History

Loyal Valley: The Hill Country Ghost Town

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Is there a ghost town in the Hill Country? Just past the half-way mark between Fredericksburg and Mason, on US Highway 87, there is a short loop designated FM 2242. The sign says Loyal Valley; if you take this road you will find a scattering of houses and ruins, but no town.

Loyal Valley, established on the Pinta Trail in 1858 by German pioneers from Fredericksburg, once had a hotel, saloon, store, school, church, post office, a baseball team, and 194 people. The stagecoach stopped there on its way from San Antonio to parts northwest, and this was, for a time, the leading town in the huge Fisher-Miller Land Grant. It was even reputed to have a house of ill repute. A lot happened here in a short time, but the once-thriving community is almost gone today.

The Fisher-Miller Land Grant, 3,878,000 acres, included present day Mason, Llano, Kimble, Menard, Concho, McCulloch, and San Saba Counties. Friedrichsburg was originally to be there, but settlers stopped short of the Fisher-Miller area because of the hostility of the Indians in the area at the time.

Fredericksburg Remembers Its Story.

Meusebach and Chief Santanna
Photo: Robert Deming

No story of Loyal Valley is complete without remembering John O. Meusebach, who founded Fredericksburg in 1846. Meusebach had negotiated a critical treaty between the Comanche chiefs and German settlers somewhere near San Saba in 1847, giving reprieve from Comanche Indian attacks for the fledgling town.  The bronze sculpture pictured commemorating that event, showing Meusebach and Chief Santanna sharing a peace pipe, can be found in the Rose Garden area of Fredericksburg’s MarktPlatz.  Meusebach put aside his German title of nobility when he emigrated to Texas.

Meusebach moved north to Cold Spring in 1859, a community started the year before, after one house in New Braunfels had been swept away in a flood, and another carried away in a tornado.  He renamed the community Loyal Valley in reference to his loyalty to the Union during the Civil War, or perhaps because of the loyal friends who settled with him.  He laid out a town, operated a store and nursery, and later served as postmaster and justice of the peace. Meusebach was interested in botany and introduced the crepe myrtle to the area. His house in Loyal Valley had a Roman style bath house, although the house no longer stands, and another  house was later built on the ruins. Evidently a courageous man, his tombstone (Marschall-Meusebach Cemetery in nearby Cherry Springs) shows that his family may not have been as eager to give up his title, as it reads Freiherr Hans Otfried von Meusebach 1812-1887.

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