History in a Pecan Shell
The town dates from 1848 when one John Hemphill settled alongside
the Fredericksburg-San Antonio road. Six years later he was joined
by eight other settlers. This loosely-knit community took its first
step toward becoming a town when Friedrich Wilhelm Doebbler opened
his Doebbler's Inn hostelry in 1860.
Around this time Grapetown's economy was based on cattle. Grapetown
remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War and at least two
local men played cat and mouse with Confederate patrols in the area.
Doebbler hosted the town's first school in his home in 1859. About
1870 a nine-to-ten-month school was opened with teachers paid by subscription.
A stone school was built in 1880, and from 1885 to 1888 a post office
operated within the walls of Doebbler's Inn.
1887 a singing club and a shooting club merged (allowing members to
sing while shooting) and as if that wasn't enough, Grapetown then
started the first annual Gillespie County Schuetzenfest (shooting
festival). The Handbook of Texas allows that during this festival,
140 kegs of beer were consumed in four days - but gives no information
on the accuracy of the marksmen.
and Northern Railway arrived in 1913. Otto Cowan, grandson of
Friedrich Doebbler, had the sad duty of closing Doebbler's Inn in
When Highway 87 was rerouted through Comfort
in 1932, Grapetown's economy predicably declined.
In 1944 Grapetown's school consolidated with Rocky
Hill. The schoolhouse was purchased by the community and is in
use as community center.
From 145 people in 1900 (estimated) Grapetown was down to just 70
by the mid 60s.
"There's really not a whole lot left of this town beyond the
cemetery, the original sign in German, the school house, and two other
buildings." - Shannan
Yarbrough , June 2005
Correction to Grapetown School Photos
Shannan Yarbrough did a really nice job taking pictures of the Grapetown
School and School Teachers House. However, all of the photos on Grapetown-Schoolhouse-Texas.htm
are of the School Teacher's House and not the school. The school is
adjacent and does not have a full length porch as does the teacher's
I am involved in the community club activities which are held in the
school house and live about 1 mile west near Walter Doebbler's homestead.
The top picture on [this page] shows the school house to the right
and the back of the teacher's house to the left. Thanks for listening!
- Jim Thompson, A Barn at the Quarry, June 16, 2006
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