Castroville was established in 1844 by Henri Castro, an empresario of the Republic of Texas, who brought several dozen European families to the area from Alsace and adjoining Baden, to populate his land grant along the Medina River twenty miles west of San Antonio. Although for generations, the first residents remained insular, after a few hard years, the town and surrounding farms flourished. In Castroville’s first century, a visitor would be more likely to hear Alsatian – a soft, French-flecked dialect of German – than English spoken in the town’s homes, stores, and taverns. Today, though, native speakers of Alsatian are dying out and fewer of the town’s residents can trace their ancestry back to the original Castro colonists. Much of the town has been made a national historic district to preserve the unique, sloped-roof architecture of dozens of original Alsatian homes and shops.
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