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Art Martinez de Vara

VON ORMY, TEXAS. Von Ormy is in southwest Bexar County along Interstate 35 and the Medina River. The community is named for Count Norbert von Ormay, an Austrian nobleman who lived in the area in the mid-1880s. The town was previously known as Medina Crossing and was renamed “Von Ormy” by postmaster Branson Bywater in 1886.

The community was originally founded one mile east at Garza’s Crossing sometime after Texas declared its independence. In 1861 San Antonio merchant Enoch Jones moved to the area and retired to his “Castle on the Medina,” a large limestone Pennsylvania-style home overlooking the south bank of the Medina River. The house was reported to be the first in Texas to have indoor plumbing.

In 1881 the International-Great Northern Railroad constructed the first rail line connecting San Antonio and Laredo. The rail bridge across the Medina was built one mile west of the ferry at Garza’s Crossing at present Von Ormy. The area surrounding the rail depot on the south bank of the Medina grew quickly and was called “Medina Crossing” by the IGNR. The early settlers of Medina Crossing were almost entirely from Garza’s Crossing. Rail access also changed the local economy from cattle ranching to cotton and winter vegetable farming.

Count Norbert von Ormay Auffenberg, an Austrian nobleman, arrived in 1886 with twenty servants. The count purchased the “Castle on the Medina.” The arrival of the count and Countess Emma was a sensation in San Antonio and widely reported in the San Antonio newspapers.

Postmaster Branson Bywater relocated the Mann’s Crossing post office to a new location near the rail depot and re-named the community “Von Ormy,” misspelling the name of Count von Ormay. Though the count and countess hastily returned to Dresden, Saxony, after less than eighteen months in the castle, the house was still known locally as the “Von Ormy Castle” in the early twenty-first century.

The Von Ormy School opened just after 1900 and provided classes through the eighth grade. In 1914 the Von Ormy Cottage Sanitarium opened to treat tuberculosis patients. That year the town had two grocers, a general store, a cotton gin, and a population of 350. In 1919 a hurricane destroyed the Santisima Trinidad Catholic Church at Garza’s Crossing, and it was rebuilt in Von Ormy in 1930. In 1946 the population was still 350. The Von Ormy School closed in 1952 and students began attending the newly-formed Southwest Rural School District. After World War II the community declined; in 1965 nine businesses and 100 residents were reported. Since that time the population has grown steadily, and in 2000 Von Ormy had 1,300 residents and twenty businesses. The City of Von Ormy was incorporated on May 30, 2008, and included parts of Garza’s Crossing and Mann’s Crossing.


Blas Herrera Papers, Special Collection, Bexar County Archives, San Antonio. A. Martinez de Vara, Records of Santisima Trinidad Church at Paso de las Garzas (Von Ormy, Texas: Santa Helena Publishing, 2009). A. Joachim McGraw and Kay Hindes, Chipped Stone and Adobe: A Cultural Resources Assessment of the Proposed Applewhite Reservoir, Bexar County, Texas (San Antonio: Center for Archaeological Research, University of Texas at San Antonio, 1987). Vertical File, Special Collection, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio (Enoch Jones).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Art Martinez de Vara, "VON ORMY, TX," accessed April 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/htv09.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on September 14, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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