Founders' Oak

Historical Period: Spanish Missions (1716-1821)
Historical Topic: Frontier Settlements
Species: Texas Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis)
County: Comal
Public Access: Yes

Throughout the 18th century, the Spanish established Catholic missions in Texas and, along with the missions, the towns of San Antonio, Goliad and Nacogdoches. El Camino Real de los Tejas, “The Kings Highway”, also called “The Old San Antonio Road” linked Northwestern Louisiana and Mexico. Three separate routes of El Camino Real have been identified in New Braunfels, all a short distance from a series of artesian springs, known as Comal Springs, which feed the Comal River and eventually the Guadalupe River.

Located just over five-hundred feet from Comal Springs, Founders’ Oak has stood sentry to centuries of travelers and settlers to the Guadalupe River region. From 1756-1758 Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, a Spanish Mission, was located near the springs. Run by two friars and under citizen guard, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe was home to four Spanish families and forty-one Indians. The mission was abandoned in 1758 due to increasingly dangerous raids by Native Americans.

Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, Commissioner General of “The Society for the Protection of German Immigrants of Texas”, came to the area in March 1845 and signed a deed for two leagues of land which included Comal Springs and Founders' Oak. Thus was born New Braunfels.

Plentiful water of the Comal River and springs attracted early industrialists who used the Comal headwaters for a mill and a cotton gin. Settlement followed, and by the 1850s New Braunfels was the 4th largest city in Texas.

The grand oak has long paid a part in the activities of the founders of the community. The first school teacher of the colony conducted group singing beneath the boughs of the tree. Abbe Domenech reportedly offered mass under the tree in 1849. Annually after 1846, Citizens of New Braunfels gathered on July Fourth to read the Declaration of Independence and to dedicate themselves to the principles for which it stands. Today Founders’ Oak is the focal point of Landa Park, an emerald jewel of New Braunfels.

This historic tree is located within Landa Park, in New Braunfels.