The City of Man—Texas Style

We all know something of cities that thrived once and then for one reason or another ceased to exist—preclassical cities we read about in myth and epic; Homer's Troy or St. Paul's Ephesus. So used are we to thinking of these extinct places as ancient and, therefore, remote, that it is hard to conceive, as Macaulay once did, of the cities we know and live in being ruins, or worse, grassy mounds in empty fields.

There can be little doubting that most of us tend to take our world for granted. This tendency was certainly evident in the lives of men and women of Indianola, Texas, in the middle 19th century. Like us, they were too busy with too many things to even begin to consider the eventual, much less the imminent, disappearance of their city. To the contrary, the 19th-century faith in progress led them to hold expectations of infinite growth and prosperity. And in many ways they had good reason.

Indianola, originally called Indian Point, began in 1844 as little more than a landing spot for ships of German immigrants. Under the auspices of the Adelsverein of Biebrich am Rhein, the immigrants landed in Texas with the intention of traveling inland to central (or, as that region was then called, western) Texas settlements that in time would become New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. Disease and difficulties in traveling overland persuaded a number of the Germans to remain at Indian Point and scratch out a living...

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