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Bandera County TXGenWeb
Pioneer History of Bandera County
Seventy - Five Years of Intrepid History
by J.Marvin Hunter
Published in 1922


Bandera Has a Beginning
 
In the early spring of 1853 A. M. Milstead, Thos. Odem, and P. D. Saner, with their families, came to Bandera county and camped on the Medina river, where they engaged in making cypress shingles. They lived in tents for awhile, or until rude cabins could be provided. P.D. Saner and family came from Tennessee. Along about this time Mrs. Rees and her sons, Sidney, Adolphus and Alonzo, and a daughter who afterward married Judge Starkey, arrived in this county and located homes. The Witt family came here about the same time. Messrs. Milstead, Odem and Saner purchased thc Hendrick Arnold Survey, consisting of half a league of land running from Bandera Creek to the Medina River. Mr. Saner built a house on the river, just above thc site of Bandcra's present school building, and lived there with his family. Other people begall to come in and a settlement was soon formed. In the fall of that same year, Charles de Montel established a horse- power sawmill here, which afforded employment for a number of men. A commissary store was put in, two or three cabins were erected, and the settlement became a village which was, from the start, called Bandera. Associated with Mr. de Montel was John James, a surveyor, and the firm, which became known as James, Montel & Co, platted the townsite of Bandera. Previous to the location of the town, and when the three original families were still living in tents on the banks of the Medina, came Amasa Clark, who is still with us, and now in his 94th year.
On March 1, 1854, Elder Lyman Wight's company of Mormons. numbering about 250 persons, reached Bandera, and tarried here for a time, later removing to a point several miles below the village and established a camp on the Medina River, known for many years afterward as the "Mormon Camp." 
The site of this camp is now covered by the waters of Medina Lake. The Mormons remained there several years, but when their leader, Elder Wight, was claimed by death the colony disbanded and scattered. Of the remnant that remained here George Hay is the only one of the original company that is living today. Mr. Hay is now 86 years old, and quite active, being Justice of the Peace of Bandera Precinct.
In 1855, through the agency of James, Montel & Co., a number of Polish colonists were induced to locate here. There were sixteen families in the colony. Of the original Polish colonists only a very few are yet living, they being Mrs. F. L. Hicks, Mrs. John Adamietz, Mr. and Mrs. John Pyka, John, Gabe and Joe Anderwald, Mrs. Jake, Postert, Charles Haiduk, Mrs. Frances Moravietz, Mrs. Joe Kalka, Mrs. Anton Anderwald, Constant Dugos, and possibly a few others. A full account of the coming of these colonists is given in the narrative of Mrs. John Adamietz.
Shortly after the arrival of the Polish colonists, August Klappenbach, a German, built the first store building and postoffice in Bandera. This building still stands and is a part of George Hay's residence. It was constructed of lumber sawed from cypress timber, and John Dugos, one of tile Polish settlers, was employed to erect it. Shortly afterward tile large building now known as the Riverside Inn, was erected by A. Savery, and later acquired by H. C. Duffy . It was also built of native cypress lumber, and is yet ill an excellent state of preservation and in constant use being one of Bandera's popular hotels.
WitIl the gradual growth of thc village the need of a school was soon felt, and accordingly a school house was built on the site now occupied by Clements Kalka's home, and P. P. Pool, afterwards the first county clerk, was the first teacher. About twenty pupils were enrolled, and the tuition was ,$2.00 per month.
At that time Bandera county- was attached to Bexar county, but in 1857 the organization of this county was effected, and the following officers were chosen: O.B. Miles. Chief Justice: William Curtis. Sheriff; Irvin F. Carter, Tax Assessor and Collector: P.P. Pool, County clerk. Al that time Bandera was in the 17th Judicial District, and Judge Thomas Buckner was District Judge, and George H. Noonan was District Attorney.
Thus Bandera had a beginning, and new settlers kept coming in and locating ia different parts of the county. Among the early settlers was Capt. Charles Jack, who purchased a large body of land in Bandera and Medina counties. He established the Jack Ranch, still known by that name, a few miles north of Bandera, and employed A. Moncur, William Ballantyne, Robert Ballantyne and Eugene Oborski to make rails and build a fence around 320 acres of the land. These men received $3 per hundred for splitting the rails.
O. B. Miles was one of the first settlers here and was quite prominent in the affairs of the community, being Chief justice for a number of years, and lending material aid in county's developlnent. Later came Charles Montague, Sr., grandfather of Frank and Joe Montague, prominent citizens of Bandera today. Mr. Montagne purchased from Milstead and Saner a greater portion of the Hendrick Arnold half league and established a ranch thereon, the old home ranch now being occupied by Frank M. Montague.
In 1844 Castroville was established on the Medina River, about 35 miles below the present site of Bandera, and that town became quite a trading point, But this was the remote frontier for a long time, and the settlers were wholly at the mercy of the Indians, except for such protection as they themselves provided. The establishment of Camp Verde in 1856, where United States troops were stationed, afforded some relief and created a greater feeling of security. On March 29, 1860, Robert Ballantyne raised a company of minute men, frunl atnong the citizens here, and greatly aided in protecting the settlers. Judge George Hay has kindly furnished me with the names of the members of this company, and they are here given: Robert Ballantyne, lieutenant commanding; Francis Towle, first sergeant; August Pingenot, second sergeant; George Hay, first corporal; Joseph S. Curtis, second corporal. Ten privates: Richard Bird, G. W. Lewis, James Sier, Charles W. Wheeler, JohnThomas McMurray, Thomas L. Buckher, Laomi L. Wight, Heber L. Chipman, Thomas L. Miller, and Leonard Estes. This company of rangers was commissioned by Governor Sam Houston. Of this company only two are known to be living, Richard Bird, in Iowa, and George Hay of Bandera.
When thc Civil War came on, this company dishanded, and some entered the Confederate service, Later a Frontier Battalion was organized, with O. B. Miles as enrolling officer. Those who enlisted were: Charles Montague, Jr., Andrew Mansfield, Anton Anderwald, Richard Bird, William Ballantyne, W. A. Walker, John Walker, James Walker, Thomas Bandy, James Bandy, John Bandy, Oscar Johnson, and others.
after the Civil War, and during Reconstruction days, Bandera continued to grow, despite many difficulties and discouragements. The hardships and privations of the early settlers, and glimpses of some of the tragedies that were enacted here are given in succeeding chapters of this book.

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