"Negro settlement" c.1890 / Map courtesy Bexar County Spanish Archives
“Negro settlement” c.1890 / Map courtesy Bexar County Spanish Archives

Often, ethnic identities are noted in historic San Antonio and Bexar County records. At least eight Black enclaves sprang up in all directions beyond the town limits of San Antonio immediately following the end of the Civil War. But, few maps of the city or county specifically label the ethnic identity of Black facilities, neighborhoods, or settlements. Dr. David Carlson, Ph.D, Bexar County Archivist, recently called about a circa 1890 map that he uncovered that clearly labeled a “Negro settlement” in the southwestern part of the county. The road map documents the route southeast from Castroville, Medina County, to Wilson County. A series of deeds, census rolls, aerial photographs, oral history authenticates the existence of a string of south Bexar County Black settlements extending from Castroville to Elmendorf.  In addition to houses, the here were churches, schools and cemeteries.  This cultural landscape represents a rare, valuable, and untold chapter in Texas and American history.