HISTORY PAINTS A COLORFUL PICTURE

+ AREA HISTORY +

From early man to our European descendants, many have traversed the land now known as Ladera. Situated at the extreme western edge of Bexar County, Ladera is just a few miles from the Medina County border. On the Medina River, evidence of early man was discovered in a place called Scorpion Cave. Archeologists believe that ancestors of the Coahuiltecan or Tonkawa Indians lived in the cave for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 1500s.

SPANISH EXPLORERS SURVIVED SHIPWRECKS TO SPEND EIGHT YEARS TRAVELING THROUGH TEXAS AND THE SOUTHWEST

In 1528, Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca  and his group of Spanish explorers traveled through Southwest Texas, where he would have been the first European that the Native people saw. He returned to Spain in 1537 and published an account of his encounters with American Indian tribes.

DURING THE MID-1680S FRENCH EXPLORERS CLASH WITH THE SPANISH

French explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de LaSalle sailed to the Texas Gulf Coast (actually heading for the Mississippi River but missing it by 400 miles) to take the territory of New Spain, which included Texas, away from Spain. The Spanish, in turn, sent Don Alonso de León, Governor of Coahuila, Mexico, with 100 soldiers to confront the French. The group crossed the Rio Grande and several other rivers, naming them the Nueces, the Hondo, the Medina, and the Guadalupe. The Spanish group finally discovered LaSalle’s encampment, however, to no avail. LaSalle and company were long gone due to disease, desertion and attacks by Karankawa Indians.

CASTROVILLE, “THE LITTLE ALSACE OF TEXAS”

Henri Castro, an empresario (entrepreneur) of the Republic of Texas, had a land grant 20 miles west of San Antonio along the Medina River, in Comanche territory. He was responsible for bringing dozens of European families from the Alsace region in France to settle there. They were Catholic farmers of German descent and spoke a dialect of German and French. The residents built unique cottages, using rough-cut stone, timber and lime plaster and boasting steep thatched roofs.

Today, Castroville has about 2,700 residents and many are descendants of the original Alsatians. The Castroville Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places and has 97 historic buildings that can be visited on a walking tour. Every year on or near August 22, Castroville holds a St. Louis Day Celebration with live music, food, drinks and fun for all ages.