By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Most of our small settlements in the Texas Hill Country, if they survived, grew up next to rivers and creeks. The Guadalupe River Valley NW of New Braunfels has been hailed by many as the most beautiful area in all of the Hill Country.
Part of the beauty of the valley has to do with the Guadalupe River, 230 miles long, it has a very inauspicious beginning 80 miles north of New Braunfels near Hunt, Texas. Its beginning is not as impressive as our own Comal Springs, but it overcomes stumbling blocks like Canyon Dam to make its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Below New Braunfels, the Comal River gives up its dominance and merges into the Guadalupe.
Native Americans long ago took advantage of these areas along the river valley. Most were nomadic, generally peaceful and lived off the bounty of the land and rivers. Fish, oysters and clams were a few of the many sources of food from the water, and deer, turkeys and rabbits provided food from the land. Berries and nuts grew in abundance along the river valley. Other nomadic tribes were not so peaceful because the area was also the hunting grounds of the Comanche.
The German immigrants were the first Europeans to actually settle in the Guadalupe Valley. One of those settlements about which we will speak became Sattler, named for Wilhelm Sattler.
Alton Rahe and Brenda Anderson-Lindemann have done extensive research on the Sattler area. Notice that I said “Sattler area.” There was not a town of Sattler although there is an area referred to as Sattler. The name of the current location of Sattler was given to the area over 136 years ago after it was relocated from the original Sattler postal station founded over 160 years ago. The area over time has also been referred to and includes Walhalla, Marienthal, Hidden Valley, Mountain Valley and of course, Sattler. Research is hard enough without this confusion. Just remember the Sattler of today includes these other settlements.
Areas frequently became named the same as the postal station established and this is how it happened. Wilhelm Sattler contracted with the US government to operate a postal station. In 1856, he was approved for the postal station and operated out of a log cabin built on his ranch. There is, however, a postal journal owned by the family that records transactions as early as 1849. Wilhelm’s son Heinrich was appointed postmaster in 1856. When Heinrich was killed in the Civil War, it is possible that Wilhelm acted as postmaster in place of Heinrich. The post office is still standing and in remarkable condition. Next to the small structure, Sattler built his home and two other log cabins. One of the log cabins was Wilhelm’s office for bookbinding and bookkeeping and the other was where he officiated as a judge.
Where is this Sattler ranch and first post office? It is located just north of FM 306 on Point Creek Road between Point Creek and the Guadalupe River. After Wilhelm Sattler’s death in 1880, community members moved the post office to a more central location in a general store in the area that is now considered Sattler at the crossroad of River Road and FM 2673.
Here is a little more about the Sattler family. Wilhelm Sattler and his wife Sophia arrived in Texas in 1845 from Germany. Sattler drew town lot 230 in New Braunfels. He is on Oscar Haas’ first founder list. The family settled in Comaltown in New Braunfels at an unknown date, however, it is known that he was selected as a city alderman (city councilman) for the Comaltown district in 1849. He was one of the organizers of the Comal Union School located in Comaltown.
In 1853, Sattler bought 320 acres of mountainous land from Texas land agent, Jacob de Cardova. It was on this property that the home, post office and other offices were built. His profession was bookbinding and bookkeeping for prominent New Braunfels men like Hermann Seele, Dr. Theodor Koester, Franz Moreau and Ferdinand Lindheimer. He was a member of Texas Land Commission and worked on and off in Austin. Sattler was educated, spoke several languages, and had an extensive library in his home. Unfortunately, due to a fire in 1925 in the home, the book collection burned but the postal journal survived.
Presently six families that are direct descendants of Wilhelm and Sophia Sattler live on the property. The ranch is not as large as the initial 800+ acre Sattler Ranch but it still maintains the beauty of the Guadalupe River Valley ranch of old. One of the g-g-g-grandsons of Wilhelm Sattler, Ed Walker, was my guide on the ranch recently. The Point Creek, named because of the point formed where the creek joins the Guadalupe River, has two waterfalls on the property. Ed operates the Point Creek Haven Cabins at the confluence of the Point Creek and the Guadalupe River with ¼ mile of river frontage. The cabins are on the outside of the Guadalupe River horseshoe that goes from FM 306 to FM 306. It reminds me of my childhood days on the Guadalupe River experiencing the slow-paced lazy days of summer cooling off in the river.
The old post office is nearby and all manner of animals inhabit the place-peacocks, emus, guineas, a turtle, ducks and Texas longhorns. The Sattler family cemetery is located across Point Creek from the post office and contains the graves of Wilhelm and Sophia Sattler and other family members. The cemetery has been designated as a Historic Texas Cemetery.
The Sattler descendants are very conservation minded and the whole piece of property shows a respect for heritage and a desire for preservation. The Sattler Post Office is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.
And now that you are not confused anymore, we can talk about the other names associated with the Sattler area.
The name Walhalla in Norse mythology was the “hall of Odin.” Odin receives the souls of heroes slain in battle. The early settlers named their dance hall after this mythological hall and the Walhalla Singing Society. Four halls were built over time with the same name but in different places. The last hall was next to the VFW Canteen Lounge at the corner of River Road and FM 2673 (or the old Sattler-Cranes Mill Road). It is no longer standing.
Another name in the Sattler area is known as Mountain Valley. The Mountain Creek runs through this valley, therefore possibly the name Mountain Valley. It was the location of the Mountain Valley School that closed in 1957. There is also a Mountain Valley Cemetery located in the area.
Hidden Valley was used to describe an area accessible by only one dead-end road that went from the current Sattler intersection towards the Guadalupe River. It is still there but now mostly covered by Canyon Dam. It is the direction of the South Access Road.
The last but not least area was called Marienthal that means Marie’s Valley. In 1849, New Braunfels merchants Ferguson and Hessler established a farm located where FM 306 crosses the Guadalupe River. It was a 300+ acre farm named after Ferguson’s wife Marie. Use of the name for that location continued into the 1900s.
Near the municipal buildings, there is a Texas historical marker titled “Sattler.” With the Weil-Nowotny-Guenther Store, post office, dance hall, cotton gin and bowling alley, the area served as a gathering place for farm and ranch families. Changes came after the building of Canyon Dam but the heritage of Sattler remains significant in the history of Comal County.
By looking at the different names of mountains and valleys in this area of the Guadalupe Valley one can see why it is still considered one of the most beautiful Texas Hill Country areas.