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D'Hanis, Texas, has not only an interesting name, but the town itself is fascinating. Its residents have lovingly maintained and restored the majority of its original buildings—especially downtown—so that its historical architecture alone is considered a sightseeing must-see. When you consider that D'Hanis is perched in the southern Texas Hill Country, as well, words like “picturesque” and “scenic” don't do full justice to the beauty of this little Medina County village.
In the 1840s, Henri Castro, with several sizable land grants in his pocket, set out to establish several towns and villages in what is now known as the Texas Hill Country region. From his headquarters in Paris (France, not Texas), he enticed many French, German, and Swiss people with inviting visions of homesteading in the wide-open American West. One of the results of Castro's vision was the creation of the village of D'Hanis, settled sometime around 1845. The new town was named after Count von D'Hanis, one of Castro's French representatives, who was instrumental in arranging the movement of new European settlers. Over the years, D'Hanis grew to its current population of about 550 people.
In 1881, the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railway came through nearby—but not near enough. As a result, D'Hanis moved lock, stock, and barrel to its current location roughly a mile farther west. When you visit here, you may hear locals talking about “Old D'Hanis” and “New D'Hanis” in order to differentiate between the two. Finally, since the town's pronunciation has been mangled by out-of-towners in countless and interesting ways, you should know it's pronounced “Deh-HEN,” kind of like saying “den” with a little hiccup thrown in.
As a helpful little guide to our guests, Backroads Reservations is proud to present not only D'Hanis' history, but this quick listings of what to look for when you visit.
Much of D'Hanis' original history can be visited and envisioned at the Old D'Hanis Cemetery and the ruins of the St. Dominic Catholic Church, both of which are located just east of the modern high school. Both locations chronicle the lives of the town's original settlers, and served D'Hanis in its original location until the installation of a new railroad line and a diphtheria epidemic forced a move to a new (and current) location just a mile or so west. Both historic locations are discussed in this article from Texas Escapes. The cemetery, especially, is renowned for the old-world European artistry on its many decorative headstones.
From 1849 to 1852, Fort Lincoln served as a supply outpost and source of protection from Native American raids for pioneers headed west. Once the fort was disbanded, many of the buildings served as original settlements for the newly-minted town of D'Hanis. Though the original site of Fort Lincoln is now on fenced and private property, there is a Texas Centennial Commission plaque that can be viewed by the public nearby.
Thanks to the location of a natural clay quarry just outside town, D'Hanis quickly built a reputation as a brick and building materials supplier to much of central and southern Texas. D'Hanis bricks (sometimes marked with the inscription “D.Hanis”) can still be found in vintage buildings throughout the region, and places like the D'Hanis Brick & Tile Company carry on that tradition, as they have since 1905.
Despite its diminutive size, D'Hanis is still home to two locally-famous eateries with big city-sized reputations! If it's steak you're after, you'll find a hearty Texas-sized one waiting for you at Bill & Rosa's KK Steakhouse and Saloon. Cowboy's Restaurant is a local favorite for not only steak, but Tex-Mex dishes and bountiful catfish baskets. Leaving either establishment hungry is not an option!
The little village of D'Hanis is located just eight miles west of the town of Hondo, and many of the events, sights, and attractions in the area are enjoyed and “shared” by both settlements. With that in mind, we highly recommend you check out the listing we've put together for Hondo, too, since these two towns are so close together. What's near one of them will be near to the other, so armed with this information, you'll be able to make the most of your Hill Country vacation!
Backroads Reservations would be proud to welcome you here with a healthy dose of Texas hospitality, right along with D'Hanis' friendly residents. Give us a call, and we'll be more than happy to help you book a fun and fulfilling getaway in the big and beautiful Hill Country!