It’s a Scarecrow Invasion! Fall in Comfort, Texas, encourages cleverly dressed scarecrows, placed in front of local businesses and shops throughout the town. I recommend a first stop at the Chamber of Commerce on Highway 27. The nice folks there will provide you with a map of the town and locations of award winning scarecrows, available for your viewing delight until November 2.
Comfort’s laid back atmosphere is exemplified in the domino game downtown every Friday afternoon, a weekly happening for decades. A band also plays on Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m. inside of Sweet Comfort at 706 High Street, which has Belgian chocolates and a soda fountain. The band features popular local artist “Fiddlechick.” Spend a few hours in Comfort and you will see that it offers several quality shops and restaurants. It is a place that needs to be traveled on foot to really appreciate the friendly people and historic architecture. In 1979 most of Comfort was placed on the National Register of Historic Places because it boasts 107 mid to late 19th century structures, many of them in half timber and Victorian designs. The Chamber will give you a walking tour list of these buildings. Seven of them were designed by architect Alfred Giles, who lived in San Antonio and would ride horses, stagecoaches and later the train to check on his buildings.
In 2004 Comfort residents celebrated their 150th Jubilee. In 1852, a group of German settlers from New Braunfels moved to the banks of Cypress Creek near its confluence with the Guadalupe River. Two years later, twenty-two year old Ernst Hermann Altgelt laid out the town near the site of an Indian village. He stayed, married and raised nine children in the township. Freemasons, political activists, middle-class German families and liberals from Bettina and Sisterdale settled the area. Townsmen steadfastly opposed formal local government. Comfort opened a school shortly after its founding but no churches were built until 1892. According to 6 Central Texas Auto Tours by Myra McIivan, “The first church service was held in a saloon on 7th Street, whose customers and owners helped build the first church in town, the Comfort Lutheran Church, with the stipulation that they not be asked to join.” Today churches abound in Comfort. Early agriculture and commerce in the area depended on sheep and goats, grains, lime burning, masonry, building rock, lumber and shingles. In the 1940’s and ‘50’s, citizen Adolf Stieler reigned as “Angora Goat King of the World”.
The town’s German settlers were fiercely loyal to the country that took them in as immigrants. When they heard talk of Texas seceding from the Union, 60 young Germans headed for Mexico to join Union forces. Confederates heard of the plan and gave chase. At 4 a.m. they attacked the sleeping band on the banks of the Nueces River, less than 50 miles from Mexico. 17 men escaped into the nearby brush but the rest were shot. A Treue der Union monument was erected in Comfort in 1866 on High Street. It is a simple obelisk, inscribed with the names of those killed. Outside of National Cemeteries, this remains the only monument to the Union erected in a state south of the Mason-Dixon line. The flag flown here is the thirty-six star American flag, the one flown at the dedication of the monument over 125 years ago. The inscription notes: “It is said that only this monument and Arlington National Cemetery are permitted to fly the American flag continually at half staff.”
Today Comfort is a town of 2500 and its location near Fredericksburg, Boerne and Kerrville make it a perfect place to stay and tour the Hill Country. It is known for its antique shopping, restaurants, lodging and local wineries. Stop and sip at the Bending Branch Winery, the Comfort Cellars Winery and Singing Water Vineyards before hitting the rest of the Texas Hill Country Wine Trail. Over 20 choices for lodging are listed, including sixteen B&Bs. Several of the ranches listed offer horseback riding, fishing and hiking. Comfort is also home to Flat Rock Ranch for mountain biking and the Buckhorn Golf Course. The Chamber will give you a wonderful brochure of lodging, antiques, specialty shops and restaurants. Below are a few that I had the pleasure to visit, between snapping pictures of cute scarecrows, but you will find many more.
Wilson-Clements Antiques & Gifts on 405 7th St. is a shop you will not want to miss. You will find a delightful array of ranch furniture, old Mexican antiques and hand-carved items from Guatemala and Mexico, European furniture, hand-blown glass, hand dipped candles and a pewter room. Contact Wilson-Clements at 830-995-5039. Juniper Green Antiques at 510-B 7th St. has a gorgeous collection of copper and Flow Blue China from England, and antique American furniture. Their contact number is 830-995-5677. These are only two of the eight antique stores, and all are an easy walk apart. Kat’s Unique Gifts at 806 High Street has handmade, beautifully decorated wooden crosses in all sizes. Contact Kat’s at 830-005-4114. Turkey Ridge, at 527 Hwy. 27, is a full service interior design and furniture store and carries decorator fabrics. Their phone number is 830-995-4265.
Comfort has a great variety of restaurants, and I highly recommend the two I have tried. The Front St. Tea Room, 817 Front Street, is charmingly decorated throughout the house with tea sets, vintage hats, purses and gloves and other nostalgic décor. Chef Cheryl Singleton, a Cordon Bleu graduate, uses only fresh ingredients and proudly told us that nothing is microwaved. Owner Doreen Tavera will welcome you with the extensive menu which includes Chicken Caesar Paninis, several salads, a soup of the day and fresh pastries among many other offerings. I sampled the daily special which was Chicken Crepes with asparagus and a fruit salad-all beautifully presented and delicious. (Wed-Sat 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 830-995-4382) I also dined at Riven Rock Ranch Resort, about 3 miles from the center of Comfort. The Terrace Grill Restaurant has a hilltop view with outside seating areas to just relax and have a drink. An outdoor oven and grill produces delectable dishes that often include ingredients from the ranch vegetable and herb gardens.) At first glance the ranch has a “brand new” look to it, and parts of the complex have been recently built with stone quarried on the property. However, the original ranch structures built by German settlers in the 1870’s were the beginning of today’s enclave, which has evolved into guest rooms, a swimming pool, a working ranch and many activity areas for guests. The Terrace Grill is open Fri., Sat.and Sun. for lunch and dinner. For reservations call 830-995-4045.
Girlfriends, come to Girls Night Out on Tuesday, Nov. 15 from 4 to 9 p.m. and join 18 local merchants for a magical evening of shopping and yuletide refreshments. “Christmas in Comfort” on November 26 will feature holiday shopping, family fun and a lighted night parade, all in the downtown Historic District. If you are looking for a day trip, Comfort is a great place to find quality food and shopping in a historic atmosphere, with business owners that invite you to come in, have a seat and stay awhile.