Castroville History 1857. Castroville is a village containing a colony of Alsatians, who are proud here to call themselves Germans, but who speak French or a mixture of French and German. The cottages are scattered prettily, and there are two churches, the whole aspect being as far from Texan as possible. it might sit for the portrait of one of the poorer villages of the upper Rhone valley.
Castroville was founded by Mr. Henry Castro, a gentleman of Portuguese origin, still resident in the town, under a colony contract with the Republic, which passed the legislature February 15, 1842. The enterprise seems to have been under the special patronage of the Roman Catholic church. Every colonist was a Catholic, and the first concern was the founding of the church edifice, the corner stone of which was laid ten days after their arrival, by Bishop Odin of Galveston. By the contract with the colonists each person was to receive a town lot, and a piece of outlying land as a farm. By the contract with the state, two thousand persons were to be introduced within two years. An extension of two years was granted in 1845. Mr. Castro was to receive a quantity of land equal 10 one-half of the whole taken by the colonists, to be located in alternate sections, with the state’s reserve.
Seven hundred persons came first in seven ships. Assembling at San Antonio, the advance party started for the Medina, September 1, 1844, One board building was carried in carts, and in it were housed the temporary provisions. The settlers built themselves huts of boughs and leaves, then set to work to make adobes for the construction of more permanent dwellings. Besides their bacon and meal, paid hunters provided abundant supplies of game, and within a fortnight a common garden, a church, and civil officers, chosen by ballot, were in being, and the colony was fully inaugurated. After struggling with some difficulties, it is now a decided success. The village itself contains about 600 inhabitants, and the farms of the neighborhood several hundred more. - Olmstead’s Account in 1857, A Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas; Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1907, page 186
Castroville 1858. Castroville, the seat of Medina county, is most happily located, with regard to fertility of soil, abundance of water, timber and grazing lands. It extends over a level prairie, following the meanderings of the Medina; is surrounded by gentle, well-timbered hills, from the top of which the eye embraces the whole valley, which has been made a perfect garden by the settlers. Twelve years ago, Castroville was one of the most attractive hunting-grounds of the fierce Lipan Indians. It derives its name from Mr. Castro, who obtained, in 1842, a contract from the Texan government to introduce foreign emigrants. The majority of the settlers are from the French and German borders of the Rhine, and seem to be hardy and industrious citizens. They speak German amongst themselves, although most of them have sufficient knowledge of the English language to be able to transact business with Americans. There are three schools in this thriving place, one of which is free ; and the rising generation are receiving inestimable advantages. I do really believe that the foreign children acquire an education, in English, sooner than those born of American parents. I have frequently seen German children, of ten or twelve years old, who were much further advanced than their compeers of more favored birth. The town numbers 1000 souls, within the incorporated limits, independent of a large rural population in the close vicinity.
The court-house is a substantial building: there is also a Catholic and a Protestant church, the former of which is an elegant stone building, and would be creditable to a wealthier community. Three large stores, several smaller ones, a brewery, and an excellent water-power grist-mill, all doing good business, indicate thrift and prosperity. The dwellings and improvements show that the inhabitants have exchanged their dejected condition, in their faderland [sic], for comfort and abundance. - Braman's information about Texas, 1858