Orange Grove’s history stretches back more than 100 years, although the town itself was established in 1908.
Spanish land grants date back in the area to the time before the Texas Republic. The land where Orange Grove is now located and the surrounding areas can trace its history back to those original Spanish land grants.
Some of the early settlers were from the Reynolds, Miller, Smith and Wade families. According to historical records at the Orange Grove Area Museum, in 1888, George Reynolds, Sr. (1828-1897) donated the right-of-way through his ranch to the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad Company. The railroad built loading and dipping pens for cattle that served the area ranches.
Reynolds built the Palo Ventana Ranch House on his land in 1872. The building survived the great 1919 hurricane, but by the 1940s, most of the building was gone. The Reynolds family still uses the caliche house adjacent to the once grand structure, more than 130 years after it was built.
Orange Grove’s current Municipal Court Judge Charles George Reynolds, born in 1926, is the great grandson of George Reynolds Sr.
In 1908, George J. and Josephine Reynolds enlisted the help of Fennell Dibrell and Max Starcke to survey and establish the town of Orange Grove. The town was laid out with 69 acres in the original site. Martin Pundt was one of the original real estate agents for the Orange Grove Territory in 1908. Town lots were sold to citizens and given to people who established businesses.
According to the Handbook of Texas, Dibrell and Starcke platted the streets of Orange Grove themselves, naming them after their friends, hence the familiar street names around town. The name “Orange Grove” was used to entice settlers to the new town by evoking the profitable citrus businesses of the Rio Grande Valley, according to the Handbook.
L.W. Mumme opened the first store in 1909 and later bought the Germania House to use as a hotel and residence.
Those first families, Ehlers, Pundts, Rohokls, Koennings, Brands, Klaevemanns, Klatts and many others, were pioneers, helping the community to grow through hard work and practical business sense.
From that time on, families arrived in Orange Grove from the surrounding countryside as well as Shiner, Hallettsville, Nordheim, New Braunfels, and the Rio Grande Valley. These families and the families who lived on the adjoining farms and ranches formed the actual community of Orange Grove.
The Orange Grove Rifle Club Hall, which opened in May 1913, was always an entertainment focal point for the community across the 20th century.
Shooting contests were held on the first Sunday of every month, to see who was the best shot in Orange Grove.
The City of Orange Grove was incorporated in 1935 with Adolph Wendt serving as the first mayor and August Hinze and Edmund V. Newmann serving as the town’s first councilmen.
— Submitted Story