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The name has been a unique choice, no other community named Lavernia has ever existed in the United States. Unfortunately, within three years after choosing the name “Lavernia,” Connally F. Henderson, its postmaster, was buried with other Civil War casualties of the Battle of Gaines Mill in Virginia, taking with him the secret of the name “Lavernia.
La Vernia is located at the junction of U.S. Highway 87 and FM 775 in northwest Wilson County. It is 24 miles southeast of San Antonio. La Vernia’s neighboring communities are Sutherland Springs seven miles to the southeast, St. Hedwig
seven miles to the northwest, and Kicaster eight miles to the southwest.
Map of La Vernia, Texas
Click to enlarge.
La Vernia, Wilson County’s fastest growing city was incorporated on May 21, 1966. From 1990 to 2000, within its two square mile corporate limits, the population increased by 62% from 576 to 931 residents. However, the community serves a large number of rural subdivisions adjacent to its corporate boundaries. Within a five mile radius of the city the population has grown from 3483 in 1990 to 7712 in 2006, an increase of 104%. Historically, this is the largest population to reside in this area.
Community life in La Vernia celebrates the family, schools, and churches. The first school in La Vernia was organized in the 1850s by its earliest settlers; its first teacher was Robert McCoy. The Lavernia Male and Female Academy, organized in 1871, occupied the first floor of the historic Brahan Masonic Lodge.
La Vernia’s pioneers of education include V. L. Grubbs, Charles E. Wright, Miss W. Allensworth, Deed L. Vest, and A. N. McCallum. La Vernia High School, home of the La Vernia Bears, established in 1890, is a source of community pride and spirit. Today, La Vernia Independent School District serves over 3000 students from the greater La Vernia area.
During the earliest days, circuit riding preachers and missionary priests attended to the spiritual needs of the settlers on the Cibolo. Congregations that formed in 19th century exist to this day. First Baptist Church of La Vernia, Immanuel Lutheran Church, La Vernia United Methodist Church, La Vernia Primitive Baptist Church, St. Ann’s Catholic Church, and Zion Fair Baptist Church are legacies from the 19th century.
Rector Chapel Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest, disbanded in the late 1800s. Its chapel building was moved to downtown La Vernia in 1891 where it is now used by the La Vernia Primitive Baptist Church. Today the greater La Vernia area is served by over a dozen churches.
La Vernia’s Blue Bonnet Festival and Hammerfest bicycle rally are popular regional events. The La Vernia Historical Association, The La Vernia Heritage Museum, and its Veterans Memorial Park (currently under construction) attest to the community’s understanding of its place in history.
Fraternal organizations such as the Masons, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, La Vernia Garden Club, and Hermann Sons are an important part of community life. La Vernia’s active Chamber of Commerce promotes a robust business environment.
By the late 1820s, Spain and Mexico had governed the area along the Cibolo for over two hundred years. San Antonio de Bexar, the seat of government for the state of Coahuila recognized the need to open a road to the DeWitt Colony in Gonzales. It authorized the creation of the San Antonio to Gonzales Road, which crossed the Cibolo twenty-three miles east of San Antonio.
Along this road, on October 2, 1835 near Gonzales, the first shots of the Texas Revolution were fired. In 1836, the last reinforcements for the beleaguered Alamo traveled this route from Gonzales. A few weeks later, the victorious army of General Antonio López de Santa Anna, marched along this route to find Gonzales burned to the ground by Sam Houston and his retreating army in the legendary “Runaway Scrape.”