Yorktown is located in southwestern DeWitt County where State Highways 72 and 119 intersect on the western side of town.The city was founded by Captain John York and Charles Eckhardt and named in honor of Captain John York, a famous Indian fighter and was in command of a company of citizens who, under Ben Milam, defeated General Cos in 1835 at the Siege of Béxar. For his military services, York received many acres of land in the Coleto Creek area.Charles Eckhardt started a mercantile business in Indianola which at that time was a major Texas seaport. Eckhardt participated in the Texas Revolution and may have met Captain York during military service.
Eckhardt contracted with John A. King, one of the pioneers of West Texas, to survey a road from Indianola through Yorktown to New Braunfels, later known as the Old Indianola Trail. From its inception in February, 1848, this road remained the chief thoroughfare for this part of the state to New Braunfels and San Antonio. This trail shortened the former route by twenty miles and established Yorktown as an important relay station for freighters, prairie schooners, trail drivers, and stagecoaches bringing mail and passengers.
Early in 1848, after the founders had the proposed town surveyed, they offered 10 acres and the choice of a lot free to the first ten families to settle the townsite. Many German, Bohemian, and Polish families came and soon changed this wilderness into one of the most prosperous sections of the entire state.
In May, 1848, Peter Metz and John Frank built the first house in the settlement of Yorktown for Charles Eckhardt. It was built of logs, twelve by twenty feet, with a back room and chimney. This house was later occupied by a brother, Caesar Eckhardt, who was the founder of C. Eckhardt and Sons Mercantile Company, known for half a century as the leading firm of its kind in western DeWitt County.
Unfortunately, neither of the founders lived to see the town develop beyond this point. In October 1848, in a battle with Marauding Indians, Captain York and his son-in-law, James Madison Bell, were killed. They were buried in a single hand-made coffin in the Yorktown Cemetery some seven miles east of Yorktown; a historical marker designates York’s grave.
The Catholics established a church in 1867 and the Lutherans in 1872. The huge oak tree on the lawn of the latter church is one of the oldest in the state.
Today, the town is a town of about 2,500 residents who are mostly farmers or ranchers. Most are of German heritage and love living in the quaint town that has not changed very much in the last hundred years!!
The town is filled with interesting buildings and structures that are still standing after one hundred years. The Hospital was closed in 1981 and has been featured in a paranormal movie. It is one of the buildings that people love to explore.
Thanks for visiting Yorktown!