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Celebrating Family, Friends, and Life in Castroville: The ‘Little Alsace’ of Texas

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Now known as the “Little Alsace” of Texas, Castroville, located in the Texas Hill Country, was colonized in the mid-1840s by a group from Alsace, a province of France. Most of those who immigrated to Texas were attracted by the promise of free land, which was readily available when the Republic of Texas was settling its immense territory. At this same time, Henri Castro had been granted title to settle on Texas soil in return for recruiting other like-minded individuals (through the empresario system). Castro had received a large land grant of over a million acres on which to settle a number of families within a three-year period.

Celebrating Family, Friends, and Life in Castroville: The ‘Little Alsace’ of Texas

Photo: Facebook/I Love Texas

With the promise of one square mile of land for the head of each family and 320 acres for each single male, aged 17 or older, Castro had the most success with Alsatians. In late 1842, the first group of his settlers set out from France on a ship to Texas. Their 66-day voyage by sea was only the first of their hardships, however. After arriving in Galveston, these settlers were required to load all of their earthly belongings onto oxcarts to begin a 200-mile journey to Castro’s land grants, averaging three to four miles per day, in the midst of miserable winter weather and poor health conditions. By September 1844, Castro, together with 27 oxcarts and 50 men, crossed the Medina River and founded Castroville, just 25 miles west of San Antonio. Between 1842 and 1847, Castro was second only to Stephen F. Austin (also an empresario) in introducing settlers to the Republic of Texas. He brought more than 2,100 to this land and helped them to succeed through the provision of food, livestock, farm implements, seed, various medicines, and many other items for their wellbeing and welfare. “Castroville architecture and style were distinctly European… A visitor in the 1850s described Castroville as quite ‘un-Texan,’ with its ‘steep thatched roofs and narrow lanes’ and the inn whose interior suggested ‘Europe rather than the frontier,’” according to the Texas State Historical Association. To this day, the City of Castroville maintains pride in its origins, being a locale in which visitors can learn much about the settlement of Texas, the people who worked hard to make their roots here, and how the town grew to prosper into what you now see today.

Celebrating Family, Friends, and Life in Castroville: The ‘Little Alsace’ of Texas
Photo: Facebook/Landmark Inn State Historic Site

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