Black Jack Springs


From Fayette County, Her History and Her People by F. Lotto, 1902:

Black Jack Springs is situated about ten miles southwest of La Grange on the La Grange-Flatonia road, on the north side of the rich and fertile Navidad Prairie. North of Black Jack Springs is postoak. Black Jack springs is the name of a post office and a voting precinct of Fayette County. it was settled in the early fifties. Among the first settlers were the Gorham, Dr. Routh, J. P. Romberg, G. W. Tuttle, Jones and O. B. Fitzgerald families. The population is American, German, and Bohemian. There is a Lutheran Church in the settlement with Rev. [Carl] Kern as preacher. 

From Fayette County, Texas Heritage, article by Carolyn Heinsohn:

The community was located about ten miles southwest of La Grange off of Hwy 609 to Flatonia, on the north side of the rich and fertile Navidad Prairie. A few Anglo-American settlers came prior to 1836. The German immigrants came in the 1850's. It was named for the black jack trees and clear springs found in the area. Originally, it was called Black Jack and old Pin Oak was known as Black Jack Springs. In 1867, the name Pin Oak came into existence, and the word Springs was added to the easternmost community of Black Jack.

The community included a post office which operated from 1848 to 1857, a voting precinct, a school and a Lutheran church, which was eventually combined with two other churches to create the United Lutheran Church in Swiss Alp. One historical account states that J. C. Melcher's Store and Louis Luck's General Store were located in Black Jack Springs. However, an old photograph of the Melcher Store indicates that it was located in O'Quinn, a nearby community. Lotto's history written in 1902 also corroborates that the Melcher Store was located in O'Quinn. Another source states that Luck's Store was also in O'Quinn, not Black Jack Springs. The close proximity of the two community was the reason for some errors in documentation.

A prominent early settler was Johannes Romberg, a farmer and poet, who wrote a volume of poetry and founded "Prairieblume", a literary society for the German settlers. He was the first German settler in the area. His nephew, Louis Franke, taught music at Baylor University in Independence for awhile and then returned to Black Jack Springs to produce cigars. He was also elected as a legislator from Fayette County in 1872. While in Austin, he was murdered by two unknown robbers.

Other early settlers were James Morrow, G. W. Tuttle, Dr. Kenzie Routh, Andrew Carby, F. A. Perlitz, August Balko, Peter, Wilhelm and Friederich Loessin, Johann Melcher, Johann Luck, Thomas Oeding, and Carl Schwartz.

H. Loessin established the Black Jack Springs Nurseries in 1871. He had a large selection of fruit trees, grape vines, shade trees, shrubs, ornamental plants, roses and bedding plants.

The Black Jack Lutheran Church and school was located on the west side of FM 609 about 100 yards from the road, approximately one-half mile southwest of the cemetery. The cemetery land was donated by Mr. Nat Faison about 1869. The church was built sometime after 1875. It was rebuilt in 1910 after a severe storm. Since there was no railroad through the town, Black Jack Springs started declining. When the second post office closed, the community name died out. By 1930, there was no longer the place name of Black Jack Springs. The church and school closed. The church was moved to Swiss Alp as previously mentioned, and the school was moved and converted into a home. The cemetery, which is now public, is run by a cemetery association and is the only reminder of this early community.

The Abbotts Grove School, ca 1920
This school was located was located southwest of Black Jack Springs. Though the building is long gone, there is a sign on Abbotts Grove School Road marking the location of the school. Archie, Mae and Elva Oeding are among the children pictured. At right is Rosie Jecmenek who taught at the school in the 1910s-1920s and boarded with the Paul Oeding family.
Below are Paul and Tom Oeding, sons of Juiius Oeding, and the Julius Oeding home. Pass your mouse over the photo of the Oeding family at home to see another photo of Paul Oeding with his horse, Darr, in front of the home. – all contributed by Jon Todd Koenig
Willis C. Chandler & Maranda Hildebrand Chandler
The Chandlers were very early residents of the community. They farmed and operated a gristmill near Black Jack Springs between 1851 and 1874.
Photos contributed by Barbara Chandler Spray.
Daughters of Wm. V. & Elizabeth (Polly) McMicken Criswell
Mary Ann (Mollie) married James W. Lyons. Lillie Martin married John P. Waddill. Elizabeth (Betty) Jane married John C. Jones
Photo contributed by Lynn Bauch Mostella.
Contact Rox Ann Johnson if you have old photographs you would like to contribute.

Related Links

Trinity Lutheran Church Baptism & Marriage Records
Black Jack Springs Cemetery
Swiss Alp Church
Willis C. Chandler

Related articles in the Handbook of Texas Online

Black Jack Springs
Johannes Christlieb Nathanael Romberg

Church records of the Trinity Lutheran Church at Black Jack Springs can be found at the Texas Wendish Heritage Museum.