. The first Superintendent was a woman, Mrs. Mary Hill. The Principal was Professor J. W. Glass and the enrollment was one hundred students in the first session.
Dr. John Parks, a physician from Kentucky and noted pioneer in the art of concrete, received the contract to erect the school building at a cost of $5,000. Today, on South Austin Street, the school still stands, 138 years old. It is Saint James Catholic School and enjoys the distinction of being the oldest school in Texas in continuous use. The stories that school building could tell!
"The trustees," according to the association's Prospectus in 1850, "committed and pledged themselves that no exertion shall be spared to render it one of the best that can be found in the southern states." Later in the Prospectus, written by Andrew Neill, "The society of the village cannot be surpassed for intelligence, morality, and industry - and every attention will be paid by the trustees to the morale of the youth entrusted to their care."
The original school was divided into two sections. One half of the building became the Male Academy and the other half the Female Academy.
Based on the shares sold, and tuition charged for each of two sessions per year, the Association was able to pay the teachers and defray operational costs. The two sessions were in September and March of each year - the first session running from the third Monday in September and the second session the first Monday in March.
According to the Bicentennial Minutes, the philosophy of the founders was liberal and compassionate for they were "determined to educate at all times, orphans and fatherless children who have not the means to educate themselves, on the most perfect equality with all others, come from where they may, free of charge." Indeed, Seguin, in this respect, was ahead of the times throughout the southern states. Boarding for students could be obtained for out of town students with local families at $8.00 to $10.00 per month.
Courses offered then are still offered today - basic spelling, reading, writing, and mental arithmetic for $8.00; arithmetic, geography, English grammar, history, natural philosophy for $12.00; and higher branches of English literature, mathematics, and classics for $15.00.
With the enrollment unexpectedly high in 1850, a new structure was erected in 1852. It was the Female Academy and was located on the site where Joe F. Saegert Middle School stands today, at 118 N. Bowie, behind Emanuel's Lutheran Church.
This particular site, like Saint James, is just as historic. It not only has seen the Female Academy grace its grounds, but it was also the site of the first Negro College in Seguin, the Guadalupe College, and served for a while as the Seguin Public High School.
The first instructors for the Female Academy were Miss Robertson and Miss Tabor.
Unfortunately the first of several financial setbacks occurred when the Female Academy burned in January 1853. With the enterprising spirit of Joseph Johnson, the Female Academy stood proudly again by September of the same year.
The cost, though, was high. So high that, according to the Bicentennial Minutes, March 2, 1854, "perhaps . . . the first 'parent-teacher' meeting was held in Guadalupe County (sic)." The Guadalupe High School Association and the parents of students agreed to have a Fourth of July picnic to liquidate the debts incurred in the reconstruction of the Female Academy.
The following passage from the Bicentennial Minutes reflects the spirit and determination of the parents and trustees.
The issue of the Seguin-Mercury of July 8, 1854, stated that the fair was a success and the amount of $600.00 was cleared.
Ill fate and good luck followed. Six hundred dollars was not enough to continue the Academies. Because of litigation by teachers and stockholders the court forced closing of the Academies and directed Sheriff Thomas D. Spain to sell the property.
Through the benevolent concern of John R. Jefferson, French Smith, Joshua Young, Andrew Neill, Andrew Herron, Abraham Byler, Joseph F. Johnson, George W. Brackenridge, Thomas N. Hollamon, Samuel Millett, Arthur Swift, and John C. Sheffield, a new corporation was formed. It purchased the property for $3,800 on January 2, 1855. With other prominent citizens of Seguin these men became the new trustees. They changed the names of the original Academies to the Guadalupe Male Academy and Guadalupe Female Academy.
In 1858, through a close cooperative spirit between the trustees, the Methodist Church, and the State Legislature, incorporation of a public school in Seguin was authorized. The act further provided, according to the Bicentennial Minutes, "that the Methodist Church South would be responsible for the maintenance of said institution. Since 1855, the Reverend J.W. Phillips of the Methodist Church had managed or administered the schools. The board of trustees, Isham Fennell, J.H. Dibrell, J.R. Jefferson, H.E. McCulloch, J.G. King, H.G. Henderson, Stephen Wright, and George B. Hollamon approved this enactment on February 8, 1860."
This early leadership in education sparked interest in the rest of the county. By 1860, there were a minimum of six schools throughout Guadalupe County - Duggar School, Elm Creek, Schumannsville, Mill Creek, Concrete School, and York's Creek. The spirit for education has never since dwindled.
As mentioned earlier, education and the churches were closely intertwined in the daily life of Seguinites. Their foundations were strong and continue to be as strong as they were in the early 1840s and 1850s.
The early church period actually began in 1841 with the visitations of traveling preachers.
Mentioned in several early histories was the Methodist circuit rider preacher, Reverend J.P. Sneed. According to Moellering, Reverend Sneed organized the first congregation in Seguin in 1841. Reverend Sneed's district was the "Victoria District which included Victoria, Port Lavaca, Gonzales, and Seguin." Reverend Sneed was followed by John W. Delilbiss (sic), and then the Thompsons.
According to Mrs. Weinert, Bishop Pains of Missouri came to Seguin in 1849 to attend the Methodist conference held in the first church built here. His horse was named "Thunderbolt" for when mounted it took off like a thunder clap. Later pastors included Reverends Frederick W. Butler, Shaper, and John McGee.
The early Methodists were very generous in the use of their church. Not only was it used by people of other faiths, but it served as a schoolhouse too. Also, services were held in private homes, the courthouse, and other available buildings until the respective churches could be erected.
In 1850, the pioneers of the Presbyterian Church began their work in Seguin, led by Reverends Daniel Baker, Andrew Herron, Henry Renick, and Humphrey E. Rogers. When Reverend Baker arrived there was only one Presbyterian in Seguin. In 1857, by joining with the Baptists, a church of concrete and adobe was built so that both congregations could enjoy private worship. How long it was used for this purpose is not known, for according to the Seguin Journal of March 27, 1858, "Reverend J.M. Wilson of the Presbyterian Church preaches at the Male Academy at eleven a.m. on the second and fourth Sabbath of each month. Reverend L.H. Jones of the Episcopal Church holds services at the Female Academy every Sabbath at ten and one half o'clock and at three and one half o'clock p.m."
As best as can be determined, the Baptists and Episcopalians arrived shortly after 1851. Reverend Lucius H. Jones established the Episcopal Church and was followed by the Reverend W. H. Dunn in 1853. Reverend Dunn held his services at the Male Academy.
The First Baptist preacher was Reverend Z.N. Morrell who, according to Moellering, was a veteran of the 1842 Battle of Salado in San Antonio. He was succeeded by Reverends Hagnly and Foster.
The Catholic tradition, begun so many years ago by the Spaniards, was based in San Antonio. Circuit Priests visited Seguin to minister to the spiritual needs of the Catholics. Some of these early circuit Priests were Bishop Odin and Reverend E. Estany. For the most part, the local Catholics journeyed to San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio until the Jesuits would establish themselves at a later date in Seguin.
While Seguin's government, security, roads, churches, schools, businesses, and homes were being established, war with Mexico broke out in 1846.
This was an inevitability. Mexico refused to recognize the boundaries of Texas, especially the Rio Grande. Texas and the southwest territories, including California, were a must for America to continue her westward expansion. Santa Anna continued to be a thorn in America's foreign and domestic policies.
Acting on the orders of President Polk, General Zachary Taylor, having used Corpus Christi as his base, moved to a position between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande.
Ranger Captain Jack Coffee Hays responded to the call to serve with his First Texas Regiment of Mounted Troops, later to be followed and joined by Ben McCulloch's organization.
Hays' men fought for Taylor at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in the Rio Grande Valley, near present day Brownsville.
At first General Taylor was skeptical of these roughshod Rangers. They seemed to scorn the discipline of the Regular Army, wore no real uniform, and they armed themselves in the frontier fashion of a rifle, a brace of pistols, Bowie knife and a lariat. Concerned that the Rangers might set a bad example for the regular soldiers, Taylor opted to keep the Rangers busy and out of sight.
McCulloch was selected to scout routes of invasion into Mexico, and to determine the size of the Mexican Army. McCulloch and his men became so successful that General Taylor gained a keen respect for these strange Rangers. McCulloch's losses were light, and the Mexican Army's losses were heavy. Usually in warfare the attacker suffers the heavier losses. This was not the case with the Rangers.
The battle that turned the war around in northern Mexico was the Battle of Buena Vista, in the mountains just south of Saltillo.
General Taylor's force of some 5,000 men were badly outnumbered. He knew Santa Anna's strategy was to draw him into Mexico, crush him, and then go on the defense in southern Mexico.
Taylor sent McCulloch out to determine what Santa Anna's forces were intending. With a handful of men, McCulloch sneaked through the Mexican lines at night. From a prominent hill overlooking the Mexican camp, McCulloch was able to calculate the size of the enemy force by counting the campfires.
Trusting McCulloch and his Rangers by now, Taylor moved his men to a strong position. When the battle commenced, Taylor's artillery, Rangers and infantry fought so well that the Battle of Buena Vista went to the Americans. Santa Anna's forces had to retreat.
When the war was over in 1847, the Rangers returned home to find another dimension being added to their lives.
Until 1845 -1847, there were three basic ethnic groups in Texas, each trying to survive in their own cultural way - Indian, Mexican, Anglo. Most of the Anglos were from the South with very Anglo-Saxon names.
The next wave of immigrants were from Europe and were the Germans, mostly from northern Germany. Although the Adelsverein (Association of Noblemen) had been active in the settlement in Texas since the early 1830's, it was Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels who would actually give impetus to the German immigrations of 1845 -1847.
Prince Solms, during the American-British War of 1812, was raised near the village of Braunfels in the city state of Hanover, northern Germany. His mother was of royal lineage, and would later marry the King of Hanover.
Prince Solms had been an active member of the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas and when he visited Texas he knew he wanted to establish a colony. John Meusebach would succeed him as the head of the Texas Adelsverein.
After picking the site of present day New Braunfels on the "Little Guadalupe" (Comal River), he returned to Germany to marry Lady Sophia, Princess of Salm-Salm. The fort he ordered to be built for protection was named "Fort Sophia" and, although it was never completed, the foundation had been laid for what today is known as the Sophienburg Memorial Museum.
New Braunfels was founded at the base of the hill country on Good Friday, March 21, 1845.
The routes of travel taken by the Germans were either overland from New York, New Orleans, or by boat to Galveston, Port Lavaca, or Indianola on the Gulf Coast. Their journey took them to Goliad, Shiner, Gonzales, La Vernia, Seguin, New Braunfels and on into the beckoning hill country that so reminded them of the rolling hills of Germany.
All was not easy along the German immigrant trail. New language, new customs, and a different kind of freedom had to be learned. Because of cultural barriers, the early Germans bonded closely and forged an identity that perpetuates to this day - the German Texan, industrious, as shrewd and bright in ranching and agriculture as in business, education, and religion.
Jacob de Cordova (not to be confused with the Mexican rebel Vicente Cordova), early settler, writer (Immigrant Travel Guide) and benefactor in Seguin and the county, had established his homestead on a hill along the New Braunfels road about five miles west of Seguin. His home came to be known as "Wanderer's Retreat" and later as the Bauer Homestead. De Cordova employed a number of Ger-man boys and eventually sold the homestead to nine German bachelor cowboys. Two of these men were Mr. Dietz and Wilhelm Thormeyer.
The immigrants came by covered wagon, buggy, horseback and walking. Many never made it to New Braunfels. For convenience, or because of instinct or tiredness, groups of the German immigrants selected various sites for settlement.
Near Seguin and only 4 miles south of New Braunfels was where August Schumann elected to settle. Nestled in the rolling hills of present day FM-725, Schumann, in 1846, bought the Ignatius S. Johnson Survey of 3, 188.5 acres. He planned to subdivide the land and sell tracts to German immigrants. The idea worked. Today seven generations later, the descendants of the original 15 landholders continue to gather. They reside in the Seguin, New Braunfels and San Antonio region. The original settlers were Johann Leissner, Carl Blumberg, Carl Koepsel, Christoph Maurer, Julius Behrendt, Friedrich Grimm, Wilhelm Knetsch, August Hoffman, Daniel Koepsel, Gustav A.F. Laechlin, Jacob Adams, Johann Zipp, Johann Lindemann, and Hermine Schumann Rudeloff. John Zipp and Karl Schumann lived above the Schumannsville Village. Below was Gotthilf Altwein who, in 1857, donated an acre of land for a school.
On the opposite side of the Guadalupe River were Carl Oelker, Daniel Wiskermann, H.C. Brener, Carl W. Buss, Conrad Bormann, and many others.
By November 1849, a number of German immigrants became citizens - Otto Wuppermann, Frederick Schmidt, Carl Schuchardt, Michael Moss, John Conrad Tipps, Andre Bartholomae, Henry Coers, and ____Meyers. Many of those families had arrived as early as 1846.
As the Germans began to settle in this region in the 1840s and 1850s, so too did many other early families select Seguin for their homes. The climate was agreeable, the land fruitful, and a tradition of independence had begun. Seguin was a part of the second Anglo Colony in Texas. It had been explored as early as 1718, it was one of the first ten counties established by the State of Texas in 1846, and her men, women, and children knew how to fight for freedom. Education and religious traditions beckoned, and there seemed to be a spirit of a multi-cultural effort in settling this region.
According to Mrs. Weinert's history, some of these first settlers, prior to 1848, were:
Many others came to settle in the county and establish such communities as Elm Creek, Darst Creek, Olmos, Concrete, Clear Springs, Cottonwood Creek, Nash Creek, Mill Creek, Eden, Tiemann, Dowdy, York Creek, Geronimo, Galle, Staples, Redwood, Zippville, Zuehl School, and others. Seguin and the county received a mixed heritage of settlers.
These families needed places to stay while they built their homes. By 1853, there were three hotels in Seguin that provided temporary lodging. The most famous, which stands today, was the Magnolia Hotel at 203 South Crockett.
According to Vince Hauser's Thesis, James Campbell originally built a log structure around 1838 from logs he obtained from an intended "blockhouse" to be built on the city square. This was to become the Magnolia Hotel.
Until 1844 or 1845, the Campbell family used the structure until it was sold to Joseph Johnson of Kentucky. He made some additions and in 1846 it was sold to Michael Erskine and Jeremiah Calvert with Calvert later buying Erskine's share. Calvert's daughter, Susan, successfully gained the hand of Ranger Captain Jack Coffee Hays and would later follow him to California. Legend has it that Jack Hays once told Susan not to ride along the Guadalupe River as Indians might attack. Being of her own mind, and with another boyfriend, she decided one day to pick wild flowers along the river. Indeed, an Indian did attack, but Susan and her escort safely returned to Seguin. Waiting was Jack Hays. When he learned of this, and probably doubly angered that Susan had gone out with someone else, he rode to the scene of the attack, found the Indian, took him to an oak tree that was on the north east corner of River and Market street, and hung the victim. The tree, for years known as the "hanging tree", stood until 1985, in front of the Plaza Hotel. It had to be cut down for it had died and had become a safety menace to pedestrians and vehicles alike. Pieces are kept at the Los Nogales Museum and the Campbell Log Cabin on East Live Oak Street.
In any event, the two were married in the Magnolia Hotel April 29, 1847, and Susan Calvert Hays joined her husband around 1850 in San Francisco, settling in Oakland, California.
Dr. Read operated the Magnolia Hotel in the 1850s. It became a part of the stagecoach route during the same period. Mrs. Jennie Hollamon recounted the story of an Indian raid in 1855, in which the hotel played a part: "While the men prepared to respond to the attack the womenfolk gathered their children, hiding in the basement and ballroom, until the alarm was over."
Several additions of concrete and lumber have been added to the hotel over the years.
Pioneer in the concrete construction of homes in Seguin was a physician from Kentucky. His name was Dr. John Esten Park.
Dr. Park did as much for the construction industry between 1850 and 1860 as have the late twentieth century technological developments in the world of construction.
According to Hauser's Thesis, Dr. Park brought his family of seven children and his wife to Seguin around 1847.
He was active in community affairs and was one of the original shareholders of the Guadalupe College Association in 1848. As a general contractor he gained a solid reputation and his ideas in the use of locally manufactured cement were well received. Jacob de Cordova reflected that Dr. Park's concrete was ". . . of a quality fully equal to any imported from the North."
Frederick Law Olmstead commented in his 1856 Journey Through Texas that "a number of buildings in Seguin are made of concrete. Thick walls of gravel and lime, raised a foot at a time between boards, which hold the mass in place until it is solidified.".
Dr. Park's formula for concrete, taken from Jacob de Cordova's Immigrant Traveler's Guide, was carbonate of lime-65%; silica and sand-20%; and aluminous earth-l5%. This was equal to or better than the materials available in Kentucky at that time.
Because of his connections with the leading citizens and businessmen of the period he was allowed to experiment with his first construction - the 1850 Guadalupe Male Academy. In that it is still in use today, by Saint James Catholic School, attests to his construction innovation. Construction of the Guadalupe Female Academy followed. Perhaps his finest achievement was the Sebastopol, located next to todays Youth Activity Center in Old Guadalupe City.
Hauser states that this massive structure "exhibits the first Greek Revival detail in Seguin. The simple form of these concrete buildings became an ideal background for the craft of the local German woodworkers. The simplicity of the construction method itself was exploited by both the enterprising farmer as well as the wealthy land owner."
Mrs. Betty Jean Jones' 1970 Master's Thesis, Joshua and The House He Built reflects Dr. Park's further contributions and influence. In her thesis she presented an observation by the 1854 Seguin Texan Mercury:
Indeed, between 1850-1860 it has been estimated that more than 100 concrete structures were built and that some 29 remain today.
Hauser concludes, based on thorough comparative research, that "Seguin contains the largest known concentration of these early concrete buildings in the United States...." Richard Mycue, of Seguin, an historical architect, supports much of Hauser's Thesis.
Dr. Park went on to serve in Hood's Brigade during the Civil War, and eventually returned to Austin where he died April 30, 1872, at the age of 58. Dr. Park's Will and Testament divided the profits of his patents among his immediate family and to his cousin, Dr. William Yandell.
Structures he left behind but continue to serve as his legacy to Seguin are Saint James, Sebastopol, Glen Cove-Smith-Hollamon House, Hall Burges-Glenewinkel House, Hardscrabble-Elliot-Erskine House, Johnson-LeGette-Miller House, Moses Campbell House, Ernst Dolle House, the Behrendt House, and a number of others that have either been demolished or have become appendages to a larger structure.
As the early settlers of 1845 -1861 needed homes, they also needed communications with other communities. Routes for travel and importing and exporting of goods were needed as well.
In 1847, a stage route connected Gonzales and New Braunfels, thus connecting with lines from East Texas and Louisiana. By 1853, a stage route ran three times a week through Seguin, connecting Seguin to New Braunfels and San Antonio, as well as to Gonzales, Victoria, Port Lavaca, and Indianola.
If one were coming to Seguin from Gonzales and continuing to New Braunfels, his stagecoach would have stopped by the old house on Mill Creek, (presently on the Hoffman place in Hidden Oaks). Then the stagecoach traveled west on old Highway 3 and continued to East Walnut Street which was a part of old Highway 3 between Highway 123 bypass and 90-A. The stage then continued westward along Mountain Street which was a part of old Highway 3 between Highway 123 bypass and 90-A. The stage then continued westward along Mountain Street to Gonzales Street to Crockett street. It then turned south on South Crockett Street and crossed Court Street, and stopped at the Magnolia Hotel. A young servant often mounted a short concrete step when he heard the stagecoach coming, and he rang a bell announcing its arrival. After discharging passengers, packages and mail, the stagecoach continued its dusty journey. It turned west on Market Street and continued to the vicinity of Guadalupe Street, turned north and intersected with the old Ranger Station on Guadalupe Street. The stage then turned west to follow Court and Mill Road to the Erskine Ferry over the Guadalupe River. Intersecting with present day FM-725, the stage then proceeded north to New Braunfels, passing by Jacob de Cordova's "Wanderer's Retreat" and the Schumannsville Community.
In 1854-1855 there was the "Cart War," and according to Frederick Law's A Journey Through Texas, some animosity existed between the established Americans, new German immigrants, and Mexicans who engaged in cart hauling between the various towns. Competition for hauling contracts was keen, and according to Moellering, improper courtesy to the Germans was shown by the Americans, and the Mexican cartmen were "forcibly evicted from Seguin by hostile American Teamsters." However, time healed and the needed hauling of goods and provisions continued.
Horseback mail passed through Seguin about four times a week, twice each way. Rural mail drops were established in the county as well as Seguin.
Although Mr. Joe Comingore has documented that Mr. James Campbell was the first appointed Postmaster in 1839, one of the more interesting stories of the early postal system surrounds an oak tree and the John Neill family. According to this story the first Post Office in Seguin, after statehood, was located in an oak tree, close to the Los Nogales Museum. Although John Neill was reportedly appointed Postmaster in 1846, it was actually his daughter, Caledonia Neill Baxter, who was the Postmistress. According to Mrs. Weinert, John Neill had passed away and left his duties to his daughter. Mrs. Baxter operated the Post Office until 1848, taking her ladder down each day after finishing business in her tree house. Mrs. Baxter joined the ranks of Sara Day, Elizabeth Thompson, Mary Hill, and many other ladies in showing the frontier spirit of early Seguin. Shrewd, bright, and unafraid, they built this community as much as the men.
And people were news hungry. Prior to radio and television, news traveled by mail, peddlers or drummers, visitors, and weekly gatherings at peoples' homes and the Market Square. The first newspaper created in Seguin was the Seguin Mercury. Under the leadership of Mr. H.T. Burke, the Seguin Mercury had its first publication on September 24, 1853.
In December of the same year Seguin's first business and social census was listed in the newspaper:
Mrs. Weinert concludes that there may have been a public library of sorts, for in another issue of the newspaper, book borrowers with over due books from "The Lyceum" were admonished to return their books.
The State 1850 census, signed by William King November 20, 1850, reflected a county population of 1,176 citizens, including children. There were 216 families. By 1854, according to Moellering, Seguin itself had a population of 685 Whites (including Mexicans), and 301 Negroes. However, droughts in 1856 -1857 caused a decline in population to 507 Whites and 285 Negroes.
Occupations ranged from farmers, laborers, stockraisers, physicians, tailors, cabinet makers, merchants, carpenters, blacksmiths, students, to no occupation. The settlers came from Germany, North Carolina, Illinois, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mexico, Virginia, South Carolina, Ohio, and Missouri. No doubt Seguin and Guadalupe county were heavily influenced by the customs and traditions of the south. Education and matters of political interest had a predominate southern flavor. Many of the settlers were conservative and believed in State's rights as opposed to a strong central government.
According to the 1858 Texas Almanac, Seguin and the county's population was 5,187 and the 1860 Texas Almanac showed 1,622 slaves.
Joshua Young is credited by Mrs. Weinert for demonstrating that cotton could be grown in the county. By 1858, about 9,926 acres were in cotton, 15,110 acres were in corn, 657 acres in wheat, and 1,203 acres were in other crops. By 1860, there were 43,358 head of cattle and 2,516 head of sheep. Fine race horses were raised on the places of the Thomas D. Perryman's on the Cibolo, Tom King's on the Gonzales Road, and Anthony Dibrell's place five miles east of Seguin. One of Mr. Dibrell's horses was named Seguin.
The Seguin settlers were independent, self-supporting, and community minded. Thomas Hollamon rented his store out as a jail until a new jail could be built. Others let rooms of their homes be used for the District Clerk's Office, and even Paris Smith's home was used for voting. The sheriff didn't have much of a police force. Citizens were recruited to patrol their areas of businesses and homes. Even when it rained hard and the wide dirt streets became a quagmire, taxes were kept low because the men would provide their own labor to rebuild the streets, for a fair price.
But not all was work. The Seguinites and their country kin prided themselves on being sociable and hospitable. Judging from the passages of famous writers and journalists of the day, Seguin was the prettiest town in Texas, "sitting on a knoll and gently sloping in each direction from the center, graced by groves of oak trees, with the streets going on either side of them." Seguin indeed was an inviting village.
The people prided themselves on bar-b-que picnics, fandangoes, and general relaxation from their work.
Horse racing was very popular and would continue to be so until the 1980s. The first race track was in Glen Cove, commonly known as the Hollamon Bottom due to its fertile river bottomlands.
A Jockey Club was created in November 1858, with the first races to be held in January 1854. The officers, according to Mrs Weinert, were William Smith, President; William Tom, Vice-President; Thomas Gray, Secretary. Stewards were Jordan Irvin, Houston Jones, Jonathon Scott, and James Mayfield. The entry fee for horse and jockey was $5.00 and the one-mile dashes had purses of $150.00 the first day, and $300.00 the second day. The winner was Mr. Bailes, although one can be sure there were many winners and losers with all the side bets taking place.
Horse racing remained popular for many years as can be evidenced by a photograph in the Los Nogales Museum. Mr. Joe Comingore estimates that the photo was taken around 1928. The horse racing track is shown where the baseball stadium stands today on the fairgrounds. Seguin and the county have had a long tradition in horse raising. From Colonel John Jefferson, whose pre-Civil War stables were near present day Jefferson Elementary School, to Mayor John Moore's fine horses that caught the eyes of President Theodore Roosevelt when he was recruiting for the Rough Riders, on through to the present. Many fine horse ranches such as John Bachman, Bobby and Georgette Hawkins, Tuddy Dietz, Wayne Poole, the Esparza Horse Ranch, the Quintana Ranch, the Hollands and many more continue the tradition of horse raising today.
Mrs. Weinert reflects that H.S. Whitehead offered dancing lessons. Twelve lessons of Polka or Waltzing were offered at a cost of $5.00 per "scholar." Violin, flute, and guitar lessons were offered by Professor Babel.
Moellering commented that the temperance movement was very fashionable during this period. The churches supported organizations such as the "Sons of Temperance, Jackson Division, Number 9," with the ladies equivalent "Guadalupe Union Lodge Number 6 of Independent Order of Good Samaritans and Daughters of Samantha." The "Guadalupe Lodge, Number 109 of Ancient F. and A. Masons" was established in 1852. The basic purpose of these institutions was to promote benevolence, education, and curtail the immoderate use of alcohol.
The city of Seguin also took its politics seriously. With the merger of Guadalupe City and Seguin in 1853, the citizens organized a city government that would not be changed until the elections of 1986. Throughout Seguin's history the mayor-council form of government prevailed until the electorate voted for a council-manager form of government in 1986.
The offices open for election in 1853 were mayor, treasurer, constable or marshal, and four aldermen.
The first mayor was John R. King. Treasurer was ________ Johnson; Marshal was John L. Cochran; and the Aldermen were Thomas H. Hollamon, William P. Douglass, William A. Rust, and Joseph Zorn, Jr. Today the configuration remains much the same. The Mayor is Betty Jean Jones, elected in 1982 and Seguin's first woman Mayor; Secretary is Linnette Habermann; and the City Council is comprised of Dr. Ray Gerhardt, Sam Flores, Rodger Weyel, Rocky Contreras, Mark Stautzenberger, Larry Moltz, Roger Wilke and Jack Shanafelt. They are supported by a few committees that were not in existence in 1853, such as the City Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Committee and ad hoc committees as needed.
A list of mayors serving Seguin since 1858 shows the following names who represented the interests of the community:
Being proud, conservative, independent and yet willing to make innovative changes, Seguin and county residents began to reveal their southern heritage in the late 1850s. With two newspapers in Seguin by 1856, national, state, and regional news sparked keen debates over the issues of States' rights, slavery, and foreign affairs.
The first newspaper, the pro-Democrat Seguin Texas-Mercury of 1853 was challenged by Stephen Wright's Seguin-Journal, which was founded in 1856. Wright's position was to present views different from the Mercury. He supported Sam Houston and Seguin's French Smith as the 1857 candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, although Sam Houston's sentiments were not for secession.
In July of that year the imposing Houston visited Seguin to campaign. Wearing a blue-checked linen suit, he "stumped" for election under the live oaks of Elm Grove, home of Mr. G.B. Hollamon. Sam Houston lost the race to Hardin R. Runnels but would be elected in 1859, only to be deposed in 1861 when he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.
By the close of the 1850s Seguin was pro-slavery. Judging by the Democratic County convention in Seguin at the close of the decade, there was no doubt Seguin would secede, if necessary, for in their eighth resolution they believed "slavery a social and political blessing and morally right."
The period 1845 to 1860 can be judged as perhaps one of the most industrious and enterprising periods in Seguin's history. The settlers did not watch the world go by. They made things happen - self-rule, county government, organized education, and enjoyed six representatives to the State Legislature (Arthur Swift, Ben McCulloch, Henry McCulloch, Andrew Neill, Isham V. Harris, and T. H. Duggan). Roads were laid out, stagecoach routes came, the city had mail services, recreation activities, clubs and organizations, technological innovations in construction, newspapers, and agricultural enterprises; all of these made Seguin a bustling community by the eve of the Civil War.