On December 15, 1847, a petition was submitted to create Gillespie County. In 1848, the legislature formed Gillespie County from Bexar and Travis counties. While the signers were overwhelmingly German immigrants, names also on the petition were Castillo, Pena, Munos, and a handful of non-German Anglo names.
1847 Meusebach-Comanche Treaty. 150 settlers petition the Texas legislature to establish a new county, suggested names being "Pierdenales" or Germania. The Vereins Kirche becomes the first public building in Fredericksburg. It serves as a non-denominational church, school, town hall and fort. Locals refer to it as “The Coffee Mill Church” for its shape. Wilhelm Victor Keidel is the county's first doctor. Mormon leader Lyman Wight founds the community of Zodiac.
1850 An angry mob of soldiers burns down the store-courthouse destroying all County records. The melee apparently starts when County Clerk John M. Hunter, who also owns the store, refuses to sell whiskey to a soldier. Words are exchanged. Hunter stabs the soldier. 50 soldiers storm and burn the store, destroying all contents. Soldiers prevent townspeople from saving the county records.
1851 John O. Meusebach is elected to the Texas Senate to represent Bexar, Comal, and Medina counties.
1854 John O. Meusebach receives an appointment as commissioner from Governor Elisha M. Pease to issue land certificates to those immigrants of 1845 and 1846 who had been promised them by the Adelsverein. The Texas State Convention of Germans meet in San Antonio and adopt a political, social and religious platform, including: 1) Equal pay for equal work; 2) Direct election of the President of the United States; 3) Abolition of capital punishment; 4) “Slavery is an evil, the abolition of which is a requirement of democratic principles..”; 5) Free schools – including universities - supported by the state, without religious influence; and 6) Total separation of church and state.
1852 Bremen seaman Charles Henry Nimitz, grandfather of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, builds the Nimitz Hotel in Frederickburg. In 1870, he adds a steamboat shaped façade.
1862 Fifty-four Gillespie county men join the Confederate Army. Eventually 300 would enlist with the CSA to avoid conscription. The Union League forms companies to protect the frontier against Indians and their families against local Confederate forces. Conscientious objectors to the military draft are primarily among Tejanos and Germans . Confederate authorities impose martial law on Central Texas. Nueces massacre in Kinney County. Jacob Kuechler serves as a guide for 61 conscientious objectors attempting to flee to Mexico. Scottish born Confederate irregular James Duff and his Duff’s Partisan Rangers pursue and overtake them at the Nueces River. 34 are killed, some executed after being taken prisoner. Jacob Kuechler survives the battle. The cruelty shocks the people of Gillespie County. 2,000 take to the hills to escape Duff's reign of terror. Spring Creek Cemetery near Harper in Gillespie County has a singular grave with the names Sebird Henderson, Hiram Nelson, Gus Tegener and Frank Scott. The inscription reads “Hanged and thrown in Spring Creek by Col. James Duff’s Confederate Regiment.”
1864 Kiowa raiders massacre residents of the McDonald farm in the Harper vicinity.
1865 Gillespie county suffers a war-time crime wave, as 17 individuals are convicted of murder.
1866 Treue der Union Monument ("Loyalty to the Union") in Comfort is dedicated to the Texans slain at the Nueces massacre. It is the only monument to the Union outside of the National Cemeteries on Confederate territory. It is one of only six such sites allowed to fly the United States flag at half-mast in perpetuity.
U.S. Decennial Census 1850-2010 2012 Estimate
As of the census of 2000, there are 20,814 people in the county, organized into 8,521 households, and 6,083 families. The population density is 20 people per square mile (8/km²). There are 9,902 housing units at an average density of 9 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the county is 92.82% White, 0.33% Native American, 0.21% Black or African American, 0.18% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 5.27% from other races, and 1.18% from two or more races. 15.90% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. In 1990 there were approximately 3,000 speakers of Texas German in Gillespie and Kendall counties, but this is believed to have declined in the last two decades.
There are 8,521 households out of which 25.90% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.10% are married couples living together, 7.00% have a female householder with no husband present, and 28.60% are non-families. 25.80% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.20% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.38 and the average family size is 2.84.
In the county, the population is spread out with 21.60% under the age of 18, 5.50% from 18 to 24, 21.20% from 25 to 44, 26.20% from 45 to 64, and 25.50% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 46 years. For every 100 females there are 89.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 88.10 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $38,109, and the median income for a family is $45,315. Males have a median income of $26,675 versus $20,918 for females. The per capita income for the county is $20,423. 10.20% of the population and 7.10% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 13.40% of those under the age of 18 and 9.90% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Gillespie County is somewhat of an aberration in that it is a historically Republican county in a state that was overwhelmingly Democratic up until recent decades. This is largely due to the heavily German American heritage of the county (German Americans tended to be historically Republican-leaning). Gillespie County has been won by Republicans in every election since 1896 with only a handful of exceptions. Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party won the county in 1912 (but carried no other counties in the state). In 1924, it was one of only two Texas counties won by Progressive candidate Robert M. LaFollette. Gillespie County only backed the Democratic nominee in 1932 and 1964, both of which were landslide victories for the party, and has yet to do so again. In the last five Presidential elections no Democratic candidate has received more than 21% of the county's vote.
^ abLehmann, Herman; Hunter, J Marvin; Giese, Dale F (1993). Nine Years Among the Indians, 1870-1879: The Story of the Captivity and Life of a Texan Among the Indians. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN978-0-8263-1417-8.