Seguin, Texas facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Park Plaza Hotel, Seguin's tallest downtown building. Bottom: The 1916 Aumont Hotel is part of the National Register of Historic Places; the 2nd-tallest building in downtown Seguin.
|• Type||Council-manager government|
|• Total||38.48 sq mi (99.65 km2)|
|• Land||38.28 sq mi (99.14 km2)|
|• Water||0.20 sq mi (0.51 km2)|
|Elevation||522 ft (159 m)|
| • Estimate
|• Density||783.51/sq mi (302.51/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1346881|
Seguin ( sih-GEEN) is a city in and the county seat of Guadalupe County, Texas, United States; as of the 2010 census, its population was 25,175, by 2019 its population was estimated to be 29,992. Its economy is primarily supported by a regional hospital, as well as the Schertz-Seguin Local Government Corporation water-utility, that supplies the surrounding Greater San Antonio areas from nearby aquifers as far as Gonzales County. Several dams in the surrounding area are governed by the main offices of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, headquartered in downtown Seguin.
Seguin, named in honor of Juan Seguín, a Tejano Texian freedom fighter and early supporter of the Republic of Texas, is one of the oldest towns in Texas, founded just 16 months after the Texas Revolution began. The frontier settlement was a cradle of the Texas Rangers and home to the celebrated Captain Jack Hays, perhaps the most famous Ranger of all. At this time, the Seguin area was a part of Gonzales County, the remaining portion known as present-day Belmont. The Rangers had found this was a good halfway stop between their patrol points. It had been maintained as a base camp by the Rangers since the early founding of the Dewitt Colony.
- Weather and climate
- Annual events
- Performing arts
- Public art
- National Register Sites
- Sister cities
- Notable people
- Images for kids
Weather and climate
On the northern edge of the South Texas Plains, Seguin enjoys a mild winter. The sunny days of spring bring on spectacular shows of wildflowers March into June. Most of Texas suffers hot, dry summers from June into September. Then cold fronts pushing down from the north usually trigger precipitation and make October a rainy month, bringing "a second spring" of wildflowers. At their worst, fall and winter have "northers", fast-moving cold fronts with wind, often rain, and rapid drops of temperature, frequently falling 30 degrees or more during one day. Northers give way to warm spells, right through the winter.
- ZDT's Amusement Park, a family-owned, family-oriented amusement park featuring over a dozen attractions. Re-purposed century-old agribusiness structures provide Texas' highest indoor playground with tunnels and slides, wall climbing up former silos, and riding go-karts through, and on the roof of, an old warehouse, as well as modern parachute drop and a water ride. A new, old-style wooden roller coaster, called Switchback, opened in 2015.
- The Texas Agricultural Education and Heritage Center - The "Big Red Barn" helps kids and others learn the mechanics and history of farming in Central Texas. Sample crops and gardens, barnyard animals and poultry, displays of vintage equipment and tools. A collected village has houses, barns, a one-room schoolhouse, a pharmacy, blacksmith shop, gas station, a church, and other relics from our rural past. Many events on weekends, and tours by appointment.
- Sebastopol House Historic Site is perhaps the finest surviving 19th-century concrete building west of the Mississippi. Here on the frontier, settlers began experimenting with concrete construction years before the Civil War, and built 100 or so structures of "lime-crete", as it was called. A team of slaves built this mansion, mixing local gravel (caliche), sand, lime, and some organic materials, then pouring the mix into wooden forms. When the concrete was solid, they raised the forms and repeated the process. A journalist declared Seguin "The Mother of Concrete Cities". Sebastopol House, a well-preserved architectural masterpiece, built in 1856 in Greek Revival style, is now a museum offering free tours.
- Heritage Museum - Artifacts from paleo-Indian archeological sites, a display on the Wilson Pottery (the first business in Texas successfully operated by ex-slaves after the Civil War), and keep chests of other historical collections that illustrate area's the rich multi-ethnic heritage; located downtown.
- Heritage Village
- The Magnolia Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Texas. Started by James Campbell in 1839 as a two-room log cabin, the place was used as an Indian Defense Shelter to protect women and children. After Campbell was killed by the Comanche, his log cabin was transformed into Seguin's first and longest running stagecoach stop (1847-1875). The original 3-room Magnolia Hotel made out of Dr. Park's limecrete solution (still standing) was built in 1847. In 1850 the 2-story wood frame addition was added connecting the log cabin and original hotel making it one of the most elegant hotels in Texas. In 1860 Colonel Thomas Dickey Johnston (who fought at the battle of San Jacinto) and his wife, Katherine owned the hotel until Katherine's death in 1900. It later became apartments and in 2012 was listed on the "Top Ten Most Endangered Places in Texas" destined for demolition. Purchased by the Ghedi couple in 2013 it has now been restored back to its 1850 glory days.
- The oldest still-surviving Protestant church in Texas, built in 1849 for a Methodist Conference, outlived the state's older churches lost to storms, fires, and progress (torn down to make way for newer, larger ones).
- A log cabin built by an Irish immigrant, who promptly returned to Ireland to rescue his family from the Great Potato Famine. Then 23 family members lived in (and around) this simple structure until another room, and then more cabins, could be built.
- A fanciful gingerbread doll house built for an adopted daughter who came on one of the Orphan Trains from NYC.
- An adobe house built for a German immigrant who knew nothing of adobe. Was it constructed by workers brought from San Antonio? Or by some of the hundreds of African slaves here in the years before the Civil War? Records are lost, so you can inspect and speculate for yourself.
- Pape's Pecan House and Nutcracker Museum - features an awesome display of the world's largest collection of nutcrackers, from Germany, India, and around the world. Varieties of the local nuts are for sale, shelled and unshelled, as well as in candies.
- Texas Theatre - Built in the town's oil boom (opened March 1931), designed by Marvin Eichenroht, a "local boy" with a degree from M.I.T. Lovingly restored, the building shows an exuberant mix of styles, variants of Art Deco called Zig Zag and Art Moderne. Materials including fancy brickwork, colorful tiles, rich woods and textiles, brass fixtures, even mica lampshades. The vertical sign reading T E X A S and the flashing lone star at the top are surrounded by chasing lights, a wonderful example of spectacular signage from the era before neon took over.
- Palace Theatre - a second downtown theater which offers periodic community events
- The Fiedler Museum - Displays of geological examples, with various types of rocks from across the state in a small garden at Langner Hall on the TLU campus.
- The "World's Largest Pecan" - A five-feet long, two-and-a-half feet wide concrete nut erected in 1962 sits in front of the county courthouse. This county is a large producer of pecans and often claims the nickname "Pecan Capital of Texas." Seguin itself has been described as "a big pecan orchard with a small town in it". A new pecan-shaped sculpture, four feet longer than the previous record holder, was unveiled on July 4, 2011 to ensure its place as the "World's Largest." It can be seen at the Texas Agricultural Education and Heritage Center. The original and still photogenic 'big pecan' remains at its downtown location.
- True Women - Seguin is one of the settings of the 1994 Janice Woods Windle historical novel True Women. The author grew up here, learning the women's side of history from family members. A self-drive tour of sites in the book is available at the Chamber of Commerce or at www.visitseguin.com. The best-selling novel was the basis for the 1997 CBS miniseries adaptation, True Women, starring Dana Delany, Annabeth Gish, and Angelina Jolie.
- Park West - The 47-acre community park includes athletic fields, a skatepark, playscape, basketball court, splashpad, group pavilion, picnic shelters, nature trails.
- Max Starcke Park - Windshield Tourism: a scenic River Drive passes "one of the Most Beautiful Waterfalls in Texas" and the "jade-green water" of the Guadalupe, beneath towering cypress and pecans; Golf, 18-hole regulation course; Picnic Areas and Pavilions; Little League Baseball-Softball complex; Volleyball, Basketball, Tennis courts; two Paddling Trails for Canoes and Kayaks; Kids' Kingdom Playscape.
- Seguin Aquatic Center - Wave Pool, Swimming, Party Area
- Seguin Events Complex / Fairgrounds Park - home of the Guadalupe County Fair & PRCA Rodeo (held the second weekend of October), a Rodeo Arena, Baseball Fields, 14 Volleyball Courts, Meeting Spaces, used as the site of Buck Fever and other annual events
- Walnut Springs Park - Trails, Hiking, Former Stagecoach Route, Historic Markers, Sculptures
- ZDT Amusement Park - Waterpark, Indoor Games, Rides built in, thru, and around century-old agro-industrial buildings; grain silos, for example, have become climbing walls and warehouses hold Go Carts - Website www.zdtamusement.com
- Seguin Central Park - Statue of Tejano hero Juan N. Seguin by the sculptor Erik Christianson of Bulverde; Fountain, Trade Days, Band Concerts, Freedom Fiesta, Car Shows, other events
- Historic Main Street District - Walking/Driving Tours, fine early 20th-Century buildings by some of the state's leading architects: J. Riely Gordon, Leo M.J. Dielmann, Atlee Ayers, Marvin Eickenroht, Lewis Wirtz and Harold Calhoun, Henry Steinbomer
- Seguin Outdoor Learning Center - Website www.seguinolc.org
- Max Starcke Park Golf Course - 18-hole course along the river, the original 9 holes designed by John Bredemus, a prolific course designer called "the father of Texas golf", the 9 holes added later and designed by Shelley Mayfield make their way through a former pecan orchard
- Golf Club of Seguin / Chaparral Golf Course - Website - thegolfclubofseguin.com
- The Bandit Golf Course
- Lake Dunlap - Fishing, Boating
- Lake Seguin / Seguin Paddling Trail - Canoeing and Kayaking at Max Starcke Park. Website
- Lake McQueeney Recreational Area - "The Water Ski Capital of Texas"
- Lake Nolte - Meadowlake - Boating, Fishing
- Lake Placid - Boating, Fishing, Jet Skiing
Seguin's three large annual parades are regionally recognized.
- "The Biggest Small-town 4th of July Parade in Texas", starting at 10 a.m. and lasting two hours
- Guadalupe County Fair Parade, starting at 10 a.m. on Friday of the second weekend in October
- Holiday Stroll Parade, held on the Thursday after Thanksgiving, is an evening lighted parade that brings Santa Claus to the town's Central Park.
The traditional route heads south on Austin St. from College St. (or further north), passing through the Historic Downtown District to break up at the Fairgrounds.
- January: Martin Luther King Day. A Taste of Soul, music, a seated dinner, a fashion show, and a solemn march.
- March: Toast to Texas, March 2. Marking Texas Independence Day at Sebastopol, ceremony, music, games for the kids.
- April: Relay for Life. Honoring those fighting cancer and raising funds to find a cure.
- June: Fiestas Juan Seguin. Music, vendors, Chihuahua races; you don't have to be a chihuahua to have fun.
- July: Freedom Fiesta. Music, food, vender booths, carnival rides, street dancing.
- July: The Biggest Small Town 4 July Parade in Texas, Mayor's Luncheon, fireworks.
- October: Guadalupe County Fair & PRCA Rodeo, second weekend. Professional rodeo, a midway of carnival rides, and dances. Exhibitions of livestock and crops, photography contest, baked goods, hand crafts, and other displays.
- October: Pecan Fest & Heritage Days, last weekend. "Official Pecan Pie of Texas" contest, Ghost Story tours of haunted buildings, and Saints Alive! cemetery tours, vender booths, kids' rides, a maze, costume and pumpkin carving contests, Hats Off to Juan Seguin parade and hat contest.
- November/December: Holiday Stroll, Thursday after Thanksgiving. Lighted night parade brings Santa, lighting of Central Park, store window displays, venders booths, food, and carols.
- December: Heritage Tour of Homes, first weekend. Private homes from the historic city share their beauty and their pride.
Mid-Texas Symphony is the area's only professional orchestra. Performances occur in venues in both Comal and Guadalupe counties. MTS produces four free children's concerts each season; two in Seguin and two in New Braunfels. More than 3600 fourth and fifth grade students attend a free symphonic concert each season. The symphony was founded in 1978 by Anita Windecker, a music professor at Texas Lutheran University, with the support of leaders of both communities. In 2016, David Mairs marked his 20th season as Maestro of the Mid-Texas Symphony.
- "The World's Largest Pecan", on the courthouse lawn, a popular folk art piece, plaster over concrete, created by a local dentist and master plasterer Monroe J. Engbrock, 1978
- Eagle, atop the Guadalupe County Veterans Memorial on the courthouse lawn, by Erik Christianson, 2006
- "Stagecoach Road", a 90-foot wide mural by Brent McCarthy, on the route where stagecoaches passed from the Magnolia Hotel, 2008
- Statue of Juan N. Seguín, a hero-on-horseback in Central Park, by Erik Christianson, 2000
- Art Deco fountain in Central Park, designed by an unknown architect, 1930s
- Bas-reliefs of Justice and Wisdom, on the courthouse high above the entryways, sculpted by Harold Calhoun, 1936
- Bas-relief of the town seal high above the Municipal Building (City Hall) entrance, carved by Harold Calhoun, 1935
- Bird sculptures in Walnut Springs Park, eight wood and metal works by Marika Bordes and a team of her students, Barry Duncan, Howard Crunk, and Jimmy Schmidt, 2012
- Statue of Martin Luther, in front of Beck College Center, near entrance to Texas Lutheran campus off Court at Prexy Dr., by Elmer P. Peterson, 1976
- Three Graces Sculpture, on TLU campus, south of the Schuech Fine Arts Center
- Sculpture Garden, on TLU campus north of the Schuech Fine Arts Center, works by various artists, faculty and students
National Register Sites
Guadalupe County has about a dozen sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, most of them in Seguin:
- Sebastopol House (added 1970)
- Erskine-Holloman House (1970)
- Los Nogales (1972)
- Wilson Utility Pottery Kilns Archeological Dist. (1975), on Capote Road
- Joseph E. Johnson House (1978)
- Robert Hall House (1979)
- Saffold Dam (1979)
- Park Hotel, a.k.a. Plaza Hotel (1980)
- Commercial Historic District (1983), with a boundary increase (2003)
- Edward and Texana Tewes House, on Linne Road (1997)
- Sweet Home Vocational & Agricultural High School (1998)
In addition, the county boasts 80 Texas State Historical Markers, with about 25 of those within Seguin's city limits.
Seguin is located in the center of Guadalupe County at 29°34′28″N 97°57′55″W / 29.57444°N 97.96528°W (29.574329, -97.965332). It is 35 miles (56 km) east-by-northeast of downtown San Antonio, on Interstate 10, which serves Seguin with five exit. It is about 50 miles (80 km) south of Austin on Highway 123, via Interstate 35, or 62 miles (100 km) by Highway 130, a toll road.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Seguin has a total area of 34.7 square miles (89.8 km2), of which 34.5 square miles (89.3 km2) are land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km2), or 0.57%, are water. The Guadalupe River flows through the southern side of the city, reaching the Gulf of Mexico south of Victoria.
The elevation at the courthouse is 522 feet (159 m) above sea level.
|U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census of 2010, there were 25,175 people, up from 22,011 in 2000. There were 8,794 households, and 5,968 families residing in the city. In 2000, the population density was 1,157.2 people per square mile (446.8/km²)., and there were 8,164 housing units at an average density of 429.2 per square mile (165.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city in 2000 was 75.9% White, 8.0% African American, 0.61% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 13.6% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 55.4% of the population.
There were 8,794 households out of which 29.3% had their own children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.9% were married couples living together, 17.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.1% were non-families. Individuals made up 27.3% of all households and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.25.
The population was spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 20 to 24, 23.0% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.3 years. Females were 51.7%, and males were 48.3% of the populations.
In 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $31,618, and the median income for a family was $36,931. Males in 2000 had a median income of $27,007 versus $19,690 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,740. About 13.2% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.3% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.
The city operates the free Seguin-Guadalupe County Public Library at 707 E. College St. The Blumberg Library at TLU is also open to for use by adults who pay a $15 annual membership.
- Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is about an hour away via I-35 or the Hwy 130 toll road.
- San Antonio International Airport is 45 minutes to an hour away via I-10 and I-410 or Hwy 281.
- Huber Airpark, 2475 Rudeloff Rd, Seguin, privately owned field for general aviation.
Greyhound offers daily service to Houston and San Antonio.
Tri City Taxi Service is based in Seguin.
Highways and scenic routes
- Interstate 10, Jacksonville-Houston-Seguin-San Antonio-Fort Stockton-El Paso-L.A.
- US Highway 90, Columbus-Luling-Seguin-San Antonio-Del Rio-Alpine-El Paso-L.A.
Alt. US 90, Houston-Sugar Land-Rosenburg-Eagle Lake-Halletsville-Shiner-Gonzales-Seguin.
- State Highway 46, Seguin-New Braunfels-Boerne.
- State Highway 123, San Marcos-Seguin-Stockdale-Karnes City.
- State Highway 130 (Toll Road), off I-35 Georgetown-Austin-Lockhart to I-10 at Seguin.
- FM 78, Kirby-I 35-Randolph AFB-Schertz-Cibilo-Marion-McQueeney-Seguin.
- FM 20, Seguin-Fentress-Lockhart.
- FM 466, Seguin-Monthalia-Cost-Gonzales.
- FM 467.
The Seguin area was once inhabited by the native hunter-gatherer Indians of Texas. An ongoing archeological dig indicates campgrounds dating back 10,000 years or so, with trade items from Mexico and Arizona. The early visitors may have come to gather pecans, because the native trees bearing the tasty nut thrive in the river bottoms of the Guadalupe River. By the time the first European explorers passed through, predominantly Tonkawas lived in the area, camping around the Guadalupe and other streams in the area. Eventually Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo settlers started farms and ranches in the location that would become Seguin.
Jose Antonio Navarro, one of the earliest settlers and an important figure of Texas history, developed a ranch near Seguin. In 1831, land was granted to Umphries Branch by the Mexican government. The Branch and John Newton Sowell Sr. families settled in 1833 in the western part of Green DeWitt's colony. Sowell was a farmer, and in 1833 he and his brothers became the first Anglo-American immigrants to raise corn in future Guadalupe County.
Between 1827 and 1835, twenty-two families came to the area as part of the DeWitt Colony; by 1833 there were forty land titles in the region, fourteen of which received grants directly from the Mexican government. In 1836, John Gladden King lived near Seguin. His farm neighbored the Sowells on the northwest and Branch on the southeast. A son, William Philip King, reportedly was part of a cannon crew and was the youngest defender killed during the battle of the Alamo. These homesteads were abandoned in the Runaway Scrape.
19th century history
The town of Seguin was founded August 12, 1838, 16 months after Texas won its independence at the Battle of San Jacinto, making it one of the oldest towns in Texas. Members of Mathew Caldwell's Gonzales Rangers acquired land originally granted to Umphries Branch, who had departed during the Runaway Scrape and sold his land to Joseph S. Martin.
At this time the Seguin area was a part of Gonzales County. The Rangers had found this was a good halfway stop between their patrol points. The big oaks and walnut groves along the Walnut Branch (aka Nogales means 'nuts' in Spanish), had become a familiar and pleasant location. It had been maintained as a base camp by the rangers since the early founding of the Dewitt Colony.
Under an ancient live oak, thirty-three Rangers signed the charter for the town. Many were surveyors who joined Joseph Martin in laying out the lots for the town. Its original name was Walnut Springs, but was changed just six months later to honor San Jacinto veteran and then a Senator of the Republic of Texas, Juan Seguín. The surveyors' plan for the city included a main north–south street that ran straight and flat for a mile and more. The streets form a grid, around a central square of two blocks, today's Courthouse Square and Central Park, formerly known as Market Square.
Manuel Flores, veteran of San Jacinto and brother-in-law of Juan Seguin, established a ranch just south of Seguin in 1838. It became a safe-haven for San Antonio families and a staging point for counterattack when Bexar was overrun in 1842 by Santa Anna's forces under Ráfael Vásquez and Adrian Woll.
Leading the resistance forces from this location was Texas Ranger John Coffee "Jack" Hays. When duty allowed, Jack Hays would be a familiar resident of Seguin. In 1843, Hays set up a gathering point at the "station" in Seguin, where the classic Ranger character would be born. He met Susan Calvert, whose father owned the Magnolia Hotel, where they married in April, 1847.
Serving under Hays were two other famous Ranger residents of Seguin: Henry McCulloch and Ben McCulloch. Their home known as "Hardscramble" still stands and was designated a Texas State Centennial historic site in 1936. Colonel James Clinton Neill, commander of the Alamo, was known to be buried here. The site was also historically marked during the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition.
Seguin was named the county seat, and Guadalupe County was organized, early in 1845, as Texas became a state. The first county judge was Michael H. Erskine. The town was incorporated in 1853, and a city government was organized under acting Mayor John R. King, until elections were held later that year and John D. Anderson became the first elected mayor.
A few years later, another town was laid out on the west side of Seguin, on land that had been titled by the Alamo defender, Thomas R. Miller and sold in 1840 to Ranger James Campbell in partnership with Arthur Swift and Andrew Neill. This area became part of Seguin within a few years, but 150 years later the east–west streets still do not match up to cross through the old Guadalupe Street border.
When Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels and his German colonists were making their way in 1845 to the land they had bought to settle, Calvin Turner and Asa Sowell from Seguin were hired to guide them. Later Seguin became a stopping point and trade center for German immigrants along their route from the ports of Indianola and Galveston to the German settlements around New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. Many Germans en route heard of the hard times in those Hill Country settlements and decided instead to buy land and settle around Seguin.
After Texas became a state, many settlers arrived from the Old South, bringing in total hundreds of slaves, though only a few plantation owners held more than a dozen slaves. Most of the slaves lived on small farms with their owners, who remained subsistence farmers for years after settling their land. The contributions of African Americans to building the community are all but ignored in local histories written during the period when slavery was still being excused as justifiable due to the alleged low development of those enslaved. But in fact, for the first 50 years, and probably for the first 100 years of the town, blacks did most of the construction work, including the main concrete buildings such as Sebastopol. (see below).
Education was important to the town. By 1849, it chartered a school. The first schoolhouse was built in 1850; it burned and was soon replaced by a two-story limecrete building. This Guadalupe High School, now a part of the St James parochial school, was recognized by a historical marker in 1962 as the oldest continuously used school building in Texas.
Seguin was home to Dr. John E. Park's concrete (limecrete). Called "the Mother of Concrete Cities" in the 1870s, the town once had nearly 100 structures made of limecrete, including the courthouse, schools, churches, houses, cisterns, and many walls. There were so many limecrete walls and corrals that Seguin gave the effect of being a walled city. This was the largest and most significant concentration of 19th-Century concrete buildings in the U.S. About 20 of these vintage buildings survive today.
In 1857, Frederick Law Olmsted, later famous as the landscape architect of New York's Central Park, toured Texas, writing dispatches to the New York Times. Olmsted exclaimed at the concrete structures he found here, almost on the edge of the frontier, and described the city as "the prettiest town in Texas."
One surviving concrete home, the Sebastopol House; built in 1856, is a Texas Historical Commission Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places due to its unusual limecrete construction and architectural style.
Stagecoaches began to serve the town in 1848, connecting coastal ports to San Antonio and points west. The Magnolia Hotel was an overnight stop for the exhausted, hungry, and dirt-covered riders. A young slave had the honor of standing on a stone to pull the bell rope alerting the community to the arrival of the stage, which brought visitors, the mail, newspapers, and special merchandise. Heading west from the Magnolia, the stage route went through town, passing the courthouse. Today a mural commemorates its path. During the Great Depression, workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps traced part of the route with stone walls, showing how it moved downhill, crossed Walnut Branch (a spring-fed tributary of the Guadalupe River), and climbed the other side.
The historic Wilson Pottery site is on Capote Road, near Seguin. The pottery was the first successful business in Texas owned and operated by freed slaves, beginning in 1869.
During Reconstruction, the freed slaves in Seguin organized their own congregation, the Second Baptist Church, and, in 1876, a school that came to be known as the Lincoln School. In 1887 they established Guadalupe College, comparable to a junior college today, with a heavy concentration on vocational education. These institutions were begun with the help of Rev. Leonard Ilsley, an abolitionist minister from Maine. But William Baton Ball, himself an ex-slave, Union soldier in the Civil War, and former Buffalo Soldier, became their leader. He was greatly assisted by his friend and benefactor George Brackenridge of San Antonio. (The main buildings of Guadalupe College burned due to a boiler malfunction during a bitterly cold night in 1936, and the life of the college ended.)
The railroad reached Seguin in 1876 en route to San Antonio, when the oldest railway in Texas, the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railroad chartered on February 11, 1850, as the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway Company built the first Seguin depot. It became part of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and now the main southern line of the Union Pacific.
John Ireland was mayor of Seguin in 1858. Elected the 18th Governor of Texas 1883–1887, he had an important part in the construction of the Texas State Capitol—insisting on using native stone, red granite from the Hill Country, instead of limestone imported from Indiana. He also presided over the opening of the University of Texas at Austin.
20th century history
From before the Civil War until at least World War II, cotton was the money crop of the local farms, and the county had at least a dozen gins, with three in the town of Seguin. But agriculture was more diversified than in many counties where cotton was king, with corn, peanuts, hogs, and cattle, as well as wheat, oats, sugar cane, and most notably pecans. The tiny but tasty native nuts were an early export. The crops improved as the bottomlands were converted to orchards, and eventually bigger varieties of nuts were grafted onto the local trees. This was one of the first counties to have a pecan growers' association, and in 1921 its leader, P.K. DeLaney, helped start the Texas Pecan Growers Association. The county remains one of the state's leading producers. Seguin has been called 'a big orchard with a small town in it' because almost every house is shaded by a pecan tree in the yard. A tribute to the nut's importance is "The World's Largest Pecan" erected on the Courthouse lawn.
Small mills were put on the Guadalupe River even before the Civil War. William Saffold established a mill at what is today Max Starcke Park. Later Henry Troell made major improvements there, and in 1894 used hydroelectric power to light the town. The City of Seguin took over the dam and electric plant in 1907. The supply of cheap and reliable electricity helped to make possible several gins, mills, silos, an ice plant and ice cream maker, a cold meat storage facility, and other types of agribusiness.
In 1912, citizens of Seguin lured a struggling church school to the city with cash, and 15 acres of land donated by Louis Fritz. It grew to a junior college into a four-year college to become today's Texas Lutheran University, with some 1,400 students and boasting high rankings on the U.S. News & World Report comparisons of universities.
During the 1920s, the county began to enjoy a fore-taste of an oil boom. While the first fields were at the far edge of the county, near Luling, the paperwork of deeds and leases (as well as any resulting lawsuits) passed through the Guadalupe County Courthouse. Then in December 1929, the Darst Creek Field was opened, only 15 miles east of Seguin. (The creek had been named for colonist and landowner, Jacob C. Darst. He was one of the original "Old Eighteen," defenders of the Gonzales cannon and then a member of the Gonzales Ranging Company relief force to the Alamo during the siege in 1836.)
With the Darst Field, Seguin became a supply center, and residents were able to rent out rooms to oil field workers for cash even during the worst years of the Great Depression of the 1930s. As a result, Seguin was able to collect taxes when other towns just had to give up. It used the money to match federal grants for what some derided as "make-work" projects. Under the leadership of the popular mayor, Max Starcke, Seguin was transformed, with a new Post Office, a new Art Deco City Hall, Courthouse, jailhouse and fountain in Central Park, new storm sewers and sidewalks, and a small park along Walnut Branch, with rustic stone walls that protected the historic springs and traced the route of the stagecoach as it headed west through town. The little city had three swimming pools, one for whites, one for blacks at the segregated high school, and one for Spanish speaking citizens at the Juan Seguin school.
Max Starcke's biggest achievement was a large park along the Guadalupe River, designed by Robert H.H. Hugman, famous now as "the Father of the River Walk" in San Antonio. The park featured a handsome Art Deco recreation building designed by Hugman (now offices) with changing rooms for the swimming pool. The nine-hole course was designed by John Bredemus, a prolific course designer who has been called "the father of Texas golf". The park offered picnic tables and bar-be-que pits between a scenic river drive and the river. Most of all, at a disused mill, Hugman and the young men of the National Youth Administration put a spectacular curving dam—today called "one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Texas". As the 1938 dedication marker tells, funds were raised in part by public subscription. Dozens of groups and individuals made contributions to build the park that the town named for its popular mayor, who was moving on to, and soon to head, the Lower Colorado River Authority in Austin.
After World War II, entrepreneurs fresh out of the university used electric furnaces to melt scrap into reinforcing bars with a company then called Structural Metals. The mini-mill (now CMC Steel) has been joined by manufacturers including Alamo Group, building roadside mowing equipment; Continental Automotive Systems (was Motorola), making electronic powertrain control modules and emissions sensors; Hexcel, producing reinforcements for composites using glass fiber, carbon fiber, aramids, and specialty yarns; Minigrip, manufacturing re-closeable plastic bags for food and home storage; Tyson Foods, processing chicken. In 2009 Caterpillar opened a plant assembling diesel engines. Most recently Rave Gears, a make of precisions gears, opened a plant and headquarters.
Seguin has three sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc (SCI):
- Millicent, South Australia, Australia
- Vechta, Lower Saxony, Germany
- San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León, Mexico
- Jacob De Cordova, land agent, Member, Texas House of Representatives, 1808–1868
- Manuel N. Flores, rancher, served with Juan Seguin (his brother-in-law) in Texas Revolution, 1801–1868
- Sam Flores, educator, political activist, 1925–2007
- Maud A. B. Fuller, Baptist leader and educator 1868–1972
- Nanci Griffith, Grammy Award-winning singer, guitarist and songwriter, 1953–2021
- P. J. Hall, NFL defensive tackle for the Oakland Raiders, 1995–
- Chuck Hartenstein, Texas Longhorns baseball pitching star, MLB relief pitcher, and MLB coach, 1942–
- John Coffee "Jack" Hays Texas Ranger, 1817–1883
- John Ireland, Governor of Texas, 1827–1896
- Ron Jones, MLB player for the Philadelphia Phillies, 1964–2006
- Kitty Weyel Keller, American Artist/Designer, Owner of Kitty Keller Designs, 1952–
- Edmund Kuempel, 1983–2010 State Representative, 1942–2010
- J. R. E. Lee, born a slave, 20 years president historically black Florida A&M, 1864–1944
- David Maldonado, scholar, pastor, academic administrator and university president, 1944–
- Joel Nestali Martinez, elected 1992, bishop of the United Methodist Church, 1940 –
- Shelley Mayfield, pro golfer and course designer, 1924–2010
- Ben McCulloch, Confederate general, killed in action, 1819–1862
- Henry McCulloch, Confederate general, 1816–1895
- Forrest Mims, amateur scientist and popular author on electronics, 1944–
- José Antonio Navarro, rancher, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, 1795–1871
- John Park, inventor, builder using concrete, 1814–1872
- Freddie Patek, MLB shortstop for the Kansas City Royals, three times American League All Star, 1944–
- Zachary Selig, artist, author, spiritist, 1949–
- Max Starcke, Seguin mayor and longtime head of LCRA, 1884–1972
- Ferdinand C. Weinert, State Representative, State Senator, Secretary of State, 1853–1939
- Rudolph Weinert, 1936–1963 State Senator, 1894–1963
- John P. White, elected 1876, Presiding Judge 1879–1892, Texas Court of Appeals, 1832–1905
- "Smokey" Joe Williams, Negro league pitcher, Baseball Hall of Fame, 1886–1951
- Janice Woods Windle, author of historical novels, 1938–
- Harry Wurzbach, Member, U.S. House of Representatives, 1874–1931
Images for kids
Walnut Springs Park on Walnut Branch, a small tributary of the Guadalupe River, was first constructed by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps.