Photo courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library # 00521
a Pecan Shell
is similar to that of nearby Mentz.
It was started by German immigrants in the 1840s and the population
was supplemented by more immigrants once the Civil War was over. All
German settlers in this region preferred the rich soil and Indian-free
environment. While more land was available further west in Gillespie
and Mason counties, the soil was thinner there and the Indians more
Once known as Bernardo Prairie and earlier called Braden;
after early settling families - Bernardo was on the main road from
Houston, but too close
to Columbus to
prosper on its own. During the Civil War, Bernardo was a drop-off
point for cotton that was to be sent down the "cotton road" to Bagdad,
Mexico. But this second chance to prosper was usurped by nearby Alleyton
- who became known as being the point of origin for the Civil War
Bernardo did have a post office in operation, but it came late (1898)
and was discontinued early (sometime in 1917).
The community had a school taught by the Sisters of Divine Providence
which merged with the Mentz Catholic school (also administered by
the Sisters) in 1911.
Bernardo maintains a volunteer fire department and remains a Colorado
County voting precinct. Some descendants of original settlers
remain, but Houston retirees
have bought much of the land that had once been family farms.
Community Historical Marker
As early as the
1830s German immigrants had begun to settle in the general vicinity
of Cat Spring. They were
soon joined by others who preferred this region to the various sites
that had been designated formal colonization efforts. With the area's
continued growth, the settlements of Bernardo (4 mi. E) and Mentz
developed as early focal points of the surrounding agricultural community.
The German settlers who founded Mentz
named the pioneer community for an area of their homeland. Predominately
Roman Catholic, they established St. Roch parish by 1858 under the
leadership of priests from Frelsburg.
The church developed as the religious, social and cultural center
of the area.
Bernardo was begun about 1845 on an important early route from Houston
to inland settlements. Because of its location on the prairie land
of the San Bernard River, the rural community was first known as Bernardo
Once identified by separate schools and post offices, the two settlements
now share a common lifestyle and heritage, which reflect the continued
influence of the early German settlers. Their descendants still live
in the Mentz-Bernardo Community.
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