Kendall County: Republican from the Start

As our beloved county prepares to rededicate its restored historic courthouse tomorrow at 1 p.m., how about some county political history?

It would be some remote hermit who couldn’t tell you that modern day Kendall County is a bastion of Republican values. A vast majority of our residents bleed red.

Most people probably assume that this trend is no more than a few decades old, a mere product of white flight, improved transportation, economic growth and suburbia’s rise.

Surely the county’s agrarian roots dug deep into Democrat soil. After all, the south was as dependably Democrat throughout most of the 20th century as it is reliably Republican today. Tread cautiously with your assumptions. Massachusetts did just vote in a conservative U.S. Senator.

Enter the freethinking German immigrants who settled this area in the 1840s and 1850s. They had no allegiance to the Deep South. They did not assimilate with the slaveholding plantation owners in east and southeast Texas. Seceding from their newfound nation made about as much sense as returning to Europe.

So, when Union-supporting Texas Governor Sam Houston forced a public referendum on secession in 1861, Kerr County Precinct 2 (the area which became Kendall County in 1862) opposed the idea 53-34. The anti-slavery “Hill Country Unionists,” as they were called, didn’t just speak with their votes, they also fought with their lives.

The Kendall Countians battled a Confederate brigade at the Battle of Nueces in August 1862. Nineteen died that day and were buried in a common grave at Third and Main Streets in Comfort. The “Treue der Union” monument still honors the gravesite. Outside of national cemeteries, it is the only Union memorial erected in Confederate territory.

It follows that Kendall County would support the Republican-led Reconstruction government in Texas. Residents voted for Republican Governor Edmund Davis by a margin of 2 to 1 in 1869, and by a margin of 3 to 1 in 1873.

Since 1872, Kendall County has voted Republican in every presidential election except two. One was in 1912 when the county voted for Teddy Roosevelt (previously a Republican) and his short-lived Bull Moose Party. (The other was a Depression-era vote for FDR in 1932.) That’s more than 135 years of Kendall County Republicanism.

Tomorrow, as we dedicate the restoration of Texas’ oldest continuously operating county courthouse to its 1909 vintage, all of us will celebrate our Kendall County heritage. And most of us will celebrate our distinctly Republican heritage.

(Source of historical facts: Texas State Historical Association)

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