Fayette County, Texas
FAYETTE COUNTY, TEXAS BULLETIN BOARD
Received the following email from H. E. Rast
In your history of Fayette County, you did not mention or cover the Live Oak Hill
Community. What can you tell me about that place. Perhaps you intent to
include it in a future addition to your history. Please advise me if you do.
Thanks. H. E. Rast (email@example.com).
Per your request, we have added coverage of Live Oak Hill. Thanks for writing.
Received the following email from B A Hyatt regarding some of his Fayette County ancesters:
April 16, 2010 12:12
I am B A Hyatt and am the great, great grandson of two Fayette County early settlers. My search began with W. F. Heller, who was the first farmer in Randall County in the Texas Panhandle and the first County Clerk when the County was organized was born in Fayette County to Francis A. (later shortened to Frank) Heller and his unknown wife, as were his sister Annettie, and brother, Frank Jr.
The mother of these three died either at the birth of Frank Jr. or shortly afterward. Frank then married Caroline Hillmann and had five children by her. Frank is buried in Florida Chapel Cemetery but his first wife's maiden name and place of burial have not been found. Frank's daughter Annettie was the mother of my grandfather, John A. Murchison but we didn't know where the Murchison's came from until I found a deed showing that in April 1849 Frank Heller bought 100 acres of land from John Murchison. Researching this proved that the Duncan A. Murchison (Annettie's husband) and his father John were from Fayette County. These were only names in the family bible, which I have until this deed was discovered.
The Bible lists John Murchison's wife as Sarah Ann Terry born 9 Aug 1806. The accounts I have seen in print say she was probably a Robinson, but the Bible record say Terry. Duncan went with his father on a gold hunting trip to California, and continued after John was accidently shot and buried in Arizona. Upon his later return to Texas, Duncan married Harriet Dodson and had two daughters with her, served in the Confederate army, burried his first wife and then married Annettie Heller in Fayette County.
He was nineteen years old and Annettie was two when the land deed was signed in 1849. Duncan and Annettie moved to Lampasas at some point and Duncan died there in 1883. Nettie lived until 1926 and was buried at Abilene, Texas. Their first son was John Alexander Murchison, my grandfather who moved his family from Buffalo Gap near Abilene to Dickens County, settling there in 1901. The house he built there still stands in ruins, today. I was born in that house. Fayette County research has been a gem to me in trying to record family history.
If you have any knowlege of or know where to find information regarding the maiden name's and death records of either of my g, g grandmother's I would greatly appreciate it. (wife of Frank Heller & wife of John Murchison).
I have established contact with descendents of Duncan and his first wife, and of a sister of Duncan's, as well as descendents of one of John's brothers, who settled in Georgia. Also with Patsy Kuentz decended from the brother of Frank Heller, Pladcide Heller who also lived in Fayette County. Patsy now lives in San Antonio. Patsy has written a book about the Heller's of Fayette County and together we have a lot of pictures of them in early days. If you desire further information or know the answers to my questions, please contact me.
B A Hyatt
Received the following informative email from Carolyn Heinsohn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dear Mr. Kubiak,
Greetings from Fayette County! I just discovered your nice website through a link and quickly read through your account of Fayette County History. There were three errors that I noticed.
First of all, I'd like to validate that I am fairly knowledgeable about Fayette County History, so am only critiquing your history in order to have the correct facts out there in cyberspace. I was the co-author of the two volume Fayette County Heritage history books published in 1996 and currently am the editor of and frequent contributor to the column Footprints of Fayette written by members of the Fayette County Historical Commission. It is published weekly in five area newspapers. I am also one of the founders of the Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center located here in La Grange, served on its board for ten years, was the developer and editor of their newsletter for ten years and the developer and compiler of their annual calendar for nine years. I have also written multiple articles on Czech history for various publications. I was also the co-chairperson to help develop a pictorial exhibit on every community in the county for our 175th anniversary in September 2012.
The three errors that I noted were: Dubina was the first Moravian settlement in Texas - not Bohemian. The settlers came from small villages in the vicinity of Frenstat pod Radostem, Moravia. There are more Moravians in Texas than Bohemians; in fact, more Moravians came to Texas than any other state in the U.S. What made it confusing, however, were the census enumerators and the workers at the ports of entry who collectively labeled all Czechs as Bohemians. However, the early Czech settlers of Praha were mostly from Bohemia.
Roznov was named by Ben Halamicek after his town of origin, Roznov, Moravia in the Empire of Austria (at the time of his emigration, there was no Czechoslovakia; Slovakia had been under the rule of the Kingdom of Hungary for over 800 years; Moravia and Bohemia had been under the rule of the Empire of Austria for 400 years - they combined in the mid-19th century to form the Empire of Austria-Hungary, which was defeated in WWI. The empire dissolved, and Czechoslovakia was created in 1918 from Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia and a very small part of Silesia and Ruthenia. It ceased to exist after the Velvet Revolution in 1989.)
The correct spelling is Halsted, not Halstead. For some reason, that misspelling has been perpetuated by everyone, even the state. The Handbook of Texas lists it as Halstead, the Highway sign states Halstedt, but I have relatives who married into the Wessels family, who literally owned the entire town. They have old photographs that distinctly show the name Halsted painted on the outside of the community hall. Plus, the earlier histories of the county have the correct spelling. Go to www.fayettecountyhistory.org/ and click on communities. You'll see an article that I wrote on Halsted. Click on Footprints of Fayette to find an article that I wrote on Joseph Peter who was the "mover and shaker" in Dubina. Some of my earlier articles were under my former name, Carolyn Meiners. There's a wealth of information on that website.
Thank you for your interest in our county.
If any of you wish to post information on this website, send me an email. Also appreciate any related photos and stories for posting.
HISTORY OF FAYETTE COUNTY, TEXAS
By Leonard Kubiak, author and Texas Historian of Rockdale, texas
Fayette County Established in 1837
Fayette County, established in 1837 and covering some 950 square miles, is located approximately sixty miles southeast of Austin in the Blackland Prairies region of south central Texas. The area was part part of Stephen F. Austin's first colony along the fertile lands of the Colorado River.
Fayette County, named after American Revolution hero General LaFayette, was formed out of part of two adjoining counties, Bastrop and Colorado. The county actually began to function on January 18, 1840. The early settlers were Anglos, mainly form the southern states. In the 1840's and 1850's, many Germans and Czechs immigrated to Fayette County. Today the County has an estimated population of 21, 768.
Fayette County Established in 1837
Prior to European settlement, the area now designated Fayette County, was occupied by Paleo people as indicated by an abundance of Clovis and Plainview flint artifacts. By the 1500's, relatively large populations of Lipan Apaches and Tonkawa Indians inhabited the region and hunting parties from the Comanches, Wacos, and Kichais frequently came down the Colorado River in search of game. In the early 1700's, Spanish explorers passed through the area following the La Bahía Road, which ran southwest to northeast and crossed the river at the site of present La Grange. La Bahía Road was the major route for travel when Mexico controlled the area.
Earliest White Settlers in the Region
The earliest known white settlers in the region that became Fayette County were Aylett C. Buckner and Peter Powell who lived on La Bahía Road west of La Grange, where they established a trading post. Formal settlement of Fayette County began in 1822 with the arrival of the Austin colonists. From 1824 to 1828, ten members of the Old Three Hundred received title to their land grants in the fertile Colorado River valley. Another settler, William Rabb received four leagues for establishing a mill. A total of ninety-two Mexican land grants were granted in the area that is now Fayette County.
The earliest settlers gathered at Wood's Fort, Moore's Fort (La Grange), the James Ross home, and Jesse Burnam's blockhouse, twelve miles below La Grange. Burnam's Ferry on the Colorado River provided a cutoff route from La Bahía Road to San Felipe. Prior to Texas independence, the area above La Bahía Road was in the Mina Municipality and the area below in the Municipality of Colorado. Gotier's Trace, the Wilbarger Trace, and the La Grange-San Felipe road intersected La Bahía Road. Ferries were used to cross the Colorado River until the first bridge was built at La Grange in 1883.
Fayette County Established(1837)
On December 14, 1837, the citizens petition for a county was approved by the Republic of Texas Congress establishing the county of Fayette, named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. La Grange, the name of the chateau to which Lafayette retired, was designated the county seat. The citizens organized the county government on January 18, 1838, and the southwestern boundary of the county was extended westward on May 3, 1838. The county lost territory in the south to Lavaca County in 1854 and in the north to Lee County in 1874.
Life in early day Fayette County
Life in the newly-established county was tough. New settlers had to clear land, build homes, and guard against attacks by bands of Comanches, Wacos, and Kichais Indians that frequently came through the area on hunting trips. When threat from invading war parties was high, the settlers grouped together often aided by the friendly Lipan Apache and Tonkawa Indians. During the Texas revolution, Fayette County volunteered more than 50 men to join with Sam Houston at the battle of San Jacinto and provided fighting men for the Somervell, Mier,and Dawson expeditions. In 1848 the remains of the men killed in the Dawson Massacre and in Perote Prison were returned to Fayette County and interred on Monument Hill.
The first private schools opened in the county as early as 1834 and by the 1840's, academies and institutes were operated in La Grange, Fayetteville, and Round Top. The Methodists founded Rutersville College, one of the first colleges in Texas, in 1840; it consolidated with the Texas Military Institute, Galveston, in 1856. The earliest churches organized in the county were Methodist (1838), Baptist (1839), Presbyterian (1841), and Episcopal (1852).
Most of the early settlers were from the Old South, but the Austin Colony also included a few German immigrants. In 1832 Joseph Biegel received title to a league in the area and developed the first German community in the county, Biegel Settlement. In the 1840s many more German immigrants settled in Fayette County. The Adelsverein purchased a league in 1843 and established a plantation called Nassau Farm.
La Grange Intelligencer Newspaper (1844-1846)
The La Grange Intelligencer, a Fayette County weekly newspaper, began publication about January 25, 1844, with James Langley and William P. Bradburn as editor and publisher. The four-column, four-page paper carried the motto "Westward! the Star of empire takes its way." The yearly subscription rate was $6.50; political card insertions cost $4.00 and the announcements of candidates, $10.
A typical issue had exchange articles on the first page, editorials on the second, and personal items on the third; the fourth page was devoted to advertisements and court notices. William B. McClellan was publisher by August 1845. Smallwood S. B. Fields, who became editor about May 30, 1844, announced that he planned to devote a part of each issue to information on "Politics, Science, Agriculture, Religion, Foreign Affairs, Miscellaneous Items, and Domestic Matters" but kept the right to "animadvert freely" on government practice.
In policy the paper was against Sam Houston and for Edward Burleson for president in 1844; Fields engaged in an editorial war with Thomas Johnson of the National Vindicator. In the September 12, 1845, issue, Fields asked for the friends of the paper to support it with "corn, fodder, potatoes, meat, lumber, cattle, or anything from a dozen eggs to a stick of firewood" to keep it from closing. Evidently his appeal was in vain, for the final issue was published on September 19, 1846.
The Far West Newspaper (1847-1846)
The Far West, successor to the La Grange Intelligencer, began publication on February 13, 1847, and appeared at least through May 22, 1847, when a prospectus indicated no idea of discontinuing the paper. J. Austin Martin was editor, and William G. Webb was associated with the paper, possibly as publisher. A six-column, six-page paper, the Far West resembled the Intelligencer in content but cut its subscription rate to $3.00 annually. Martin stated on May 22, 1847, that his chief objective was promotion of agricultural interests in the area.
Immigrants Attracted to Fayette County Beginning in the 1850's
During the mid-1850s sizable numbers of Bohemian Czechs began moving into the county and in 1856 established the first Bohemian settlement in Texas called Dubina.
At this same time, the looming civil War drove southern plantation owners to Texas and soon a thriving plantation economy emerged. These new plantations produced significant quantities of corn, tobacco, wool, and cotton for shipping to outside markets.
La Grange Paper (1855-1855)
The La Grange Paper, successor to the La Grange Texas Monument, began publication at La Grange, Fayette County, on February 24, 1855. William B. McClellan, the editor, advertised himself as an American and Protestant devoted to the welfare of La Grange and Fayette County. His editorials indicated little optimism for the success of his paper, bemoaned the few subscribers (175 instead of a desired 600), and threatened that he would move elsewhere unless he received better patronage. The issue of June 30, 1855, contained a severe attack on the antislavery German population of Fayette County. The last issue o*f the paper, September 29, 1855, indicated that publication was ceasing because of the editor's impaired health and lack of public support of the paper.
African-American Slaves Brought to Fayette County in the 1850's
To clear land, harvest crops, and perform other forms of labor, planters brought in large numbers of African-American slaves. By 1860, Fayette County had more than 3700 slaves scattered over 1,000 farms containing 75,463 improved acres and producing over 12,000 bales of cotton and 300,000 bushels of corn.
Fayette County During the Civil War era
Despite Fayette County's large slave population, voters in the county rejected secession by a margin of forty-six votes (626 against, 528 for), primarily due to the area's German and Bohemian residents, who opposed slavery. Despite the result, after the war broke out three volunteer companies were immediately organized, and before the war's end a total of about 800 men had served in the Confederate army.
The Civil War and its aftermath wrecked the local economy with lack of markets for their farming products and for many whites, the abolition of slavery meant devastating economic loss. Before the war slaves had constituted more than a third of all taxable property in the county, and their loss coupled with a sharp decline in property values caused a profound disruption for most planters.
The county's African Americans fared no better. Although most of the county's black residents remained, many left the farms owned by their former masters to seek better working conditions. For the vast majority, the change brought only marginal improvement in their living and working conditions; most ended up working on the land on shares, receiving one-third or one-half of the crop for their labors.
During Reconstruction Fayette County received little attention from federal political or military authorities. Federal troops were stationed there only briefly, and there was little of the violence that many other areas experienced. The economy began to recover in the late 1860s, and by 1870 production levels neared or exceeded the 1860 figures. During the next three decades the county experienced a long period of growth, fueled in large measure by a surge of new German and Slavic residents. Many of the early plantation owners, hard-pressed to make ends meet without their bondsmen, sold their lands to German, Bohemian, or Wendish settlers, who in turn sold portions of it to others. As a result the large plantations that had dominated early day Texas were gradually replaced by smaller, more numerous farms.
However, the number of acres under cultivation grew dramatically after the war. Although the new farms were smaller, they tended to be much more productive because of intensive cultivation by the Germans and Bohemians. Most of these small farmers grew cabbages, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peas, turnips, and peaches, but the leading cash crops remained cotton and corn. In 1880 farmers produced 24,766 bales of cotton and 694,833 bushels of corn; by 1890 cotton output had grown to 37,559 bales, and corn production topped 912,000 bushels.
Influence of the German, Czech and Wend Immigrants after the Civil War
The influx of German, Czechs, and Wends after the Civil War altered the cultural face of the county. Although some of the new settlers moved in from other counties, including most of the Wends, many of the settlers were new immigrants who brought their own distinct culture with them. The tide of immigration was particularly strong in the 1880s, as numerous additional German and Bohemian settlers arrived.
In 1885, the Svoboda, a weekly Czech-language newspaper, was established at La Grange in Fayette County by friends of Judge Augustin Haidušek. The purpose of the paper, the name of which means "liberty," was to give Haidušek a Czech-language journal friendly to his policy of supporting English-language instruction in public schools. Svoboda, edited by Haidušek until Jaroslav Chudoba of New York arrived to take over, had only 400 subscribers and was more than $2,000 in debt in 1887, when Haidušek took charge again. In three years the debt had been paid off and the paper had more than 2,000 subscribers. Haidušek became sole owner in 1890 and continued to manage the paper in the interests of the Democratic party until 1927, when publication ceased.
By 1890 nearly one-fourth of the county's residents (7,856 of 31,481) were foreign-born, with the largest contingents from Germany (3,667) and Austria-Hungary (3,224). As a result, by the late nineteenth century many of the leading businesses and civic organizations were dominated by Germans and Czechs.
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries La Grange had two foreign-language newspapers, the Svoboda (Czech) and the La Grange Zeitung (German). The Germans and Czechs formed shooting clubs, poetry groups, and fraternal and religious organizations. The KJT (Czech Catholic Union), the SPJST (a Czech benevolent society), and the Round Top Rifle Association, founded in the nineteenth century, still existed in the early 1990s. Public education in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was supplemented by private and parochial schools, which were often taught in German and Czech.
The Plight of Fayette County African Americans
Despite the increasing number of white residents, African Americans continued to form a large segment of the population. In 1870 the black population was 5,901, and as late as 1900 blacks still represented about one-third of the population; in spite of these numbers, however, African Americans had little political power. While Fayette County citizens rejected the white primary (due to German and populist sentiment against it), African-American voters were often excluded from voting and had little say in the local political structure.
Economic Development in Fayette County
During the early decades of the twentieth century Fayette County continued to grow and prosper. Corn remained an important crop, with cattle and dairy products also providing significant sources of income. But it was cotton that emerged as the single largest cash crop averaging more than 30,000 bales annually between 1900 and 1930. The growth of cotton in turn fueled a steady rise in farm tenancy. By 1920 nearly half of all farmers (2,195 of 4,728) were tenants. During the years of the Great Depression, when nearly all farmers suffered, these tenants found themselves particularly hard pressed. Overproduction, droughts, and boll weevil infestations combined to drive down prices and reduce the crop size. Between 1930 and 1940 the amount of land planted in cotton fell by more than 50 percent (from 118,858 to 50,858 acres), and production was barely a third of what had been during the peak years of the 1920s. After World War II the agricultural emphasis changed. Cotton continued to be grown on a much smaller scale through the early 1950s, but farmers also turned increasingly to cattle raising. By 1987 there were 2,235 milk cows and 110,511 head of cattle in the county, and cotton was no longer being grown. Due to rich soils and abundant surface and ground water, Fayette County remains an important agricultural county. In the late 1980s it ranked among the top three counties in the state in cow and calf production. In 1989 there were 2,476 producers. Leading crops included corn, grain sorghums, peanuts, and pecans. The estimated gross agricultural income for 1988 was $42,427,000—beef cattle 57 percent, grain 10 percent, poultry (eggs) 8 percent, swine 8 percent, hay 8 percent, dairy products 7 percent, pecans 1 percent, and miscellaneous 1 percent. Of the 2,750 farm operators, about half held additional jobs.
During the last 30 years, the economic development of Fayette county has been largely dependent on its natural resources. Construction gravel and sand, grinding pebbles, clays, and fuller's earth are being mined and oil, first discovered in 1943, is currently an important source of income. Due to new horizontal drilling techniques Fayette County experienced a dramatic rise in oil and gas production in the early 1990s and partially due to the highly active part of the Giddings oilfield , the county produces approximately 14 million barrels of oil and approx. 72,000,000 million cubic feet of gas. The Lower Colorado River Authority Fayette Power Project is the largest employer in the county, with around 500 workers. Other sources of employment are banking, services, retail sales, trucking, government, schools, and drilling and pipeline management.
Railroad Systems in Fayette County
Beginning in 1872, the development of the railroad system led to the development of the new railroad towns such as Schulenburg and Flatonia. In the 1990s three railroad lines crossed the county—the Missouri, Kansas and Texas from east to west and two branches of the Southern Pacific, one from north to south and the other along the southern boundary. A public airport for light planes was located in La Grange.
Fayette County was home to three English newspapers by early 1990—the Fayette County Record, the Flatonia Argus, and the Schulenburg Sticker. In the early 1990s there were five independent school districts, one Catholic high school, and two Catholic schools through eighth grade. Although Father Michael Muldoon visited the county under Mexican rule, followed by other visiting priests and Lutheran pastors, the Catholic and Lutheran churches did not flourish until the second half of the nineteenth century under German, Czech, and Wendish influence. On December 25, 1872, Fr. Josef Chromcik arrived at Fayetteville. He was the first Czech priest to serve the county's Moravian and Czech Catholics. In the 1990s there were sixty churches and one Jewish temple; Lutheran and Catholic churches accounted for half of the total.
TOWNS IN FAYETTE COUNTY, TEXAS
Located between Holman and Swiss Alp, this community was named after A. Ammann and was settled in the early1870’s. This town was a mixture of Czech and German settlers. In 1902, the town had a Catholic Church, 2 schools, 3 stores, a few saloons, 2 blacksmith shops, 1 drugstore, 1 physician and 2 cotton gins. It was also the site of the Justice Court Precinct No. 7. Ammannsville also had a bank; today Ammannsville has a country store and a Catholic Church with painted murals.
This town was the first German settlement in Fayette County: perhaps the first in Texas. The early settlers were Joseph Biegel Christian Gotthelf Wertzner, Bernard Scherner, and the Meitzen Family. Biegel had one store and saloon in 1902. Today nothing remains of Beigel. It lies at the bottom of the Fayette Power Plant Lake.
Black Jack Springs
This community was located about 10 miles Southwest of La Grange on the Flatonia Road and was settled in the early 1850’s. The community included a post office, voting precinct, and a Lutheran Church. A prominent settler was Johannes Romberg, who wrote a volume of poetry. Some early settlers included G.W. Tuttle and the Fitzgerald Family.
The Bluff Community is across the Colorado River from La Grange, South of Buckners Creek. Bluff was settled in the 1830’s. The Bluff Community includes some of the most beautiful scenery in Fayette County. Bluff was named for the high limestone ridge overlooking the Colorado River. The Bluff includes the site of the Kreische Brewery and the Monument Hill State Park. The original town has merged with La Grange and no longer exists.
The Bridge Valley Settlement lies in a large bend of Buckners’ Creek about 3 miles west of La Grange on the Flatonia Road. At one time, the community had a store, saloon, blacksmith shop, and a school. The first settlers were Col. John Dancey and Ed Manton; along with others who settled the area in the 1840’s. Today, only a memory is left of this community.
This community which no longer exists was named for A.C. Buckner, one of the first settlers of Fayette County. It was located in the area between Cistern and West Point.
Carmine is located in the northeastern corner of Fayette County. It was organized in 1884 and went by the name of Sylvan and with the establishment of a post office the name changed to Carmean after an early settler, John Carmean. The spelling was later changed to Carmine. Carmine is on U.S. Highway 290. The first settler in Carmine was Dr. B.T. Thigpen. Others include Henry Weyand, Phil Saunders and J. Hill. Today, Carmine is a thriving community with a post office, many stores, and a church.
The Cedar Settlement is about 5 miles West of La Grange on FM 609. Only its cemetery reveals this community’s location, but at one time it was popular for being a resort for amusements. It was settled in the 1840’s by the Lewis Family, Dr. Denker, and others. It once had a store, post office, saloon, and a large dance hall.
This community is the most Westerly Community in Fayette County and is on State Highway 95. The town was settled in the 1850’s; and was called Whitside’s Prairie and Cockrill’ Hill. In 1863, the name of the town was changed to Cistern. The earliest settlers were the Cockrill’s, C.H. Wellborn, Adam Zumwalt and others. Cistern now consists of several stores, a sausage company, a cookie and fruitcake company and a Catholic Church. Cistern once had several stores, a drugstore, saloon, physician, blacksmith shop, and a cotton gin. Today, the town is primarily Czech.
This community was between Cistern and Flatonia and was settled by families from Mississippi and Georgia, in the 1880’s. In 1902 it had 3 churches, a store, and a blacksmith shop. Nothing remains of the community now except a cemetery and chapel.
This is the first Moravian settlement in Texas. Dubina means "Oak Grove" in Czech. Some of the first settlers were the Peter’s and Muzny’s along with others. In the 1880’s, Dubina had a cotton gin, grits mill, post office, general store, saloon, blacksmith shop, several dance halls, a zoo, and 3 schools. The Catholic Church once had over 600 families attending mass. Dubina was a stopover for many Moravians coming to Texas. Today, Dubina has a community hall and a Catholic Church, which is on the painted church tour.
This town, which lies on State highway 71 near the Colorado County Line, was named after Joseph Ehlinger. Although quite a large town, it is not incorporated. The town was created in the 1870’s when the Southern Pacific Railroad built a spur from Glidden to La Grange. In 1883, lots were sold. Prior to this time the town was located about 2 miles East and was called Live Oak Hill. When Ellinger was organized, the entire town moved to the new location. Ellinger is a community with active business ventures, most of which are along Highway 71. Today, Ellinger has two churches and a large hall used for festivals and weddings.
Elm Grove is a small community located between Cistern and Waelder on FM Road 1115. It has a Baptist Church and was named after the elm trees that grew there in groves.
The small community of Engle is located on U.S. Highway 90 between Schulenburg and Flatonia. This community was organized in about 1890. It was named for a railroad engineer on the Southern Pacific Railroad. Old settlers and merchants include I.J. Gallia, Louis Melcher, and the Bucek Family. Today, Engle has several stores and businesses and is a voting precinct.
Fayetteville lies on Ross Prairie and is on State Highway 159 about 5 ˝ miles Northeast of Highway 71. Fayetteville was organized as a stage coach station on the old San Felipe to Bastrop Road in the early 1830’s. The town had several names, including Waddis Post Office, Alexanders Voting Place, and Lickskillet. In 1847, the founder Philip J. Sahver platted the town and it was named Fayetteville, after his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. The town is incorporated and the central business district is around a public square on which there is a precinct courthouse with a town clock. A number of veterans of the War of 1812 were among the first settlers. They included Umbleton Gregory, David Wade, and Dr. William P. Smith. Prior to the 1850’s, the town was Anglo and German. In the 1850’s the Czech immigration began and by the 1880’s Fayetteville had a Czech priest, Father Joseph Chromcik. The town was known to many as the center of Czech immigration to Texas. The Fayetteville Brethren Church is built near the site of the first Czech Protestant service in Texas. There also is a Lutheran Church. Fayetteville was the site for the supreme Lodge of the SPJST. Today, Fayetteville is a thriving community with many businesses and churches.
Flatonia is located on Interstate Highway 10 and State Highway 95 and is the most westerly town on Fayette County, Flatonia was laid out by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1873. One mile Southwest is the site of old Flatonia, of which there is no remaining trace. Flatonia was named after a prominent citizen, W.A. Flato. Flatonia is located in an area of petrochemical mineral deposits and many oil and gas wells dot the area. Flatonia is a thriving town at present with an active business district and businesses along Interstate Highway 10. One of the more prominent citizens of the Flatonia area was Judge E.A. Arnim, a prominent businessman and former county judge of Fayette County. Flatonia was once known for its cattle shipping via the Southern Pacific Railroad and had a reputation for being a place where cowboys came to enjoy themselves.
Freyburg is located at the intersection on FM Roads 2238 and 956 about 6 miles North of Interstate Highway 10. Old Freyburg is located about a mile South of the present community, Freyburg was also known as Thulemeyer's Voting Place. Freyburg had several stores, a gin, a blacksmith shop and a Methodist Church, which remains an active place of worship. Mr. F. Thulemeyer established his store in 1868.
Halsted was a railroad station on the MKT Line. At one time it had a post office and a mercantile owned by J.H. Wessels. The store was opened in 1896. there also was a saloon and lumberyard. The town was named for R.E.B. Baylor, who was a judge, Baptist Minister, and a congressman.
Halsted Wessels Store and Dance Hall (Circa 1924-25)(Courtesy
Carolyn Heinsohn (email@example.com).
In 1925, a hurricane damaged the store, which was rebuilt. Unfortunately, two devastating fires later destroyed all of the businesses of Halsted. The dance hall and gin were lost in the first fire. Around 1940, the lumber yard and general store were destroyed in a second fire. A smaller mercantile store was built on the site of the saloon after the second fire; it now stands in ruins. That store, the depot and home are the only remnants of Halsted.
Haw Creek is located on FM Road 389 between FM Road 954 and Shelby. All that remains of Haw Creek is a cemetery. At one time it was a voting precinct with a post office, a store, gin, and a blacksmith shop. The road to Haw Creek from Cummins Creek is still known as the Haw Creek Crossing Road with a historical iron and wood bridge. Haw Creek was named for the black and red haw trees that grew there. Otto Menking owned the store and also had a peddler’s wagon to sell to those without transportation.
High Hill is located on FM Road 2672 about 3 miles North of Interstate Highway 10. The town was named both High Hill and Oldenburg, and at one time had six stores, three blacksmiths, the first oil mill in the state, a brewery, a bowling alley, and a cotton gin. A large Catholic Church was built there in 1870 and it is one of Fayette County’s tourist attractions with it painted interior. The town had a post office and voting place. The town was named for the high hill on which it is located. Many of the pioneers were from Austria. Today, only the church, hall, and oil mill remains.
Holman is located near the intersection of FM Road 155 and FM Road 1965 between La Grange and Weimar. The town was named for the Holman Family and it lies near the Colorado River in Mullins Prairie. Holman has a Catholic Church and a restaurant. At one time it had 2 stores, a blacksmith shop, and a gin which was owned by the Kristek Brothers and ginned over 1,400 bales of cotton a year. The community was also named for a creek and native pecan trees.
Hostyn was established by a group of Czech settlers and is located between U.S. Highway 77 and FM Road 609 on FM Road 2436. This community was centered around a large Catholic Church built by the early Czechs. Hostyn was the site of the founding of the K.J.T. organization in 1889 by Father Joseph Chromcik and others. The K.J.T. is a Czech Catholic Insurance Organization with over 104 societies and over 17,000 members statewide.
This community is the former site of Ellinger and at one time had several stores, a large saloon, and a dance hall that was owned by Mr. August Girndt who was a former Sheriff of Fayette County. The oldest Catholic Church in Fayette County is located here and was once named Hostyn Hill. It is located 2 miles Northeast of Ellinger just off FM Road 2503. The first Fayette County artist A.M. Kainowkowski sketched the first Czech wedding held there.
Joiner was located on the MKT Railroad near Halstead and was a railroad community. Now there is nothing left of this community.
Kirtley is located on Highway 71 near the Bastrop County line. It was named by the railroad and was formerly known as Primm after William Primm, an early colonist.
Kocicina was located at the corner of FM Road 2503 and County Road 254. At one time it had a store owned by the Orsak Family, a dance hall, and a school.
La Grange is the county seat of Fayette County and is located on State Highway 71 and U.S. Highway 77 on an old Indian encampment. La Grange is rich in scenic beauty and lies below the Bluff on the Colorado River. La Grange lies partially in the J. Eblin League that was selected as the location for the Capitol of Texas until Sam Houston, who wanted the capitol to bear his name, vetoed it. La Grange was first settled in the 1820’s on land granted to John H. Moore. The town is named after General La Fayette’s country home in France near the Swiss border. La Grange is the largest town in Fayette County and provides the county citizens with governmental, commercial, medical, civic, and cultural facilities. The town is laid out around a public square on, which is located, the Fayette County Courthouse, which was built in 1891. La Grange was also the site of the organization of the S.P.J.S.T. society in Texas. The town has a vibrant and diversified economy. It offers an excellent school system, a public library, and a museum. The town was small in 1836 with only two stores, but it was large enough to be incorporated in 1850. La Grange is typical of small town county seats in southeastern central Texas.
Ledbetter is located at the northwestern tip of Fayette County on U.S. Highway 290 at Fm Road 1291. It was named after Hamilton Ledbetter, a pioneer who helped establish Rutersville College. At one time, the town had a school, post office, voting precinct, 4 general merchandise stores, 2 lumberyards, 2 drugstores, 2 saloons, and a blacksmith shop. Ledbetter is near of the site of an Indian massacre by early settlers near Cummins Creek. Today, Ledbetter has several stores and a bed and breakfast establishment.
Live Oak Hill
Live Oak Hill, also known as the Live Oak community or Hostyn Hill, was a farming community of German settlers located a mile north of Ellinger near the eastern border of Fayette County. A Catholic church, established there about 1856, served as the focal point for community life. There was also a store, a gin, and a blacksmith shop operated by Charles Erlinger. at one time, Live Oak Hill had several stores and a large saloon and dance hall owned by Mr. August Girndt, a former Sheriff of Fayette County. The oldest Catholic Church in Fayette County is located here and was also named Hostyn Hill at one time.
Live Oak Hill is located two miles southeast of Ellinger just off FM 2503. The first Fayette county artist A. M. Kainowski sketched the first Czech wedding held there.
In 1883 a tap-line railroad (which connected the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway at Columbus with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas line in La Grange) passed south of Live Oak Hill, and the business portion of the community moved to be near the tap line and established Ellinger. The church, however, remained at the original townsite, and during the 1980s was still an important part of Live Oak Hill community life.
Lyons was located near Highway 77, South of Schulenburg. It was named after a pioneer who was killed by Indians.
Mecklenburg was a community, which was located between Walhalla and Waldeck. Its settlers named it after a town in Germany.
Middle Creek was located between the East and West Navidad River, and once had a school. It was located in the Southern part of the county, North of Schulenburg on FM Road 615.
Millers Community was named for a Presbyterian Minister. It was located on FM Road 153 between Highway 77 and Winchester.
This community is located in Southwest Fayette County on FM Road 2237 and was named after Father Miguel Muldoon, an Irish Priest, who was granted 4 leagues by the Mexican Government. There are rock quarries near Muldoon from which the rock for the Fayette County courthouse was acquired. At one time Muldoon had a post office, voting precinct, general store, saloon, hotel, blacksmith shop, doctor, and railroad station. The rock quarried in Muldoon from the A.B. Kerr Quarry was used to build the Galveston jetties.
Nechanitz is located on FM Road 2145 between FM Road 1291 and U.S. Highway 77. Wencil Matejowsky named the town after his hometown in Moravia. Mr. Matejowsky had a store and gin here for many years. A post office was established in 1873.
Oldenburg is located on State Highway 237 about 1.5 miles West of the Fayetteville "Y" and Highway 159. Gus Steenken founded it in 1886. At one time, the town had 2 stores, saloon, doctor, blacksmith shop, tin ship, and a gin. Now the community is primarily a residential area.
O’Quinn is located on FM Road 609 about 7 miles Southwest of La Grange. It was settled mostly by Germans in the 1850’s. The community is believed to be named after an Indian Chief or for an Irishman, O’Quinn had 2 stores, a gin, and a blacksmith shop.
Oso, which means bear in Spanish, was located North of Flatonia on FM 609. Once, there were 3 stores, a mill, gin, tannery, and a blacksmith shop here. After the railroad came the town was deserted with most of its inhabitants moving to Flatonia.
Park is located on old Highway 159 right next to the Fayette County Power Plant Lake. At one time, Park had a gin, dance hall, and several stores. Today, it has a store and a silkscreen frame business.
Pine Springs was located North of Flatonia and was named for a lone pine tree that stood at this spring.
Pin Oak was located near FM Road 609, between Black jack Springs and Oso. It was named for the Pin Oak trees, which grew there.
Pisek was located near the Fayette and Colorado County lines and was located where the railroad ended and turned around. Mike Krenek had a store here, and the railroad had a hotel for its employees.
Plum is located on Highway 71 about 8 miles West of La Grange. This farming community once had 2 stores, 1 saloon, 2 gins, 2 blacksmith shops, a school, a doctor, and several churches. There is a Catholic Church here today as well as a store, post office, and some enterprises along Highway 71 toward La Grange. It is also a voting precinct. Plum was named after a wild plum tree grove that grew in the area.
Praha is located about 3 miles Southeast of Flatonia and about a mile South of U.S. Highway 90 on FM Road 1295. Prior to the establishment of Praha, the town was called Mulberry and was settled by Anglos. The first Catholic Church was built in 1868 and in 1891 the present large stone Catholic Church was built. Today, the church has painted murals and a parish hall. Praha was once built around a public square and had 2 stores, 2 saloons, one blacksmith shop, a meat market, and a doctor. Praha is named after Czechoslovakia’s capitol and it’s population is mostly Czech. The community is kn9own for its yearly Veterans Day celebration. At one time there were 2 schools and a post office called New Prague. Praha is known as "Mother Praha" to many Czechs in Texas.
Prairie Valley is located off Highway 77 North in La Grange. This small community once had a school, but now all that remains is a cemetery.
This community was after William Rabb, one of the first pioneers in this area. It is located West of Highway 77 near the Colorado River. Rabb was the first pioneer in Fayette County to plant and harvest a crop, he also built the first mill.
Rek Hill is located on Highway 159 about 3 miles Northeast of Fayetteville overlooking the Cummins Creek Bottom. Located near this community were the Bordovice School and Kovar Gin. Today, Rek Hill has a store, antique shop, and a garage.
Rocky Ridge is located between Muldoon and West Point on FM Road 154. It was named for the rocky terrain of the area.
Ross Prairie is actually an area of Fayette County rather than a place. It consists of the prairie land between the Colorado River and Cummins Creek, and includes the towns of Fayetteville and Ellinger. It was organized and named by Col. James A. Ross, a veteran of the War of 1812, and an early settler. He established a stagecoach station in what is now Fayetteville. Col. Ross lived near the Burnams Ferry. The Ross Prairie area once had a Lutheran and Catholic Church, but all that remains of them today are their cemeteries. Another church, named the Ross Prairie Brethren Church still exists in Fayetteville today, but it is now called the Fayetteville Brethren Church. His fellow settlers killed Col. Ross because he was a defender of the Tonkawa Indians. His home still stands today, Southwest of Highway 71 near the Colorado River.
Round Top is located on Highway 237 at FM Road 1457 and is one of the oldest communities in Fayette County. The town was formerly called Townsends. A few miles North of Round Top is the abandoned site of the Nassau Plantation German Colony. Round Top was settled in the 1830’s by Anglos and later by Germans, it was also on the Bastrop to San Felipe stagecoach route. Round Top was a prosperous town in its early years, it even had a cigar factory that was owned by Charles Schiege. Today, Round Top has a number stores, a post office, and a bank. Round Top is famous for its 4th of July Parade; it is the oldest continuing 4th of July Parade West of the Mississippi. The Round Top Rifle Association sponsors the parade. Located near Round Top is the renowned Festival Hill Institute, which is a school of classical music. Aspiring musicians from around the world come here to develop their skills. A very beautiful German style symphony hall, where concerts are held during the summer, is located at Festival Hill along with several other old buildings. A large section of Round Top is devoted to the Henkel Square restoration of many old homes and businesses. The restoration efforts are funded by the Texas Pioneer Arts Foundation. Round Top also has several restaurants. The town also has several antique stores and is home to the Round Top Antiques Fair that takes place twice a year. The Round Top Bethlehem Lutheran Church was built in 1866. Round Top is primarily a German Community that offers a great deal of culture and history to Fayette County.
Roznov is a community located about 8 miles North of Fayetteville on FM Road 1291. This community was named by John H. Halamicek for his birthplace Roznov, Moravia in the Empire of Austria (at the time of his emigration, there was no Czechoslovakia; Slovakia had been under the rule of the Kingdom of Hungary for over 800 years; Moravia and Bohemia had been under the rule of the Empire of Austria for 400 years - they combined in the mid-19th century to form the Empire of Austria-Hungary, which was defeated in WWI. The empire dissolved, and Czechoslovakia was created in 1918 from Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia and a very small part of Silesia and Ruthenia. It ceased to exist after the Velvet Revolution in 1989.)
At one time several stores, a saloon, a blacksmith shop, and gin where located here. Today only a few houses make up Roznov.
Rutersville is located on State Highway 159 about 8 miles North of La Grange. This old settlement was founded in 1838 upon recommendation of Dr. Martin Ruter to build an institute of higher learning. Rutersville, founded in 1840, was the first Protestant and Methodist University in the state. This university was located Southeast of the town on a high hill. Rutersville had a store, saloon, gin, blacksmith shop, and post office. Today, the town has several business places and a church. At one time, Rutersville was considered as a possible location for the Capitol of Texas.
Schulenburg is located on Interstate Highway 10 at its intersection with U.S. Highway 77 in Southwest Fayette County. Schulenburg is second only to La Grange in size, and was named after Louis Schulenburg, a prominent businessman. It was developed in about 1873. A great many people moved from High Hill, Fayetteville, and other nearby towns to Schulenburg when it was started. Schulenburug is rich in history and has contributed much to the county and state. Schulenburg has several business places and many restaurants along or near the intersection of Interstate Highway 10 and U.S. Highway 77.The town is known for its friendly people and for its celebrations. Schulenburg has a diversified economy and an excellent school system.
Scott was located just South of Flatonia and was named after a local family who had many slaves.
Sedan was located East of Dubina and at one time had a school.
Shelby is part of both Fayette and Austin Counties, It is located near the intersection of FM Roads 1457 and 389. Shelby was once called Roeder’s Mill, but was later named after David Shelby, a settler who was part of the Old Three Hundred. Shelby is primarily a German community; it has several business places and a dance hall that has been in operation since the 1870’s.
Stella was located in the far Westerly part of Fayette County and once had a post office and store.
St. John is located South of Schulenburg in FM Road 957 and has a Catholic Church, dance hall, and a country store. St. John is noted for it’s Annual 4th of July Celebrations.
Swiss Alp is located on U.S. Highway 77 about 10 miles South of La Grange. People primarily of German descent settled this community in the 1870’s. At one time this community had a store, blacksmith shop, and a gin. This community was known for its dances, it now has a store and hall.
Toledo was located North of Black Jack Springs and once had a post office.
Waldeck is named after Count Joseph Waldeck. This community is located near the intersection of FM Road 1291 and 2145 in the Northwest part of the county. It was part of a German Immigration Colony who helped German settlers emigrate to Texas. At one time, this community had a post office and is a voting precinct. There was a store, saloon, gin, blacksmith shop, and Lutheran Church that still remains.
Walhalla is located on FM road 1291 about 2 miles North of State Highway 237. This German community was named after a German word for heaven. At one time, it had a post office and a voting precinct. There was a doctor and several businesses including a store, saloon, and blacksmith shop. Today, Walhalla is made up of a few houses.
Warda is located on Highway 77 about 12 miles North of La Grange. The Wendish settlers of the area named after a town in Eastern Germany. Warda lies in an area of pine trees and once there was a large sawmill here. The last settler, Henry Earthman, killed by Indians in Fayette County was killed near Warda in 1840. At one time, Warda had 2 large stores, a blacksmith shop, gin, doctor, a Lutheran Church, and a school. Today, Warda has a store, post office and a church.
Warrenton is located on State Highway 237 at FM Road 954. It was founded in the early 1860’s and named after Warren Ligon Warreton, a prominent settler. The town was first named Neese’s Store. Warrenton had 2 stores, 2 blacksmith shops, a gin, a saloon, a doctor, and several other businesses. Today, it has several antique shops, restaurants, a bar, and is home to Sterling McCall’s Old Car Museum. Warrenton also has a Lutheran Church. On Highway 237 Northeast of Warrenton is what is known as the smallest Catholic Church in the world. Warrenton is a popular place for antique shoppers to stop. Warrenton also has an antique fair 2 times a year.
West Point is located near the most westerly part of Fayette County on State Highway 71. It was founded and named by William Young, who was from West Point, Mississippi, in 1840. This was a fairly large town at one time; it even had a cannery. West Point lies near the Colorado River and was known for its vegetables and molasses in the old days.
Winchester is located near the intersection of FM Roads 153 and 448 in the most Northwestern part of the County. The town was founded in about 1857 by John Frame. As early as 1822, John Ingram settled here and the place was known as Ingrams Prairie for some time. Winchester was one of the largest communities in Fayette County at one time with, a hotel, butcher shop, 7 general merchandise stores, 2 drugstores, a saloon, lumberyard, blacksmith shop, barbershop, and a gin. Also, there were at least 4 churches, along with a school and post office. Winchester still has several business places, along with a post office.
Willow Springs is located about 7 miles Northeast of Fayetteville on State Highway 159. This community was first named Willow Springs but was changed to Zapp Post Office after C.T. Zapp, the postmaster in 1881. It was later changed back to Willow Springs because of the nearby springs in the area. This community was settled as early as 1839. For many years, there was school. For 63 years, E.C. Minssen had a store that is still operated by his grandson. The first sheriff of Fayette County was John Breeding who lived near here.
Windale is located on FM Road 2714 about a mile Northeast of FM Road 1457 and is between Shelby and Round Top. Winedale was first settled by Anglos and then by Germans who called the place Truesbal of Trouble. Winedale was an early stagecoach stop and had a hotel. The town was later named Winedale due to the grapes grown in the area and wine made there. The University of Texas operates the Winedale Historical Center and has restored a number of 19th century buildings on a 190-acre site. It is also site of the Annual Shakespearean Festival.
This is a work in progress. Bookmark this page and come back often. If you have old photographs of Fayette County or other nearby settlements or families, please email me a copy and I'll include your photos on this webpage.
For questions or comments, send me an Email firstname.lastname@example.org