Headline News
Go Back
2017-06-08

How Bandera came about

By Raymond V. Carter, Jr. BCHC Research Historian

In my research through the archives of Bandera County I have seen some mighty interesting documents, but one of the most fascinating documents I have found, was an original letter from E. C. de Montel to J. Marvin Hunter dated August 23, 1935, which was in a box of old documents that Gail Joiner gave me to go through. Montel was a lawyer and later County Judge of Wichita Falls, Texas. The letter is self explanatory, so I will quote it:
"Dear Mr. Hunter:
"My good friend, Judge A. H. Carrigan furnished me with a copy of this pamphlet and asked me to forward same to you, as he thought it would be of interest to you."
"I have in my possession a memorandum of agreement made and entered into by and between John James, my wife's grandfather, Charles de Montel, my grandfather, and J. H. Herndon on the 15th day of June, 1852, for the purpose of association for the purchasing and obtaining lands by location on the Medina river in and above the mountains, commencing fifteen miles above Castroville, of laying off a town at some suitable place in the valley near Vendera Pass, of sending emigrants or settlers thereto and establishing in said region a saw mill and shingle machine; and each party agrees to advance equally the share of money for the carrying out of the enterprise, at such time as they may agree upon."
"This is written in long hand and signed by John James, Charles de Montel and J. H. Herndon, and is contained on a single page."
''Then I have another memorandum of agreement, entered into on the 19th day of December, 1856, by the same parties, extending the articles of co-partnership on the 17th day of December, 1853, for the laying off a town and establishing mills in Bandera Valley on the Medina River. I do not, however, have the agreement of December 17,1853."
"I am sending you herewith photo-static copies of the two instruments, in which I thought you might be interested."
"Yours very truly,
E. C. de Montel" (signed)

This letter sent me on a mission to find the photo-static copies and original letters. I first went to the Frontier Times Museum and spoke with Rebecca Norton, Curator of the Museum, to see if the photo-static copies were in the museum's possession. Well, they were not located, so on went the search. My next place I went to search was the Bandera Library. There is a collection of the Frontier Times magazines there in the Genealogical Room. I looked at the issues after August of 1935 and sure enough in the October issue Hunter wrote an article about the letter and photo-static copies.
In Volume 13 – No. 1, October, 1935 issue of the "Frontier Times," J. Marvin Hunter wrote the article, "The First Steps for Founding Bandera," which is found on pages 68-70. I know it will seem redundant, but I am going to copy the memorandums from Hunter 's article, because I wish to preserve his work further. What I mean is that this is the only written copy of the two memorandums that I have been able to local at this time and they are worth reprinting, as they are what was the beginning, the dream, which became the town called Bandera!
Quoting Hunter's article:
"MEMORANDUM of an agreement made and entered into by and between John James, Charles de Montel and J. H Herndon this 15th day of June, 1852, Witnesseth: That the said three parties have formed themselves into an association for the purpose of purchasing and obtaining lands by location on the Medina river in and above the mountains, commencing ten or fifteen miles above Castroville, of laying off a town at some suitable point in the valley near Vendera Pass, of sending immigrants or settlers thereto, and of establishing in said region a saw mill and shingle machine. And the said parties do hereby agree to advance each an equal sum of money for the carrying out of the above enterprise, at such times as we may agree upon; and we do agree that any and all lands which may be acquired in the above region, by either of the said parties, by purchase or location during the continuance of the above association, shall be the property of the said joint association, each paying his proportionate share for the same."
"And the said John James agrees to put into the association the B. Ruiz Sy. No. 58 of about 36,000 acres (note: should be about 3,600 acres), and the upper third of Survey No. 57, made for Solomon Brill, at an average of what the Holly & Hendrick Arnold surveys may cost us."
"Witness our hands the day and date above written. Signed in triplicate.
"John James. (Seal)
Charles De Montel (Seal)
J. H. Herndon. (Seal)"

Hunter continues his article by stating: "The memorandum made in December, 1856, in continuance of the agreement reads as follows:"
"MEMORANDUM of agreement made and entered into the 19th day of December, 1856, by and between John James, Charles de Montel and John H. Herndon, Witnesseth: That whereas, the said three parties entered into and executed articles of co-partnership on the 17th day of December, 1853, for the laying off of a town and establishing mills in Bandera Valley on by and between John James, Charles de Montel and John H. Herndon, Witnesseth: That whereas, the said three parties entered into and executed articles of co-partnership on the 17th day of December, 1853, for the laying off of a town and establishing mills in Bandera Valley on the Medina river, which partnership by its terms expired on the first of January, 1856, unless extended by mutual consent; and, whereas, the said parties having continued the partnership to the present time, and desiring to extend it further, do hereby disclose and agree that the partnership as heretofore existing shall be and continue in force and operation for the period of five years from the date hereof, when it will expire by limitation unless extended by mutual consent, subject to be dissolved, however, at any time by two of the contracting parties, they giving notice to the other party. It is understood and agreed by and between the parties hereto that in the event of a disagreement as to the best mode of managing this concern a majority shall control."
"It is also agreed between the parties that a competent manager of the business is to be employed, either at a salary or for an interest in the profits of the mills."
"It is also agreed that a small stock of goods shall be kept on hand and sold for cash."
"It is also agreed that if any additional machinery should be deemed advisable by a majority of the parties hereto it shall be added on joint account."
"The original articles of co-partnership and attachment A are hereto annexed and made a part of this."
"Signed in triplicate the day and date above written."
"JOHN JAMES
CHARLES DE MONTEl
JNO. H. HERNDON"

As stated above, Montel did not possess the December 1853 agreement, nor do we have copies of attachment "A", what ever that was. I have been in contact with the Wichita Falls Museum of Texas History trying to locate the heirs of Judge E. C. de Montel and the original documents. Obtaining the original documents or at least getting copies of the original documents would be a great asset to the archives of the BCHC and the Frontier Times Museum. This is a true treasure story with very few clues, so on goes the search for BANDERA'S BURIED PAST!!!