Von Ormy, Texas

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Von Ormy, Texas
City of Von Ormy
Flag of Von Ormy, Texas
Official seal of Von Ormy, Texas
Dios y Tejas
(Spanish for "God and Texas")
Von Ormy is located in Texas
Von Ormy
Von Ormy
Location in the state of Texas
Coordinates: 29°16′39″N 98°39′27″W / 29.27750°N 98.65750°W / 29.27750; -98.65750Coordinates: 29°16′39″N 98°39′27″W / 29.27750°N 98.65750°W / 29.27750; -98.65750
Country United States
State Texas
Founded1827 by Blas Herrera
IncorporatedMay 30, 2008
Named forCount Norbert Von Ormay[1]
 • TypeType C general law municipality
 • City CommissionerSally Ann Martinez
 • City CommissionerAlex Quintanilla
 • Total1.90 sq mi (4.92 km2)
 • Land1.89 sq mi (4.89 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
608 ft (185 m)
 • Total1,085
 • Estimate 
 • Density681.31/sq mi (263.09/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (Central)
Zip Code
Area code(s)210, 726 (planned)
FIPS code48-75764[1]
ANSI Code2500157[1]

Von Ormy (/vɒn ˈɔːrmi/ von OR-mee) is a city in southwest Bexar County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 1,086.[4] It is part of the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area.

It has been known as Von Ormy since the late 1880s. Prior to 1880, the community was known as "Mann's Crossing", "Garza's Crossing",[5] "Medina Crossing",[6] and "Paso de las Garzas". The former settlements of Kirk[7] and Bexar[8] were absorbed into Von Ormy by the early 1900s.


Von Ormy lies along the Medina River at the crossing point of the historic Upper Laredo Camino Real. The city is now crossed by Interstate 35, with access from exits 140 and 141. I-35 leads 15 miles (24 km) northeast to downtown San Antonio and 143 miles (230 km) southwest to Laredo.

Early history[edit]

Archeological findings show that Von Ormy has had continuous human habitation for an estimated 8,000 years. The early historical record reveals that Spanish explorers encountered bands of Payaya, Pastia and other Coahuiltecan Indians living in the area of present-day Von Ormy. During the eighteenth century, Lipan Apache and Comanche displaced the earlier native peoples along the Medina River valley. The Medina River and its tributaries were a source of food, flint, and other resources that drew native Texans to their banks.

European settlers, initially Franciscan missionaries and Spanish and mestizo soldiers, arrived in the region in the early 18th century, intent on subduing and proselytizing the natives. Canary Islanders arrived soon after to settle the nearby town of Bejar (modern day San Antonio). They began to raise cattle along the Medina River and were involved in the cattle trade between Spanish Louisiana and South Texas. Notable among these were the Ruiz, Perez, Navarro, Hernandez and Casillas families. Manuel Ruiz de Pesia founded the earliest known cattle ranch in present-day Von Ormy in the mid-1760s. In 1809, Ignacio Perez received a massive land grant south of the Medina River. A ranch house complex was built at the present site of the Von Ormy Castle. In 1813, during the Mexican War of Independence, the Battle of the Medina was fought nearby. Antonio López de Santa Anna served as a lieutenant and became familiar with the area during this campaign. In 1827, Blas Maria Herrera, who married into the Ruiz family, established the first permanent settlement with his wife in the area. Early records of Von Ormians can be found in the baptismal, burial and marriage records of Mission San Jose and Mission Espada; they are usually listed as living "on the Medina" or simply "Medina". By the early 19th century, Von Ormy was an established community, serving as the crossing point of the Medina along the Camino Real.

The Texas Revolution[edit]

During the War for Texas Independence, Santa Anna (now the Mexican President and General-in-Chief) camped in Von Ormy prior to making his final march on the Alamo. The spot is marked by the Santa Anna Oak, a large live oak under which the general encamped. This live oak is 12' in diameter at the base and has been estimated by UTSA as over 600 years old. On the site now exists Alamo River Resort a camping and fishing park.

Blas María Herrera, the Paul Revere of Texas, rode his horse from Laredo to San Antonio to warn the town of Santa Anna's approach.[9] Other area residents who served in the Texian Army include Bernardindo Ruiz, Jose Maria Ruiz, Hemergildo Ruiz, Juan Casillas and Juan Martinez. Ignacio Perez remained loyal to Mexico.

Republic of Texas and early statehood[edit]

After the war, the doors to the Alamo were taken to the Herrera ranch, where they stayed until 1984 when the Daughters of the Republic of Texas brought them back to the Texas shrine during their restoration of the Alamo.[10] The historic Ruiz-Herrera family cemetery was established shortly after the war and is the burial place of Blas Herrera, as well as Francisco Antonio Ruiz, who was alcalde, or mayor, of San Antonio during the siege of the Alamo.

The Republic of Texas began to issue overlapping land titles to Texas veterans on the Ignacio Perez Grant of 1809. This eventually led to a series of court cases which dispossessed the Perez family of their land.

During the Republic of Texas, the ranches along the Medina began to flourish. The first Catholic church in Von Ormy had been established on the ranch of Blas Herrera between 1836 and 1841. In 1866 it was rebuilt by Bishop Odin of Galveston as Santisima Trinidad Mission and was located at Garza's Crossing on the Medina River. Ruins of the church can be seen today, and the historic cemetery is being eroded by the river.

In the 1850s, Miguel de la Garza operated a ferry across the Medina River on the Herrera Ranch. It was at this time that the town became known as Garza's Crossing or Paso de las Garzas.

Civil War and Reconstruction[edit]

Secession sentiment was mixed in the area. Von Ormy in 1861 was settled mainly by German and Mexican Catholics, who largely opposed secession and supported Sam Houston's Union Democrat ticket. In 1861, locals organized a cavalry company known as the Medina Guards. Reflecting the local population, it was roughly half Tejano and half Anglo/German. Nearly all of the Medina Guards transferred to the 2nd Texas Cavalry, when their unit was set to transform into an infantry unit. They saw action in the New Mexican theater, including the Battle of Glorieta Pass. A company of Texas State Troops was permanently encamped in Von Ormy during the war to patrol and protect San Antonio from Comanche raids.

Leading up to the Civil War, San Antonio merchant Enoch Jones, who was then the wealthiest man in Texas, acquired one of the overlapping land grants on the south bank of the Medina River. There he built a fortified ranch house adjacent to the old Ignacio Perez hacienda house, locally known as "the Castle on the Medina". Jones opposed secession and believed that his political views would hurt sales at his general store in Main Plaza, so he sold and dedicated the remainder of his life to building the Castle on the Medina. He died in 1863, and soon thereafter his estate went into bankruptcy. Most of the land in the Von Ormy area was sold off to pay debts, but Elizabeth Jones and her sister lived in the Castle until the mid-1880s.

Following the war, Von Ormy became a hub for trade as the North experienced a shortage of beef. Cattle drives originating in South Texas drew a new wave of immigrants from northern Mexico, which was then experiencing its own war. Families such as the Flores, Vara and Reyes arrived during this era from Coahuila, originally as cowboys and ranch hands.

The town's post office opened as "Garza's Crossing" on January 16, 1872, under postmaster William G. M. Samuel. It was closed May 7, 1874, but was reestablished June 10, 1875, under new postmaster Robert J. Sibert. It was again discontinued August 16, 1875. On January 14, 1879, a new post office was reopened using the name "Mann's Crossing", with postmaster Anton F. Krause. This too was closed (November 9, 1880). It was again reestablished under postmaster Branson Bywater on September 13, 1886. On December 4, 1886, the post office changed its name to "Von Ormy", which has since remained the town's designation.[11]

Members of the Ruiz family participated in organization of the Republican Party of Bexar County, along with the other former Union Democrats, members of the occupying Union Army and Texas freedmen. Rafael Quintana arrived in the area following the Civil War as a band leader in the Union Army. He had served as San Antonio city treasurer in the closing days of the Civil War.

Jim Crow and the Gilded Age[edit]

The end of Reconstruction reestablished a racially defined order in San Antonio. Many leading Tejano families left the city and moved to their rural ranches to avoid the discrimination and hostility in the city.

Rafael Quintana moved to Von Ormy where he was elected justice of the peace and later county commissioner. During this early era of post-Reconstruction Jim Crow laws, he was the only Hispanic judge and commissioner in Bexar County. He established a court along the rail line in Von Ormy which soon became the town center.

In 1886, the "castle" was sold to Count Norbert Von Ormay, a count of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, for whom the city was named. Count Von Ormay arrived with his wife and servants from Prussia in the early 1880s. He registered a cattle brand at the Bexar County Courthouse and was often cited in the San Antonio Evening Light's gossip page. Many years later, his son emerged in Brazil. The castle was sold to hotel magnate T.B. Baker.

The International–Great Northern Railroad built a rail line on the western edge of the Francisco A. Ruiz Ranch in 1886 and renamed the town "Medina Station". By 1900, the railroad used the name "Von Ormy" once again. Over the next few decades the population of Garza's Crossing shifted closer to the rail line.

In January 1906, the first steel bridge over the Medina River at Von Ormy was built by the International–Great Northern Railroad.

Texas Ranger and judge W. G. M. Samuel, who lived in Von Ormy in his later years, was often quoted in local newspapers as stating that the last major Indian battle in Bexar County occurred in Von Ormy.

During the 1900s, the Von Ormy Cottage tuberculosis sanitarium was built in the city.

The Von Ormy school operated from the early 1900s until 1956 when it closed after the creation of the Southwest Independent School District.

In 1914, the town had two grocers, a general store, a cotton gin, and a population of 350.

Hurricane of 1919[edit]

Santisima Trinidad Church was washed away by the Great Hurricane of 1919, and a new church was built by Franciscan missionaries[12] in the 1910s about a mile upstream along the new Laredo Highway's crossing of the Medina River. Against much local protesting, this old stone church was destroyed when the Laredo Highway was widened to create U.S. Route 81 (now Interstate 35) during the 1930s. The current church was built in the 1960s and renamed Sacred Heart of Jesus.[13]


In the summer of 2006, a group of Von Ormy residents led by Art Martinez de Vara and Charles Minor Brown organized a series of public meetings in Von Ormy concerning the future of the community, the lack of basic public services and possible solutions to these problems. Support for the creation of a City of Von Ormy was expressed by attendees at these three meetings. In order to pursue this community desire, the Committee to Incorporate Von Ormy (CIVO), a Texas non-profit association, was organized. In addition to residential members, CIVO includes over 20 commercial members representing nearly all local businesses.

CIVO received written endorsements of County Judge Nelson Wolff, County Commissioner "Chico" Rodriguez, Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, State Rep. David McQuade Leibowitz, State Sen. Carlos Uresti, and San Antonio City Councilman Phil Cortez.

CIVO filed the necessary petition to the City of San Antonio to allow an election for incorporation within its extraterritorial jurisdiction. Following a series of negotiations with the City of San Antonio Planning Department, the petition was amended on August 15, 2007, to reflect an agreed upon city limits. Von Ormy received the endorsement of the Planning Commission on January 23, 2008. On January 31, 2008, the San Antonio City Council passed a resolution to allow Von Ormy to hold an election on incorporation.[14] On May 10, 2008, voters approved the proposition to create the City of Von Ormy by a vote of 88%.[15]

Since then, the city has had major problems with its finances due to its inability to support necessary infrastructure without adequate taxes[16]

City of Von Ormy[edit]

In 2008, Art Martinez de Vara became the first mayor of Von Ormy,[17] becoming one of the youngest mayors in the United States. He is a 6th generation Von Ormian.

Martinez de Vara's tenure is notable for its four consecutive annual tax cuts of 10% each.[18] The formation of the city of Von Ormy spurred a movement of suburban city formation in South Texas.[19]

In 2010, TV personality Chris Marrou was appointed Associate Municipal Judge of Von Ormy.[20]

Von Ormy today[edit]

Von Ormy is home to a budding South Texas film industry centered around the Von Ormy Film Commission. In 2013, the San Antonio Express News declared Von Ormy the "Farm Film Capitol of South Texas".[21]

According to an interview with Mayor Sally Martinez in 2019, a substantial portion of city government is funded with revenues from a speed trap on I-35. [22]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20191,287[2]18.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[23]

At the 2010 United States Census[24] there were 1,085 people, 336 households, and 236 families residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 70.5% White (12.9% Non-Hispanic White), 0.5% Native American, 0.4% African American, 0.4% Asian, 27.1% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 86.4% of the population.


  1. ^ a b c "US Gazetteer Files 2016-Places-Texas". US Census. Archived from the original on 1 August 2019. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  4. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Von Ormy city, Texas". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  5. ^ "Handbook of Texas Online – Garzas, Texas". Texas State Historical Association.
  6. ^ "Handbook of Texas Online – Von Ormy, Texas". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2008-06-17.
  7. ^ "Handbook of Texas Online – Kirk, Texas". Texas State Historical Association.
  8. ^ "Handbook of Texas Online – Bexar, Texas". Texas State Historical Association.
  9. ^ "The Handbook of Texas Online-BLAS MARIA HERRERA". Retrieved 2011-02-10.
  10. ^ "Abstract: 1998 The Herrera Gate: An Archival, Architectural, and Conservation Study". Retrieved 2011-02-10.
  11. ^ "Jim Wheat's Postmasters & Post Offices of Bexar County, Texas 1846–1930". Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  12. ^ "Franciscans". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2008-06-17.
  13. ^ "Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish - Von Ormy".
  14. ^ "Von Ormy seeks new era as a city". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 2008-06-18.[dead link]
  15. ^ "Von Ormy Officially Incorporated". Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. Archived from the original on 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  16. ^ "The Rise and Fall of the "Freest Little City in Texas": How a libertarian experiment in city government fell apart over taxes, debt and some very angry people". Retrieved 2019-08-18.
  17. ^ "4 cities OK tax increases; Von Ormy elects 1st council". San Antonio Express-News. 2008-11-05. Retrieved 2008-11-12.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Aldridge, James (19 September 2012). "Von Ormy adopts property tax cut". San Antonio Business Journal. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  19. ^ Gonzalez, John (4 March 2012). "Growth beyond cities to be explored". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  20. ^ "San Antonio Business Journal". Archived from the original on 2014-05-16.
  21. ^ "In Von Ormy, movie stars are regular folks". San Antonio Express News. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  22. ^ "Planet Money Episode 945: The Liberty City". NPR. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  23. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  24. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 13 December 2015.