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Texas Ghost Town

GRAPETOWN, TEXAS

Gillespie County, Texas Hill Country
10 miles S of Fredericksburg
Approx. 4 miles SW of Luckenbach

Population: 71

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Grapetown, Texas ghost town
"The Grapetown Schoolhouse to the right and the back of the teacher's house to the left." - Jim Thompson.
Photo courtesy Shannan Yarbrough
 
Directions should be obtained locally - roads on the Gillespie County TxDoT map are un-numbered.

History in a Pecan Shell

The town dates from 1848 when one John Hemphill settled alongside the Fredericksburg-San Antonio road. Six years later he was joined by eight other settlers. This loosely-knit community took its first step toward becoming a town when Friedrich Wilhelm Doebbler opened his Doebbler's Inn hostelry in 1860.

Around this time Grapetown's economy was based on cattle. Grapetown remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War and at least two local men played cat and mouse with Confederate patrols in the area. (See Bandera Tradgedy Tree).
Grapetown school teacher's house, Texas stone schoolhouse
School Teacher's House

Photo courtesy Shannan Yarbrough
Friedrich Doebbler hosted the town's first school in his home in 1859. About 1870 a nine-to-ten-month school was opened with teachers paid by subscription. A stone school was built in 1880, and from 1885 to 1888 a post office operated within the walls of Doebbler's Inn.
Grapetown, Texas stone structure
"There's really not a whole lot left of this town beyond the cemetery, the original sign in German, the school house, and two other buildings." - Shannan Yarbrough
Photo courtesy Shannan Yarbrough
In 1887 a singing club and a shooting club merged (allowing members to sing while shooting) and as if that wasn't enough, Grapetown then started the first annual Gillespie County Schuetzenfest (shooting festival). The Handbook of Texas allows that during this festival, 140 kegs of beer were consumed in four days - but gives no information on the accuracy of the marksmen.

The Fredericksburg and Northern Railway arrived in 1913. Otto Cowan, grandson of Friedrich Doebbler, had the sad duty of closing Doebbler's Inn in 1915.

When Highway 87 was rerouted through Comfort in 1932, Grapetown's economy predicably declined.

In 1944 Grapetown's school consolidated with Rocky Hill. The schoolhouse was purchased by the community and is in use as community center.

From 145 people in 1900 (estimated) Grapetown was down to just 70 by the mid 60s.

Grapetown Schoolhouse >

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Grapetown Cemetery, Texas
Grapetown Cemetery

Photo courtesy Shannan Yarbrough

Grapetown Texas Forum

Subject: Correction to Grapetown School Photos
Shannan Yarbrough did a really nice job taking pictures of the Grapetown School and School Teachers House. However, all of the photos on Grapetown-Schoolhouse-Texas.htm are of the School Teacher's House and not the school. The school is adjacent and does not have a full length porch as does the teacher's house.

I am involved in the community club activities which are held in the school house and live about 1 mile west near Walter Doebbler's homestead. The top picture on Grapetown-Texas.htm shows the school house to the right and the back of the teacher's house to the left. Thanks for listening! - Jim Thompson, A Barn at the Quarry, June 16, 2006

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More Photos by Shannan Yarbrough

John Troesser

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