Nov 18 2014
Early Settlers
 
As hostilities with Mexico concluded in the new state of Texas, settlers used the Gonzales Road to establish farms and ranches in the Cibolo valley. The earliest settlers came from other parts of Texas and the United States. After 1848, they were joined by immigrants from the Prussian states including Germany and Poland. 
 
J. B. Polley, the son of J. H. Polley, one of Austin’s original 300, was a witness to the settling of the Cibolo valley. He chronicled the arrival of the first settlers in the La Vernia area. According to his chronology, the first to arrive were the Bristers who came in July of 1847. Claiborne Rector, who had performed valuable services in the revolution of 1836, came to the area in the fall of 1848. In the fall of 1849, bachelor brothers from Nova Scotia, Dick and Henry James, established themselves on a farm and ranch in the immediate location of the community. 
 
In 1851 what Polley described as a deluge, began and continued until 1857. Among those arriving in 1851 were G. H. McDaniel, D. C. Robinson, J. J. Hankinson, Ross Houston, J. M. McAlister, T. D. James, W. K. Baylor, W. R. Wiseman, W. D. Scull, J. T. Montgomery, J. F. Tiner, Levi Humphreys, James Ripley, J. A. Burnside, and E. F. Potts. Of those coming later than 1851 were Maj. James L. Dial, Henry Yelvington, Lem Perkins, Dorsett Harmon, Maj. R. W. Brahan, Colonel Frazier, Rev. R. M. Currie, Edmund Barker, the Elams, the Floyds, the Gordons, S. W. McClain, James Newton, T. T. Collier, C. F. Henderson, Henry Morgan, Jesse Applewhite, Dr. William Sutherland, Rudolph Helman and a brother, Colonel Saunders, R. T. Spivey, James T. McKee, Dr. R. Stevenson, W. F. Hughes, Rev. Robert McCoy, Owen and Asa Murray, Dr. Owens, J. R. Plummer, J. G. Kilgore, the Barclays, Thomas G. and Levi Maddox, and Tignal Jones. Census and other records confirm the arrival of these settlers and add the names of others such as Thomas Camp. 
 
Many of these settlers were planters from the Old South who brought with them African slaves. These Africans were enumerated as a part of the population in the Federal Census of 1860. According to this census, near Post Oak, the population of white settlers numbered about 475; the African slaves numbered about 416.
 
European immigrants from the Prussian states are usually associated with the German and Polish-Silesian communities in the area. However, as early as the 1850s many families moved out of those communities, bought land along the Cibolo, and became associated with the community of La Vernia. Immigrants from Prussia, who were in the area, are the Bauers, the Sellingslohs, the Gelvins, the Tewes, the Nauraths, the Dornstins, and the Maughs.
 
Gulf of Mexico to California
 
The region east of San Antonio along the Gonzales Road was widely know as the “post oaks,” the common name for the species of oak tree (quercus stellata) that covered the landscape. Small communities that provided the elements of civilization developed among the scattered farms and ranches in the valley; Post Oak, on the Gonzales Road, was one of such communities. 
 
In 1846, as Texas came into the Union, Washington was keen to protect its newly acquired western route through San Antonio to Chihuahua, Mexico and San Diego, California. The U.S. Army established a massive depot in San Antonio to supply it forts west of San Antonio. 
 
In 1848, Bexar County Commissioners supported this effort by authorizing a network of roads to connect with roads from the port of Indianola on the Texas coast. It ordered that the Gonzales Road traveling east from San Antonio be improved to the western bank of the Cibolo to Claiborne Rector’s house. From Rector’s house, a new road would be created coursing south, following old Indian trails and cow paths along the western bank of the Cibolo to a point below the Sulphur Springs (Sutherland Springs) where it crossed the Cibolo and continued to Yorktown and Indianola.
 
When the Western and Saltmarsh Stage lines established routes through the area in the early 1850s, two communities were beginning to form on the banks of the Cibolo: Bethesda on the east side of the Cibolo in Guadalupe County and Post Oak on the west side in Bexar County. Regular stage service allowed a post office to opened at the junction of the Old Gonzales Road and the Cibolo. In 1853, Post Oak, on the western bank, was chosen for its location. Joseph Brown was the first postmaster. The community of Bethesda gradually receded in importance.