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Education and Religion in Seguin

October 6, 2014
"Seguin's Old Oak Trees" In An Authentic History of Guadalupe County (1951) by Willie Mae Weinert. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

“Seguin’s Old Oak Trees” In An Authentic History of Guadalupe County (1951) by Willie Mae Weinert. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Seguin is located east and slightly north of San Antonio in Guadalupe County. At the time of Martín de Alarcón’s explorations in 1718-19, the area was inhabited by migratory Lipan Apache and Tonkawa tribes. Subsequently, several Mexican and Anglo land titles were established in the region, including that of José Antonio Navarro’s ranch, just north of present-day Seguin. The town became the county seat of Guadalupe County when it was formed in 1846 and was incorporated in 1853.

In 1831 Umphries Branch, arguably the first Anglo settler in the area, received a league of land on the northeast bank of the Guadalupe. Initially called Walnut Springs when it was laid out in 1838 by thirty-three shareholders, the town was re-named in 1839 in honor of Juan N. Seguín, an important political and military figure in he Texas Revolution and its aftermath.

An Authentic History of Guadalupe County (1951) by Willie Mae Weinert may be somewhat lacking in narrative flow, but provides a wealth of details about dates, names, and legislation relating to Seguin’s 19th and early 20th century history. This book also includes several one-page illustrated features on unique aspects of Seguin’s history. One of these highlights the City’s care in preserving its many ancient live oak trees, including several on the Court House lawn. According to local lore, a generous hunter in the mid-19th century hung a slaughtered buffalo from one of the  live oaks in Central  Park, accompanied by a knife for passersby to cut off steaks, and a sign reading “Take what meat you  need, but woe to him who takes the knife.”

"Guadalupe College before and after the 1936 fire. (Leon Studio)" In Under the Live Oak Tree: A history of Seguin (1988) by E. John Gesick, Jr. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

“Guadalupe College before and after the 1936 fire. (Leon Studio)” In Under the Live Oak Tree: A history of Seguin (1988) by E. John Gesick, Jr. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

The residents of Seguin have a long-standing tradition of founding and supporting educational institutions. Seguin’s first schoolhouse was established around 1845 by Methodist Minister Reverend David Evans Thompson and his wfe Elizabeth Ann Thompson. By 1850, a high school had been established that offered a Male Acadmy and a Female Academy. Other religious denominations also pursued educational efforts, and in conjunction with the Second Baptist Church, the Freedman’s Bureau established a school for African Americans in 1871. Further details of Seguin’s educational history (as well as more general history and details of the community’s civil war involvement) may be found in Under the Live Oak Tree: A History of Seguin (1988) by E. John Gesick, Jr.

A recent memoir entitled Crossing Guadalupe Street: Growing Up Hispanic & Protestant (2001) by David Maldonado, Jr. looks at some more difficult aspects of Seguin’s history. While Maldonado recounts many happy memories of growing up in the security of his extended family and the Methodist Church that they attended, he also recalls the social, ethnic, and religious divisions that fragmented Seguin and many other small Texas towns in the pre-civil rights and pre-Vatican II era.

In addition to these volumes, other materials relating to Seguin in Special Collections include an Inventory of the County Archives of Texas. No. 94 Guadalupe County (1939), Slave Transactions of Guadalupe County  (2009), and MS 221, a general store ledger from Seguin, TX including transactions between 1867-1870. A number of photographs of the community are available in UTSA Libraries Digital Collections.


Additional Sources

John Gesick, “SEGUIN, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hes03), accessed September 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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