Chalk it up to Mandela Effect, but if you’ve even heard of it, you may think the town’s name is Von Army. Actually, it’s Von Ormy, a town located south of San Antonio, on Interstate 35. Known by this name since the late 1880s, it was previously called “Mann’s Crossing,” “Garza’s Crossing,” “Medina Crossing,” and “Paso de las Garzas.” Archeological findings show that for 8,000 years, Von Ormy has had continuous human habitation, likely due to the Medina River and its essential resources. Payaya, Pastia, and Coahuiltecan Native Americans lived here, then were displaced by Lipan Apache and Comanche.
In 1827, Blas Maria Herrera and his wife established the first permanent settlement in this area. Early records of residents in Von Ormy are noted as living “on the Medina” or simply “Medina.” Von Ormy was the camping site of Santa Anna during the war for Texas Independence; it was from here that he made his final march on the Alamo. The site is marked by a giant tree estimated to be over 600 years old, now named the Santa Anna Oak.
Photo: @joshuab_photog via Twenty20
Enoch Jones, then the wealthiest man in Texas, began building a large ranch house, locally known as “the Castle on the Medina.” He died in 1863, still building on the great structure which was reported to be the first Texas home with indoor plumbing. In 1886, the “castle” was sold to Count Norbert Von Ormay, of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is for Ormay that the town is named today, although a variation in spelling exists. Count Von Ormay came to the area from Prussia in the early 1880s, with his wife Countess Emma and 20 servants. Although the nobles returned to Saxony after fewer than 18 months there, the home is still called “Von Ormy Castle” today. Later, the castle sold to T.B. Baker, a hotel magnate.
In our day, a number of pioneer families who settled in the region before the Texas Revolution continue to comprise a large percentage of Von Ormy residents. These include the Ruiz, Herrera, Vara, Hernandez, Guzman, Flores, Mann, Reyes and Quintana families. Have you seen this little spot on I-35? Did you spell it right and did you know it has a castle?