Story of Bracken, Texas (Comal County)
by Carolyn Bindseil
In 1850, William Bracken became the owner of the lands known as the
Vicenti Micheli League. These lands were owned by the State of Texas and
the grant was signed by P.H. Bell, Governor of the State of Texas. The property totaled 1,114 acres, and was located in the counties of Comal and Bexar on the Cibolo Creek, where the San Antonio and Nacogdoches Roads crossed.
Down through the years, various tracts of this land were held by the Schneider, Pfueffer, and Davenport families. In 1880, the International and Great Northern Railroad bought some of this land for railroad right-of-way.
In 1890, a “deed of dedication” was filed for record in Comal
County. It named this property as the town of Davenport. This new township was to be divided into seven blocks of lots. On December 31, 1890,
J.S. Barns and J.S. Wetmore merged with the New York and Texas Land Company Limited. The name of the township of Davenport was changed to Bracken on July 14, 1899. Six blocks were added to the original seven.
Between 1880 and 1890, the railroad was built. The coming of the railroad started the building up of a typical western community. The railroad built a depot and employed a ticket agent. There was also a freight office. A water tower was erected and a water pumper employed to provide water for the steam engines. A railroad gang was needed and their station was Bracken. With the coming of the railroad, there was need for a post office. Two mail routes went out of the town daily.
The township started to flourish. Two large general merchandise stores were built by Mr. Fromme and Mr. Fenske. Fromme’s store was a two-story building with a hotel on the top story. This was a huge structure with the typical western atmosphere.
Next to each store was a saloon, each of which did a booming business. On Saturday afternoons, there was not room enough in the town to tie a horse. A cotton gin and corn sheller were built to prepare goods grown by local farmers for market. A blacksmith shop was also erected.
As the town grew, the needs of the people grew. An undertaking parlor was built. There was also a doctor, dentist, constable, and a justice of the peace. As a means of entertainment, the people went to dances on Saturday night at the dance hall in town. This was the scene of many fights, and as example of the wildness of the town, there were a number of killings.
In the fall of 1871, Reverend W. Felsing organized the Bracken Methodist Episcopal Church. The Church building was erected the spring of 1872. The membership numbered 78. A school was also built. It was named Davenport. The town prospered and a bowling alley was built. The Bracken Bowling Club was established in March, 1915. Up until now, about 1920, the community was booming until prohibition and the coming of the horseless carriage.
One store closed, the lumberyard closed, and the cotton gin went. Houses were moved and the railroad abolished the depot and pumping station. The one store survived until February, 1935, when it burned completely. In August of that year, a new store was built which still stands today.
This is the story of the rise and fall of a little rural farming community. Today Bracken is just a quiet little village and no one remembers the exciting and blood curdling things that happened not so long ago.
Note: A special thank you to Carolyn Bindseil for the use of this article
which was adapted from an original article published in the G-Grace
Newsletter, Carolyn Bindseil, Editor, November/December 1986.
(c) Carolyn Bindseil,
Bracken Methodist Church
of Garden Ridge
Covenant Baptist Church
CYO Youth Sports
Bracken Lions Club
Natural Bridge Caverns
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch
Northeast Bible Church
OLPH Catholic Church
Triumphant Lutheran Church