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Real County Texas

Pronounced: "REE-al"
Est: 1913

Neighbors: N & W: Edwards; NE: Kerr; E: Bandera; S: Uvalde

Texas county outline image

County Seat: Leakey, TX.

Named for: Julius Real, rancher and politician


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Real County, History

"REAL COUNTY. Real County (M-13) is in southwest Texas, bounded on the north and west by Edwards County, on the east by Kerr and Bandera counties, and on the south by Uvalde County. The center of the county lies at 29°50' north latitude and 99°50' west longitude, 100 miles northwest of San Antonio. The area was named for Julius Real,qv the only Republican in the Texas Senate when the county was formed in 1913. Real County encompasses 622 square miles of the Balcones Escarpmentqv on the southern edge of the Edwards Plateau"1

Early History

The history of Real County as far as the white man goes, started with the members of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca's band of explorers (1528-29). Nueces means "nut" in Spanish. It may refer to pecan nuts or to pinion nuts, it is not known which, but both are plentiful along the route taken by Cabasa de Vaca.

In 1542 Moscoso' Spanish expedition crossed the Nueces River. The first semipermanent white men in the are were priests and soldiers.In 1762, they established the mission Nuesta Senora de la Candelaria at the present site of Montel and San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz at the present site of Camp Wood. The priests were there to Christianize the Indians, mostly Lipan Apaches, and the soldiers were there to protect them and explore for gold. However, the task of winning over the Indians was hampered by the cruelty of the early Spanish gold seekers. Finally the Spanish government in Mexico City grew tired of the lack of sucess in both Christianizing the Indians and in finding gold and ordered the missions abandoned to the Indians. However, the mission at Montel held out until 1832.

Originally the Territory of Bexar under the Spaniards extended all the way to Colorado. Edwards County was created from Bexar in 1858, but not organized until 1883.

"In the spring of 1913 the Texas state legislature established Real County from parts of Edwards, Bandera, and Kerr counties. The action was prompted by the isolation of the area and the difficulties residents experienced traveling long distances over bad roads to Rocksprings or Bandera (the seats of Edwards and Bandera counties, respectively) to conduct business.1

Nueces Canyon History

The first settlers began moving into the Nueces Canyon area around 1857. In 1867 an army Lieutenant by the name of Wood established a camp at the site of the mission de la Candelaria. He named it " Camp Wood". After the army abandoned it, the Texas Ranger's used it as one of their stations.

After the Civil War, settlers began pouring into the Nueces Canyon area. One of the first settlers to arrive was Francisco Sanchez and his family. Francisco was of Creole origin and arrived in Texas in 1835. In 1867 he located his family near the headwaters of the Nueces River. The presence of the army in the area had encouraged such settlers to move in. Descendants of Francisco and his wife, Jerusha, still live in the area today. Another early family in the area was the Wells family, they came the same year from Victoria County. Some of their descendants also continue to reside in the county.

Louis and Laura Barksdale settled in the area that would later be on the boundary between Edwards and Real Counties in 1869. The town of Barksdale is named after them. Louis was a Confederate Veteran and ranched longhorn cattle on the upper Nueces, taking them on cattle drives to Dodge City and Abilene with the trail herds.

Frio Canyon History

On the Frio Canyon side, there was no corresponding early settlement by the Spaniards. The first settlers began arriving about the time that Camp Wood was established. John Leakey moved his family from the Patterson Settlement below Sabinal, which he had helped establish, to a site close to the present town of Leakey, named after him. About 1855, John established a saw mill there and began sawing cypress logs into lumber for houses. A lot of this lumber was shipped south to the Sabinal and Frio Town area and used to construct houses.

It was a lonely outpost for many years and Indian raids were frequent. After the Civil War, many settlers began to arrive, families like the Thompsons, Brices, Holmes, Janes, Elms, Shackelfords, Sansoms and others.

Indian Raids and Massacres continued in the area from the time of the first settlers until 1882. The last raid on the Nueces side occurred in 1879 when a band stole some horses in the Montel area. They were tracked to Mexico by soldiers from Fort Clark, but we not captured. The last Indian raid in the Frio Canyon had a different outcome. On August 19, 1882 a band of Lipan Apaches killed members of the McLauren family at their home at Buzzard Roost above Leakey. One of the girls managed to escape and get help, but not before Mrs. McLaurin and Allen Lease, a boy living with them, were killed. The Indians were tracked into Mexico, and this time they were killed. Mrs. McLauren and Allen Lease were the first two people buried in the Floral Cemetry in Leakey.

1. Handbook of Texas Online, 2. See also Bibliography of Real County. The books by Stovall and the Real County History Book are especially interesting to read and rich sources of the history of the area.