Nov 18 2014
C. G. Napier, a self styled agriculturist from Walker County, Georgia, had decided to sell his holdings on the Martinez, and seek his fortune elsewhere. A few years earlier he had purchased land from C. K. Rhodes, one of the largest land brokers in the area. This land was located in the northeast corner of the John Springer Survey, or Survey #31 of Bexar County, about 17 miles east of San Antonio. Napier was among the first planters to recognize that the plantation model could not survive on the Cibolo with its unpredictable rainfall.
 
C. G. Napier
C.G. Napier
During the early 1850s, large slave-owning plantations were established along the Cibolo. Plantation owners who feared slave rebellion and their slaves running away to Mexico petitioned Bexar County Commissioners to establish slave patrols. These slave patrols were allowed to enter private property and arrest runaway slaves and those who might help them. This act created a "police state" along the Cibolo and cast suspicion on new immigrants and native Spanish-speakers who might not fully embrace slavery.
 
 

Sites of Cottage Hill and St. Hedwig
Click to enlarge.
A major east-to-west road from San Antonio served the area in and around the John Springer Survey. Byrd Lockhart, commissioned by the Mexican administration of Texas, first laid out the road in the 1820s. This road was initially referred to as the Road to Gonzales. Over its existence it has been called by various names including: “The Road to Lavaca”, “The Ox Cart Road”, “The Road to Victoria”, "The Road to Chihuahua” and the “Road to Indianola”. It was along this road that the first shots of the Texas Revolution were fired in 1835.
 
On September 4, 1848, Bexar County Commissioner’s Court responded to a petition from settlers in the Sulphur Springs community (now Sutherland Springs) for a road connecting them to San Antonio. The Commissioners ordered a “Jury View” to be taken to lay out an improved first class road incorporating sections of the Gonzales Road in a new road that would follow the Gonzales Road to the Cibolo east of San Antonio. At the house of Claiborne Rector the new road would travel south along the west bank of the Cibolo to Sulphur Springs. The road was renamed in that record as the “Sulphur Springs Road”(not to be confused with later roads bearing the same name). Today, most of the road is enclosed within private property; however, a few sections of the road exist in modern roadbeds. 
 
This was the road travelled the Silesians when they first came to view the land offered by C. G. Napier. By wagon, the trip on this road from San Antonio to the Springer Survey took less than a half-day. Giant post-oak trees covered the area giving it the name “The Post Oaks.” The land was well drained; grass and wildlife were abundant. The post oaks were an important source of fuel and timber. Individuals like William Budd Jaques had conducted successful agricultural activities in the area since before 1845.