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Spanish Settlements and the Demijohn Bend of the Guadalupe River

Many probably know the Demi John Ranch, but not by name. It is hard to miss. When you travel south on Mystic Parkway, off to the right across the Guadalupe River you see a very large, lovely hay field on the inside curve of the Guadalupe (called the Demijohn Bend of the river) where cattle and goats graze and, way up the hill, is the ranch headquarters. The ranch is named after a demijohn - a flat-bottomed, bulb-shaped flask with a narrow neck to keep the brew from spilling on long voyages such as when the Spanish came to explore the new land to be known as America. At the Demi John Ranch, the bottom land and hayfield resembles the bulb-shaped portion of the flask, and the home is built high at the top of the “neck”, with much of the ranch fronting the Demi John Bend.

Although the Demi John Ranch and Mystic Shores now feel very separated by the Guadalupe, that was not always the case. Before Canyon Dam was built, the Guadalupe was just a running stream and it was only a short horseback ride between the two areas. 

Spain was the first European nation to stake claim to what is now Texas. They did so in 1519 and held it until 1821 (except for a five-year period when France staked its claim). In 1689, Spaniard Alonzo De Leon explored the Guadalupe River area; however, except for occasional missions or forts, there was minimal Spanish settlement in the area. 

Mexico fought for its independence from Spain for eleven years, gaining such in 1821. For the next decade, Texas became a frontier region for Hispanics from the south and for Anglos from the north, and Anglo Texans became Mexican citizens.

In 1831, the Mexican government gave a large land grant to Juan Martin de Veramendi. Veramendi, born in what is now San Antonio in 1778, had served as collector of foreign revenue for the government of Mexico and then, in 1823, as an alternate
deputy to the Mexican National Constitutional Congress. Veramendi was later the governor of the Mexican state of Coahuila. In 1823, he received a grant of five leagues (22,140 acres) of land and, in 1827, he petitioned and received a grant of 11 leagues (48,700 acres). Veramendi died in 1833 of cholera and his wife inherited the lands. 

After the Mexican General Santa Anna declared his self a dictator, Texans revolted and won their independence on April 21, 1836, at the battle of San Jacinto. In the newly independent Texas, parcels of the expanded Veramendi land grant began to be sold off to European settlers. As an example, in early 1845, Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, Germany, purchased 1,265 acres of the Veramendi land grant for a sum of $1,111 and settled it as New Braunfels. 

An enterprising property owner could probably trace their own Mystic Shores lot back to land grants of the same vintage. 

Sources for this article came from the current owner of the Demi John Bend Ranch, Wikipedia and the Texas State Historical Assoc. website.


 
 
 

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