History of Bandera County Texas USA

 Spanish Texas  

  In the early part of the 1500‘s the Spaniards first approached Texas by sea, sailing from the east along the Gulf of Mexico.  In 1519, after the conquest of Mexico by Hernan Cortes of Cuba, the Spanish governor of Jamaica ordered Alonso Alvarez de Pineda to search for wealth.  Alvarez Pineda was given four ships and 270 men.  He and his crew were the first Europeans to view the entire coast of Texas. 
 Pineda constructed the first map from the 
Florida Keys to Veracruz, Mexico.  
Panfilo do Narvaez, one of Pineda’s men, left Mexico and returned to Spain in the early 1520’s.  Narvaez was awarded a royal patent to establish a colony between the Florida peninsula (Florida was a term applied to the Gulf coast) and the province of Panuca, situated to the north of Veracruz, Mexico.  Narvaez left Spain in June 1527 with 250 men and five ships.  Only two of Narvaez’s five ships landed near western Galveston Island in early November.  A crew of four men were the first non-Indians to set foot on Texas Soil - Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Andres Dorantes de Carranza, his African-born slave Estevanico, and Alonso Castillo.  
They lived among the hostile Texas Indians for almost seven years and survived the harsh environment of the Texas coast. Their accounts and the writing of Cabeza de Vaca recorded the names of the Indians of South Texas and where they were located.  Vava’s descriptions of the Texas Indians supplied cultural information that greatly exceeded the information from all his successors combined.  The experience of these four men influenced the viceroy of New Spain (Texas) to sponsor the land expedition of Francisco Vazquez de Coronado to New Mexico and Texas.  The Coronado expedition is linked to the expedition of Hernando De Soto.  They were both in the Texas in the early 1540’s.  
Beginning in the early 1550‘s the Spanish development of mining began and they built missions and presidios.  Frontier agencies were built and designed to educate and convert the Indians. The primary purpose of the missions, presidios, and agencies was to convert the Indians to the Catholic faith but they also served the Spanish by making Indians into tractable and tax-paying citizens. The Spanish Military Presidios were agencies of the state and provided security for the missions and the friars of the Franciscan order in the early days of Spanish Texas.  In the eighty-two years of continuous Spanish presence in New Mexico, Texas along the Rio Grande from Presidio to El Paso bordered the paths from the mines, missions, and ranches of northern Mexico to the land of the Pueblos.  However, the Texas interior remained mostly
 “tierra ingognita”.  

 French Texas

 In 1682, Rene Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle, explored the Mississippi River from Canada.  La Salle established that the Mississippi emptied into the Gulf of Mexico between Spanish Florida and Panuca.  Canada would lose the access to the sea and could be threatened from the south if Spain closed the gap and occupied the lower Mississippi valley.  Another consideration was to place a French colony on the lower part of the river which would be close to the rich mines of New Spain (Texas).  In 1683, La Salle returned to France to present his colonization plans before the court at Versailles.  After a few delays and other international considerations, he was given generous support to challenge the Spanish empire.  The La Salle expedition sailed from France in 1684.  His expedition had misperceptions and faulty maps that resulted in overshooting the Mississippi by about 400 miles and the expedition landing at Matagorda Bay in early 1685.  La Salle and his men were stranded on the Texas coast and he had become the subject of a Spanish manhunt.  La Salle’s colony had failed, not because of the Spanish, but because of “bad luck”.  In 1687, La Salle’s ruins was discovered on Carcitas Creek, he was a victim of assassination.  When La Salle overshot the Mississippi River and landed on the Texas Coast, Spain was forced to focus on East Texas, where success was hard to come by.
In 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte, the ruler of the French Empire, sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States.  He wanted the money to fund his enterprises and wanted to be rid of the territory that he could not defend or develop.  President Thomas Jefferson claimed that the Louisiana Purchase extended all the way to the Rio Grande which entitled the U.S. to take possession of Texas by right of purchase.  In 1819, the U.S. and Spain signed the 
“Adams-Onis Treaty”.  The U.S. gave up their right to Texas in exchange for Florida.  The treaty came too late for Spain.  Spain’s hold on Mexico had been falling apart since 1810.  The Spanish authorities carried out bloody purges directed at anyone who was suspected of being a rebel.  Mexico finally defeated Spain and won their independence. 

 Mexican Texas

Mexico took control of Texas in 1821. Their plan was to encourage Anglo-America settlers to farm and develop the land by giving them land grants.  American settlers were attracted to Texas because the land was cheap.  Four cents for undeveloped land compared to $1.25 in the United States.
By 1830, the population of Americans in Texas was about 25,000 people.  The Mexican government was having doubts about the American immigration.  They were concerned because most of the colonists who were settling in Mexico were coming from Kentucky and Tennessee, places of frontier folk who had conquered the American frontier.  The Mexican government forbid further American immigration.  They increased their military force and created trade along the Texas coast.  
On April 6, 1830, these laws were codified.  
The Mexican military was not large enough to enforce these new laws. The Americans has made great sacrifices to move to Texas and became angry when the Spanish military attempted to collect tariffs and customs when they were not providing good services and protection from the Indians.  Each attempt by the Mexican government to enforce these laws resulted in conflicts with the American Settlers, each conflict was bigger than the last one.  The most famous battle in Texas with Mexico was the “Battle of the Alamo” at San Antonio de Bexar, March 6, 1836.  Attempts by the Mexican authorities and military to enforce civil obedience eventually led to the 
“Texas Revolution of 1836”.

Independent Texas

General Sam Houston led the battle against General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and the Mexican Army at San Jacinto in Texas.  The Mexican Army was defeated.  General Santa Anna was captured and surrendered and ordered his troops to retreat south of the Rio Grande.  On May 14, 1836, the public and private treaties of Velasco were signed by Presidents David G. Burnet and General Santa Anna. They confirmed the Mexican retreat and declared the 
end of the war.  The Texas and Mexican governments did not accept the treaties, but the Texas revolution had caused a sensation among the people in the United States. The comparison of the classic “David vs. Goliath” battle for independence was printed in newspapers as the “Alamo and Goliath”, and the amazing victory at San Jacinto.  Stephen F. Austin, a respected political leader in Texas, and other leaders were amazed and grateful for the enthusiastic response Texas was receiving.  They expected President Andrew Jackson and the U.S. Senate to take quick action to recognize and annex Texas. They were shocked when neither Jackson nor the Senate moved to take quick action.  The U.S. Government expressed doubts about the annexation of Texas.  President Andrew Jackson was in favor of annexation but congressional leaders were expressing doubts.  The northern Democrats were questioning the addition of a enormous new slave territory and how it would effect the balance of power between the two sections of the country.  President Jackson, a slaveholder himself, first duty was to protect the preservation of the Union.  
In Texas, most of the people had little knowledge of government affairs and national issues.  The majority of Texans considered themselves to be Americans and to them annexation was a formality.  In September of 1836, independent Texas held their first election and the people cast an overwhelming yes vote on the question of annexation to the United States and Sam Houston was elected the first president by a landslide.

Presidents of the “Republic of Texas”. 
David G. Burnet - 3/16/1836 to 10/22/1836
Sam Houston - 10/22/1836 to 12/10/1838
                             (First President after Annexation)
Mirabeau B. Lamar - 12/10/1838 to 12/13/1841 
Sam Houston - 12/13/1841 to 12/9/1844 
Kenneth Anderson - 12/9/1944 to 2/19/1846

 Before Lamar became President of Texas, he went on a buffalo hunt with a few Texas friends near the Colorado River.  During the buffalo hunt he found an area near the river that he thought was a perfect site for a capital city.  By June of 1939, after his inauguration, construction had started on the new city, known today as Austin, Texas, the Capital city of Texas.  During the Presidency of Lamar, the Texas government collected about one million dollars in taxes and spent almost five million.  Lamar’s ambitious spending to finance his schemes depended on loans from England and France that never came through.  Lamar left office with the reputation of a “Big Spending President”, however one good aspect of his achievements overlooked during his presidency     was the establishment of education.  Under Lamar’s leadership, Texas set aside public lands that could be used as endowments for an educational system.  Today, the Capital city of Austin, houses one of the biggest universities in the USA, “The University of Texas”.  In 2010 their are many branches of the University of Texas in cities throughout Texas. 
President Lamar is known as the 
“Father of Texas Education.” 

Bexar County, Texas  

 In 1691, an European expedition led by Domingo Teran de Los Rios and Fray Damian Massanet explored Bexar County.  It is believed they reached the San Antonio River where the San Juan Capistrano Mission was later founded.  Massanet named the area “San Antonio de Padua”, after Saint Anthony.  In 1709, a group of Spanish explorers led by fathers Antonio de San Buenaventuray Olivares, Isidro Felix de Espinos, and a military officer, Pedro de Aguirre arrived at San Antonio de Padua.  In 1716, Espinosa returned to San Antonio de Padua with an expedition led by Domingo Ramon.  In May 1718, Martin de Alarcon led the expedition that founded San Antonio de Valero Mission and San Antonio de Bexar Presidio.  San Antonio de Bexar was the center of the Spanish defense in western Texas.  By the end of 1718, the Jamrame, Pamaya, and Payaya native American tribes had joined the missions.  In 1731 three more missions were constructed along the San Antonio River - Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Concepcion de Acuna, San Francisco de la Espada, and San Juan Capistrano.
During the 1920”s the Spanish population in Bexar County was approximately 200.  By the mid-1730’s the population was about 900 including 300 Spanish and 600 Indian catholic converts.  In 1738 and 1739, an epidemic spread through the missions killing about three fourths of the Indian population.  By 1740, the population of the missions began to recover and they continued to educate and convert native American Indians.
The Missions became self-supporting communities and were surrounded by farmlands with crops of beans, cotton, flax, grain, sugarcane, and vegetables.  Herds of cattle, goats, and sheep were maintained by each Mission.  The missions were occasionally attached by the Apache and Comanche Indians.  In 1749, a peace treaty was signed with the Apaches, but the Apaches did not honor the treaty and continued their attacks on the missions. 
For many years San Antonio de Bexar continued to be an agricultural community of mostly small family plots.  Bexar continued to serve as the capital of the Texas province and the main shipping point for supplies to Nacogdoches.  In 1835, the city of San Antonio was occupied by Texas forces who were at battle with General Santa Anna at the “Alamo”.  
After Santa Anna had defeated the Texas forces and claimed San Antonio.  Small battles continued for some time with both sides claiming San Antonio. 
Bexar County was officially established on December 20, 1860 and San Antonio was declared the county seat. Since 1860, 128 counties have been formed from Bexar County.  The once vast area of Indian territory, rugged county with rolling hills and farmlands. was cut down to 1,248 square miles.  Bandera County was one of the counties that was carved from Bexar County.  Bexar County was the center for antislavery sentiment. The Main source of revenue for Bexar County was trade between San Antonio and Mexico and New Orleans.  German, Polish, and Anglo immigrants opened mercantile stores in the city of San Antonio, but there was not much industry.  Bexar County had only 28 manufacturing companies with 135 employees in 1860. 
In 1858 and in 1878, the city of San Antonio deeded ninety acres to the federal government which is known as Fort Sam Houston. Today, San Antonio is an important military center housing several military bases and posts.  The Medical industry in San Antonio is one of the leading economic industries employing thousands of people and one of the top cities leading the state and nation in medical research and health care.

Bandera County,Texas

Bandera County is located on the Edwards Plateau and contains 792 square miles of land and 6 square miles of water.  The Sabinal River flows through the western part of the county and the Medina River flows through the eastern part of the county.  Growing in the county and along its’ many streams are cedar, post oak, Spanish oak, live oak, pecan, maples, and cypress trees.  Deer and turkey can be found throughout the county. 
The Lipan Apaches first occupied the area in the 1700’s, know then as part of San Antonio de Bexar county.  The Apache lived in peace until the Spanish settlers arrived and intruded on their hunting grounds.  The settlers were claiming areas of the Apache territory that had been Indian hunting grounds for Buffalo and Deer.  The Lipan Apache did not like the intrusion and started raiding and burning the settlers homes and towns.  The Spanish Armies attempt to contain the Apache attacks failed.   
The arrival of the Comanche tribes brought more war and destruction to Bandera County.  The Comanche had many tribes throughout Texas and were fierce warriors.  They were enemies of the Apache, but entered into a treaty with the Apache against the Spanish.  The treaty did not last and the Comanche resumed their attacks on the Spanish and the Apache camps. The Spanish were afraid they would loose New Spain and signed a treaty with the Comanche to fight the Apache.  The Spanish did not keep the treaty and the Comanche continued their raids on Spanish settlements.  Many historians believed that the Comanche aggression and strong force drove the Lipan Apache from their Territory of many years and down into the southern part of New Spain (Texas). 
The Comanche were a strong force that had to be  contained.  The Spanish forces were thinly placed throughout New Spain against skilled and swift Comanche warriors with expert bowman-ship.  After Spain was defeated by Mexican forces the Mexican government was faced with the same problems that New Spain had, Indians raids and settlers who were unhappy with the lack of protection from the Comanche attacks and high taxes and customs.  In 1836 Texas won their independence from Mexico and President Sam Houston appointed Captain John Coffee Hays to form a group of Texas Rangers to confront and end the Comanche aggression. 
 (Read more information on the Native American Page,  
“Historic Battle at Bandera Pass”)
Texas Longhorn Cattle
“The Texas Longhorn made more history than any other breed of cattle the civilized world has known”.  A quote from “The Longhorns, by J. Frank Dobie”.
In Texas, Longhorns had been roaming the territory for many years.  In 1540, Coronado gathered about five hundred head of cattle to supply food for his great expedition in search of the golden Seven Cities of Cibola.  He left behind a number of exhausted animals in the lower part of Sinaloa.  Twenty-five years later when Francisco de Ibarra arrived in that territory, he found thousands of cattle running wild.  The Longhorn cattle had adapted to the rugged country and harsh conditions.  The longhorns were mostly used for their hides and tallow.  The first cattle to arrive in what is now known as Texas were brought when the Missions were established. Around 1715, a report (repeated and denied) stated that Captain Alonso De Leon when conducting the expedition to found a mission left “a bull and a cow, a stallion and a mare” at each of the various rivers he crossed.  Many would escape form the Spanish herds and stray from unfenced ranges.  Throughout time the famous wild longhorn cattle grew wilder and fiercer.  Some say fiercer that those 
“strong bulls of Baskan”, in lands beyond Jordan’s stormy bank that roared among giants. 
 In Texas, Longhorns were trained to work like the oxen.  After the Civil War, ranch owners returned to Texas and   found hundreds of Longhorns roaming their land. Texas had no market place to sale them.  Times were harsh and the high demand for beef in the Northwest led Mexican and Texas ranch trail bosses to drive their longhorn cattle herds through Bandera County to the nearest railroad to sell for higher prices.  There were western cattle trails from Mexico through Bandera and Bexar County into Oklahoma and Kansas, and into the northern states. The staging area for the Great Western Cattle Trail was located near the small Town of Bandera. From the 1870s into the late 1800s, it is estimated that seven to ten million longhorns and one million horses were driven by  approximately 30,000 cowboys from the staging area through the Great Western Trail that extended north through Dodge City, Kansas, and the Dakotas into Canada. 
From 1855 t0 1890 over 950 cattle marks and brands were registered in Bandera County.  During the cattle drives, the cowboy was paid from $25 to $40 a month.  Wranglers were paid a little more, about $50 a month.  The cooks and the ramrods were paid about $75 a month and the trail boss were paid about $100 a month. 
(From 2009 to 2011 the Bandera County Historical Commission, under the direction of commission member David Burell, have placed western trail markers throughout Bandera county on the route believed to be the western trail of the Texas Longhorns and herds of cattle.  Beginning in the late 1990”s during the annual city of Bandera celebration “Celebrate Bandera”, a herd of Longhorns are driven through the town by local Cowboys and Cowgirls to kick off the parade.  A park was established on Main Street in the City of Bandera dedicated to the historic “Western Trail” and the thousands of trail riders that passed through Bandera County.  A marker and story of the western trail has also been reacted in the “Western Trail Heritage Park”.  Bandera County is the first county in Texas to have placed and dedicated western trail markers along the western trail throughout the county.  In 2014, the Texas Historical Commission approved a “Great Western Cattle Trail” marker that will be installed in the city of Bandera During the “Celebrate Bandera” festivities scheduled from August 29th to August 30th, 2014.)   
A petition to form Bandera County was signed in January 1856.
In the late 1870’s, the cattle drives began their decline and sheep were bought into Bandera County to replace cattle. By 1880, sheep outnumbered cattle 32,974 to 9,471.  Wool became a important export product in Bandera County.  Angora goats were also raised in large numbers and mohair begin to be shipped in significant quantities during the late 1880’s.  The lack of good roads was a problem and kept the county isolated.  Because of the county’s hilly terrain, the railroads by passed Bandera County to the north or south and ranchers were forced to use the overland roads to ship there products to market in San Antonio.

“Bandera Settler” 
A Mexican settler, Policarpio Rodriguez, was one of the early settlers in Bandera County.  Policarpio was born in Zaragoza, Coahuila, Mexico (About 30 miles west of present-day Eagle Pass in Texas) on January 26, 1829, he was one of ten sons.  He came to Texas in 1841 with his father, Jose Antonio Rodriguez, and the family settled in San Antonio.  In 1852, Policarpio married Nicolasa Arocha  and he was a scout for the United States Army and an Indian fighter.  In 1858 he came to Bandera County and found some land located near privilege Creek.  Policarpio purchased the land, over 300 acres, from John James (A Surveyor who helped established and develop the City of Bandera) for fifty cents an acre.  In the following years,  Policarpio, earned the nickname of “Polly”. In 1871, Policarpio served as a Justice of Peace in Bandera County. Policarpio converted from Catholic to Methodist and was given a “Local Preachers License” in 1877.  In 1882 he built a church on his land that could seat 125 people and was the first to preach in this church.  In 1894, Policarpio donated some land for a public school which later was consolidated into the Bandera County School District.  The area of land that Policarpio had purchased became know as “Polly Texas”, a thriving and developed community where many of his children, their families and relatives lived, and attended church and school. Policarpio wife and mother has died and when he was 74 years old he married Anastacia Salinas on September 27, 1903. Policarpio died in Poteet, Atascosa County, Texas on March 25, 1914.
In the year of 2011, the Polly Chapel and school are still standing and are being restored and repaired, and the cemetery is being maintained.   

 Photo from  “100 Years in Bandera 1853 - 1953”, by J. Marvin Hunter 

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During the late 1800’s the population of Bandera County was 2,158 and by 1890 the number of residents had increased to 3,795.  The majority of new settlers came from the south, especially German immigrants. 
Large scale farming was introduced in Bandera County in the 1880‘s and for a time cotton was grown for commercial purposes.  County land owners found that it was more profitable to to raise sheep and by 1910 there were 73,853 goats in the county.  In 1930 the county reported 128,950 goats, 89,595 sheep, and only 7,668 cattle.  In the same year 470,311 pounds of mohair were shipped. The main industry was farming, hunting, and agriculture.
The population of the county grew in the late 1930’s and in 1940 it reached 4,234.  In 2008 the population of Bandera County was 20,303.

The Median Dam and Reservoir

In 1894 a man named Alex Y. Walton came to an area in the Medina basin to hunt and discovered a box canyon.  After exploring and inspecting the canyon he noted that on the both sides of the river in the canyon nature had formed a natural basin in rock with huge bluffs that extended for several miles up the river. Up stream from the river there were many farms with fields that needed water during the long periods of drought in Texas.  After more inspection of the valley and the box canyon,   Walton realized that the canyon could hold and contain the run off from rivers, streams, and floods waters.  A mass amount of water that could benefit the local farmers. Walton decided he would take up studying engineering in order to approach the idea with scientific studies, and surveys.  Tim Tschirhart a friend of Walton’s and a assistant on the survey work, remembered the great flood of 1900 when he was only seven years old.   In 1900 flood waters reached 40 feet and in 1901 flood waters reached 36 feet.  Around 1907 Another expedition explored the box canyon: Thomas B. Palfrey, Charles Cresson, Clint H. Kearny, Alex Walton, Terrell Bartlett, and Willis Ranny.  Cling Kearny contacted his employer in London, Dr. F. S. Pearson (A U.S. Citizen) and told him about the proposed project in the Median Box Canyon basin.  Dr. Pearson came to Texas and was impressed with the Medina area and the opinions and reports of the promotors.  On May 1, 1910, Dr. Fred Pearson contacted his wealthy friends in London and asked if they would be interested in the Medina project.  His friends was interested and helped raise money for the project.  The Medina Irrigation Company was established after the money was guaranteed. The sum of $6,000,000 was raised from selling bonds in the San Antonio Land and Irrigation Company.  The Medina County records located in Hondo, Texas, state that the Median Irrigation Company paid in cash and cash values the sum of $149,200.00 for land to be used for irrigation purposes.  Deeds in the Hondo County Clerks office indicate the average payment was $15.00 an acre in the reservoir area and $8.00 an acre in the canal area.  The land to be irrigated was estimated to be about 150,000 acres.  Two years or more was spent with surveys, inspections, and exploring the Medina River. The Holding capacity of the proposed reservoir was to be approximately 19,385,000,000 cubic feet, and flooding about 12,000 acres.
In the spring of 1911, the Median Irrigation Company contracted the Sunset Route of Southern Pacific Lines to transport men, materials, and machinery to the job site to assist in the construction of the Medina Project.  Clinton Hall Kearny was the chief engineer employed by Dr. Pearson.  Railroad tracks, telephone lines, and buildings were constructed for offices, storage, equipment, workers lodging, food and medical care.  The Medina Dam Reservoir was completed in 1913.  At the time of the completion of the Median Reservoir, it was the largest of its kind in North America. The 100th Continental Anniversary was  celebrated in 2012.   

~ ~ ~  
One of the early Bandera County Judges elected was Edward Merritt Ross, born in New York City on April 28, 1816 and died on March 22, 1906 in Bandera, Texas.  Edward Ross served as county judge several times.
From 1843 to 1848, Edward served under Colonel Kearney in the 9th Regiment of the United States Dragoons.  He earned the rank of sergeant and served during the US-Mexican War of 1846.  Sergeant Ross was discharged and later re-enlisted and for many years was stationed at the Army Camp located in Camp Verde, Texas, a few miles north of Bandera Pass.
Edward M Ross signed the “Texas Ordinance of Secession” on February 2, 1861, a document that officially separated Texas from the United States. In 1956 the Chief Justice was O. B. Miles.  E. Oborski was sworn in as County Judge on October 13, 1866.     
The first sheriff of Bandera County was Andrew Hoffman/Alexander Hoffmann (?) who was sworn into office in 1856. (Oldest Bandera County record on page A lists Andrew Hoffman as sheriff on March 21, 1856. Cannot explain the different spelling.  Andrew Hoffman may be the English version) 

Tombstone of Alexander Hoffmann. born in Bohemia, Killed by indians and
buried in Uvalde County March 23,1860. 
(Photo Courtesy of Doug King)

 The first County Court House constructed in Bandera County is believed to have been built in 1868.  A George Stonemason, Henry White is credited with building the structure.  In 1877 a store occupied the first floor and a Masonic Lodge held their meeting on the top floor.  Bandera County Commissioners bought the building in 1877 for county office and retained ownership until a larger County House was built in 1890.    
More information has surfaced and is being researched of a earlier County House constructed of wood before 1868.  Still looking for records.   
(County Court House photos courtesy of Doug King)

 First limestone court house constructed about 1868.

  Second and current limestone court house erected in 1890. This Courthouse design has striking similarities to the Courthouse build in “Boone County, Kentucky in 1889, designed by the McDonald Brothers.  B.F, Trester, who was also a contractor for the McDonald Brothers, is credited with the design of the Bandera County Court. 

City of Bandera,

Official deeds, Land transaction, and contracts in the Bandera area date back to early as 1837,  Names found and listed in official records for 1837: Hendrick Arnold, A. McMillian, Jose Rivas, Hezekiab Bissell, J. W. Sair, L Colunhoun, J. A. Delgado, and J. W. Smith.  In 1852, around spring time, a few more families had moved into Bandera (Bexar) County and settled along the Medina River setting up camps on the rivers’s north bank below what is now known as the City of Bandera. Among these families were P.D. Saner (from Tennessee), A.M. Milstead, and Thomas Odem.  After setting up their camps they started one of the first business industries located in the area, making cypress shingles. The cypress trees provided cover for their camps and were used to make roofing shingles, and the water from the river was close and plentiful for their families and animals.  The cypress wood was the prefect wood for roofing shingles because it resisted rot and was desirable in humid climates.  The shingles were taken on carts pulled by oxen to San Antonio de Bexar where they were sold  
(P.D. Saner built a limestone home about a hundred feet north of the river. (The home is still standing and is located on the corner of Maple and 11th Streets and was restored by the brother of the
  current County Judge (Oct, 2011), Richard A. Evans.  The Saner home is believed to be one of the oldest building in the City of Bandera). 

Photo from the University of Texas Library.  Born in 1825 and died January 1927.

Amasa Clark also came to Bandera County in 1852 and was believed to be the first permanent settler of Bandera County.  Clark was born in Scoharrie County in New York State on September 3, 1825.  Amasa enlisted in the US Army when he was seventeen years old.  He served under General Scott in the invasion of Mexico and marched from Vera Cruz to Mexico City.  After settling down in Bandera County in 1852, Amasa Clark reported that it was a wilderness inhabited only with wild beasts and wild men.   Amasa had 3 wives; Eliza Jane Wright from Liano, Texas, Frances Kalka, and Lucy Wedgeworth. He fathered 19 children.  Amasa Clark lived to be 102 years old, he died in January 1927 in Bandera, Texas.  
There were other families living in tents along the Medina river (now known as the city of Bandera), but they did not stay and moved on.  In the same year explorer and surveyor Charles de Montel ventured into the area on the Median River near the camps where shingles were made.  Montel liked the area and during this venture he met John James, a surveyor who was interested in the development of western Texas.  The two men camped near the river.  They liked the area because it was close to the river and thought it would be a great place for a township.  One year lated Montel and James returned to the camp site by the river and selected an area adjacent to the Medina River.  They acquired 15,000 acres of surrounding land and created a township development, the town of Bandera ( Established in 1853).  They built a sawmill known as the 
“Bandera Mills” of James-Montel-Herndon & Company.

       Charles D. Montel                            John James
 In 1854 a Mormon colony under the  leadership of Lyman Wight settled in Bandera above the basin of the Medina Dam in an area known as Mountain Valley.  The Mormons’ acquired land, farmed, raised cattle, and built a furniture factory.  The furniture craftsmanship of the mormons was known throughout the area and provided a good income for the colony.  The furniture was taken to San Antonio de Bexar where it was sold.  
The Indian raids and molestations of the Mormons’ aggravated Lyman Wight.  He wrote letters to the Texas governor asking for protection and expected the governor to send detachments of soldiers to protect the colony.  Instead, he only received sympathy and no soldiers.  In 1858 Wight had plans to break up the colony and go into Mexico to convert the pagans.  These plans never happened.  During a trip to San Antonio, Wight became ill and died.  After the death of Wight the Mormon colony broke up and the settlement was abandoned.  The exact location of Mountain Valley is below Mormon Bluff, twelve miles up from the dam and under water. 

Lyman Wight
Photo from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.
The founders of Bandera were Charles D. Montel, John James, and John Herndon. The three men created a company and built lumber mills in the Bandera area. The large cypress trees along the Median River provided lots of lumber for making shingles and created jobs that brought many of the immigrants from San Antonio de Bexar and surrounding areas that settled in Bandera.  On December 3, 1854 a large group of Silesia Polish immigrants arrived at the Indianola port.  They traveled inland, most of them on foot, on a northern route to Panna Maria where a Polish priest, Father Leopold Moczygemba, had acquired land for a Polish settlement (First Polish Settlement In Texas).  After a few months and harsh conditions a group of eleven Polish Silesian families left Panna Maria and came to Bandera.  They had heard the news of the Bandera lumber mills that needed workers and paid wages, and that there was a river near the town.  In Panna Maria, they had to pay twenty five-cents a barrel for water.  There is conflicting information on when the Silesian families actually arrived in Bandera.  The actual date of their arrival is not known and some sources report there were 16 families.  One source has eleven Polish families arriving in Bandera County the later part of 1855,  compiled by Polish Priest Reverend Edward J. Dworaczyk, and published by the “Naylor Company” in San Antonio, Texas.  Father Dworaczyk compiled this book for the Texas Centennial in 1936
“The First Polish Colonies of America In Texas”. (page 101) After extensive research of immigration records, marriage and birth records, ships logs and land deeds, the following information was found and documented by the Silesian Profiles Committee sponsored by the Father Leopold Moczygemba Foundation and Panna Maria Historical Society in Texas. Books were printed and published by the Panna Maria Historical Society; 
Silesian Profiles 2004, and Silesian Profiles 2005. 
In 1855 the number of Polish Silesian families who first came to Bandera county was “Eleven”,  Four additional families arrived later from 1856 to 1879 and more Polish Silesian families came after 1879.  From 1855 up to 1900, no more than 20 Polish families settled in Bandera County.
The first Silesian Polish Settlers were: Simon Adamietz, Franz Anderwald. Jon Dlugosz(John Dugosh), Thomas Haiduk, Franz Jureczki, Casper Kalka, Joseph Kalka, John Kindel(Kindla), Joseph Knappik/Knopik(Knappick), Franz Pyka, and Thomas Mazurek. These eleven original Polish settlers established St. Stanislaus Catholic parish and church, “the second oldest Polish Catholic Parish in the USA, and the oldest Polish Catholic Church continuously used in the USA”, constructed in 1876.  (St. Stanislaus Parish and a smaller wood log church was established in early 1855, and a smaller wood log church building was erected in 1855 or 1856). 
About 1866 to 1867, a larger Limestone Roman Catholic church was built in place of the small wood church.  Most of the labor was provided by the Polish settlers.  The Cypress logs from the wood church was used as part of the flooring.  In 2004 the interior was restored: utilities upgraded, the lowered ceiling was removed and restored to the original wood, and the cypress wood flooring was replaced with concrete and ceramic tile. The exterior of building still has it beautiful limestone structure.  


Photo of the descendants of early Polish Silesian Settlers.
Photo courtesy of Elenora Dugosh Goodley.

 The Polish settlers purchased land form Montel and James.  They built their houses, cultivated farms, developed ranches, constructed buildings and bridges, and helped develop and build the City of Bandera.  
German immigrants were also among the early immigrants who settled in Bandera.  In 1857, German merchant August Klappenback contracted a Polish settler, Jan Dlugosz, to build the first combined store and post office in the town of Bandera. Jan only spoke the Silesian/Polish language and communicated in sign language.  It had been reported that Dlugosz made the front door to the building from one slab of Cypress wood found near the Medina River in the Bandera area. (The original homestead/farm of Jan Dlugosz is still owned  and operated by his descendants.)   
  The farmers and ranchers provided cattle, pigs, milk, feed, and vegetables for the local area, nearby towns and San Antonio.  However, in the 1880’s, the declining prices for cattle forced some ranch owners to look for other means to make money.  Ranch owners learned that “Dude Guest Ranching” was a way to help keep their land so they took in guests to help with the expenses needed to raise cattle and operate their ranches.  Dude ranching in North America had begun as early as the 1870‘s near Estes Park in the state of Colorado.  Buffalo Bill Cody, Captain James Cook, and Howard Eaton are believed to be have led wilderness big-game hunting parties, and made the first arrangements with ranchers in several states to furnish guests (mostly from European countries) with room, board, and the chance to hunt.  The first dude ranching in Texas is believed to have started around 1920 in Bandera County at the Buck Ranch. Formerly owned and operated by the Edward Merritt Ross family. (Buck Ranch Directions: From Bandera, take FM 689 SE about 1 mile to Wharton's Dock Rd. & follow east about 2 miles to San Julian Creek. Pass Flying L. Ranch.  The Buck Ranch was founded in 1867 by former New Yorker and settler, Judge Edward M. Ross.  Judge Ross had fought in the Mexican war and served in the 1850’s at Camp Verde, a army camel post a few miles north of Bandera Pass.  The ranch was named after Judge Ross’s daughter, Kate Ross, wife of Ebenezer Buck, of a prominent pioneer family.)
“The Buck Ranch” became very successful in taking paying summer guests, so successful that a neighboring ranch, the Bruce Ranch, would take the guest overflow from the Buck Ranch.  The Buck Ranch continued operating until after the last death in the Buck family in 1966. 
During the time of World War 1, dude ranching declined and in most states failed to recover fully after the war.  However, the dude ranches in Bandera County continued to grow and thrive.  At the writing of this history (Sept. 14, 2011) there are about 15 or more dude guest ranches in Bandera County.  At one time during the mid 1850‘s, Bandera county was know as the “Dude Ranch Capitol”, but the title was contested and relinquished to 
Wickenburg, Arizona.   
 In the early 1920’s, the sport of the rodeo, riding wild horses, bronco riding, calf roping, bull riding, and other rodeo events began to grow in Bandera County.  Ed Mansfield, a local rancher, established Mansfield Park just northwest of the City of Bandera where the first large advertised rodeo was held.  The rodeo was a huge success and Mansfield Park became the training grounds for many rodeo champions and produced a number of rodeo cowboy world champions who have been inducted into the “National Cowboy Hall of Fame”.  For such a small city with a small population, the city of Bandera earned the name and the right to be called “The Cowboy Capitol of the World”.  From the 1930’s to the current year of 2011 the rodeo traditions have continued with events at Mansfield Park and approximately 30 dude guest ranches in Bandera County.  Young rodeo cowboys born and raised in Bandera County are still winning championships and making the
 “The Cowboy Capitol of the World” proud.
On July 12, 1984, the Texas Senate passed a Concurrent Resolution designating the City of Bandera as the “Trick and Fancy Roping Capital” of the Republic of Texas.  Signed by the 43rd Governor of Texas,                Mark Wells White Jr., on July 12, 1984.     
The first elected Mayor of the City of Bandera was Ray Marvin Hay February 1964-April 1968. Those that followed were; Gilbert Scheele 04/1968-04/1970, Wilvie D. Smith 04/1970-04/1984, 04/1986-01/1988, Raymond J Adamietz 01/1988-05/1994, Robert W. Cowan-04/1984-04/1986, 05/1996-05/2001, Robert Skinner 05/1994-05/1996, Linda C. Stein 05/2001-05/2002, Denise Griffin 05/2002-05/2008,  Horst Pallaske 05/2008-05/2012, Maggie Schumacher Mayor Pro Tem 2012/2013, Don Clark 2013/2014, and present Mayor John Hegemier, term from 2014-2016.      
The first police chief was Walter Welsh and the last Police chief was James Eigner. The Bandera Police department was abolished in 2012 and replaced with a City Marshall and Deputy.  Current Marshal is Will Dietrich. 
~ ~ ~ 

In 2016, tourism is the main industry of the County and City of Bandera, Texas.  Farming and agriculture are still part of the counties economy.  A few Ranchers in Bandera County are stocking their ranches with imported animals for hunting.  People from different parts of the world come to vacation and experience the “Old Western Cowboy Lifestyle” that still exists in the City and County of Bandera. There are many celebrations and events held throughout each year.  The Bandera County Visitors and Business Bureau was established in 1989.
The Chamber of Commerce was established in (information coming).
In 2011, the Texas Historical Commission approved a Texas Historical Marker, designating Bandera as the “Cowboy Capital of the World”.  The Texas Senate and House of Representatives passed resolutions recognizing and designating Bandera as the “Cowboy Capital of the World”.  Texas Senate Resolution No.769, signed by President of the Senate, David Dewhurst, on April 29, 2013, and Texas House Resolution No. 2595, signed by Representative, Harvey Hilderbran District 53, on May 24, 2013.
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD---Extension of Remarks.
Recognizing Bandera, Texas as the 
“Cowboy Capital of the World”
November 19, 2014
Sister Cities International - Sister Partnerships       
In 2004, 2005, and 2011, the county and city of Bandera established “Sister Partnership” agreements with the City and Counties of Strzelce Opolskie, Poland and          Tysmenytsia, Ukraine.
August 19, 2004 - City of Strzelce Opolskie, located in the district(County) and region(State) of Opole in Poland.
October 15, 2005 - District(County) of Strzelce Opolskie, located in the region of Opole, Poland. 
June 2011 - District and City of Tysmenytsia, located in the district(County) of the Ivano-Frankivsh region in Ukraine. 
January 2014 -  Visit to Aimargues, France, located in the Camargue Region of Southern France. Sister Partnership Negotiations and communications pending.      
“ Historical facts and additional information is continually added to this page.”
Thank you for your patience.
County History written by:
Elenora Dugosh Goodley - Web-site Editor 
Information, Photos, and Sources:
Commissioner Doug King
History of Texas, Wikipedia Encyclopedia Online.
Center for American History.
Atlas of Texas, Ethnolinguistic Distribution of Indians in 1776,
University of Texas in Austin, 1976.
University of Texas Library, the University of Texas Press, 
Trail drivers of Texas.  
The Texas State Library & Archives Commission,
“Indian Relations in Texas”, and “Triumph and Tragedy”,
presidents of the Republic of Texas.
UT Library in Austin, Texas, Texas Beyond History.
Bexar County, Wikipedia Encyclopedia Online.
The Longhorns, by J. Frank Dobie.
Western Cattle Trails.
Ripples from Medina Lake, by The Reverend Cyril Matthew Kuehne, S.M.
A Tejano Son of Texas, by Rudi R. Rodriguez, copyright 2002.
The First Polish Colonies of America in Texas, by Rev. Edward J. Dworaczyk.
Silesian Profiles 2004 and 2005, published by the Panna Maria Historical Society.  Original copyright of1999, 2004 and 2005.
Bexar County, Texas American History Genealogy Project of Texas.
The Handbook of Texas Online/Texas State Historical Association (TSHA)

Copyright 2010 © Bandera County Historical Commission

Bandera County, Texas USA

All Rights Reserved

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