A Birthday, My Morbid Hobby, and Castroville

It’s my very favorite kind of blogging right now- I am snuggled up in bed typing as it rains and rains and rains outside- heaven! Also- thank god it’s raining… we’ve gone entire summers without rain before so this is a real treat. Only thing is we must not have shut the coop last night as there are some SOAKING wet chickens out there who are too stupid to get out of the rain. At least they’re clean. On to the actual purpose of the post.

This past week I turned 41, we went back to Castroville, and I got to nose around a cemetery again.

First off- the birthday. One thing I’ve never been weird about is saying my age- that women lie about their ages annoys me no end. I earned these years, to deny of them would be to deny myself and that shit don’t fly. I’m 41 and I like it. Except for the flairs of plantar fasciitis, flashes of joint pain, and that one damn chin hair. Those can all suck it.

To celebrate, my husband and I took our kids with us back to the hotel in Castroville we went to last year on my birthday. (post about it Here) Last year it was just my husband and I, which was awesome, but even back then we talked about wanting to bring the girls there, so this year we went as a whole family. We knew mid August meant the hotel wasn’t going to be packed so we were comfortable with it in spite of the coronavirus.

Castroville is a bit of an unassuming town. It’s about 30 minutes west of San Antonio and there isn’t a whole lot going on, but I like it. It’s got a cute downtown area with boutiques and stuff, but that isn’t why we go. We go there because we love the hotel itself and because my grandmother’s family were some of the first settlers to come from the Alsace region of France/Germany. (passed back and forth more than a ping pong game)

From those early settlers my family traces it’s roots to the Mohrs, Tondres, Schorps, and Conrads. We’ve got some real front row seats in the St. Louis cemetery out there too as some of them were among the first to be buried out there. I have an ancestor there who was born in 1799, which is crazy to me- in fact… this one!

That says “Here rests in Peace Anna Conrad” born 28 September 1799 died 14 Jun 1879 Rest in Ashes” That last part is on a ton of the headstones out there. Real creepy, Alsatians.

She was pretty bad ass too. Anna Conrad emigrated to Texas but her husband died somewhere between Galveston and San Antonio soon after arrival. She continued on to Castroville in 1844, built her homestead, and raised her 4 children alone as she never remarried. Her oldest son became the teacher in the early days of the colony. The weird thing is that this stone is tiny, and Joseph Conrad’s first wife has a HUGE stone, and he and his second wife have obelisks. Something tells me Anna might have been a bit of a tough old bird.

We took the children to see these graves as I wanted them to know about their ancestors more then I had at their ages. It’s a fascinating story really, and links us directly to the early immigrants of Texas. My middle daughter indulges me but the other two could care less about gravestones… but they’ll remember it later in life that we visited the graves and talked about the people buried there, I have no doubt.

On this trip to the cemetery I noticed some really unique stones, similar to my 3rd great-grandfather’s first wife’s (just trips off the tongue, doesn’t it) stone that I saw on our last visit. To my eye it’s obvious they’re from the same maker, and a master at his craft to boot.

Love the acorn detail along the bottom. “Here rests asleep in god, Martin Schmidt Born Aug 4, 1818 died Nov 12, 1860”
“Here rests Katarina Droitcourt, wife of Joseph Conrad Born April 11, 1843 Died Sept. 13, 1861 with her 2 children” (she had 2 stillborn sons) She died 6 days after her daughter was born- who was her only surviving child and who was named after her mother. I love the 3 hearts symbol at the top.
This stone had fallen over but was still legible. And the symbol at the top is repeated on almost all the other similar stones, but is only discernible as a sacred heart (heart with a flame) on top of a crossed sword and anchor on this one. “Benjamin Biry born June 25, 1822 Died January 6, 1864”
Very unique shape on this one. “Here lies Katharina Muller the wife of Johannes Biediger born on Nov 25, 1837 Died October 25 1864” The R in the last name is smaller than all other letters- so the stone seemed to have had the name originally misspelled.
“Here lies Fjos Haby born July 23,1793 in Oberentzen, Alscace Died May 9, 1866 Rest in Peace” I can only assume that first name is an abbreviation- but of what I have no idea.

These are all very large stones (5’+) and just don’t look American made to me. The image in my head is of a shipment of blank headstones being imported from Europe, though it is possible there was a stonemason in San Antonio that these were purchased from. The stone color looks wrong for that though… and I’ve never seen headstones like this anywhere else. I’m going to be digging into Alsatian headstones to see if these are similar… the research will continue.

There would be no recreating our last trip- boy did my husband and I have an awesome trip that time- but we still had fun this time too. The Hillside Boutique Hotel is just beautiful and gets my wholehearted recommendation.

We had the whole pool area to ourselves
Sight-lines from the hotel are amazing

And the rooms are just gorgeous too.

The hotel cats are great too- there were 2 on this trip and they were both calicos, this younger one was a total sweetie.

Only down side is the onsite restaurant and bar (one of the best in the whole town) was closed on Monday and Tuesday… which is exactly when we stayed there. Live and learn, I guess, so be aware of that is you go.

Most of the other restaurants in town were also closed on Monday so we ended up having a bit of a scramble to find somewhere to eat. We ended up at an older restaurant called Sammy’s that reminded me of the dining area of the Elk’s Lodge back in the day (my grandparents were members). My chicken fried steak came with a whole scallion on top. Like… that ain’t no chive, Castroville- want me to gnaw on an entire green onion here or what? But the food was good enough. The atmosphere was novel enough. A good time was had by all.

On Tuesday for dinner (after like 5 hours in the pool) we went down the road to the Hermann Sons Steakhouse. I find it so weird because when I was a kid I went to the Hermann Sons School of Dance- wonder if it’s related somehow? As for the steakhouse- well.

I wasn’t thrilled with the restaurant management’s social distancing practices as they tried to sit us right next to 2 other tables… in a predominantly empty restaurant. My husband insisted they move us and they got a little huffy about it. The bartender had a bit of the shakes (from what, who knows), and the food was meh. The outside patio area was stellar though. If we do it again we’ll just stay on days when the hotel restaurant is open, is all, as this restaurant didn’t earn any desire for a repeat visit from us.

All in all I give the trip all a score of: 10 of 10, would turn 41, wander through a graveyard, and visit Castroville again.

7 thoughts on “A Birthday, My Morbid Hobby, and Castroville

    1. You totally should- we love that hotel and the town is cool to wander around and shop in- at least in normal times. It’s funny too- Castro and Prince Solms we’re total rivals and some of the original Castroville settlers “defected” to Prince Solms colony in New Braunfels as they were settled at the same time. A big deal because Castro wouldn’t get paid if he didn’t hit his quota of settlers!

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