Old San Antonio Road on South
Grape Creek about 9˝ miles south of Fredericksburg
Grapetown is a ghost town located along the Old San Antonio Road on
South Grape Creek about 9˝ miles south of Fredericksburg. The first landholder
was John Hemphill, who received the deed to a site on the Fredericksburg-San Antonio Road in 1848. Six years later Hemphill was
joined by eight other settlers. Grapetown became a ranching center of some
importance and many local ranchers sold their cattle to Charles Schreiner of Kerrville. For 91 years Grapetown flourished, but
now the schools, stores and dance halls have all closed, and the town has all
Grapetown is a ghost town located along the old San Antonio
Road on South Grape Creek, about 9˝ miles south of Fredericksburg in southern
Gillespie County. The area was settled in 1855 by German immigrants who came
with the Meusebach settlers that established Fredericksburg
in 1846. The area was chosen for settlement because of the abundant wildlife
and cattle range. Most of the settlers were not farmers but factory workers
from industrialized areas such as Hamburg
and Berlin in Germany.
Some early names associated with Grapetown are Hemphill, Doebbler, Honhenberger, Tatsch, Ebers, Rausch, Enderlin
and Hoffman. The first landholder was John Hemphill, who received a deed to a
site on the Fredericksburg-San Antonio Road
in 1848. The Fredericksburg-San Antonio Road
was part of the ancient Pinta Trail that
had been used by the Indians for thousands of years. The Fredericksburg-San
Antonio Road became a major route for stock,
cattle and freight drives, and it was part of the Military
Road used by Robert E. Lee when he was ordered to
return to Washington D.C.
from Fort Mason
shortly before the beginning of the Civil War.
In 1854, John Hemphill was joined by eight other settlers,
including several freight drivers who carried produce from Fredericksburg
to San Antonio and then to
Indianola. Like John Hemphill, they received deeds to land in the area. Grapetown
became a n important ranching center of, and many
local ranchers sold their cattle to Charles Schreiner in Kerrville.
Old buildings at Grapetown include an abandoned house, the
repainted Rausch ranch house, and the limestone schoolhouse. There is also a
cemetery and community center.
Friedrich William Doebbler was
born on 25 Mar 1824 in Luckenwalde, Brandenburg,
Prussia. He appeared on the census in 1880 in Gillespie
County, Texas, and died on December 23, 1913 in Fredericksburg. He came to Texas
in 1851, and his wife followed him in 1852 with her mother and sister
Julia. She also was accompanied by their
The loosely-knit community around Grapetown took its first
step toward becoming a town in 1860 when Friedrich Wilhelm Doebbler
opened Grapetown's first business establishment, a
dry goods and general store called Doebbler's Inn
that also served as a hostelry. The inn became the central gathering place for
the Grapetown area, and it was a relay station for stagecoaches. It had stables
built in 1860 at Doebbler's house, which are the
oldest remaining structure in Grapetown. Otto Cowan, the grandson of Friedrich Doebbler, had the sad duty of closing Doebbler's
Inn in 1915.
The Civil War Period
Most of the people of Grapetown sided with the Union
during the Civil War, and many
paid the price for their loyalty with their lives. Two local men, August
Hoffman and Heinrich Rausch, survived the battle of the Nueces and eventually returned to Grapetown,
where they spent the duration of the Civil War hiding in the hills and playing
cat and mouse with Confederate patrols in the area.
The Grapetown School
Doebbler hosted Grapetown’s
first school in his home in 1859, and parents paid the teacher. The teacher was
a Scot named Louis Hartwig. Prior to this, local
children had attended school in Fredericksburg.
About 1870 a nine-to-ten-month school was opened in Grapetown, and it was moved
In 1882, Frederick Baag donated a
tract of land for the third Grapetown schoolhouse. A stone schoolhouse and teacherage were built with labor and materials donated by
the community, and the buildings were completed in 1884. All seven grades were
taught by one teacher. In 1905, the facility became the Grapetown
District No. 14. A total of 28 teachers taught in Grapetown.
The Grapetown School
was closed in 1949 and consolidated with the Rocky
The area school had one teacher and about twenty pupils from 1967 to 1978. The
old schoolhouse was purchased by the community and in 1989 was still being used
as a Community Club.
In 1885 a post office
was established in Doebbler's Inn,
but the post office closed three years later in 1888.
Singing and Shooting
A local singing club and a shooting club were combined in
1887, and Grapetown was the site of the first annual Gillespie County Shooting
Festival (Schuetzenfest), during which 140 kegs of
beer were consumed in four days. There is no record of the accuracy of marksmen during the
The Fredericksburg and Northern Railway
In 1913 the Fredericksburg
and Northern Railway was built through the Grapetown area, and the neighboring
community of Bankersmith was founded. Also around this time the Mountain Town Site
Company of San Antonio bought a
tract of land on Doebbler's Hill and planned a town
to be called Mount Alamo.
The Decline of Grapetown
The prosperity of Grapetown came and went with the
Fredericksburg & Northern Railroad, as did the prosperity of other nearby
towns such as Bankersmith
and Cain City. For
91 years Grapetown flourished but now the schools, stores and dance halls are
Ten years after the railroad came to Grapetown, the company
was dissolved and the land restored to its former owner, Otto Cowan. In 1932 when
Highway 87 was rerouted through Comfort, Grapetown suffered its final decline.
The estimated population of Grapetown was145 in 1900, but it
had dropped to seventy by 1965. As late as 1989, however, the Grapetown
shooting club (Schuetzen Bund) was still active, and
area businesses included a limestone quarry.
Compiled from various sources by
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Handbook of Texas Online, Grapetown,
Ghost Towns, Grapetown, http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/tx/grapetown.html
Kendall County TXGenWeb
Page, Kendall County, Texas
- Index of Landmarks & Vanished Communities - Grapetown, http://www.rootsweb.com/~txlndmrk/kendall.htm
(accessed December 31, 2008).
Descendants of Martin Dobbler.
5 Jun 2008. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~frantzen/trees/DoebblerFamily.html
(accessed December 31, 2008).