by Paul Heidelberg
If you get on your bike in Sattler, and take Sattler Road south past River Road, you can take a real journey back in time.
You know you’re starting the journey into the past when you see a 20-foot concrete stand for a water tank, just across the street from the current VFW Post 8573 building.
(Of course, you could also walk, or jog or simply drive to enjoy the scenery and history – if you’re driving, you need to slow to 15 m.p.h. for the crosswalk in front of the VFW, so you shouldn’t be driving too fast, anyway.)
The water for the tank was pumped from the Guadalupe River about three-fourths of a mile away, and was used to power a steam engine back in the days of “King Cotton.”
The cotton gin was built between 1902 and 1906 by owner Emil Guenther, and was located a short distance away, across Sattler Road. It was used to process cotton brought by local farmers until it closed in the late 1940s.
The VFW hall is also a part of the historic tour as it was formerly the site of the Emil Guenther Store, a focal point of Sattler and this part of Comal County in the old days in the early 1900s.
But the site’s history goes back further back than that, when it was established as a store in 1880 by Henry Weill. Weill operated his store for 12 years before he sold the establishment to Peter Nowotny. The store then passed to several other owners before Guenther and his wife Anna Halm Guenther took over and were open for business for 44 years.
The business passed to several other owners before closing in 1960.
During the Guenther’s stewardship, the store also served as the Sattler Post Office. The Post Office, store, Guenther’s cotton gin and a dance hall all were located in this area.
The dance hall was located at the site of the current Hitching Post feed store.
Locals have heard stories from old timers about nightlife in the old days in Sattler.
The bands wouldn’t just keep the locals up late on some nights – they would literally have them dancing all night.
As you continue down Sattler Road, past where you see the First State Bank on FM 2673 off to your right, look to the left to see one of the best views you will see anywhere.
First there is a large pasture, usually with grazing cattle. You look across this pasture for more than a mile and then see the hills with limestone cliffs that you can see close-up by venturing down River Road.
Continue down Sattler Road, looking to the left, and you may get a chance to see the cattle close-up.
If you’re bicycling and want to do some long-distance biking, you can get on FM 2763 and head left towards Startzville, or turn right and go to FM 306, and turn right, or left.
I have seen several groups of long-distance bicyclists on 306, cycling the hilly terrain between 2673 and New Braunfels.
For a shorter ride, you can circle back and take some of the residential roads that run off Sattler Road, including one that intersects with River Road.
If it’s River Road you want, you can just take Sattler back to River Road and turn right, heading towards New Braunfels.
Riding or driving along River Road is a delight (just be very careful with the traffic, especially on weekends). Don’t miss the old barns and houses, and some of the farm implements, including one piece of metal machinery that is just off River Road to the right, several miles east of Sattler Road.
One Sattler native told me the area along Sattler Road south of River Road was known as two of the finest areas in this part of Comal County, and was treasured for its rich soil.
It certainly is beautiful, and the hills in the distance might be considered mountains by some.
I can just imagine how beautiful this area seemed to the Native Americans who lived here, many generations before such Texas pioneers as Emil Guenther and William Sattler arrived.
Sattler is named for William (Wilhelm) Sattler, who was a contractor for the U.S. mail service from 1856 until his death in 1880.
The Sattler native told me you can often find arrowheads and other signs of Indian life in the soil near Sattler Road.
He also mentioned the caves that dot the hills a mile and a half or so east of Sattler Road.
“Sometimes you will see a what looks like fog or clouds over there,” he said. “It is caused by the difference in temperature between the caves and the air outside.”
Sattler Road is only a few hundred feet east of busy FM 2673, but it’s a completely different world.
There is the occasional car or truck, but you are more likely to hear other sounds along this old country road – the songs of birds, or the mooing of those cows that are often in the nearby pasture.
With thanks and appreciation to Alton J. Rahe for his fine book of remembrances, HISTORY OF SATTLER AND MOUNTAIN VALLEY SCHOOL COMAL COUNTY, TEXAS 1846-1964.