The History of Hondo

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The Hondo area has been “on the map” since 1689, when Spanish explorer Alonso De Leon passed through, naming the Medina River and the Hondo (“deep”) and Seco (“dry”) Creeks on his way to East Texas. In 1691, the first provincial governor of Texas, Domingo Teran de los Rios, blazed the trail for El Camino Real (“Royal Highway”), skirting the Apache and Comanche strongholds in the hills just to the north. from the time that San Antonio was founded in 1718, dozens of expeditions and hundreds of travelers passed through the Hondo area. The Republic of Texas fought the Mexican Army here in the 1842 Battle of the Arroyo Hondo.

The History of Hondo

Photo: thetrain.com

But it was the building of the railroad in 1881 that brought “Hondo City” into existence almost 200 years after De Leon’s first expedition. When the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railroad reached a promising spot 41 miles west of downtown San Antonio, the company platted a town and began selling lots. A post office was established the following year, but in 1884, there were still only 25 residents; a court case prevented further development until 1891.

But the floodgates were opened in 1891, and Hondo began a period of explosive growth. In 1892, when there were still just 200 people in Hondo, Medina County voters chose it as the new county seat (replacing Castroville, which is located near the eastern edge of the county). A county jail and an imposing courthouse with a distinctive clock tower were completed in 1893. The name of the town was shortened to Hondo in 1895, but the town itself expanded to become the major commercial center for most of Medina County. The downtown business district filled up with two-story buildings, most constructed with brick from D’Hanis (a few miles down the track). By 1915, the population had grown to 2,500.

The History of Hondo
Photo: edwardsaquifer.net

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