in a Pecan ShellEmpresario
Henri Castro had been granted permission from the Republic of Texas to
recruit European settlers and populate the area around the Medina River.
Alsace is seldom mentioned without her sister-province of Lorraine, but here
the emphasis is on Alsace and Alsatians
Henri's travels took him away from his Texas "home" frequently
and he's not buried in the town named after him - but his wife Amelia is. His
former home with its neat-as-a-pin appearance is typical of the majority of homes
Magnolia Gas Station|
simple brick building c. 1910|
Town Square & Walking TourCastroville
was the original County Seat of Medina County and the former courthouse now serves
as city offices.
See "First County
Courthouse" Historical Marker.
The greenery on either side of
the walk are fine, healthy specimens of Texas Mountain Laurel and we regret our
photo doesn't show them in bloom.
The spacious and uncrowded Castroville
"town square" is more reminiscent of a Mexican Plaza. Follow signs for a walking
tour of Historic Castroville.
Several excellent restaurants are
within walking distance and the unhurried mood of Castroville is bolstered by
the attitude of the restaurant's management. These are restaurants for conversation
The Moye Retreat Center now occupies the grounds and
buildings of a former convent that also became a boy's military academy during
the 1940s and 50s.
building of the former Military Academy |
County courthouse Historical Marker Text:|
1854; first permanent courthouse in Castroville, the first seat (1848-1892) of
Medina County. When built, structure was on old road to San
This building took place of temporary office space which
County Court had used 6 years. It was built by Joseph Burger and has 18-inch-thick
walls of native limestone.
Additions to original building include one-story
wings on both sides and outside staircase to the second floor.
became County Seat this building was used as a school; now houses City Hall.
Marker on Houston Square, Castroville|
1842, Empresario Henry Castro brought his first colonists to Texas
to settle land west of the Medina River. Most of the immigrants were from the
Rhine River area of Europe. Many claimed the province of Alsace, on the border
of France and Germany, as their homeland. The Alsatian colonists brought with
them their combined French and German heritage, which has left a distinctive mark
on this area of the state.
In 1844, Castro laid out a townsite, which
the settlers chose to name Castroville. It became the center of Alsatian culture
in Texas. The houses, European in style, are primarily
single-story dwellings of cut limestone, mortared with adobe, and white-washed.
Over the years, farming has been the major occupation of people in the area, as
it was in Alsace. The Alsatian immigrants and their descendants have made a distinct
impression on area politics, holiday customs, cusine, and religion. Winemaking,
using grapes grown along the Medina River, is another early tradition that has
continued over the years. The history of Alsatians in Texas
is a reflection of ethnic and cultural diversity in the state's rich heritage.
Marker on September Square, Castroville|
a native of Bayonne, France, and the descendant of Portuguese nobility, served
briefly in Napoleon's French Army. In 1813 he married Marie Amelia Mathias. He
later immigrated to the United States and in 1827 became a naturalized U.S. Citizen.
He returned to France in 1838 and joined the banking house of Lafitte and Company.
While there he helped negotiate a loan for the Republic of Texas for which a grateful
President Sam Houston later appointed him Texas' General Consul in Paris. Between
1843 and 1847 Castro administered, as Empresario, the settlement of at least 2,134
European colonists in this area. Castro eventually exhausted his own personal
wealth to sustain his colonial effort. His extraordinary dedication to his colonists
has led many to compare him favorably to the legendary Stephen
F. Austin. Henri and Marie lived in Castroville with their four foster children.
By 1860, however, the family was living in San
Antonio. Henri and his son, Lorrenzo, traveled to Eagle
Pass to run a family mercantile business. On his way to France in 1865, Castro
was diverted to Monterrey, Mexico, where he became ill and died. He was buried
in Monterrey in 1865. In 1876 the newly created Castro County, Texas, was named
for Henri Castro.
Castro's former residence in Castroville|
Marker on 1107 Fiorella Street, Castroville|
of the Homestead of Henri Castro
Castro (1786-1861), a naturalized American of French origin, befriended the
Republic of Texas and became interested in settling here. In 1842 he was given
authority to establish a colony of Europeans in Southwest Texas. He succeeded
in obtaining some land here on the Medina, from a 1766 grant made by Chares III
of Spain. He recruited 485 families and 457 single men, mostly Alsatians. Using
his personal wealth, he cared for the colonists as though they were his children.
In 1844 he had the Castroville townsite platted, reserving as his homestead this
block next to the courthouse site,
in the center of town. He erected a stone dwelling and outbuildings, and planted
an experimental garden, to discover crops suited to the locality. Bringing his
wife Amelia (Mathias) and their four foster children from France, he lived here
permanently. As a moral obligation, he continued to direct the state affairs for
his colony, although it had impoverished him. On the eve of a trip abroad when
the Civil War was beginning (1861), Castro and his wife deeded the homestead to
their adopted son, Lorenzo. Castro died at Monterrey, Mexico, soon afterward,
and was buried there. Lorenzo sold the homestead in 1872.
Right "downtown" at Hwy 90 and the traffic light at
Florence Street. A former stagecoach stop, the Landmark Inn still accepts
The restoration is complete - but the interiors only back
to the 1940s. The attention to detail even went so far as to track down the original
linoleum pattern, which was found in Europe.
402 East Florence Street, Castroville 78009
Phone: (830) 931-2133
by the Texas Historical Commission since January 1, 2008.
No longer a part
of the State Park system.
as a one-story home and store, about 1844, by French settler Caesar Monad. Later
became Vance Inn, after top floor and bath house were added, to accommodate travelers.
Civil War bullets were made of lead lining peeled off a room of the bath house,
in 1860's. After 1927, Jordan T. Lawler and his sister, Ruth Lawler, natives of
New Orleans, La., owned and restored inn.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1965.
River & Castroville
Castroville has a spacious park (Castroville Regional Park) along the picturesque
banks of the Medina River. Facilities include RV hookups and a pool. Follow the
conveniently posted signs and enjoy the houses along the way.
Canyon State Natural Area
Galm Rd San Antonio TX 78254 210/688-9055
- North of Castroville
Area Chamber of Commerce
P. O. Box 572 · 802 London St. Castroville, Texas
830-538-3142 or 800-778-6775 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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