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
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.