Regional News

Jun 2024

Regional Partner Highlight: Von Ormy

Staff Reports

greater:SATX visited with Valerie Naff the City Administrator for the City of Von Ormy. 

Tell us a little about Von Ormy? 

Von Ormy is a small town of approximately 1,300 residents in southwest Bexar County along Interstate 35 and the Medina River. The community is named for Count Norbert von Ormay, an Austrian nobleman who lived in the area in the mid-1880s. The town was previously known as Medina Crossing and was renamed “Von Ormy” by postmaster Branson Bywater in 1886. 

The community was originally founded one mile east at Garza’s Crossing sometime after Texas declared its independence. In 1861 San Antonio merchant Enoch Jones moved to the area and retired to his “Castle on the Medina,” a large limestone Pennsylvania-style home overlooking the south bank of the Medina River. The house was reported to be the first in Texas to have indoor plumbing. 

What makes Von Ormy unique within the San Antonio region? 

In1881, the International-Great Northern Railroad constructed the first rail line connecting San Antonio and Laredo. The rail bridge across the Medina was built one mile west of the ferry at Garza’s Crossing at present Von Ormy. The area surrounding the rail depot on the south bank of the Medina grew quickly and was called “Medina Crossing” by the IGNR. The early settlers of Medina Crossing were almost entirely from Garza’s Crossing. Rail access also changed the local economy from cattle ranching to cotton and winter vegetable farming. 

Count Norbert von Ormay Auffenberg, an Austrian nobleman, arrived in 1886 with twenty servants. The count purchased the “Castle on the Medina.” The arrival of the cCount and Countess Emma was a sensation in San Antonio and widely reported in the San Antonio newspapers. 

Postmaster Branson Bywater relocated the Mann’s Crossing post office to a new location near the rail depot and re-named the community “Von Ormy,” misspelling the name of Count von Ormay. Though the count and countess hastily returned to Dresden, Saxony, after less than eighteen months in the castle, the house was still known locally as the “Von Ormy Castle” in the early twenty-first century. 

The Von Ormy School opened just after 1900 and provided classes through the eighth grade. In 1914 the Von Ormy Cottage Sanitarium opened to treat tuberculosis patients. That year the town had two grocers, a general store, a cotton gin, and a population of 350. In 1919 a hurricane destroyed the Santisima Trinidad Catholic Church at Garza’s Crossing, and it was rebuilt in Von Ormy in 1930. In 1946 the population was still 350. The Von Ormy School closed in 1952 and students began attending the newly-formed Southwest Rural School District. After World War II the population decreased, but since that time the population has grown steadily.  The City of Von Ormy was incorporated on May 30, 2008, and included parts of Garza’s Crossing and Mann’s Crossing. 

Uniquely, 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. 

If you could highlight one major statistic or project, what would it be? 

Currently, Von Ormy is working with Bexar County and the San Antonio Water Systems to extend sewer infrastructure from the Medina River alongside IH-35, heading South, with plans to extend into the rest of the community. 

What makes San Antonio a great place for people and jobs? 

Von Ormy is situated on the southernmost edge of Bexar County, so is perfectly situated along the IH35 corridor; and due to its proximity to San Antonio residents and businesses are able to operate in a slower paced, relaxed community, but still maintain access to needed services.   

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