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Former Wilson County seat

Texas Ghost Town
Wilson County, South Texas

29° 16' 24" N, 98° 3' 24" W (29.273333, -98.056667)
Hwy 87 at FM 539
NE of Floresville the county seat
14 miles SW of Seguin
27 miles SW of New Braunfels
21 miles E of San Antonio
Population: 600 est. (2017)
362 est. (2000, 1990)

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Old Town Sutherland Springs  panaramic view
A Panoranic View of Old Town Sutherland Springs
TE photo, 2000

History in a Pecan Shell

Sutherland Springs was founded by a Dr. John Sutherland Jr. who set up a post office and stagecoach stop in 1851. It was officially designated the County Seat of Wilson County in 1860, but folks were busy during the Civil War and when it was over, some people preferred Floresville as county seat and so it was.

When the railroad came in 1877, it became known as the "Saratoga of the South" for its waters.

You have to look hard to find information on Sutherland Springs beyond what is found in the Handbook of Texas. To furnish our readers with more than this we turned to the excellent Taking the Waters in Texas: Springs, Spas and Fountains of Youth by Janet Mace Valenza. (University of Texas Press, 2000)

Sutherland Springs was an extremely popular resort and there was a claim that within a very small area there were over 100 separate sulphur springs. The main bathing areas were by the river (Cibolo Creek) and the one with darker water was called "black springs" and was reserved for men while women used the "white springs". One legend has it that the waters of the Black Springs never froze.

Attempts were made to bottle the water from Sutherland Springs and shares were sold; however no bottling plant ever materialized. The springs were popular with religious groups for holding revivals there and after 1917, the US Army contracted to have wounded soldiers from WWI recuperate there.

Because of its isolation, trains were about the only way to visit the springs. During its heyday women and children would take a train to the springs during the week and then fathers/ husbands would join them on the weekend.

Sutherland Springs TX - Swimming Pool & Bath House
Swimming Pool & Bath House
Sutherland Springs, Texas

Click on image to enlarge
Photo courtesy Danny Whatley

Sutherland Springs Landmarks

Today what was Sutherland Springs sits just South and East of the highway. Two buildings spaced far apart are all that is left of the Old Town, although there are street signs.

One of the buildings is the former bank. Hackberry trees (and poison ivy) now grow in the middle of the roofless room and the vault is still there with its cast iron ornamentation around the door.

Sod farms have become a part of the local economy and the owners of the old 52 room Hotel Sutherland razed it to have soil to grow more grass. The building had been closed since 1923.

In 1990 the population is given as 362 (est.), however "old" Sutherland Springs rounds out at 0.
Sutherland Springs TX - Old town bank ruins
50% of what's left of downtown Sutherland Springs
TE photo, 2000
Sutherland Springs TX - tree grows in bank
Our Guide and Host, C.F. Eckhardt
old building in old town Sutherland Springs, Texas
The building that is not the former bank
Sutherland Springs TX - Old town bank vault with tree
Roofless bank building in ghost town Sutherland Springs
L- The bank vault
R- Back of bank building
Sutherland Springs TX - Polley Houst
The Joseph Polley House (c. 1850)
still stands on Highway 87 near Sutherland Springs
TE photos, November 2000
Sutherland Springs, Texas  cowboys
Sutherland Springs Old Photos
Early 1900s photo courtesy James M Ziegler

Sutherland Springs Related Stories

  • Tyrant's Gold by Mike Cox (Texas Tale Column)
    When General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna came to Texas in 1836 he left behind death and destruction -- and possibly gold.

  • Sutherland Springs Forum

  • Subject: Sutherland Springs
    Dear TE, I just discovered tonight that my great grandparents were living in Sutherland Springs in 1880.

    My great grandmother died in that year. I don’t know where she is buried. Is there a cemetery in the area? And are there any records of inhabitants and how long they might have been there?

    After her death my great grandfather moved the family to San Antonio, remaining until his five children were grown and married, and my mother was born. ( He ended up buried in Seattle but that’s another story.) Neither she nor my aunt, her older sister, ever mentioned the Springs. I don’t think they knew about it, or forgot it, in my aunt’s case. This is all new family history for me and I am quite excited.

    My great grandfather was Harvey Columbus Neal, a Confederate veteran from SC; his wife was Mary Louise Gee Neal of MS. They had moved to Texas from Tennessee to “help (Mary’s) father and brother John with a cattle drive”, and stayed, possibly for the climate - poor Mary died of TB. I wonder if they settled at Sutherland thinking that the waters would help her. i believe it was during the 1880’s that there was a house fire, destroying any family papers and pictures, so what info I have comes from the 1880 census, courtesy of the Civil War Trust.

    I am a strong supporter of efforts to preserve local history and so send this in case it is of any value. - Sincerely, Deborah Keeting-Hansen Sequim WA, January 10, 2015
  • Wilson County TX 1907 Postal Map
    1907 Postal Map showing Sutherland Springs
    (in northern Wilson County near Bexar & Guadalupe County lines)

    Courtesy Texas General Land Office

    Take a road trip
    Sutherland Springs, Texas Nearby Towns:
    San Antonio
    New Braunfels
    See Wilson County | South Texas | Central Texas South

    Book Hotel Here:
    San Antonio Hotels | Seguin Hotels | More Hotels
    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, landmarks and vintage/historic photos, please contact us.
    Our special thanks to Author and Raconteur C.F. Eckhardt who guided us to Sutherland Springs and suggested it be included in our Ghost Town series. Eckhardt is the author of several books on Texas Folklore. Today his columns are published here in Texas Escapes. - Editor
































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