GRUENAU, TEXAS. Gruenau, a German community eight miles from Yorktown in northwestern DeWitt County, was first settled in 1872 when Frederick (Fred) Stanchos purchased a large tract of land in the area. His father David Stanchos was a wagon freight hauler along the Indianola Trail, which ran through the Stanchos land. Vachel Weldon, Sr., further opened the area for settlement in 1890. He had acquired land from the Indianola Railroad Company after plans were abandoned to extend the tracks along the old Indianola Trail. The grass-covered prairie suggested the name Gruenau, German for "green meadow," and many of the community's early settlers came from Grünau in Oldenburg, Germany. These German farmers raised cotton and feed for their cows, hogs, and chickens; in later years the cotton was replaced by flax. Nearby Little Chicago provided a store for the community, and students attended the Weldon school, named for Vachel Weldon, Sr., who donated land for its site. The school was established in March 1894 and operated until 1950. Following common practice among German settlements, Gruenau organized a Turnverein, or athletic club, and a Schuetzen Verein, or shooting club, about 1897, and a brass band sometime in the early 1890s. The apparatus for physical training was brought from Shiner, Texas (see TURNVEREIN MOVEMENT). The community's club hall, built in 1900, was also used for dances and for the rifle team activities; contests with neighboring communities became major events, including feasts, dances, and the crowning of a Schuetzen-Koenig, or king of the riflemen. Although Gruenau's athletic training practices ended about 1910 after many members moved to other parts of the state, they were resumed in 1924 by Edo Hoepken, who had recently arrived from Germany. The community practices were interrupted during World War II. Gruenau's present hall dates from 1927, when the original Verein building was demolished. Several local social, agricultural, and fraternal organizations were still using the hall in the early 1960s. Gruenau never had a post office. The 1984 county highway map shows one business among the farms at Gruenau. In 2000 the population was eighteen.
Nellie Murphree, A History of DeWitt County (Victoria, Texas, 1962).