Menard County Texas created January 22, 1858
Menard County and the town of Menard were given the name of a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, member of the Texas Congress, and founder of Galveston, Michel B. Menard (1805-1856) (research shows his middle name to be the family patronymic Brindamour after his grandfather Jean Baptiste Menard called Brindamour, but historians have published it as Branamour or Branaman). Colonel Menard never came to Menard and died in 1856 two years before the State Legislature honored him during the 7th Legislature on January 22, 1858. The county residents attempted to organize the county government June 25, 1866, but when the attempt failed the legislature placed Menard County under the jurisdiction of Mason County. So if I understand correctly, the first deed records of the county are located in Mason. Menard County residents finally elected their own officials in 1871. The county seat was originally named Menardville when the site was laid out in 1858. The town is located on the banks of the San Saba River.
You can read more about the forming of Menard County at the link at the Portal of Texas History, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 4: http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6730/m1/935/?q=Menard
In the west part of the county was Camp San Saba which was first established on March 14, 1852 and was abandoned in 1859 but regarrisoned in 1868, at that time named Fort McKavett in honor of Captain Henry McKavett of the 8th New York Infantry, who was killed in the Battle of Monterrey, September 21, 1846. The fort was abandoned June 30, 1883. Thankfully in 2014, you can visit in Menard County the Fort McKavett State Historical Site along with the Presidio de San Saba.
Here is an article from newspaper THE MENARD NEWS – Centennial Edition published November 11, 1971, as a Souvenir Keepsake Edition.
First Decade 1871 to 1881
Menard County was created by the 7th Legislature on January 22, 1858. Until that time the area now known as Menard County had been a portion of Bexar County. Official organization of the county was delayed until 1871, following a failure in 1866 of the citizens to gather the necessary votes for a permanent organization. Further attempts at county establishment were delayed until the close of the Civil War. In the meantime, the settlement of Menardville was considered to be the county seat. This small village was very near to the geographic center of the 900 square mile county. The State Legislature proclaimed that the new county be named Menard in honor of Col. Michel Branaman Menard, a man of extraordinary aid in the development of early Texas. He was best-known for laying out and helping to establish the city of Galveston, and for serving in the Texas government. He died in 1856, several years before the organization of Menard County. The fact that the Legislature so-honored him is a great tribute to his enduring courage and noble character.
May 22, 1871 was the date set for the meeting called to further plans for the organization of the infant county. Three justices of the peace were present, presiding justice Captain J. J. Callan, Thomas J. Reese, and William I. Vaughn. The fourth justice, George Paschal, did not attend this meeting. The first two official county appointments were made by the group, Willie Prescott as Clerk and Louis Wilson as Sheriff.
The order for Menardville to be the seat of justice was handed down on May 29, 1871. An ad valorem tax of one-sixth of one percent was affixed with a county road tax of one-sixteenth of one percent. The first road commissioner was William Tipton. The first courthouse was a picket house.
Pioneer life in early Menardville was hard. The settlers worked hard to provide their families with food, with homes, which were usually picket houses with dirt floors and no room to spare, and to protect them from Indian raids which continued until 1875, although the biggest attacks were in the time of 1869-70. These Indians raided every light of the moon, stealing horses and murdering anyone caught in their way. It is claimed that the soldiers at nearby Ft. McKavett in the western part of the county did little to protect the settler. It was necessary for the early pioneers to depend on the Texas Rangers in the area.
There was little opportunity for an active social life in the early days. Social activities included quilting bees, dances, croquet games, and horse racing at the Ranger Station. These events were few and far between, forcing the settlers to enjoy them all the more. One treat was watching the stage as it went through town, with seldom a stop longer than just to toss off the mailbag and grab the out-going bag. Travel was held to the minimum, considering it took four days to travel from Menardville to Austin.
One of the first hotels in the thriving little community was Deckers’ Hotel, where you could get a room and three meals for $1.00 a day. That hotel was located on San Saba Avenue in later-day Menard.
In spite of hardships and Indian perils, there were about 15 or 20 students in the school.
Officials during the first decade of organized government included:
Commissioners of Precinct 1 – J. J. Callan, P. H. Mires, Jno. T. Scott, E. S. Ellis, E. Vanderstucken, Commissioners of Precinct 2 – Thomas J. Keese, O. Striegler, Peter Robertson, Jno. Campbell, Commissioners of Precinct 3 – George Paschal, W. M. Holmes, Wm. Lehne, Jno. Flutsch, and Sam’l Wallich; Commissioners of Precinct 4 – W. J. Vaughan, Isaac Sellers, Jos. M. Jackson, F. M. Kitchens, W. J. Wilkinson and D. P. Key.
Chief Justices – Captain J. J. Callan, P. H. Mires, and Jno. T. Scott.
County Judges – Samuel Wallich and A. B. Wyatt.
Sheriffs and Tax Collectors – Louis Wilson, J. L. Howard, C. P. Nunley, J. W. Cart, W. C. Harter, J. N. Blakeley, J. H. Comstock, and H. W. Merrill.
District and County Clerks – Willie Prescott, John McNeese, Thomas Cunningham, C. M. Hubbell and R. P. Beddrow.
County Treasurers- Jno. Bradford, Richard Robertson, E. S. Ellis, Wm. J. Vaughan, and W. W. Lewis.
Tax Assessors – L. J. Decker and Jos. Layton.
County Attorneys – C. C. Callan, Geo. W. Dexter, J. D. Hill, and Jno. Alex Smith.
Justices of Peace – James Moorhaus and W. W. Lewis.
Postmasters – Lee C. Blake, when post office was established in 1868, John Bradford, Willie Prescott, John McNeese, John T. Scott, Ludwig Decker, and V. D. Stucken.
Col. Michel B. Menard, whose portrait appears in the courthouse, was born in Canada of French parentage in 1805, and came to Texas in 1833, after a number of years previously spent among the Shawnee Indians. He gladly cast his fortune with the struggling Texas colonists to break the yoke of Mexico.
Fitted by inclination and natural endowment, his great industry and capacity enabled him to render conspicuous service to the Texas Patriots in this great cause that had its happy termination in San Jacinto.
This picture is an enlargement from an old daguerreotype of Col. Menard, formerly owned by Col. Thomas F. McKinney of Galveston and Austin, whose close personal friend and business associated he was. The owners of this original, relative of Col. McKinney, have taken pleasure in cooperating with Judge J. M. Matthews so that people of Menard County could have this authentic likeness of one of the most heroic and outstanding characters of early Texas history and in whose honor the County and County seat have been named. Picture by Jordon Co, Austin, Texas.
You can also see another photo of Michel B. Menard, founder of the town and namesake of Menard County at the Galveston County Historical Museum.
You may go to the below link at findagrave and see the headstone and burial place of Col. Menard.
||Dec. 5, 1805
||Sep. 2, 1856
Galveston County Texas, USA
Indian trader, entrepreneur, and founder of the Galveston City Company; namesake of Menard County, Texas. There is a historical marker honoring Michel B. Menard in Galveston, Galveston County, Texas at the Old Catholic Cemetery.
More about the sketch of life of Michel B. Menard is found at this link. http://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/37463
A historical report about the uncle of Michel B. Menard, Pierre Menard has the below information.
In the Edward G. Mason’s Early Chicago and Illinois – Chicago, 1890 (Chicago Historical Society’s Collection, vol. IV) it reads: Two of Pierre Menard’s brothers, Hypolite and Jean Francois, followed him to Illinois and settled at Kaskaskia. The former was a successful farmer, and the other a famous navigator of the Mississippi. Both led useful and honored lives, lived to an advanced age, and both rest near their brother Pierre in the old cemetery at Kaskaskia. A nephew, also, Michel Menard, having as well the family patronymic of Brindamour, who was born at LaPrairie, December 5, 1805, made his way to Illinois at the age of eighteen. For several years he was employed by his uncle Pierre in trading with Indians. He obtained great influence among them, and was elected chief of the Shawnees. It is said that he almost succeeded in uniting the tribes of the Northwest into one great nation, of which he would have been king. In 1833, Michel went to Texas, was a member of the convention which declared its independence, and of its congress. A league of land was granted to him, including most of the site of the City of Galveston, which he founded, and where he died in 1856. It is related that the Indians said of him, as of his uncle Pierre, whom in many respects he resembled, “Menard never deceived us.”
More can be read about Pierre Menard and the letters from Pierre Menard’s parents in Chicago Historical Society’s possession.