As part of our TX Tropical Trail Region (TTTR) outing in January, we visited Vattmann, an unincorporated community off Highway 77 at the intersection of farm to market roads 626 and 772, just sixteen miles southeast of Kingsville.
The big attraction was Our Lady of Consolation Church (OLCC), which was dedicated in 1920 and remains the heart and soul of its surroundings.
Our TTTR group began its tour in the parish hall, which includes the original church schoolhouse that changed as the size of its student population grew and subsequently became a community center.
Ms. Goldia Hubert, a member of OLCC, shared both historic and anecdotal information about life on the “tracts of land” (not a town) that comprise Vattmann.
In 1907, Theodore F. Koch, a Minnesotan, was among those who purchased land from the 86,000 acres offered by the King Ranch for the purpose of populating South Texas (Kleberg County: The TXGenWeb Project, 1996-2011).
Koch founded Riviera and used the St. Louis, Brownsville, and Mexico Railway to entice potential buyers and settlers to the area. Koch also met with Father Edward J. Vattmann, secretary of the Catholic Colonization Society of America, to encourage Catholic families to move there.
The first German family from Westphalia, TX was joined by Edward J. May, who bought forty acres in 1908 before the arrival of more German families from Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio (Coalson with the Texas State Historical Association, 2011).
A rose by any other name
The settlement, Vattmannville, honoring the priest who started the movement to South Texas in 1914, later shortened the name to Vattmann.
“The town [sic] was first called Vattmannville, [sic] but the second ‘n’ was later deleted” (Bigger-Cantu in the Kingsville Record and Bishop News online, 2009).
TTTR also has the site listed as Vattman; but most of the sources I checked show the site’s name ending in nn; so that’s what I’ve chosen to use. My prerogative, as I’m an old school South Texan who also adheres to the original pronunciation of, say, Riviera (Ree-vee-eh-ra, not Ree-veh-ra [Rivera]) and Refugio (Re-foo-hee-o, third and fourth syllables as one [hyo], instead of Re-foo-ree-oh).
Annual Thanksgiving feast
For the past ninety-six years, Vattmann has hosted a fall fundraiser.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1914 in a grove of mesquites [sic] beside a small lake directly behind the present location of the Vernie Hubert home. A platform constructed in front of the picnic area concluded the activities that evening with a dance held under the star with local musicians participating in the orchestra (Bigger-Cantu, 2009).
The yearly event hosts a country store, which sells arts and crafts made by the OLCC Women’s Club to benefit Our Lady of Consolation Church.
“We paint anything that stands still,” said Gwen Rudellat, one of the members. Club members began meeting [ten] years ago. This spring they began meeting on a weekly basis to work on their creative projects to sell at the thanksgiving. At least five or six women meet regularly all year long (Bigger-Cantu).
Best of all, the Vattmann holiday tradition, which includes various activities, games, and music played until midnight, is open to anyone interested in joining the community in a historic, fun-filled day.
Links of interest… Annual Thanksgiving fundraiser: 100th dinner / 2014 / giving thanks / holiday tradition / King country / picnic (about) / special report (KIII; more)… Father Edward J. Vattmann: about / chaplain (more) / more / photos: 1 / 2… King’s Inn Restaurant: food / fried & true / website (contact / events)… Manual for spiritual warfare… Kleberg County (roots web)… Our Lady: feast / icon (more) / litany / novena / prayers / shrine (about)… Our Lady of Consolation Church: diocesan map / facebook / one-room school house / photo / website (contact – events – history)… TX Tropical Trail Region… US Genealogy Web Project… Vattmann: about / cemetery
(find a grave – location – photos) / history / photos: wedding (c. 1910) & “where I grew up”… The visitation & Mary, the walking tabernacle… What does God want? A practical guide to making decisions…